The CHIS (spycops) Bill is in the Lords at the moment. The Minister couldn’t tell me if criminals who are authorised as police spies will be able to keep the proceeds of any criminal activity during the period when they are immune from prosecution. At the moment criminal proceeds are often confiscated by the state. Will they be taxed instead? I have written asking again…
Baroness Williams of Trafford
Lord Stewart of Dirleton QC
Advocate General for Scotland
Dear Minister and Advocate General,
I am following up on questions that I asked in the Committee Stage of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill Committee on 24th November 2020.
I recognise that there is a lot for frontbench speakers to address during their response to debates, but it is unfortunate that not even a passing reference was made to the points that I raised. This is an important issue so I am formally asking for you to provide the government’s opinion on how the criminal conduct authorisations will interact with the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and whether money gained during the course of an authorisation will be recoverable under POCA.
For ease of your response, I have included the excerpts from Hansard, where I raised these issues.
During the debate on Amendment 1 (HL Deb, 24 November 2020, c148)
“Then there is the question of how all this interacts with the Proceeds of Crime Act. If criminal conduct is authorised under this Bill, does that shield any criminal profits from being recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act? For example, can a drug dealer or human trafficker rake in huge amounts of cash while working on the side for the police as a spy, or would this money be confiscated by the state? This legislation must not create legalised criminal enterprises—state-endorsed mafias—where the profits are irrecoverable by the state. That would be a very dangerous situation. So I am hoping that the two Ministers we have with us today will tell me that that is a ridiculous suggestion and it could never happen, because the Government will make sure that it never happens.”
During the debate on Amendment 3 (HL Deb, 24 November 2020, c160) “The Minister did not answer my questions in the previous debate. He did not address the proceeds of crime or the concept of ongoing crime that is not specifically given immunity but will happen anyway. Is that given immunity as well?”
I would appreciate your written response, and legal opinion on the matters raised, promptly and with plenty of time ahead of Report Stage.
Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb