A message from the reviewer

David Anderson Q.C
David Anderson Q.C

Welcome! I am an independent Q.C. and not part of the government machine. I am tasked with reviewing the operation of the United Kingdom’s anti-terrorism laws. Where I am critical, I recommend change. My reports and recommendations are submitted to ministers and laid before Parliament.

As reviewer I have a very high degree of access both to classified documents and to those most closely involved with defence against terrorism: Read more…


I was required by DRIPA 2014, which passed through Parliament in only four days back in July 2014, to conduct an independent review of the operation and regulation of investigatory powers, with specific reference to the interception of communications and communications data, including under RIPA.  That review was distinct from my normal function of reviewing the operation of the terrorism laws.

Parliament asked me, in particular, to consider:

(a) current and future threats to the United Kingdom,

(b) the capabilities needed to combat those threats,

(c) safeguards to protect privacy,

(d) the challenges of changing technologies,

(e) issues relating to transparency and oversight,

(f) the effectiveness of existing legislation (including its proportionality) and the case for new or amending legislation.”

As I tweeted at the time, my report was completed and submitted to the Prime Minister on 6 May 2015 Рthe day before the General Election.  A process of security-checking and preparation for publication has followed.

Given the size of the canvas that the Review was asked to cover, it will come as no surprise that it turned out to be a substantial piece of work.  I am grateful to all who provided written submissions and who met with me in various parts of the UK, Berlin, California, Washington DC, Ottawa and Brussels, as well as to the small team of self-employed persons that assisted with the Review.

I am asked several times a day when the report will be published.  The short answer is that the Prime Minister will decide, and that I have no privileged insight into the timing.

DRIPA 2014 s7(5) requires¬†the Prime Minister¬†to lay a copy before Parliament “on receiving” the Report, together with a statement¬†as to whether he has excluded any matter from the Report on the grounds that it would be contrary to the public interest or¬†to national security.¬†¬†Similar wording governs the publication of my Terrorism Acts reports, and¬†has been¬†helpfully glossed by James Brokenshire MP,¬†formerly the Security Minister: see my 2012 Terrorism Acts report at 1.23-1.25.

The Report¬†won’t please everybody (indeed it may not please anybody).¬† But if it succeeds in informing the public and parliamentary debate on the future of the law, from an¬†independent perspective, it will have done its job.

Kindly direct any further queries concerning the publication date to the Government: if you approach me, I will be able to do no more than direct you to this post.

Four documents central to the work of the Independent Reviewer were laid before Parliament and published today.  They are:

As promised to the House of Lords at committee stage on 28 January, the Government has introduced amendments to its Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill which expand the remit of the Independent Reviewer and define his relationship with the intended new Privacy and Civil Liberties Board.¬† They were published on the¬† morning of Saturday 31 January and will be debated at report stage on Wednesday 4 February.¬† In case my views on these amendments are thought relevant, I give them here.¬† They are, on the whole,¬†rather positive. Read more…




This article on the work of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation has just been published in the New Journal of European Criminal Law.  It is reproduced here by the kind permission of the publishers.

The history of the role is summarised, before describing the nature of the work and the way in which successive Independent Reviewers have influenced Government, either directly or through Parliament and the courts.

It is a shortened and updated version, prepared for an international audience, of an article published in Public Law in July 2014.