British spy chiefs to be quizzed in 2013



London: British lawmakers will next year question chiefs of intelligence agencies MI5, MI6 and GCHQ and may demand any sensitive material and investigate any operation they wish, a media report said.

Officials will be able to go to the agencies to review and retrieve documents in person rather than relying on them to decide what evidence is relevant to any inquiry, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), said parliament and the public can have confidence that "nothing is being held back".

Jonathan Evans, director general of MI5, John Sawers, chief of MI6, and Iain Lobban, director of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), will give evidence in public.

This would be the first time an inquiry is held in public, as up to now evidence sessions have been held in secret and any reports released by the committee are heavily redacted if they are put in to the public domain.

The agencies have previously been accused of withholding information from the committee, claims they have always strongly denied, the daily said.

The ISC is made up of MPs tasked with monitoring the work of the spy agencies.

The first of these hearings is planned for early next year.

In future, the ISC can pick and choose any operation it wishes to look closely at, so long as it can justify it is a matter of national importance.

Currently, the ISC can request information from the three organisations whereas in the future it will be able to "require" documents and data.

IANS