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LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer was forced to defend his position on the controversial Westminster “spy cops Bill” after being challenged to explain it by a voter in Glasgow today.
Sir Keir, who ordered his party’s MPs to abstain on this month’s third reading of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill, which would allow undercover agents to break the law, was asked by a Scottish student why he had not opposed it.
Human-rights groups have warned that the legislation would allow undercover officers to rape, murder and torture in the name of national security.
In the Westminster vote, 34 MPs, including former leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell, defied the whip and opposed the legislation.
During an online Call Keir event, University of Glasgow student Jarrod Grant questioned the Labour leader on why his party was not taking a “hard stance on what is essentially allowing police and undercover agencies to violate human rights.”
The Labour leader claimed that “there is no bigger advocate for human rights” than him, and told Mr Grant that any powers authorised for use by undercover agents would have to comply with the Human Rights Act.
He said: “You’re not allowed to sign an authorisation if what you’re authorising will break the Human Rights Act.
“Under the Human Rights Act, torture is completely prohibited, murder is prohibited, rape is prohibited.
“So this argument that you could sign off torture, murder and rape is just wrong.”
The Labour leader also claimed that it was “impossible” to argue that the legislation would allow undercover agents to torture people, adding: “It just doesn’t make any sense at all.”
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