‘Familiar but not intimate’: Executive oversight of the UK intelligence and security agencies

Defty, Andrew (2021) ‘Familiar but not intimate’: Executive oversight of the UK intelligence and security agencies. Intelligence and National Security . pp. 1-16. ISSN 0268-4527

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/02684527.2021.1959697

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Abstract

Studies of the relationship between ministers and the intelligence agencies have tended to focus on the government’s use of intelligence, while studies of intelligence oversight in the UK have focused almost exclusively on the work of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. This paper will examine the role of the executive in the oversight of the UK intelligence and security agencies. Drawing on a range of sources including a series of interviews with former Cabinet ministers, reports of other oversight bodies, as well as ministers’ responses to parliamentary questions on their role, it will trace the evolution of ministerial accountability for the UK intelligence and security agencies. The article raises questions about the capacity of ministers to provide effective scrutiny in this area, focusing on ministers’ knowledge and understanding of the work of the intelligence agencies, the impact of ministerial workload and the likelihood of conflicts of interest.

Keywords:Intelligence Studies, Intelligence oversight
Subjects:L Social studies > L230 UK Government/Parliamentary Studies
L Social studies > L435 Security Policy
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:46036
Deposited On:06 Sep 2021 15:01

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