YES indeed, John Edgar (Expect to see more attempts to rig the votes in Scotland, November 19), we need our eyes everywhere, but it is even worse than that! For a Bill has been put forward the likes of which I have never seen in my adult life. Among other things, unless amended, it would allow say, the Home Office to authorise the fiddling of elections by any of the intelligence services – and without comeback and with the UK government washing its hands of the whole business! It is about sanctioning underhand and lawless behaviour.

I am no lawyer, but the Bill basically seems to say that, during undercover work, in certain circumstances it will be OK for a lot of public bodies to commit crime with impunity and even for them to instigate such work. That is quite a thought!

What I am talking about is the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill, which seeks to legitimise criminal, investigatory behaviour, allowing this to be officially authorised – wait for it – by public bodies such as the police forces, the intelligence services, the armed forces, Revenue and Customs, Government Departments – Health and Care, Home Office, Ministry of Justice, and other bodies such as the Competition and Markets Authority, The Environment Agency, the Food Standards Agency and the Gambling Commission!

Surely not! You can’t have the Ministry of Justice choosing to break the law – and the Gambling Commission? Phew!

So what on earth would justify such criminal actions by these bodies? Apparently, if it is done:

a) in the interests of national security;

b) for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime or of preventing disorder: or

c) in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom (I quote from Section 1 (5) subsection (5) on page 2.)

Consider for a moment a few of the sinister implications of this. National security? Does this actually mean in the interests of safeguarding the Union? That anybody standing up for Scottish Independence would be fair game and with no prosecution of the assailants or of the body that authorised this?

Undercover gangs could be hired ostensibly to prevent disorder, or even instigate disorder if in the cause of Unionist Britain. And what does the “economic well-being of the UK” imply for those activities which predominantly further the Scottish economy as opposed say, to that of the south of England?

And with no redress? No person or official body held accountable, even the initiator of this Bill, the UK Government? There is “corresponding provision” for Scotland, which seems to give worrying power, not to the Scottish Government but to the Secretary of State. In the draft Bill, if passed, the Act could condone even murder and torture as acceptable methods of safeguarding say the interests of big business and without the perpetrators being prosecuted. This, you might say is “not British”. Nor is it the fair play we have come to expect. In fact, it is unbelievable and more like a horror story, yet it is what we in Scotland are up against.

In fact, this Bill is going through the UK Parliament at this very moment. The House of Lords is suggesting many humanising amendments to this authorised criminal behaviour, such as ruling out murder and torture. Let us hope some of these amendments are accepted. There is also a petition to scrap this Bill entirely. Let us hope, too, that today’s announcement of increased spending on the armed forces has nothing to do with this.

The proposed power grab has made independence for Scotland a matter of urgency. However, we are moving into new territory in which, if this Bill is not withdrawn, these threatened measures by the Tory Government could render Independence virtually impossible without ..... I hate to think. Certainly it is a recipe for chaos and mayhem as we are dragged over the Brexit cliff.

Valerie Waters
East Lothian