Introduction from the Secretary of State
A message from the Home Secretary, Rt Hon Suella Braverman MP
The threat of hostile activity against the UK’s interests from foreign powers is growing. These threats are diverse, sophisticated, and ever evolving. As stated by MI5 Director, General Ken McCallum, in November 2022, ‘We are facing adversaries who have massive scale and are not squeamish about the tactics they deploy. The West is in a contest in which our security, values and democratic institutions are at stake’. We should not underestimate the lengths hostile actors will go to, and the resources they will invest to cause us harm. They seek to target our national infrastructure and interfere in our political system and as we saw in the tragic events in Salisbury in 2018, they pose a physical threat through assassinations and poisoning. Their actions can also be small and incremental, but targeted and assertive with the capacity to undermine the safety and interest of our United Kingdom over time.
It is the Governments upmost priority to protect the UK’s national security, the safety of the British public and the UK’s vital interests from the hostile activities of foreign states. State threats legislation must therefore be as robust as possible to deal with individuals who seek to do us harm. However, we must ensure that the legislation and the way it is used in practice is not only as effective as possible, but also that it is fair and proportionate.
As an Independent Reviewer, you would report directly to me, and would have the opportunity to shape the role further to respond to the changing threat we face from hostile actors.
This role will demand a highly talented individual of unquestionable integrity and credibility, who can demonstrate his or her ability to exercise sound judgment to balance complex information and competing and sensitive interests.
I wish you well in your application.
The Home Secretary is required to appoint the IRSTL under section 64 of the National Security Bill. The IRSTL’s role will be very similar to that of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation (IRTL). The IRSTL will assess the fairness, effectiveness and proportionality of UK state threats legislation, and report their findings and recommendations. These reports will be laid before Parliament, to inform public and political debate. They may also be called upon to comment on key state threats issues in the media.
Job Title: Independent Reviewer of State Threats Legislation (IRSTL)
Remuneration: £1200 per day (plus VAT and reasonable expenses). The time commitment is expected to be around 100 days per annum, which equates to two days per week, but this could vary depending on the Independent Reviewer’s programme of work and will be at the discretion of the role holder.
Appointment: Fixed term until May 2025 in order to align the role with the IRTL appointment cycle.
Location: Flexible within the United Kingdom. However, the successful candidate will need to work from Home Office Headquarters in Central London on occasion, in order to review sensitive material in a secure environment and be prepared to travel throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Reporting to: Home Secretary
The threat of hostile activity against the UK’s interests from foreign states is growing. States are becoming increasingly assertive in how they advance their own objectives and undermine the safety and interests of the UK, operating covertly in an attempt to interfere with the UK’s national security, economy, and democracy. State threats legislation creates offences and powers which provide a vital deterrent to those who wish to cause the UK harm. However, the legislation must carefully balance the nation’s security and the need to protect the public, with maintaining the rights and freedoms that form the basis of our democratic society.
The Government is therefore seeking an experienced individual to provide independent oversight and scrutiny of UK state threats legislation as the Independent Reviewer of State Threats Legislation. The Independent Reviewer is appointed by the Home Secretary, under section 64 of the National Security Act 2023, to review the operation of key UK State Threats statutes to assess their fairness, effectiveness and proportionality. The Independent Reviewer provides an important safeguard, informing the Parliamentary and public debate on state threats law and civil liberties through written reports, evidence, media and an online presence.
The Independent Reviewer will have the opportunity to be supported by specialist assistants to help discharge the Reviewer’s statutory responsibilities.
The Independent Reviewer’s main responsibilities are to:
• Carry out an annual review, and report to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, on the operation of statutes falling within the Independent Reviewer’s remit, which are:
- Part 1, except section 30, of the National Security Act 2023.
- Part 2 of the National Security Act 2023.
- Schedule 3 to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, except the functions of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner under Part 1 of that Schedule.
- Carry out such further discretionary reviews (and provide reports to the Home Secretary on those reviews) as the Independent Reviewer considers necessary on the operation of statutes falling within the Independent Reviewer’s remit.
• Provide the Home Secretary with a proposed annual work programme, by 31 January each year, setting out the reviews to be conducted within that calendar year.
• In addition, state threats legislation may attract significant attention and it is likely that the Independent Reviewer may be called upon to take part in public debates, to give evidence to Parliamentary Committees and international bodies, and to comment to domestic and overseas media on high-profile state threats issues.
It is essential in your supporting statement that you provide evidence and proven examples against each of the selection criteria in Part One only of the person specification, in so far as you are able. These responses will be further developed and explored with those candidates invited for interview, together with the other criteria listed in Part Two.
Part One – Essential Criteria
• Ability to demonstrate outstanding personal qualities, in particular integrity and independence, with a strong and personal commitment to the highest standards of public life.
• A good understanding and experience of dealing with state threats and related national security policy issues.
• Scrupulous fairness in assessing complex information and competing interests, sound judgment and a willingness to accept scrutiny and challenge.
• A first-class communicator with the authority and interpersonal skills to secure and retain the confidence of a wide range of challenging audiences including parliamentarians, law enforcement, judicial and legal professionals, NGOs and the media.
• Ability to lead a small team effectively and efficiently in the conduct of reviews and production of detailed reports.
• A balanced appreciation of the importance of civil liberties and their interaction with laws designed to protect the public.
• Expertise in analysing the law and its operation, coupled with a broader understanding of the effects of law on society and the concerns of different groups within society.
• Senior barrister, solicitor, judge or legal academic.
• Experience of media and social media.
Part Two – Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
• The ability to command respect quickly and to build mutually supportive relationships and networks.
• A strong intellect, analytical and written skills.
• Resilient in challenging circumstances and able to work under pressure, remaining calm but decisive.
• Comfortable operating in a political environment, whilst also being tenacious and robust.
• The ability to work on sensitive issues requiring the utmost discretion.
As a holder of a public office the IRSTL is expected to follow the Seven Principles of Public Life,
as set out by the Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life, at Annex A.
Due diligence: Please note that as part of the recruitment process, due diligence, including social media checks will be undertaken on the short-listed candidates.