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Monitoring calls not in Justice Minister Ford's remit

By Alan Murray

Justice Minister David Ford will not be able to authorise the secret monitoring of telephone conversations, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Senior officials from the new Justice Department have confirmed that the Alliance Party leader will not have sight of applications to monitor phones or renew or review ongoing phonetapping operations in Northern Ireland.

The task will remain the sole responsibility of the Secretary of State or, in some instances, the Home Secretary or Justice Minister in London.

Despite speculation that Mr Ford would assume responsibility for the signing of warrants to monitor local telephones in the fight against terrorism, officials at his ministry said the practice of monitoring phones remained “a reserved matter”.

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