The arrival of the Defence Reform Bill, which will give the Government powers to sub contract to the private sector a substantial part (possibly all) of the supply of our defence equipment, gives an opportunity to raise the issue of the increasing use of drones and whether the supervision of them is adequately provided for under current legislation.
The Ministry of Defence Police Act of 1987 was passed long before drones were developed and so is silent about them. Are drones aircraft? No doubt there are legal arguments that they are – but the general public might argue that an aircraft is a craft with at least one person inside it. We need to be certain that the MOD Police have the appropriate jurisdiction and powers.
The next challenge is to find out whether information being supplied by Britain to other countries (either directly or as a result of information being routed through Britain) is being used for purposes that are permissible under UK law.
The UK does not recognise the legal concept of “anticipatory self defence” So if information is being supplied on which drone strikes are being based resulting in deaths of citizens of countries with whom the UK is not at war, there is a question about the legality of the UK’s actions.
Our armed intervention overseas have had as a major objective to ensure that the rule of law is established and maintained. Equally the British public needs to know that the rule of law is not being flouted at home.