The Bar Council was among surveillance campaigners who challenged MPs to boost safety and confidentiality measures in the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill.

Together with the Law Society and the National Union of Journalists it launched the ‘Speak in Safety’ campaign.

The groups warned that the Bill jeopardises a client’s right to speak to their lawyer in confidence and threatens the anonymity of journalists’ sources and whistleblowers. They called on parliamentarians to amend the Bill dubbed the ‘snoopers’ charter’.

The Bar Council also encouraged its members to write to their MPs to alert them to their concerns over the Bill.

Bar Chairman Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said: ‘We know that government agencies have in the past improperly eavesdropped on communications between litigants and their legal advisers.

‘Clients who cannot be sure that conversations with their legal representative are held in confidence often fail to communicate information which is vital to their case, thus compromising their right to a fair hearing.’

She said: ‘One of the essential rights in a democracy is that of a citizen to consult with a lawyer.’

And added: ‘Legal professional privilege is not the right of lawyers; privilege is the right of the client. Failure to protect that privilege amounts to a significant derogation of a fundamental constitutional right which is part of the foundation of the rule of law.’