A COURT has alerted Police Scotland to more potential breaches of spying legislation by the force against its own officers.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) has contacted the force about at least two new cases that are separate from the ongoing scandal of unlawful snooping on journalists’ sources.

Police forces can use the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) and related Scottish legislation to get phone, email and other digital records.

However, strict rules govern how police can access the “communications data” during their investigations.

The Sunday Herald revealed in August that Police Scotland’s Counter Corruption Unit unlawfully used its spying powers under the RIPA to flush out suspected journalists’ sources.

The breaches, judged "reckless" by a watchdog, occurred when the CCU launched an illegal molehunt over newspaper leaks into the police investigation of murdered sex worker Emma Caldwell.

Two former and two serving officers were wrongly suspected of leaking information and all four are entitled to apply to the IPT. The IPT investigates and determines complaints of unlawful use of covert techniques by public authorities and can award compensation.

If the court decides a complaint has been lodged on time and is not frivolous or vexatious, it will contact the police force or authority concerned.

A Police Scotland spokesperson confirmed the IPT had been in touch with the force about other cases involving officers: “We can confirm that we have been notified by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal of issues raised regarding the use of legislation covering access to communications data."

The new cases do not relate to journalists or the Emma Caldwell controversy. However, it is understood at least two serving officers may be responsible for the IPT contact. This means at least four serving officers want to take cases to the IPT about Police Scotland’s use of the RIPA.

John Finnie, a former police officer who is standing for the Scottish Greens at the Holyrood election, said: "The Investigatory Powers Tribunal is a court and any suggestion from them of further wrongdoing is highly significant.

"Rank and file officers who are doing good work in our communities are sick of the police reputation being besmirched by those in senior places who appear to be 'a law unto themselves' so the chief constable must undertake a root and branch review to ensure those charged with upholding the law are doing just that."