Saturday 6 December 2008

Greengate - lest we forget

Remember this headline?

Terror leaks: both Home Office and police implicated

Guardian told that Reid aide and senior officer involved

A year or two back, the details of an anti-terrorist operation to arrest a number of Muslim extremists planning to kidnap a solider, were leaked to the press. There were, allegedly, three separate briefings and they resulted - among other things - in a number of journalists turning up in Birmingham to broadcast the story even before the raids had taken place.

Understandably enough, Peter Clarke the head of anti-terrorist operations at Scotland Yard condemned this behaviour in a speech. He said "such disclosures, both in advance of operations and while they were ongoing, could be illegal and highly dangerous". Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were both, rightly outraged, and demanded an enquiry extending to a Police investigation.

And what did the Labour Government say?

As the Westminster rumour mill cranked up, several officials were said to be in the frame for leaks of the operation. Most suspicion centred on the Home Office, but that was flatly rejected.

A spokesman said Mr Reid was "entirely in agreement" with Mr Clarke.

"National security is one of our highest priorities and anything that threatens effective operations, judicial process or counter-terrorism activity is to be condemned. That is why the Home Office has a policy of never commenting on operational matters," the spokesman said.

So there we have it, a real example of leaks from the Home Office with real implications for National security. Where were the 20 anti-terrorism officers that time around?

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