» Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Terror Attack figures

Asked if there had been a previous occasion when the Prime Minister had given casualty figures with regards to a terrorist attack, as he had done in today’s PMQs, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said that the Prime Minister had referred frequently in the past to both the possibility of an attack, and also his view that if there was an opportunity to cause even more carnage, for example at the Twin Towers, then terrorists would use that opportunity to do so. Equally, he had referred in the past to the Madrid bombings, where hundreds of people did die, and again, if it had been possible, more people would have died, if the terrorists had had their way.

Put to him that given that the warnings seemed to be getting more frequent and more "stark", was there not a duty to therefore tell the public what was behind them, the PMOS said that we had a duty to inform the public if there was a specific warning relating to specific events. We had always said we would warn people specifically. What was equally important was that people should not in any way become complacent about the overall nature of the threat.

Asked if the Prime Minister’s words today were supporting what previous Home Secretaries had recommended that people should be "alert but not alarmed", and was he stepping up the warning for a reason, the PMOS said the Prime Minister was not stepping up the warning. Being alert meant that people were alert to the fact that there was intelligence that people were suspected of planning terrorist activities, even though there may not be firm evidence to prosecute, we should act. Because, if an attack happened, and it was discovered that it had not been acted upon, serious questions would be raised.

Asked if that was therefore the reason Charles Clarke had made reference to the possibility of an attack in the run up to an election, the PMOS replied that it was part of the general vigilance. We had always said that if there was specific information about an event or incident, then we would inform people about it.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news


  1. I am alert.

    There are so many muslims under my mattress I can’t sleep at night.

    Comment by Mr Pooter — 24 Feb 2005 on 11:42 am | Link
  2. The Country is desperately short of Lerts

    Comment by Colonel Mad — 24 Feb 2005 on 11:21 pm | Link
  3. Don’t trouble yourself about that Colonel, Blair’s bound to create more ‘lerts as the election nears.

    Alert AND Alarmed might be more a realistic state of mind if Prof Paul Wilkinson’s report, (detailing underfunding, potential security gaps, poor contingency planning and specific weaknesses and vulnerability in our National Critical Infrastructure) is anything to go by. (FT P4 today.)

    An attack would be bad enough, but if even one person dies because of poor preparation and lack of emergency kit to deal with the aftermath the government should be hounded out of office.

    Comment by Mr Pooter — 25 Feb 2005 on 10:52 am | Link
  4. Agreed; but then the danger is that they will cry that their hands were tied – unless they are given carte blanche to lock people up left right and centre.

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 25 Feb 2005 on 11:55 am | Link

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