» Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Operation Crevice Court Case

Asked, by ruling out a public inquiry, if the Prime Minister understood the hurt and frustration that would be caused to the victims and relatives of victims of the 7/7 bombings, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister understood, not least because two Cabinet Ministers have been regularly meeting with the relatives. Equally however what he has to take cognizance of is not just what he knows from the briefings he gets himself from the intelligence agencies but also the conclusions of the independent Intelligence and Security Committee which has been fully aware of all the relevant material, all the way along and came to the conclusion that the prioritisation by the intelligence services was understandable. A judgement that, while the committee will go over the territory again now the court case has been completed, yesterday its chairman said he did not think would change. The other argument which we have made right from the beginning was that given the very serious nature of the level of threat that we still face we would not want to do anything that diverts senior members of the intelligence community away from their task at this crucial time.

Asked if it was not part of the problem for families and victims if the Chair of the committee thinks the conclusions of the committee will not change after they have looked at it all again, would the Chair be carrying out a thorough investigation which is what the families and victims want, the PMOS said that that assumption only worked if you started from the presumption that the Chair should reach some other conclusion. The committee have gone through this matter in very close detail, but they came to their conclusions very seriously. This was something where, yes we do have to show that we understand the position of the relatives but we also have to show very good understanding of the unique pressures, the unique circumstances and the unique difficulty faced by the intelligence agencies. We do have to be very careful that we do not divert them unnecessarily from their task.

Asked if the Prime Minister still had confidence in the Home Secretary and did the Prime Minister think the Home Secretary had mislead Parliament following the Home Secretary’s statement to Parliament yesterday, the PMOS said yes the Prime Minister still had confidence in the Home Secretary.

Asked why there would not be a public inquiry following the conclusion of the court case, as after 9/11 the US had conducted a full public inquiry, including having the heads of the intelligence agencies subjected to a public inquiry, what is it about this country that is so different, the PMOS said that we have different systems and different ways of doing things. The advantage of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) is that because they’re security cleared to the highest level they can have full access to the relevant material and therefore they can make a judgement in the round. This is what they have done. It was a very serious process, it was taken very seriously and they did make recommendations and those will be taken seriously. Equally however, what we should not do is either ignore the fundamental fact that Operation Crevice was a success and the result of that was that many lives were saved. These both involved very difficult decisions and sometimes those decisions that in retrospect and hindsight people can arrive at different conclusions.

Asked if the Prime Minister thought that the ISC had the power and access it needed to fulfil its role, the PMOS the ISC does have the access, it is truly representative of all parties and therefore it is the relevant committee.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

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