Having been a member of the Senior Civil Service for six years, I can assure you of two things:
a) The logging and tracking system for MPs’ – let alone shadow cabinet members’ – letters arriving into No 10 is very tight. It is not possible David Davis’ letter was lost and unrecorded. Nor do I see any reason to doubt that Mr Davis sent it.
b) There are some very right wing people in the security services. It is essential for our democracy that they are not allowed to interfere with our lawmakers.
Jack Straw has gone for the usual government whitewash ploy of choosing a safe conservative judge to mount a long inquiry. In fact, if Straw had any interest in the truth he could find out in a couple of hours if Sadiq Khan MP was bugged, particularly as the individual who allegedly did the bugging has come forward. It looks like this may well lead back to the appalling Sir Ian Blair yet again.
But one thing that nobody seems to be commenting on is the position of poor Babar Ahmad, whose wife and father I have had the privilege to meet. Ahmad has been in jail for many years, without a single shred of evidence against him being produced to any judge, ever. It is unclear what exactly he is supposed to have done. It relates apparently to websites supporting the Taliban and Chechen separatists, though supporting in what sense has never been spelt out.
Babar Ahmad denies any connection to any such websites anyway, and I repeat again that no evidence of any kind has ever been produced, nor do the police have any. That is why they have been bugging him for years. The bugging has produced no result either.
Ahmad is being held under the appalling 2002 extradition agreement with the US, which places the UK in the position of a vassal state. Provided the forms are filled in properly, the UK has to extradite its nationals to the US without any evidence being produced by the US that there is even a prima facie case to answer. Astonishingly, our lackey government signed up to this with no reciprocity – we have to extradite our citizens to the US, but the US will not extradite its citizens here without a hearing of evidence by a US court. This is one of the more startling proofs of the abandonment of UK autonomy by Blair that morphed the “Special relationship” into one of master and servant.
The other interesting angle being ignored is, of course, that the results of bugging could not have been used in court here either. Commentators are generally puzzled by the government’s refusal to make bugging material admissible as evidence in court, and tend to take the view that this is a last vestige of liberalism.
In fact this is the opposite. Bugging material is in fact used in court, sanitised as “intelligence”, and given in tiny out of context clips to judges in camera to justify continued detention without trial or control orders. It is also used at the Special Immigration Appeals Tribunal, a de facto terrorism court. Brian Barder’s account of his resignation from that little known body is interesting.
The defence and the “suspect” are not shown the “intelligence” or even given any hint what they are supposed to have done.
So the government’s objection to the use of bugging material in court is that it would, 99 times out of 100, help the defence. Rather than giving one or two apparently damning sentences out of context as “intelligence”, they would have to make full disclosure of all the transcripts to defence lawyers. As in the case of Babar Ahmad, the fact that years of covert surveillance revealed no bomb or terrorist plots, (which I know for sure) and may have revealed anti-terrorist views (which is speculation), would help the defence.
The same is true, incidentally, of the so-called liquid bomb plotters, some of whom were also bugged for over a year, revealing no plot to bomb up airplanes. Not helpful to have all that in court if you are trying to hype the terrorist threat.
This is not speculation. Remember I was on the inside of this “War on Terror”. I know.