Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "MI5's 'playground Marxist' is TUC official"

The new TUC general secretary must have been quaking in his boots this week when he read in the Sunday Telegraph that one of his workers was a militant student in his youth.

Most of us assume that the days of "reds under the beds" stories are a thing of the past but the Sunday Telegraph clearly doesn't. It devoted a whole page to the fact that Simon Steyne, who works for the TUC international department, was the subject of MI5 surveillance in his youth.

One of his "crimes" was to have "shared a platform" in London with Joan Lestor MP.

The intrepid Telegraph reporter even managed to track Steyne down to his south London home. The paper could have "tracked him down" at the TUC headquarters, but presumably the Sunday Telegraph doesn't know where they are.

Unsurprisingly, Steyne refused to speak to the lunatics who thought this was a story, but "friends" told the paper that "Simon finds it amusing that the government took his antics seriously enough to waste taxpayers' money gathering information". It may be amusing that the Sunday Telegraph should cover such trivia, but it's certainly not amusing that the security forces should have been allowed to behave in such an undemocratic manner.

The Sunday Telegraph was able to run this rubbish because of the 30-year rule, which allows government to declassify former official secrets. (More serious attacks on our civil liberties are never revealed at all.) I look forward to learning that Tony Blair was followed by MI5 because he was a member of CND, or that the chairman and general secretary of the Labour Party were under surveillance because they were both communists.