Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "New anti-terror laws are essential"

Besides agreeing plans for revised anti-terror legislation with the opposition, Tony Blair no doubt gave the security forces just what they wanted. Why anyone listens to these people, I don't know. Even before the leaked report confirming MI5 incompetence, it was extraordinary how little stick MI5, MI6 and Special Branch received. After all, the media uncovered more about the London bombers than all three departments put together.

Every year, as new secret papers come to light, we learn with incredulity how our security services acted in the past. Only last week we read of their suspicions about George Orwell's research into the life of the working class. Are they still obsessed with "lefties"? Yes.

After I went to work at the Treasury I was called in by Sir Terence, now Lord, Burns, who asked why, when I filled in my security clearance form, I had not admitted once belonging to a subversive organisation. "You were a member of the Communist Party," he spluttered. "So was Denis Healey," I replied, and stormed out.

I was told it wasn't worth going through the positive vetting process needed in order to see so-called "secret" papers, because I was bound to fail. I still saw them, of course, and couldn't help laughing at how useless most of the information from our spooks was. Once, I even joked with hacks that we got better information from the FT than MI6. A few days later Ed Balls, who had passed the "vet", was called in by a spook who asked: "How did Whelan see this stuff?"

It's good to know that these people still have placemen in the political press, but a pity they don't catch more terrorists.

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