Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260
WEDNESDAY 30 JANUARY 2002
260. What particular economic targets are you
charged with protecting at the present time?
(Mr Clarke) No others.
261. No other economic targets?
(Mr Clarke) No. All others are connected and have
some relationship with the Ministry of Defence.
262. On Monday I went to the new Air Traffic
Control Centre at Swanwick, which I have had an interest in for
some time - I was invited to the original opening about six years
when I ago was leader of the County Council and it was put off.
It has been a long time comingI went there at the invitation
of a journalist who was trying to assure me that I could get within
literally spitting distance of the nerve centre of this place
before anyone would approach me, and how right he was. I would
be very interested to know whether or not you have been asked
or are you there in some physical presence and if not why not?
(Ms Craig) We have not been asked. To go back to your
question you asked before, we would not get involved in risk assessment.
263. For the record, you have not been asked
to do anything to protect the Air Traffic Control Centre which
covers most of western Europe, 200 odd planes an hour, and you
have not been asked.
(Ms Craig) As far as I am aware. I know the MDP have
not been asked. Whether the MoD have been asked I would not know,
it is not our responsibility.
264. If they had and the MoD responded in a
positive way you would know about it?
(Ms Craig) I would probably know about it through
the news, it is not part of my responsibility to get involved
in aid to the civil power.
265. There is no military presence at all at
the Air Traffic Control Centre?
(Mr Clarke) Not that I am aware of. I am totally unsighted
on the security for this establishment.
(Mr Cochrane) There was a presence at West Drayton,
but it is important to recognise that was there for the security
of RAF personnel on the site, it was not for the security of the
site per se.
266. I am a little disturbed by that.
(Mr Cochrane) As far as the general question goes
I can confirm that the MoD has not been asked.
267. I am absolutely staggered. Going back to
the very first thing you were talking about, your words were,
"If anyone predicted people taking over planes and crashing
them into buildings a year ago they would have been laughed at".
Surely the obvious consequence of that now being an alert is to
look for something else which could equally have a very damaging
effect. Taking out the air traffic control system not only for
this country, or a sizeable part of this country, but the majority
of the approaches to western Europe would be seen as a fairly
(Mr Clarke) I do not disagree with anything you are
saying but it just does not fall to our responsibilities to be
aware of it.
268. Think of the risk assessment, part of that
process, you should be thinking about that now so that a year
from now when, touch wood, nothing happens you can be laughed
at. Surely someone in your organisation is now looking at the
vulnerability of places like that?
(Ms Craig) Not in our organisation. It is a Security
Service issue and a local police issue.
269. Only a Security Service issue?
(Mr Clarke) The Ministry of Defence would help if
asked, but it is not a Ministry of Defence responsibility.
270. What our Committee will do, in light of
Mr Hancock's question, is to pass on transcript, if we canit
is your transcript as much as ourswe will pass these views
on to see what the response is?
271. Can I come back to that. As I understand
it the Royal Air Force maintains a military service at Swanwick,
which they previously provided at LATCCthe air commodore
is noddingthere are, therefore, military personnel at Swanwick?
(Mr Cochrane) They do move there.
272. The point that Mr Hancock made is, in my
view, quite right, the criteria by which you judge the need to
provide an armed guard is whether there are service personnel
(Ms Craig) That is the way we judge it.
273. This facility falls fairly and squarely
within that category.
(Mr Cochrane) Yes.
274. Furthermore, it seems to me if you are
looking for a key point defence the entire air traffic control
nerve centre of western Europe is a key point. It ought to be
defended and I hope it will be on the list of 160 plus that we
are going to receive.
(Mr Cochrane) It probably will not be on as an MoD
key point. To answer the specific question about the RAF presence,
yes there will be an RAF presence at Swanwick, as there was at
West Drayton, and, yes, our concern in considering the MDP presence
will be the security of the lives of those RAF personnel that
are currently employed there. They do not wear a uniform, so they
are not identifiable. The question of a possible MDP presence
to provide armed guarding for that RAF presence is under consideration.
The larger question of whether that facility requires armed guarding
and whether that should be considered nationally as a key pointI
hear what you are sayingit is not our issue.
275. Who is responsible?
(Mr Cochrane) The Security Service would assess the
threat. It would be a Cabinet Office decision on determining the
status of the facility.
276. Can I move on to seaborne defences? I would
be interested to know what you have done to protect areas like
Rosyth, Portsmouth and Devonport to guard them from attack from
the sea side and also where you have civilians? In Portsmouth's
case you have the civilian operator, you have the civilian staff,
you have the heritage area encouraging several million people
a year to enter parts of the dockyard and then you have the wide
expanses of the harbour and then you have the same situation virtually
in Devonport, not quite so similar in Rosyth, what have you done?
(Mr Clarke) If I may pick that up particularly in
respect of MDP resources and maritime resources, our own officers
working out on the water, as it were, will respond accordingly
to the security state, so as opposed to additional resources,
if that is the question, there are no additional resources on
the water. However, and it is interesting, we have used the recent
anti-terrorist legislation under mutual aid when the MV Nisha
incident broke, that was commanded by the Metropolitan Police
anti-terrorist group and they came to MDP in terms of mutual aid
and we were able to respond in terms of armed officers that were
put on to the MV Nisha, and in terms of the exclusion area round
that vessel which was provided by MDP resources. It is responding
specifically and only if there is a heightened security state
in terms of Amber to Black Special, etc, do we put additional
277. The Nisha was in Sandown Bay and there
was a Royal Naval frigate alongside it most of the time and it
would have been an extremely difficult target to get to because
physically the sea was not that helpful to the terrorists. I regularly
go along in a cruiser in Portsmouth harbour and I can go virtually
alongside any one of the Royal Naval ships tied up, and for that
matter visiting ships. The only time that has been made in any
way difficult was last year when the Winston Churchill
was alongside during the Festival of the Sea celebrations and
the Americans themselves had boats in the water alongside. There
was no presence at all. The maritime service from your side has
not been increased, resources have not been given to you to have
another boat in the water even. On most weekends or most days
I could drive alongside a British warship tied up with little
or no hindrance whatsoever. I could ram any one of a number of
warships, including aircraft carriers, including those moored
on the North Forward Jetty, which is the maximum security area.
I could ram the side with a boat full of explosives if I chose
to do so. I am amazed that you have not been given greater resources
to beef-up the seaward side of that operation. Why have you not?
(Mr Clarke) The reality is you are quite right, there
is a 24 hour presence on the water and I think that the reality
is that we have to go back to operating on specific intelligence.
That is how we have responded. The simple answer to your question
is, no, there have not been additional resources and there are
not additional waterborne resources but there is a presence 24
hours a day.
278. Do you think the Ministry of Defence should
have put greater resources into water guarding their ships? Do
they have a responsibility? The Americans seem to think they have,
and they have been a target, of course we have not?
(Mr Cochrane) The answer is that of course we do.
In this instance we are talking about Royal Navy ships, that is
a CINC FLEET responsibility.
I can say that in the light of the USS Cole incident measures
for close security of Royal Navy ships, principally when deployed
overseas, but it also applies when in home waters, have been looked
at with just this sort of threat in mind.
279. They cannot have been. I could have painted
on the side of a ship in the dockyard last week, "you have
been blown up, you are now all dead". I could have moored
alongside it and painted it on the side of the damn ship.
12 Note from Witness: While the Defence Logistics
Organisation is responsible for the security of the naval bases. Back