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Home Affairs Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 231-iii
HOUSE OF COMMONS
TAKEN BEFORE THE
Home Affairs Committee
Tuesday 12 November 2013
KIM CHALLIS, GRAHAM EADIE, PAUL FERNLEY
David Anderson QC
Evidence heard in Private and then Public Questions 53 - 233
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
This is a corrected transcript of evidence taken in private and then public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee, and copies have been made available by the Vote Office for the use of Members and others.
The transcript is an approved formal record of these proceedings. It will be printed in due course.
Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Tuesday 12 November 2013
Keith Vaz (Chair)
Mr James Clappison
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Graham Eadie, Head of Customer Service Centre, G4S Care and Justice Services, Paul Fernley, Customer Support Manager, G4S Monitoring Technologies Limited, Kim Challis, CEO, G4S Government and Outsourcing Solutions, gave evidence in private.
Chair: This is an informal session, but what you say will be part of our evidence. If there is anything confidential that someone wearing a tag could use, please feel free not to tell us, or when you see the transcript, redact it. You can be open and transparent, but if there is anything you do not want the world to know about-subject to certain limits-we are happy for it not to be made public. Would you like to tell us what you do for G4S? Ms Challis?
Kim Challis: I am the CEO for government and outsourcing. I report to Eddie Aston, who is the new regional CEO. I took on my post on 1 October last year. I am accountable for the Government portfolio that G4S has today.
Paul Fernley: I am a customer support manager, reporting into our monitoring technologies division in Leicester, which I believe you visited recently. My remit covers testing and approval of all the monitoring equipment; acting as an expert witness in court when the equipment is challenged or a breach occurs involving the equipment; educating and training stakeholders and people who use the electronic monitoring service; and managing our fleet of equipment.
Graham Eadie: I am the head of the customer service centre. I am the account manager for the TPIMs contract and also responsible for all the other high-profile subjects that we monitor at G4S.
Q53 Chair: Would you like to sit down?
We just want to know about the practicalities. It is not the Government relations angle we are after here; it is how the technology works. Who is able to tell us how a tag works?
Paul Fernley: I can do that. To refer back to your opening comment, a lot of what I say probably would not be something we would want people wearing tags to know the details of. Clearly there is a security aspect to some of that.
Chair: You will have to speak up a little. I know it’s secret, but you don’t have to stand. You can sit down; you just have to speak a little louder. The doors are very thick, so no one outside can hear.
Paul Fernley: Okay. So this is our GPS tracking device, which is used in the TPIMs contract. It is a multi-function device, which is attached to the subject’s ankle in such a way that it cannot be removed without detection and without leaving behind evidence that can then be interrogated to show what has occurred to cause the damage. It uses several different technologies in providing monitoring. First, it uses a GPS tracking system in much the same way as any satellite navigation system would, it accesses the satellite and positional data via GPS. [xxx]. It can also transmit any alerts and alarms in that way, so that if anyone interferes with it or cuts the strap, it can transmit an alarm immediately [xxx] to our systems to warn us of that.
It also has radio frequency, RF, capability, so if you want to monitor a subject within a home or a set location, you can install a monitoring unit in the property. The device also transmits radio frequency signals, which are received, as long as it is within the area you want it to be, by the monitoring unit. That provides an extra level of monitoring within a building.
In terms of tamper detection systems and capabilities, this uses proven technology which we have had in place in our equipment for many years now and which has proved to be extremely reliable and robust. [xxx]. We connect that to the opposite side and fix the strap to the ankle, [xxx]. Within two seconds, the device knows that somewhat has interfered with the integrity of the fixing.
Q54 Chair: How many people have G4S tags?
Paul Fernley: Of that type?
Q55 Chair: Just the TPIMs device.
Paul Fernley: Well, TPIMs is a separate, quite small contract1.
Q56 Chair: The device, not the contract.
Paul Fernley: In total we have between 80 and 100 in the UK at the moment with that device.
Q57 Chair: That’s it? Just 100?
Paul Fernley: Yes, but more worldwide.
Q58 Chair: This is the top-level model?
Paul Fernley: Yes, is the GPS multi-function device.
Q59 Chair: [xxx].
Paul Fernley: [xxx].
Q60 Michael Ellis: The fact of the matter is, though, that you do not set out to make these indestructible. The issue is not whether the defendant or the suspect can get them off. The issue is: can it be detected if he or she does? [xxx].
Paul Fernley: I would really like to address that point, because it is very important. Obviously the design and manufacture of these devices are subject to very stringent conditions, laid down by the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. We do not set the parameters for how we design them. They issue an extremely detailed and comprehensive specification for all electronic monitoring equipment, which the devices have to be tested to. In terms of strength, it is stringently laid down that the strap has to break [xxx].
Q61 Chair: [xxx].
Paul Fernley: [xxx].
Q62 Michael Ellis: Mr Fernley, isn’t the point, though, that for safety reasons it is supposed to be able to be broken off in an emergency situation?
Paul Fernley: Absolutely, yes.
Q63 Michael Ellis: Presumably, you could make these much tougher, so that nobody could cut them off, but you deliberately don’t.
Paul Fernley: We could, but if we did make them tougher, they would not meet the specification to which we have to conform. That specification would need to be altered. If it were, then yes, we could definitely make it harder to remove. You have to bear in mind situations like emergencies at hospitals: if someone wearing a tag is rushed into hospital and needs a CT scan or an operation, they have to be able to remove the tag, [xxx]. That is another reason why they have to be removable.
Q64 Mr Winnick: You told the Chair that about 100 people are wearing these at the moment?
Paul Fernley: Of this GPS one, yes.
Q65 Mr Winnick: Of that 100, nine would be subject to a terrorist order.
Paul Fernley: Eight or nine, yes.
Q66 Mr Winnick: And the rest? What categories would they be in?
Kim Challis: We supply mainly the offender management units within police forces. They may use them for volunteers for whom the police have found tagging an appropriate method of monitoring. For the police forces that make use of that kit-it varies, but we have between 60 and 80 devices-we only provide the equipment. We do not do any of the monitoring. We literally provide the equipment and they do the installation and the monitoring.
Q67 Ian Austin: Can you tell us on how many occasions these have been tampered with?
Kim Challis: [xxx].
Q68 Ian Austin: Is this across the 100 people or the 10?
Kim Challis: No, we are not aware of tampers outside the TPIMs contract, because we are not responsible for monitoring.
Q69 Ian Austin: [xxx].
Kim Challis: [xxx].
Q70 Michael Ellis: [xxx].
Paul Fernley: [xxx].
Q71 Michael Ellis: [xxx].
Paul Fernley: [xxx].
Q72 Ian Austin: [xxx].
Paul Fernley: [xxx].
Q73 Chair: That is very helpful. As far as Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed is concerned, we have just received a letter from Eddie Aston, your regional CEO. [xxx].
Hon. Members: [xxx]..
Q74 Chair: [xxx].
Paul Fernley: [xxx].
Q75 Chair: [xxx].
Graham Eadie: [xxx].
Q76 Michael Ellis: [xxx].
Paul Fernley: [xxx].
Q77 Chair: Who makes these tags apart from G4S? Presumably you are not the only company in the world that makes them.
Kim Challis: No. [xxx].
Q78 Chair: Very delicately put. There are no more market leaders in the UK, or is this worldwide?
Kim Challis: Worldwide.
Q79 Chair: But your involvement in this case ended by the time you told them that the tag had been tampered with.
Graham Eadie: That is not strictly true.
Q80 Chair: [xxx].
Graham Eadie: [xxx].
Q81 Chair: It is your property, but they are the client.
Graham Eadie: Yes. The protocol is that we do the reporting and the police take the enforcement action.
Q82 Chair: Do you know if it was cut in that case?
Graham Eadie: We know we got the tamper alert.
Q83 Chair: But you do not know what happened.
Paul Fernley: We know that the integrity of the strap was breached [xxx].
Chair: Excellent. Thank you so much for coming today. It has been very helpful.
Examination of Witness
Witness: David Anderson QC, Independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, gave evidence.
Q84 Chair: I welcome David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, to the Committee. I refer everyone present to the Register of Members’ Interests where the interests of members of this Committee are noted. I remind everyone that this is our inquiry into counter-terrorism, which is ongoing. Mr Anderson, thank you for coming. I think on previous occasions we had you down and then had to stand you down at short notice, but we are very grateful for your patience and kindness in coming in today.
Obviously, the situation regarding Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed has come into the public domain since we asked you to come in here. We do not want this to dominate the session, but there are questions we would like to ask you about it because, clearly, it will reflect on our view of the operations of the TPIMs and control orders and other issues of structure. You are the independent reviewer, and you have done a report into BX, who is, of course, Ibrahim Magag. Does it concern you that, for those watching from outside, we seem to have lost our touch as far as monitoring counter-terrorism issues are concerned? Here are these people just disappearing without people knowing where they are. Is there a real fundamental problem with the way in which we administer the counter-terrorism policy?
David Anderson: It obviously is a concern that, of 10 people who have been subject to TPIMs, two have absconded-in fact, two have absconded in the past year. They are not, of course, the first to abscond: there were others who absconded before mid-2007 who were under control orders. In the intervening period, we managed five and a half years without any absconds at all. Of course, any abscond is a concern, but I think it is important to appreciate what it is that TPIMs can do and what they cannot. What they are not is a foolproof way of keeping the population safe from terrorists. The only foolproof way that I know of doing that is to lock everybody whom the Home Secretary believes might be dangerous in a high security prison and leave them there for the rest of their lives. Thankfully, that is not the sort of country we live in.
The other thing that they are not is a measure that can last indefinitely. We would all very much like to see people who are believed to be dangerous safely out of harm’s way for a very long time, but that just is not feasible in circumstances where they have not been convicted of any criminal offence, and in circumstances where, although the courts do have to look to see whether the Home Secretary’s belief is a reasonable one, they do not have to be persuaded, even on a balance of probabilities, that that person has been a terrorist. We are stuck with this perhaps slightly unhappy compromise. Of its nature, it is not a measure that is entirely secure, but on the other hand, they have been very useful in disrupting terrorism and in preventing terrorism activity taking place.
Q85 Chair: Yes. You are telling this Committee that they are not as good as control orders because of the powers that control orders have?
David Anderson: I am not going to say good or bad, but I think they are significantly different from control orders.
Q86 Chair: But they are not as effective as control orders?
David Anderson: There are some differences between control orders and TPIMs that I think have had an impact on the effectiveness of the measure. The main one is the question of relocation. During that period, June 2007 to December 2012, when there were no absconds, quite a high proportion of those controlled persons were-horrible phrase-relocated away from the towns where they lived to other towns, usually two or three hours apart. Of course, that is not foolproof. One can escape from Norwich or Gloucester or Ipswich just as one can escape from London, but the thought is that it might be easier to escape in a city where you have associates who might be able to give you some help.
Q87 Chair: Had this particular individual, Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed, come to your attention before? Obviously, there are court papers indicating he was part of a group called the London Boys, which is associated with al-Shabaab. You said in your report of 2011, "The allegations against some TPIM subjects are at the highest end of seriousness even by the standards of international terrorism." These are not choir boys, are they?
David Anderson: No, certainly not. Because there are not very many of them, I follow all these cases quite closely both by attending meetings where their cases are discussed and, of course, by reading the judgments in the cases.
Chair: You have come across Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed before?
David Anderson: I have not met him but, of course, I knew about his case.
Q88 Chair: Is he a dangerous person? Is he a worry, as people now think he is?
David Anderson: He has been heavily engaged not only in fighting but in attack planning in Somalia-or so the Home Secretary believes; no criminal court, of course, has ever shown that. He has also been involved in recruiting other English people to travel to Somalia. You may have seen from the open judgment of last October, the review of his TPIM measure, that he was associated in some way with Ibrahim Magag, the other abscondee, or at least he was thought to have been associated.
Q89 Chair: Yes. That is the person you had completed your report on in March 2013. You did some kind of review?
David Anderson: Not a specific review, no. The Home Secretary indicated to Parliament that she would keep me briefed on the progress of the investigation into Magag’s abscond. She was as good as her word and so I am aware of what happened after that abscond, yes.
Q90 Chair: What is worrying is that here you have these orders that Parliament passes, and people still abscond. In his case, of course, there is no passport. Is it not standard practice, since you are following these people on TPIMs, that somebody ought to know where their passport is?
David Anderson: That certainly is standard practice, which is not to say anybody necessarily fell down on the job on this occasion. I think there are probably aspects of this I cannot go into.
Q91 Chair: No, but the passport is pretty important because if someone needs to travel they need their passport, don’t they?
David Anderson: Yes. For some of these people on TPIMs, the inability to travel abroad is what you are aiming for. That is probably the most important of all the restrictions.
Q92 Chair: The other worrying aspect is that the mosque itself said that they were not aware that this particular gentleman was on a TPIM. I think that the head of the mosque, the imam, Khalid Rashad, said that if only they had known they would have cooperated with the authorities. They seemed to have no idea that the person coming to worship at their mosque was the subject of a TPIM. As you are reviewing terrorism legislation, do you not agree that the involvement and the engagement of community groups is absolutely vital in the fight against terrorism? As we are constantly told, despite having a budget of £1.9 billion, the security services cannot follow everyone all the time. They need the support of the public. Does it concern you that the mosque did not even know?
David Anderson: I would agree entirely that the support of communities is the single most important factor in the fight against terrorism. That is so whether you are talking about England or Northern Ireland. In relation to whether TPIM subjects should be publicly known, the view is normally taken that their identities are not disclosed for their own protection. It is very different in the case of asset freezing where, of course, it can be an offence to pay money, for example, to somebody who is under an asset freeze; therefore, their identities are released and their associates and people whom they meet and people who employ them, indeed, will know that they are subject to an asset freeze.
Q93 Chair: We will put this to Charles Farr, but the Home Secretary is supposed to be drawing up a list of those mosques that are radical mosques and presumably not allowing those with TPIMs to go and worship at those mosques. You would have no problem with that?
David Anderson: She certainly has the power to do that under the law as it is drafted. She can make an exclusion order in relation to any of these people. That might exclude them from going to an area where known harmful associates are living. It could, in principle, prevent them from going to a particular mosque or mosques.
Q94 Mr Winnick: Of course, in the Second World War a number of people, obvious suspects, were held without detention under the 18B regulations, which I am sure you are aware of-Mosley and his thugs. In the circumstances, there did not seem to be any alternative since we were engaged in a world war against tyranny. As far as these people are concerned, who may well be as dangerous as it is said and I have no reason to doubt otherwise, would it not be better resolved, speaking perhaps as a lawyer-you, not me-by seeing if legislation could be amended so that such people can be tried, rather than use a system that is, apart from the Second World War, somewhat alien to the whole concept of British justice?
David Anderson: I completely agree that the best solution in every case, if it can be done, is to put these people on trial. Can I make a similar comment about criminal justice to the comment that I made about the TPIM? Sadly, it is not a guarantee of everybody’s complete safety. If we have become so risk averse as a society that we demand a guarantee that everyone at all times be safe from terrorism, then the criminal process as it currently exists is not going to provide that guarantee. I think we still operate on the principle of Blackstone, that it is better for 10 guilty men to walk free than it is for one innocent man to be punished. You will remember that, of the 10 people who have been subject to TPIMs since the system came in, four have been placed on trial and have been acquitted by a jury. Nonetheless, the Secretary of State believes they are dangerous terrorists and the courts have supported her in that belief when the reviews have come before them.
Like you, I am troubled by the fact that there are cases that cannot be prosecuted at all. I think there was a perception in some quarters that this was all because we did not allow telephone intercepts as evidence, whereas most other countries, of course, do. That is something into which there have, I think, been eight separate inquiries since 1993, with none concluding, "Yes, it would be easy to do. Let us do it". Certainly, my predecessor, Lord Carlile, who was a distinguished prosecutor at the Bar, looked at all 52 control order cases and concluded that admitting intercept in those cases would not have made any difference. I have quizzed the Crown Prosecution Service similarly about the TPIM cases and they tell me the same thing. What the problem seems to be, rather, is not wanting to put into open court either foreign intelligence or technical surveillance product or evidence from a human agent, for obvious reasons: one would be giving away secrets to the person who is on trial or to his associates or to the public.
Q95 Ian Austin: There are three areas I would like to ask about in relation to TPIMs, firstly in relation to their introduction. As I understand it and as you have said, under the old control orders and TPIMs the difference is that relocation powers are able to be used under control orders and, during the five years that they were in place, no suspects escaped. Last week the Prime Minister told the House of Commons that the TPIMs were introduced to replace control orders. They had to do so because of the courts, but when they were introduced the Home Secretary said that control orders had been excessive and unnecessary. She said that the new regime would "restore our civil liberties". Is it reasonable to assume that, with the introduction of TPIMs or the replacement of control orders with TPIMs, there was a deliberate choice to put the civil liberties of terror suspects ahead of the risks to the public?
David Anderson: I do not think it is as simple as that, first of all because the added freedoms that go along with a TPIM might give you added investigative opportunities. I think the thought was that if people were freer perhaps to associate with people that they had known in a place with which they were familiar, it might be possible to pick up a little more information on what they are doing and perhaps even reach the Holy Grail of being able to prosecute them for terrorism-related activity. I think that was part of the thinking.
Another part of the thinking and the reason why it is not just a simple trade-off between liberty for the suspect and safety for the rest of us is that considerable additional money was devoted to the police and to MI5 for the purposes of surveillance. It was not ring-fenced for a very specific purpose, but the clear understanding was that this money was being paid in order to compensate for the fact that relocation was being ended and, of course, TPIMs were coming to an end after two years, whereas control orders could be rolled over year on year. It is that that led the police and the security service to the assessment that the change would mean no substantial increase in overall risk.
Q96 Ian Austin: They arrived at that judgment because they were told, as you said, that there would be extra resources provided for the implementation of the new orders. Your predecessor, Lord Carlile, said the cost would go from £1.8 million a person per year on a control order to £18 million per TPIM. That is what he said, is it not?
David Anderson: There is a footnote by that figure to the effect that it may not have been quite right, but I think, in any event, if that comparison was made it was a comparison of two rather crude figures. The second figure, I assume, would have been intended to represent the entire cost of keeping somebody under 24-hour surveillance for a whole year. Without spilling any secrets, I question whether that is a very realistic way of looking at the way surveillance is practised in this country. It tends to be much more selective than that.
Q97 Ian Austin: Is there any evidence that any additional information has been obtained by the police or the security services as a result of the additional freedoms that the suspects have been granted?
David Anderson: I don’t think TPIMs have been very successful as investigative measures, any more than control orders were; although that is not to say that a complete blank has been drawn in relation to the gathering of evidence of possible utility for a criminal trial. I would certainly accept that we have not seen the fruits of that at this stage.
Q98 Ian Austin: On the question of surveillance, you said the figures of £1.8 million and £18 million were crude and you could not compare them and all that, but what extra funds have been provided and what extra surveillance has been implemented? If it has been appropriate, how it is possible that Magag could just call a cab and this guy Mohammed could just change his clothes and both of them escape?
David Anderson: I wish I could give you the figures. Unfortunately, I am not able to give you the figures. It may be that if you press Charles Farr, who of course has the authority to give them, he may be more helpful to you, but it is a substantial sum.
Q99 Ian Austin: What can you tell us about the information that was provided to Ministers about the differing levels of surveillance that would be applied under the old regime and under the current regime?
David Anderson: I don’t think I can tell you what Ministers were told about levels of surveillance. What I can say is that surveillance is adapted constantly to the individual you are dealing with, to the perceived level of risk and to other factors as well. One might have regard to where he is, what his family are doing or what his associates are doing. It is a constantly varying thing and, ultimately, it is the security service that would have the responsibility for deciding the extent of surveillance that might be placed on any particular individual at any particular time.
Q100 Ian Austin: You have said yourself that these people are at the highest end of seriousness, and you have talked about the sorts of things they have been involved in. At the moment there are all sorts of resources being devoted to tracing Mohammed, but in January he would just be free to come and go-at the end of January, the TPIM would be lifted, along with all the rest of them, and they would all be able to come and go. People who have been involved in all sorts of plots to bring down airliners and all sorts of different things would be able to come and go as they please. Surely this has to be reviewed. This sunset clause, it appears to me, presents real dangers.
David Anderson: Obviously there are dangers in releasing on to the streets people who are believed by the Home Secretary, supported by the courts, to be dangerous terrorists. I do think, though, you have to put this in context. Before 2005 there was no power on the statute book to subject British citizens to any kind of constraint in these circumstances unless they were in the criminal process: if they had been arrested, if they had been charged, if they had been convicted of a criminal offence. This is all new since 2005. If you compare it with other countries as well, you will find some countries with vaguely similar provisions, in particular Australia where they have had the system and used it only twice for relatively short periods. We are certainly at the top end of that.
If I may just say two other things about the two-year period. It perhaps brings advantages as well. First, on a point already made, it concentrates minds on the need to find a criminal solution and it stops you just parking these people in a shadow justice system, where nobody has to prove anything but they can remain under constraint. The second thing it does-and thank you for your tolerance, Chairman-is it helps you focus on exit strategy. What are we going to do with these people at the end of the two years? How are we going to prepare for the end of the two years? Instead of just sitting in a warehouse and being quietly forgotten, minds are focused on what is a sensible disposal.
Q101 Michael Ellis: I did think I was question 2, but that does not seem to have happened, Chairman. Mr Anderson, bear with me while I ask you several questions now. First of all, there is clearly a political agenda in some quarters to try to make a point about control orders and TPIMs, "Ours is better than yours. Yours is better than mine". Let us get to the crux of this. Is it not the case that under the duration of the control orders something in the region of seven people absconded? Could you say yes or no, please, rather than nodding?
David Anderson: That is true. Seven people absconded before 2007.
Q102 Michael Ellis: Before 2007. We have two absconds now under TPIMs. Is that right?
David Anderson: Yes.
Q103 Michael Ellis: The other thing I wanted to ask you was this. Is it not the case that under the currency of control orders, before TPIMs came into force, the courts were starting to delve into the control orders and starting to weaken them, starting to effectively question their validity and, in effect, reduce their potency?
David Anderson: I do not agree with that. I would say that the courts certainly refined the operation of control orders.
Q104 Michael Ellis: What do you mean by "refined"?
David Anderson: For example, they brought down the maximum allowable curfew to 14 hours. There is nothing more-
Q105 Michael Ellis: Forgive me, Mr Anderson, but isn’t that weakening something? If the maximum curfew was more than 14 hours and then the court reduces it to a maximum of 14 hours, that is weakening the power of that order, isn’t it?
David Anderson: Yes, but that judgment did not require a new maximum of "overnight" or 10 hours to be imposed, which is what has happened now. Yes, the courts did have an impact on the operation of control orders, but there was no suggestion in the courts that the system of control orders was unlawful. One might say, and I will give you this, that the courts did not have to deal with people who had been under these sorts of constraints for six or seven years, as some people now have. It may be that, had one arrived at that point, the courts would have started saying, "Hang on, this is not just a temporary disruptive measure. This looks very like house imprisonment and it has just been going on for too long", but we did not get to that stage.
Q106 Michael Ellis: We did not quite get to that because they did not last long enough, but there were signs in judgments, were there not, that the judges would be concerned at this point, as you rightly say, several years having passed, that effectively there was a violation of the human rights we keep hearing about of these suspects?
David Anderson: Some of the liberalisations, which incidentally I welcome to the terrorism laws over the last three years, have been prompted by judgments of the courts, even the Court of Human Rights-the end of stop and search, for example, in the street. I would not put TPIMs in that category, because the principle of control orders had been upheld by the courts, even if specific aspects or specific orders were said from time to time to be excessive.
Q107 Michael Ellis: I am struck by what you said when you started your remarks, which was that there is no failsafe mechanism of protecting the public from terrorist attack short of locking people up in a maximum security prison, and I suppose even in those circumstances people have been known to escape. While we are in a situation where we cannot lock people up without sufficient evidence and we cannot deport them either if they happen to be British citizens or if deporting them means that they will be killed in another country, there is very little we can do, other than that which we are already doing, to restrict their liberty as much as is possible without a conviction or evidence. Was that a fair characterisation?
David Anderson: I think there are an awful lot of weapons in the armoury. In my view, control orders were and TPIMs are an important weapon. Nobody likes them very much, but they are very useful. One concern I have about all this is this zero risk mentality. If every time something goes wrong with one person on one of these orders and a political storm or a media storm ensues, it seems to me the likely consequence is going to be that people become very averse to using these remedies at all. What we may find is that, for essentially political reasons, we lose what could have been a very effective remedy.
Q108 Michael Ellis: When you were asked about this two-year strategy, I think you were saying that you think there ought to be a mechanism whereby, when people come to the end of their two-year orders under TPIMs, they are helped out of them. Is that what you are saying? Is that your view?
David Anderson: My view is a very pragmatic one. In the criminal courts I sit as a criminal recorder. I can have someone before me convicted of stealing the wheels off a car and even that person has a probation officer prepare a report on him and tell me what he thinks the best disposal is to make sure he does not offend again. My concern was that people were languishing for years on control orders. The police officer, the spy and the civil servant would meet every now and again to see how he was getting on, but no one was necessarily thinking about the best way of ensuring that at the end of the order he was guided towards a more productive life.
Q109 Michael Ellis: So the easiest thing to do was just continue him on that order, whereas now that cannot happen?
David Anderson: I think there is an incentive now to think seriously about this, which is why I have recommended that the law be changed in order to give the Home Secretary a power to require these people to meet with appointed persons. It might be a respected imam or an elder in the community. In some cases it might be utterly pointless, but in other cases-some of these people were very young; one was in his teens when he first went on a control order-it might be helpful.
Chair: I seem to have lost a little bit of control, like the TPIMs, on this session because a lot of questions have been asked. We do have another witness, just so you are all aware of that, but that is not a warning to Mr Winnick who may ask as many questions as he wants, following Yasmin Qureshi.
Mr Winnick: I am just setting the example, perhaps, for the other two.
Q110 Yasmin Qureshi: I am not going to be talking about the merit of TPIMs over control orders. What I am more concerned about is the balance between security and civil liberties. I think you know-I am aware of the fact-that there have been a number of cases where people have been arrested, sometimes they have spent a lot of time in custody, they go to court, and the cases are dismissed. You have talked about some cases specifically in the TPIM regime and others-four put on trial, four acquitted. Would you think that we have gone perhaps too much on to security and thereby eroded the civil liberties?
Chair: Mr Anderson, that is an essay for you.
David Anderson: Yes.
Yasmin Qureshi: Yes, it may be. Sorry, I do not mean to-
David Anderson: Let me start very broadly.
Chair: But could you be brief?
David Anderson: I am rather proud to live in a society where, on the whole, people can go about their daily business neither terrified that they are going to be killed by terrorists nor irritated beyond belief by the measures that are put in place to protect us. In terms of conviction rates, they are pretty good. On people charged with terrorism offences, the CPS do a pretty good job-I have forgotten the exact percentage. It is in my report, but a substantial proportion are convicted.
I would accept that that is not the case where people are put on trial for breaching their TPIMs, and I think one reason for that is the breaches are often very trivial. You might be a couple of minutes late phoning your service provider to tell them you have arrived back home and that will be logged under the zero tolerance policy. You may eventually end up, if the CPS allows it, in court. I think it is sometimes difficult to persuade juries, who do not of course see the national security case against these people, that these are serious offences that do deserve to be convicted.
Q111 Yasmin Qureshi: Yes, you are right. Where people are being prosecuted and charged, I do not think anybody has any real issue about those because that is what should be happening. The concern that a number of people have is about where somebody has not been charged, and they are not going to be charged; they are just there because the Home Secretary feel that there may be something-whatever. Then there are all these other forms of evidence that can be used, and we are told that sometimes they will not prosecute a case because they cannot get certain evidence in. From my former practice, I know the fact that the courts have various different means of getting evidence in without people knowing who their source is-you do not have to reveal the source of your informant; you can give evidence behind screens; you can do all sorts of things.
David Anderson: I think there is more potential for that and I am certainly not trying to do a compare and contrast, but under control orders where, in principle, the detention or the constraints could be indefinite then perhaps there was more of a risk of that happening. It is difficult to see why it would happen with TPIMs because they are a weaker measure. They can only last for two years. It is not a terrific win for the police or the security service to get someone put under a TPIM for two years because it is very expensive to look after them and they are free at the end of the two years. I think, for them, the first option is always going to be to prosecute and so it should be.
Q112 Mr Winnick: Mr Anderson, under schedule 7 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, as we know, people can be detained without any suspicion whatsoever. It is meant, presumably, to ascertain whether they could be involved in terrorism, as I understand the position. You are rather critical of that, aren’t you?
David Anderson: I think it is a very useful power that has been instrumental in securing evidence that has been used to convict terrorists and that has been particularly useful in gathering intelligence on terrorist activity, including not least from the search of data, for example, on mobile phones that are seized as people go through the port. I would not say I was critical, but I think the fact that, as you say, it can be used without the need for any suspicion-anyone travelling through a port can be subject to a schedule 7 examination-means that there is a potential for over-use. I have been very pleased to see that this power was used 30% less last year than it was three years ago. Unlike the old stop and search power, section 44, which almost ballooned out of control, this one seems to be used decreasingly as the years go by. Having said that, there are still 60,000 people or so stopped at ports; not all those stops are based on intelligence and I think there is room for a further decline in those numbers and for some further safeguards on how the power is exercised.
Q113 Mr Winnick: There is one particular case that I have consulted today. It remains sub judice, so obviously I have no intention of mentioning it but, insofar as you would like to see some change, I assume it is on the basis that there should be some possibility that terrorism has been involved before the person is detained and questioned. Is that so?
David Anderson: I have been persuaded that we still need a no-suspicion power to stop and examine. Take the example of two men going through Heathrow: the intelligence services know all about one of them and he is a hardened terrorist; the other person they have never seen before. They know nothing about him except that he is travelling with somebody dangerous. That is not reasonable suspicion, but wouldn’t you want to get him in and ask him some questions? I would suggest that that is plain common sense and that you would.
Where I have more concerns is where you look at some of the ancillary powers, for example the power to detain someone for up to nine hours-if the Bill goes through, it will be six hours-the power to download a mobile phone, the power to take DNA and so on. It seems to me it is worth at least thinking, as indeed the Joint Committee on Human Rights has thought, about whether some further threshold might be necessary at that stage to justify the exercise of those powers. I do not necessarily say it has to be as high as reasonable suspicion, but I think it does bear thinking about and debating as to whether some further safeguard is not necessary at that stage.
Q114 Mr Winnick: The Government knows your views, presumably, on this?
David Anderson: Yes. I publish my reviews in reports. The last one came out in July and I indicated there where I thought it was a good idea to do some thinking. Of course, there is an avalanche of litigation going on, so in a sense this is not the ideal time to be looking at a Bill. As well as the case you mentioned, there was another case decided last week, a case decided back in August, the Supreme Court passed comment on schedule 7 a couple of weeks ago, and there is a case pending in Strasbourg. There is an absolute blizzard of legal cases at the moment and we will have to see how the landscape looks when they have all been decided.
Q115 Mr Winnick: Do you believe The Guardian was wrong to publish material arising from Edward Snowden?
David Anderson: I am certainly not going to get into that. I think we would all agree that the media are not above the law. They are subject to the law as everybody else is.
Q116 Mr Winnick: We know from the current court cases that the newspapers are not above the law. There is a case going on.
David Anderson: I am not going to talk about that one, but I think we know anyway that the media are not above the law. Of course, if you look at the prosecutorial guidelines and so on, newspapers are not like everybody else. To the extent that they can demonstrate a public interest in what they are doing, that may affect the public interest test that the prosecutors apply.
Q117 Mr Winnick: Mr Anderson, I certainly do not want to push you against your will. You have been very forthcoming in your views and we appreciate that, but if I can just ask you, arising from what I have asked you about The Guardian, do you nevertheless feel that the debate that is taking place-various people have said that we need to have a review of existing powers; that the amount of intelligence-gathering shown by what Snowden has revealed is such that it is too extensive. We know, for example, arising from all this-an issue highly beneficial to terrorism-that the German Chancellor’s phone was hacked. Do you think in all these controversies arising from what The Guardian has published that it has been useful to have such a public debate both in Parliament and outside?
David Anderson: I think the debate has undoubtedly been useful. It is not for me to say whether the utility of that debate has been outweighed by the damage that is said to have been done to national security by some of the specific disclosures. I do not get into that; it is not something I am capable to judge, but certainly one can make the case that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, although only 12 years old, has already been overtaken by developments in technology and I could well understand the argument for revisiting some of the powers in that Act.
Q118 Mr Winnick: I wonder if I can just pick you up on what you said, "the damage to national security". Are you basing those remarks on any evidence? You may not wish to share with the Committee. I accept that, but there does not seem to be anyone producing evidence that the Guardian has produced material that will aid and benefit terrorism. It is very well for others, not necessarily yourself, to say that they are undermining security and the rest of it, but no evidence seems to be produced of any kind. What is being produced is a sort of wide-ranging review. I heard, for example, the US Secretary of State saying in reply to a question-he was being interviewed on Radio 4 today-that the President is carrying out a full review. That is unlikely to have taken place without the Snowden revelations.
David Anderson: That is the question of the public interest benefit. As far as the detriment is concerned, no. My job is to look at the operation of the Terrorism Act. I am not the Surveillance Commissioner or the Intelligence and Security Committee, and I have not asked for the detailed evidential briefing, which is what I would need if I were going to be persuaded that very serious damage had been done to national security. I can understand, and it might even be thought to be self-evident, that if documents are published or indeed given to hostile people that indicate that a particular form of communication has been decrypted, then terrorists or others might be alerted to the advisability of not using that channel of communication and moving on to something else where coverage might be less good. I can understand the theory. I cannot pretend to have looked at the evidence.
Mr Winnick: Thank you very much. I will not press you any further.
Q119 Chair: Are you a Guardian reader?
David Anderson: It is one of the papers I read – not the only one.
Mr Winnick: It is not yet a criminal offence, even to the Tory Government.
Q120 Chair: I should tell you that the editor will be coming to give evidence to the Committee in December. You saw the evidence of the three security chiefs to the Intelligence and Security Committee?
David Anderson: I did, yes.
Q121 Chair: Do you think that terrorists were rubbing their hands with glee when they saw the articles in the Guardian?
David Anderson: They have, no doubt, listened to the tapes and I have not. I can only defer to them on that.
Q122 Dr Huppert: I am not sure in what order to do things. If we can rewind slightly to schedule 7, which we were on for a while, there are some changes being made to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, and while that legislation is in the House of Lords there is the opportunity to implement anything you recommend. Will you have a series of recommendations in time and have you had any communication from the Government that they will implement the changes that you recommend?
David Anderson: It is always difficult for me to know how to do this because I report on the operation of the Act. I see my role as being to inform the public and political debate, rather than to participate in it, but I would say there are perhaps four issues that would bear looking at, at least. The first we have already touched on: the test that must be satisfied before some of these ancillary powers are used-for example the power to download, the power to detain or to keep people beyond a certain time. I do not say it needs to be as high as reasonable suspicion, but should something be required.
The second issue relates to the use made of answers given under compulsion. This is a point that the divisional court brought up in the case of Beghal that was decided a few weeks ago. It seemed unconscionable to them that answers given under compulsion should ever be used in a criminal court. Although I think most people who operate the system work on that assumption anyway, the judges suggested that the Bill should be amended to make that point.
The third issue relates to the treatment of privileged material, journalistic material and so on. I am going to say no more about that because that one is sub judice and Miranda and we will have to wait and see what the current position is.
Fourthly, and this is perhaps not for the statute but nevertheless very important, is the question of what you do with all this data that you harvest from somebody’s mobile phone or their computer. If it is DNA, of course we have the protection of the Freedoms Act 2012-all sorts of protections are in place to make sure it is kept for as long as it is needed but not any longer-but nothing equivalent when it comes to electronic data. That is an issue, of course, that goes well beyond schedule 7, but it seems to me it is still an important one.
Q123 Dr Huppert: This is a very helpful list and it fits fairly well with a motion passed at the latest Liberal Democrat conference-a list that you possibly have seen but it goes with this-but you did not quite answer the question about whether you have had communication with the Government about whether they would implement the changes that you are suggesting. Will you have the opportunity to get things done the way you would like them to happen?
David Anderson: I have not sought to present them with a Christmas list. I do talk quite regularly to the Government and to police about the way the power operates and how it might be improved.
Q124 Dr Huppert: I think you would find some people interested to hear what you recommend. Can I just move on to cover a couple of other things that we do need to cover? One is about the location of counter-terror policing. You made some comments recently almost that it should not be discussed until we have seen how the NCA works. Is that still your position and when should we be debating it and when should we be asking you back to comment?
David Anderson: I saw Sir David Omand’s evidence to your Committee, which demands the highest respect, and he suggested there should be a five-year moratorium before anybody even discusses the idea. I do not know whether I would go as far as that, but I do very much echo his call for caution. We have a system that, although not ideal, does at least work pretty well and it has one priceless benefit that one does not see to the same extent in a lot of other countries, which is a pretty good operational relationship between police and intelligence.
At the other end you have another benefit. You saw, for example, the investigation of the murder of Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham earlier this year. That was a terrorism investigation but what you saw there was specialist terrorist police working very well with local police. By the end it was a question of knocking on doors and say, "Have you seen this man?" Again, the fact that the unit was embedded in the local community and was part of a local force, I think, had some usefulness.
Q125 Dr Huppert: I am sorry to jump around so much. We were talking earlier about the public debate and I think you welcomed the public debate that is now happening about intelligence and security, oversight and what is and is not reasonable. The debate in the UK has been far more muted than in many other countries-US, Germany, Brazil and many other places. Why do you think that is and what would change that? What would create a more informed and broader public debate?
David Anderson: I would suggest we are very proud of our intelligence services. If you wanted my top two reasons, I would say Bletchley Park and 007. We have not had the sort of bad experience that they had in parts of Germany or in Eastern Europe with intelligence services and, for that reason, I think people are disinclined to believe that those who have those responsibilities are misusing them.
Q126 Chair: But James Bond used to shop at Harrods, and sometimes it looks as if we are going into Aldi these days, with people escaping all the time. Doesn’t it worry you that the great reputation of our security services and the police are damaged by these stories of people just getting into cabs or going into mosques and changing into a burqa and then escaping? This is a worry for what is the best security service in the world, is it not?
David Anderson: In this job, Chairman, as in yours, worrying things happen every day of the week. There are huge jailbreaks in Iraq and Afghanistan with terrorists of-
Q127 Chair: Yes, but we are talking about only 10 people and you have your eye on these 10 people. One would assume that everyone else had their eye on them. If you look at Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed’s sister, she said, "When he was on a TPIM it was not as strict as being on a control order. Then he was being followed all the time, but with a TPIM it was just the first few months. It was like that and then it became more laid back. Before it was every day." It is the policy that seems to be wrong, not the operation.
David Anderson: I do not want to get into a political debate, particularly a party political debate, on whether control orders were better than TPIMs. I do not think that is my function. My function is to-
Q128 Chair: I am not asking you to do that. I am asking you for the operational aspects of this.
David Anderson: I think, looking at it operationally, what one must not lose sight of is that both control orders and TPIMs resemble nothing so much as bail conditions. In fact, if you look at, for example, the bail conditions that Abu Qatada was under when he was on immigration bail, they were a lot stricter than anything that was permissible under a TPIM. Unfortunately, people do sometimes jump bail. It is a fact of life.
Q129 Chair: Are our expectations too high? Would we expect then people who are on a TPIM with a G4S tag to regularly tamper with their tag and disappear?
David Anderson: No, Chairman ...
Q130 Chair: In which case, what is the point of having them?
David Anderson: ... of course not, but I think if one does have an expectation of zero risk then one is not only bound to be disappointed, but one also risks misallocating resources in pursuit of 100% protection that is never going to be attainable.
Q131 Chair: Would it help if we had exit checks at airports? One of the issues, in this is about the passport and the fact that Mr Mohammed was brought back to the UK. If we had exit checks, presumably we would know who was leaving the country.
David Anderson: One advantage of the schedule 7 port power is that of course that can be used on exit as well as on entry. If one has information that a person is going to be leaving the country through a particular port at a particular time, or even if one just thinks they might be, it is possible to put some sort of check in place. Of course, it would not be difficult to think of ways in which life could be made safer but a lot of them would be very intrusive. Somewhere, the balance has to be struck.
Q132 Chair: It would help if people were prosecuted if they tampered with their tags, because that is a criminal offence and it appears that those who have tampered with their tags so far have not been prosecuted. The Home Secretary is very keen on prosecuting them.
David Anderson: Yes, she is very keen.
Q133 Chair: Why haven’t they been prosecuted?
David Anderson: I do not want to give away any secrets from within OSCT but any suggestion that the Home Secretary was anything less than wholly dedicated to tracking these people down would be completely misplaced.
Q134 Chair: But why is she not being listened to by those who have operational responsibility?
David Anderson: I think she is.
Q135 Chair: Why is she saying, "I want them prosecuted and nobody is prosecuting those who tamper with their tags"?
David Anderson: But you give an example of prosecution for tag tampering. Ironically, the very day he absconded, the Crown Court, I think, at Southwark had just heard from the Crown Prosecution Service that they could not proceed with the prosecutions for tag tampering. There was a very strong wish to do it, but at the door of the court, for whatever reason, the evidence did not stack up, so the prosecution had to be pulled. Ironic, you might think, that it is the same day that the tag is disposed of and the suspect flees.
Q136 Chair: This is the allegation that there is something faulty with the tags and, therefore, they say that they have been tampered with but in fact they have not been tampered with? Is that the issue?
David Anderson: The other thing about these cases is they may seem trivial but they are remarkably difficult to prosecute and a lot of evidence is required, expert evidence. There are experts who specialise in tags and how easy they are to tamper with and how the tamper might have taken place.
David Anderson: It was in that context, I think, that those charges were dropped.
Chair: Unknown to you, we did have private evidence from G4S about the tags, though we should have had them after you had gone because I think this session has raised even more questions that we would like to ask.
Q137 Ian Austin: You said that under the TPIMs there was this process that enabled people to be weaned off the TPIM and prepared for life without these controls. Given that the TPIM on Mohammed would have ended at the end of January and he has fled now, that process has clearly not been very successful, has it? What confidence can we have in the idea that it will work in relation to the other people on TPIMs?
David Anderson: There are some in respect of whom it probably would not even be worth trying; people who are believed to be ardent terrorists.
Q138 Ian Austin: But surely then, controls should be maintained and the sunset clause should not apply.
David Anderson: I suppose it comes down to what sort of country we want to live in. Do we want to live in a country where we have a little more assurance as to our safety but where people are kept indefinitely under harsh constraints, without having been convicted of a criminal offence? Some people will take one view and some the other.
Chair: Mr Austin, we will put that question to Charles Farr, who might be better able to answer it. Thank you very much for coming in, Mr Anderson. You have been very helpful. We will write to you again following this session because our inquiry will continue until March. If there is anything that you would like us to know about, please do not hesitate to write to us.
David Anderson: Thank you very much indeed.
Chair: Thank you for coming in.
Examination of Witness
Witness: Charles Farr, Director General, Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, Home Office, gave evidence.
Q139 Chair: Mr Farr, welcome to the Committee. This is not your first appearance, though on previous occasions you were here in a different capacity. We are pleased to see you here in open session. As you know, the Committee is undertaking an inquiry into counter-terrorism and we have asked a number of witnesses to come in to talk about the architecture of counter-terrorism. I would like to ask you about the most recent issue concerning Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed. We have heard evidence from David Anderson on this and, of course, many of us were in the Chamber on 4 November when the Home Secretary gave her statement to the House.
I want to start by asking you about the passport issue. I specifically asked the Home Secretary whether the police had the passport of Mr Mohammed because, very similar to Ibrahim Magag, there was a delay in telling Parliament exactly what the situation was. It turned out that she said to the House and to me, in good faith-no one is challenging the Home Secretary’s good faith-that the passport was with the police. She then wrote to me to say that in fact she had been briefed incorrectly. You obviously head the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism and you would have seen the brief before it arrived with the Home Secretary. How is it possible that such a mistake could be made, where the Home Secretary was given incorrect information?
Charles Farr: Thank you. On the question of the passport, when a TPIM is issued it is standard practice for the subject of the TPIM to have his passport withdrawn and it is surrendered to the police and held by the police. In this particular case, an assumption was incorrectly made that that had happened in the case of Mr Mohammed. The draft of the Home Secretary’s speaking notes was shared with the police to check the accuracy of it. The police corrected this point, but the correction was not acted on swiftly enough in my office. It is entirely our responsibility. For that reason, the Home Secretary said something that was wrong, and I apologise for that. I have apologised to her and I believe she, of course has written to you.
Q140 Chair: Yes. You feel that this is because of information you received from the police?
Charles Farr: No, the police corrected our information.
Chair: After she appeared in the House?
Charles Farr: No, before. I am not being clear. We gave our draft briefing to the police and the police pointed out to us that they did not have Mr Mohammed’s passport-they do have the other passports of other TPIM subjects-but by the time that correction reached us, the brief had gone on its way and it was not corrected for the Home Secretary in time. I emphasise that the responsibility for this is ours, not the police’s.
Q141 Chair: Thank you for that apology. As far as the other TPIM subjects are concerned, presumably we now know where their passports are?
Charles Farr: We have double-checked and they are indeed all with the police.
Chair: All the other TPIM subjects’ passports are with the police?
Charles Farr: Yes.
Chair: Mr Mohammed does not have a British passport. Is that right?
Q142 Charles Farr: Mr Mohammed was entitled to a British passport, but when he was deported from Somaliland, where, as you know, he was detained by the authorities, he had no British passport and it was not found with him.
Q143 Chair: Right. But how is it possible, for those of us who obviously also scrutinise immigration issues, for someone to be deported from a foreign country without a travelling document? We do not seem to be able to send anyone out of this country without a travel document.
Charles Farr: He was issued with a British travel document by the embassy in Ethiopia. That is standard practice where someone is stateless and they are being removed from another country to here. When he arrived in the UK he was searched. That travel document was taken from him. No other travel document was found on him and, in particular, no British passport.
Q144 Chair: Mr Farr, knowing what Mr Mohammed was involved in, knowing his association with al-Shabaab, why would our embassy go out of its way to give a British travel document to someone to come back into this country to involve themselves in activities that would end up with them being put under a TPIM? He did not have a British passport so we gave him a document to travel, to bring him back so that he could carry on his activities. It does sound a bit odd, does it not?
Charles Farr: He was entitled to a British passport and he had a British passport that was issued to him in 2005. We were under an obligation in those circumstances, when requested by the authorities in Somaliland, to arrange for his removal back to this country, which was what they had requested.
Q145 Chair: What is his status now then?
Charles Farr: He remains the holder of a British passport or at least entitled to a British passport, which he does not have in his possession.
Chair: But he has not applied for one?
Charles Farr: No.
Q146 Chair: In the time that he came back, when we helped him come back with a British travel document, which you say we are obliged to do-I can tell I you I have so many cases of people we are trying to get rid of out of this country but we can’t because the host country will not have them back-I have not come across this obligation to return to our country somebody we do not want to have here. Presumably, with his history, we would not want to have him, as in the case of al-Libi, the last person who sought asylum to whom we did not give asylum. Why is it that we keep bringing all these people back?
Charles Farr: I think the fundamental distinction between Mr al-Libi, who as you know was not in fact granted asylum, and Mr Mohammed is that Mr Mohammed had been granted UK citizenship in 1999. He had acquired a British passport in 2005 and it was for that reason that there was felt to be an obligation, which I understand to be a legal obligation, to facilitate his removal from Somaliland when it was requested by the Somaliland authorities that that should happen. When he came back here, as far as I know-this is what the records say-he did not apply for another British passport and has not acquired another British passport. Whether he has another passport at present, we do not know.
Q147 Chair: Just a second, Mr Winnick. I will bring you in in a second. I am just following this thread, which sounds bizarre to me, that we should go out of our way to bring someone back like this. The Home Secretary is now talking about stripping British passport holders of citizenship, which she has some powers to do already. We can’t strip Mr Mohammed of his citizenship because he does not have his citizenship, although he is entitled to it. In all the time he has been here, he has never applied for a British passport, although you are telling us he is entitled to do so. If she decides that she does not want him to stay, where does she send him to?
Charles Farr: I think it is important to make a distinction, if I may, between a passport and citizenship. As you rightly say, the Home Secretary has the right to deprive a UK national, a UK citizen, of their British passport. The terms on which she is able to so were amended slightly and confirmed in a written statement earlier this year. The Home Secretary has a separate power, not under prerogative but under primary legislation, to deprive someone of their nationality only so long as they have another nationality and are not thereby left stateless. There are some legal uncertainties around aspects of that, but these are two separate processes. In the context of Mr Mohammed, his travel document was removed from him when he came back here. He did not apply for another passport, but he was not deprived of UK nationality.
Q148 Chair: No, we understand that. As far as other people are concerned, if they have another citizenship you can get rid of them, but if they do not have a dual citizenship we are stuck with them as stateless people. This is the problem with these issues.
Charles Farr: Broadly you are correct. It is not possible for us to deprive someone of their British nationality if they are thereby left stateless. There is some uncertainty, which we are currently looking at, about whether that applies to people who have been naturalised here as well as to citizens who are born here, but I hesitate to comment on that any further because it is an issue that is with the lawyers.
Q149 Chair: Of course. It is just that we have seen a pattern with the Kenyan case of Michael Adebolajo. A British official goes to court and argues that he should be returned to the UK. Mr Mohammed returns to the UK. Are we doing something with these people? Are they of use to us in some way by bringing them back to our country?
Charles Farr: They are of no use to us, no, and I think the only-
Chair: Because it is odd that we should be going out of our way to bring everyone back.
Charles Farr: Only where they are UK nationals. I would emphasise that, where people are not UK nationals, that obviously does not apply and where they are dual nationals it is and has been open to the Home Secretary to deprive someone of UK citizenship, so long as they are not rendered stateless, and thereby to keep them out of this country. I think you will not be surprised to know that the Home Secretary would do the utmost and expect us to do the utmost to keep people out of this country who are engaged in terrorist-related activity where they have no overriding legal reason to remain.
Q150 Chair: My final question on passports: he is a Somalian citizen as well as a British citizen?
Charles Farr: I am not aware that he is a Somali citizen, no.
Chair: He has no other citizenship?
Charles Farr: So far as I know, but let me double check that.
Chair: You mean you do not know this?
Charles Farr: As far as I know he-
Chair: The Home Secretary has made a statement to the House-
Charles Farr: As far as I know he is a mono-UK citizen.
Q151 Michael Ellis: Mr Farr, can I move on from that point and ask you about this in respect of Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed, the legal system, what he was doing and how he was operating within the legal system? Was he being prosecuted for breaking his control order at the time of his absconsion and can you tell us something about what was happening as far as his processes through the courts are concerned, because I am concerned about that?
Charles Farr: Yes. Not untypically for people on TPIMs or previously on control orders, this is quite a complicated case; so please bear with me and stop me if I am going into too much detail. Mr Mohammed came back here, as we have discussed, in March 2011 and was placed on a control order. In October 2011 he was arrested on 14 counts of breaching that control order. I note in passing that that control order included a relocation.
Q152 Michael Ellis: Sorry, is that in the public domain?
Charles Farr: I have seen references to it.
Q153 Michael Ellis: He was being prosecuted for 14 breaches of his control order?
Charles Farr: He was arrested and remanded in custody in October 2011, pending prosecution for 14 breaches of his control order, and those breaches had taken place between August and October. However, he subsequently argued, in February 2012, that his trial for those breaches should be stayed behind a review of his control order, which he had been seeking through the court. That was agreed and, although the CPS requested that he remain in custody, that was refused and he was let out.
Q154 Michael Ellis: A judge bailed him?
Charles Farr: Correct.
Q155 Michael Ellis: Do we have this right so far? He is being prosecuted for breaching his control order on 14 separate occasions.
Charles Farr: Arrested and charged.
Q156 Michael Ellis: Arrested and charged, but the prosecution against him is stayed because he is arguing that the control order was not lawful in the first place?
Charles Farr: That is correct.
Michael Ellis: Originally he was remanded in custody, but then he was released on bail-
Charles Farr: That is correct.
Michael Ellis: -and clearly he was on bail under these conditions when he put the burka on and escaped?
Charles Farr: It gets a little bit more complicated. In December 2012 he was arrested a second time, in this particular case for breaches of what had then become his TPIM. He was arrested on six counts and again remanded in custody and again, in April 2013, the court granted him bail after he again argued for his trial on the breaches to be stayed behind, on this occasion, an appeal against a High Court judgment that had reaffirmed the validity of his control order and TPIM. In effect, he did the same thing again, though in this case he was asking for his breach prosecutions to be stayed behind an appeal rather than the original High Court judgment.
Q157 Michael Ellis: This is extraordinary. Despite 14 allegations of a breach of a control order and six allegations of a breach of TPIMs, he keeps being readmitted to bail from custody by the courts until he goes on to escape by putting this burka on?
Charles Farr: Forgive me. There is one more relevant episode.
Michael Ellis: I dread to think.
Charles Farr: In July 2013 he was arrested again, this is the third time, and he was again, for the third time, remanded in custody. Once again, in a very similar way, in August 2013 he argued that that prosecution should be stayed behind his appeal against the High Court judgment upholding his control order and his TPIM. The CPS, as they had on the two previous occasions, opposed the granting of bail. The court granted it. He was released in August 2013.
Q158 Michael Ellis: The crux of this, it seems to me, is that he was successful, or his legal team was successful in repeatedly asking the courts to stay proceedings against him because if he had been successfully prosecuted for breaching these orders he would have been given a custodial sentence for the breaching of the orders, would he not? Have there been examples of people being sent to prison for breaching these orders?
Charles Farr: Yes, there has been one example of someone convicted for breaching a TPIM and there were two previous examples of persons being imprisoned for breaching control orders.
Q159 Michael Ellis: How long was the sentence?
Charles Farr: The TPIM breach earned a sentence of nine months and the accumulated counts earning that sentence were less than those that had been accumulated in this case. It is reasonable to assume that, if convicted, he would have earned a sentence of well over a year or probably 18 months.
Q160 Michael Ellis: With your leave, Mr Chairman. If they had not stayed the cases of all these breaches and he had been prosecuted and convicted, he would not have been on bail at all. He would have been, almost certainly, serving a sentence of more than a year in prison?
Charles Farr: That is correct.
Q161 Michael Ellis: He played the legal system?
Charles Farr: I can’t comment on that.
Michael Ellis: No. I can.
Q162 Mr Winnick: Leaving aside the legal system, it is quite a saga, is it not, over this individual and, apart from threats to our security, the cost to the public purse? Mr Farr, I want to bring you back to the question the Chair put to you and your response. I am not altogether clear in my own mind why he was allowed back, given his history. You said that there was some ambiguity. You are not sure on what legal aspect he was allowed back into Britain. Is that so?
Charles Farr: He is a UK national and a mono-UK national. As such, if another country, in this case Somaliland, is unable to prosecute him and they determined that they were so unable and wished to deport him back to his country of origin, we had a legal obligation to facilitate that.
Mr Winnick: Not a UK citizen; a UK national.
Charles Farr: He is a UK citizen. It is the same thing.
Q163 Mr Winnick: You are saying in effect, regardless of the evidence that was against him for all his various activities, that there was absolutely no way in which he could be refused and then a court case could emerge in which the British Government would put the evidence why he should not be allowed back. Is that what you are saying?
Charles Farr: Once the authorities in Somaliland had determined that there was no evidence that they could admit in court sufficient to prosecute and convict and therefore, as we would in similar circumstances, that they wished to deport, we were obliged to facilitate that deportation, which we did through a British travel document.
Q164 Mr Winnick: How did he become a UK national in the first place; Mr Farr?
Charles Farr: Mr Mohammed arrived here in 1989 at the age of three and he was granted nationality in 1999 at the age of 13. I am happy to look into the circumstances of that. I do not have it to hand, but-
Q165 Chair: If you could do two things for us it would be extremely helpful. You have been very open with us today, Mr Farr. If you could let us have a timeline on the breaches of the orders together with the prosecutions or the attempted prosecutions and also if you could look at the issue of when he acquired citizenship, because it is relevant to our inquiry and further questions we have about foreign fighters that we shall put to you. We are very concerned that we are going out of our way, it seems, to have people back here and then try to get rid of them again. What you are saying to us is that we can’t get rid of him anyway. Unless he is a Somali citizen-
Charles Farr: Correct.
Chair: -he is here to stay and, therefore, he has to be dealt with under the law of this country.
Charles Farr: I am sorry to make this more complicated, but with the proviso-
Chair: We can’t send him to Mars, can we?
Charles Farr: With the proviso, as I said earlier, that there is some legal ambiguity about whether people who are naturalised British nationals rather than born here may be deprived of their citizenship-I am not talking about passports-even if it leaves them stateless, but I hesitate to comment any further on that because that is an issue of legal concept.
Chair: I am sure you will take many counsels’ opinion on that very important subject.
Q166 Dr Huppert: It is a pleasure to see you in public in front of this Committee.
Charles Farr: I have been in front of the Committee before.
Dr Huppert: I am sorry, I lose track of where I have seen you in public before, but it is very good. We have seen the security chiefs in public, and I hope they will be able to come to this Committee as well. On this issue, you have gone through a whole series of breaches of the control orders and TPIMs. Do you believe, whether or not the evidence could be used in public or not, that he has committed any offence under UK law other than those associated with control orders and TPIMs?
Charles Farr: No, because I am sure that we would have prosecuted him if he had. After all, the very foundation of control orders, as you know, and TPIMs, was that they were applied and are applied to people whom we can neither prosecute nor deport.
Q167 Dr Huppert: Maybe my question was not quite clear. As I understood it, some of those people were people on whom we, the state, had evidence but could not use it in court. Presumably there is another category where there is no evidence of their committing a crime under UK law.
Charles Farr: I see what you mean.
Dr Huppert: I am trying to understand how many are in each of those two categories.
Charles Farr: The short answer is I am not sure. Your question, as I understand it is, could we prosecute him in a UK court if there were not sensitivities about some of the evidence.
Dr Huppert: Absolutely.
Charles Farr: It is a good question and I understand it. I would have to check that.
Q168 Dr Huppert: Could you say what you can about this case and the broader ones, because it seems to me that we would ideally like to not have anybody in this space, in between conviction and freedom? Understanding whether the issue is about whether we can present evidence or whether they have committed an offence here would be very helpful, but if you can write to us that would be very helpful.
Charles Farr: Sure.
Q169 Chair: The Home Secretary has announced that she is going to look at mosques. There are 2,000 mosques in this country. How is she going to find out which are the mosques that TPIMs people are not going to be allowed to go to? There are an awful lot of mosques. There are 52 in Leicester.
Charles Farr: Yes. I thought it was 1,600 around the country rather than 2,000.
Q170 Chair: There are obviously some that you might not know about. Tell us, this is a big ambitious plan, is it not? What is she trying to do?
Charles Farr: The Home Secretary has raised the view that, among the restrictions that could be and should be imposed on TPIM subjects, prohibition in certain or all mosques may be one. Those mosques would be determined by understanding from each person subject to a TPIM what mosques they frequent, which is something we would expect to know and do know as part of the oversight that we have over their activities.
Q171 Chair: It is not stopping them going to mosques. It is stopping them going to certain mosques. Is that right?
Charles Farr: It could be either, but certainly-
Q172 Chair: Under the faith, Friday prayers are in congregation. You can pray privately, but Friday prayers are very important to the Muslim community.
Charles Farr: I understand the sensitivity and any step in this direction would obviously have to be taken very carefully and the police and the security service would clearly have a view about whether this was necessary and proportionate and they would put that view to the Home Secretary.
Q173 Chair: You have been involved in these areas for a long time, and you know how important engagement is with communities. I do not want to go back to Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed, but the mosque came out on Panorama and said, "If only we had known there was a problem with this guy we would have made sure that we watched him and co-operated with the authorities so he didn’t go into a little room and cut off his tag and put on a burka. We would know what was happening". Do you think that there is merit in bringing more people on board in this fight?
Charles Farr: I am sympathetic to that view, but we are faced with anonymity orders, as you know, Chair, and we have meticulously stuck to them. I do think it is fair comment that anonymity orders can get in the way of rehabilitation in certain areas. They prevent you doing some of the things that we would otherwise want to do under a prevent programme with this particular group of people.
Q174 Chair: You simply cannot deal with the causes of terrorism unless you engage with the community. They are your eyes and ears, are they not?
Charles Farr: I agree, and with mosques in particular.
Q175 Yasmin Qureshi: Just touching on mosques, I am going to say very clearly that I think the Home Secretary is completely wrong on this searching of mosques. In essence, she could go into any place where there are groups of people. It could be a wedding, a birthday party, a church, a synagogue or a temple where there are groups of people. You go in and you disappear among the groups of people and take your tag off. How would, necessarily, searching mosques prevent this sort of thing from happening?
Charles Farr: I do not think people under TPIMs or control orders would go into some of the other places that you have listed. I think it is very difficult for the police and the security services to monitor people inside mosques and trying to do so raises privacy issues that are every bit as great as some of those that you have just mentioned, and the Chair has mentioned, about stopping people on TPIMs going to these places themselves. It is a very difficult choice to make, particularly when these people are under anonymity orders and securing the co-operation and collaboration of the authorities of that mosque is, therefore, much more difficult, if not impossible.
I think we are faced with a problem that people who have been under TPIMs may have exploited attendance at mosques for purposes that that mosque, I am quite sure, would not want and would not intend and without the knowledge of the committee that governs that mosque. That is the situation we are finding ourselves in, in this particular case, and we want to try to find a way through it.
Q176 Yasmin Qureshi: There are over 2,000 mosques, as has been suggested. Is it going to be the case then that people are not entitled to go to mosque? That is the only way you then prevent them disappearing, isn’t it? How do you find what is a-
Charles Farr: The Home Secretary has asked us to look at this. This issue will now be referred to a TPIMs group that comprises people from my office, the security service and the police. They meet routinely to look at these cases one by one and to assess whether the restrictions are appropriate, proportionate and necessary. They will take on board the Home Secretary’s statement and intent and will look at the specific issues of mosques. We will see where they come to and we will put that back to the Home Secretary.
Q177 Yasmin Qureshi: We have heard earlier today about the number of occasions when people on TPIMs or control orders have absconded. None of them, apart from this one, was in any mosque, were they?
Charles Farr: I would have to go back over all the abscond records to determine whether there was-
Yasmin Qureshi: I am sure that if they were, it would have been mentioned in the media or something.
Charles Farr: -a consistent theme from mosques. It is not something I have in front of me.
Q178 Yasmin Qureshi: Can I just come on to the issue about counter-terrorism and our liaison and working with other countries in particular? As we know, some of the terrorist plots have significant overseas connections. I just wanted to explore with you what kind of things the Government are doing with other countries and multinational organisations and agencies to better tackle the threat of terror attacks or whatever to the United Kingdom?
Charles Farr: One of the key elements of this part of our counter-terrorist work, Pursue, has been to join up local activity in this country with activity overseas so that we have a seamless effort that takes us from this country to points overseas with which operations in this country may be connected, and back again. We have put in a lot of work in this country; a great deal of investment into local policing but, equally, we have put a lot of investment into our relations with key states overseas from which terrorist attacks against this country might be conducted or with which people in this country may be dealing in connection with terrorist-related activity.
There is obviously a list of those; Pakistanis historically being very much towards the top, but at the moment North Africa, the Gulf and East Africa are also very important to us. In some of those countries the capacity of the Government and the law enforcement agencies to do counter-terrorism is very limited, and it may be part of our job to build that capacity so that we have something to talk to and something to work with. In recent years, that has become more complicated because we have found a need to build compliance as well. In other words, it is not enough to build the capacity of a police service. You have to build its compliance with international human rights law and standards.
We embark on, with our Foreign Office colleagues, a great deal of work of that kind across a wide range of countries. Some of that work is done in association with DFID, whose development programmes, particularly those that connect to and are about good governance, are very relevant to some of what we are trying to achieve as well.
Q179 Yasmin Qureshi: What counter-terrorism role does the Metropolitan Police have overseas and how much are we spending on this aspect of the work?
Charles Farr: The Metropolitan Police has a number of national police functions as well as functions specific to London, and one of those is to manage the counter-terrorism liaison network overseas, which comprises police officers-they are not all from the Metropolitan Police -located in a number of countries overseas, particularly those of high priority to us. They are funded by us. The cost is some low millions of pounds, and they play a vital role in collecting evidence and in building capacity in the way that I have just been describing.
Q180 Yasmin Qureshi: Can I just ask for an example of one of these overseas capacities which has positive impact on our interests at home and abroad?
Charles Farr: Sorry, asking for-
Yasmin Qureshi: Is there an example of one of those capacities?
Charles Farr: I could talk to you about what we are trying to do in Pakistan, because I think it is particularly interesting. Eighteen months or so ago we agreed with the then Government of Pakistan that we would lead a major effort to build the capacity of their judicial system to collect evidence on terror suspects and to prosecute them and to hold them securely in their prison system. This is a very big programme. It is bigger than us. We can’t do it all on our own, but international partners are assisting with it. I think it has been very successful. It has led us into forensic training, training prosecutors, training judges and advising on the reform of the Pakistani prison system. That is a good example, to me, of capacity building that helps Pakistan. It helps us because some of the people they are arresting are of interest to us, and it is compliant with human rights legislation and our standards.
Q181 Ian Austin: I want to talk about people from the UK travelling to fight abroad but, before I do that, can I just return quickly to this issue about Mohammed and the TPIM? Do you think it would have been easier or more difficult for him to have absconded had he been subject to a relocation order of the sort that existed under the previous regime?
Charles Farr: I would be hesitant on this point. I do not believe that a person who is determined to abscond would necessarily be dissuaded by the fact that they were living in a city in the UK from which they did not originally hail.
Q182 Ian Austin: But is it not a fact that under the original regime there were no relocation orders and seven people absconded; relocation orders were introduced and no one absconded; then they were dropped and two people have absconded? That suggests that relocation orders have been a useful tool in preventing people from absconding.
Charles Farr: I think if you are going to compare control orders and TPIMs you have to compare them in a rather broader way than that. Both have characteristics that are relevant. On the specific issue of relocation, I would simply stick to my point that I have seen no evidence that people who are determined to abscond from their orders, be they control orders or TPIMs, are going to be dissuaded by the fact they are living 100 miles away from their home city.
Q183 Ian Austin: I want to move on to this issue about people from the UK travelling to fight abroad. On the point that the Chairman was raising about his passport, how many other people who have been fighting abroad as he was have we enabled to return to the UK? Would it not have been better for us to have encouraged the people who detained him abroad to prosecute him there, and why didn’t that happen?
Charles Farr: It does happen.
Ian Austin: It didn’t in his case. How many other people have returned-
Charles Farr: It did not in his case because the Somaliland authorities told us-and this was the basis for everything that followed-that they did not have the evidence to prosecute Mohammed in Somaliland. That was what triggered the obligation placed on us to facilitate a deportation back to this country; in exactly the same way as, if we were holding a foreign national in this country and we could not prosecute, we would want to facilitate a deportation in the other direction. It is precisely the same point.
Q184 Chair: Just on that point, it would be extremely helpful if you could send the Committee the request from the Somalian Government that he be returned to the United Kingdom, because this is an essential part of the evidence you have given today. You keep saying to us that we had to do this. It is an obligation, which some of us do not recognise when it comes to other countries. But if you could send it as a result of what Mr Austin has said, please send us that information.
Q185 Ian Austin: How many other people do you know of that we have enabled to return in similar circumstances?
Charles Farr: UK nationals who have been arrested for terrorist-related activity overseas, who are not nationals of any other country and who are deported back to here?
Chair: No, I think he wants the opposite. How many deals have you made to keep them abroad? Is that right, Mr Austin?
Charles Farr: We would not make a deal to keep them abroad. The only circumstances in which we-
Chair: But you just told this Committee that there are examples of people who have been left in those countries.
Charles Farr: Only where they have been prosecuted by that country.
Chair: Yes. I think Mr Austin wants to know how many.
Charles Farr: Off the top of my head I have no idea.
Chair: Could you write to us with that?
Charles Farr: Yes, we can certainly try and check that. Chairman, if I understand, therefore, the question is, how many people of British nationality have been convicted overseas and imprisoned overseas for terrorist-related offences?
Chair: No, how many people in the same position as Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed who have not been convicted and prosecuted have the authorities turned to you and said, "Please have them back, we don’t want them", and you have turned around and said, "We will have them back"? Is that it, Mr Austin?
Ian Austin: Yes.
Chair: Please proceed, Mr Austin. You have other questions.
Q186 Ian Austin: Can you tell us a little bit about the work we are doing with other European Governments to identify people who have travelled abroad to engage in Jihad or terrorist-related activities and to what extent you think these people pose a direct threat to the UK either here or our interests overseas?
Charles Farr: A great deal of work goes on, mainly operationally, between the agencies and between law enforcement to identify people across Europe who are travelling to fight in areas of Jihad. Of course, the most important for us at the moment is Syria. We in this country and many other countries have seen nationals travelling to Syria to fight, and sometimes they return here as well. There is a lot of collaboration going on to identify those people and to understand how best they should be managed.
Q187 Ian Austin: This point about the threat that they might pose to the UK or our interests overseas?
Charles Farr: Yes. I am sorry I did not address that point. I think the threat is varied. Some of those people may pose a threat when-if I take Syria as an example-they get to Syria and they may, from their base in Syria, plot attacks back in the UK. Others may pose a threat to us when they travel back from Syria themselves and they plan attacks here, either under the instruction of people outside this country or at their own initiative. Foreign fighters, so called, in this particular case British residents or nationals, pose a threat in a variety of different ways to us.
Q188 Ian Austin: Do they generally know who they are going to link up with when they get to Syria or do they go and then make contact with people? How does it work?
Charles Farr: I think generally they go and make contact when they are there.
Q189 Ian Austin: I am just interested in this. Some people would suggest that the west’s failure properly to support rebel forces in Syria who are more pro-western and more pluralistic has meant that very extreme elements among the rebels have been strengthened and are now dominant. Would it follow then that people going from the UK are more likely to fall into the hands of more extreme people because the west has not supported more western or pluralistic forces among the rebels? Do you see the point I am making?
Charles Farr: I do. I think that is very hard to demonstrate and prove, obviously. A lot of money has gone into and has been raised by groups in Syria associated with Al-Qaeda or are sympathetic to it, and I am not sure how much it was ever within our power to do anything about that. Those groups are powerful and people are attracted to them, not just because of their ideology but because they may be effective fighting forces who can best offer them protection as well as opportunity.
Q190 Chair: Mr Austin has raised a very important point that is going to be relevant to our inquiry. Is there an increase in the number of British citizens who are going abroad to fight in conflicts like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and especially the Horn of Africa? Is this on the increase? Is this a worry? Should we be concerned about it?
Charles Farr: I do not think there is an issue at the moment in Afghanistan or in Iraq. There certainly is an issue in Syria. I think it is very hard for us to say whether the numbers are increasing. They do not need to increase to be a big problem.
Q191 Chair: Are we talking about hundreds?
Charles Farr: Yes.
Q192 Chair: Hundreds of British citizens?
Charles Farr: Hundreds of British citizens have either been to Syria and come back or have been to Syria and are still in Syria.
Q193 Chair: Are we tracking them? We do not have exit checks as yet. It would be helpful to have exit checks, would it not, at airports?
Charles Farr: Exit checks are only one tool that you can use to try to deal with this problem. I would think the more important one from our point of view is e-Borders, which you are very familiar with.
Charles Farr: The e-Borders tracking system is essential and we have put some measures in on top of e-Borders to try to make it even more effective with people who we think pose a very significant risk, who may be going into and, in particular, coming out of Syria.
Q194 Chair: You are telling this Committee that this in the hundreds?
Charles Farr: Yes.
Q195 Chair: Some Governments are more friendly than others. Presumably you cannot do business with the Syrian Government. They are not going to help you particularly or us, but other Governments perhaps are more helpful like Kenya. You would be able to go to them?
Charles Farr: Yes. I did not answer your question about-
Charles Farr: Yes, Somalia. People are travelling to Somalia but not nearly in the numbers that they are traveling to Syria. I think one of the reasons for that-and it goes back to Mr Austin’s question-is that it is easy to get into Syria, mainly through Turkey. Turkey, of course, is a four-and-a-half hour charter flight away. It is an easy route to take, much easier than recent Jihad destinations; either Somalia, Mali, of course, or indeed Afghanistan.
Q196 Chair: They would go to Turkey and from Turkey or other countries like that they would make their way. E-Borders will only tell you where you book your ticket to on your first destination. If you then arrive in Turkey and book a ticket to go to Somalia, that would not be picked up by e-Borders, would it?
Charles Farr: I don’t think people would go through Turkey to go to Somalia. Turkey is a route into Syria, overland of course. As you implied earlier, the route into Somalia is often, but not only, Kenya. E-Borders is only one of a number of tools. I think it is particularly important I raise that in the context of exit checks. There are other tools that we obviously need to track people. However, it is very far from being the case that we know the identity of all the people who are going to these theatres of Jihad. Some are not previously known to us and it is certainly not the case that everyone who is going to Syria is going for terrorist purposes. A lot of people are going for humanitarian reasons.
Q197 Chair: Of course. But if you go to Yemen, for example, you have to go to the Yemen Embassy in order to get a visa to go to Yemen.
Charles Farr: Yes.
Q198 Chair: Are we asking and working with Governments like Yemen?
Charles Farr: Yes.
Q199 Chair: They will give you information as to who has applied?
Charles Farr: Subject to human rights considerations, which you are very familiar with.
Q200 Chair: Also data protection, of course, and all the other things.
Charles Farr: All those things. We would be wanting and do work with the Government on that.
Q201 Chair: Is there an age profile for these Jihadists?
Charles Farr: Yes, the usual age profile that applies to people who are of interest to us in a lot of different terrorist scenarios.
Chair: Which is what?
Charles Farr: 19 to 30.
Q202 Michael Ellis: Mr Farr, I would like to move on now, if I may. Just before I do so, though, on the Mohammed issue you have pointed out how he was effectively playing the criminal justice system. Those are my words. Is it correct that he was taking civil action against the British Government for damages in any respect? Was he suing the British Government?
Charles Farr: Yes. The chronology I gave you, which I thought was complicated enough, is more complicated because he has taken out a civil damages action against the British Government in connection with his deportation and arrest in Somaliland.
Q203 Michael Ellis: Surely it could be our turn to stay that because he has now absconded. Are we applying to the courts to stay the action against us?
Charles Farr: The CPS is looking at how to deal with the various legal applications he has against us.
Michael Ellis: Right. I think you are going to provide the Committee with a chronology.
Charles Farr: We will give you a chronology, yes.
Q204 Michael Ellis: Can I move on to communications data? David Omand, former head of GCHQ, made a recent assertion on BBC Radio, I think it was, about GCHQ’s capabilities and I want to ask you specifically in connection with communications data. He was being asked in connection with the Snowden leaks and I will come to that, but is it your strong assessment as Director General of Security and Counter-Terrorism, that communications data are necessary and, if so, why?
Charles Farr: It is definitely my assessment that communications data are necessary. They are necessary for the investigation of any crime that is being committed over the internet, cybercrime or cyber-enabled crime. That is certainly the case. It is also my assessment that communications data legislation is necessary and, more importantly, that remains the view of the Home Secretary who, as you know, continues to believe that communications data legislation of some kind is essential to enable law enforcement and intelligences agencies to do their job.
Q205 Michael Ellis: I should say I sat on committee looking at the draft Communications Data Bill with Dr Huppert and others. Is it still very much the assessment of you as Director General of Security and Counter-Terrorism that that is an essential cog in the wheel of the fight against terrorism in this country?
Charles Farr: I know that it has been claimed that GCHQ programmes that have been exposed by Snowden and publicised in the press allegedly indicate that GCHQ has been collecting all the communications data that we were trying to obtain through legislation. That is not the case. It is incorrect. GCHQ has never collected the data required by law enforcement agencies and other agencies in this country and it never would and it has never been considered that it should collect those data either. GCHQ and GCHQ capabilities are not relevant and are not a substitute for communications data legislation.
Q206 Michael Ellis: That could not be clearer. Dealing with a point that you made, the head of MI6 and the others went to the Intelligence and Security Committee last week. The head of MI6 said that terrorists were effectively rubbing their hands with glee at the Snowden leaks. It is quite clear that chatter has been picked up that indicated that terrorists were very pleased indeed with what Snowden had done and what had been published in the Guardian. Is it your position, as Director General of Security and Counter-Terrorism, that you agree with that assessment from Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6?
Charles Farr: I agree with everything that has been said, both at the hearing last week and previously by Andrew Parker and others. I think the key point is very simple. By revealing secret capabilities and techniques, Snowden and others have made those techniques and capabilities less effective. It is factually wrong to claim that those techniques were already known to terrorists and terrorist groups. The basis of those claims, which I continue to hear, is very unclear to me, but we do not believe them to be true.
Q207 Michael Ellis: Is it within your knowledge, as it is with Sir John Sawers at MI6, that terrorists are rubbing their hands with glee? You might use a different phrase. I invite you to do so if you wish, but is that within your knowledge? There are those who are asking for evidence. I can understand why you might not be able to provide evidence, but are you satisfied in your own mind that dangerous persons are extremely pleased with what has happened?
Charles Farr: I am completely satisfied about that and, of course, it is not just terrorists who fall into that category. There are lots of other bad people out there who are, as John said, rubbing their hands with glee as well. I think you are right that it is illogical to expect the Government to identify what capabilities have been made less effective and how, because the effect of doing so would be to make them even less effective than they are already.
Michael Ellis: I would not want you to do that.
Q208 Chair: On what you saw in the Guardian, did you discover anything-you do not have to tell me what was secret and what was not-that you did not know about? I would have thought that you, the head of the office of Security and Counter-Terrorism, would know all this stuff. Was there anything new that you read in the Guardian that you would not have seen in your confidential briefings?
Charles Farr: There was material in the Guardian about NSA that was completely new to me.
Chair: Really? So it was fresh information.
Charles Farr: There was material in the Guardian and other outlets, of course, about NSA that was completely new to me.
Q209 Chair: It would not have come through your usual network and the cooperation with other agencies?
Charles Farr: No, nor would I expect it to. I do not believe I need-
Q210 Chair: Was that confidential?
Charles Farr: Yes. Secret, not confidential.
Q211 Mr Winnick: Stuff that came from the National Security Agency?
Charles Farr: Yes.
Q212 Mr Winnick: Like the manner in which the Guardian stated, arising from the revelations of Snowden, that the German Chancellor’s phone was hacked. Was that aid to the terrorist?
Charles Farr: It is not a matter that has involved me and I hesitate to comment on alleged NSA operations.
Q213 Mr Winnick: Continuing from what Mr Ellis asked you, what do you feel, Mr Farr, about various people who are not necessarily connected with what could be described broadly as the Liberal establishment who have argued since the Guardian have published these details that it is worthwhile to have a debate? For example, a former director general of MI5 and a former director of GCHQ have stated that the intelligence agencies need to be more transparent. The former chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, a Tory peer Lord King, said the laws governing the British Intelligence Agency needed to be overhauled and so on and so forth.
Charles Farr: In many ways I completely agree with them, but I think there is a fundamental distinction between encouraging a debate over the oversight of the intelligence agencies and having effective oversight, which, in my experience, everyone working in the agencies would strongly support, and the public disclosure of secret capabilities, which undermines our national security. Those are two different things. Everyone working in and outside the agency wants effective oversight. I have never met anyone who would think to the contrary. What they would say is that that does not require publication in the national media of sensitive capabilities in a way that is designed to or has the effect of damaging our security.
Q214 Mr Winnick: You may have heard the US Secretary of State being interviewed on the radio today. Mainly the questions were about the negotiations of the Iranian regime, but near the end of the interview he was asked about the Snowden revelations and he said the President was carrying out a wide review of the intelligence gathering that has occurred and whether it was too extensive or not. That would not have happened without Snowden, would it?
Charles Farr: I just want to make one point, if I may, about this. I think some people have assumed that the legal provisions and enablers for the NSA and the United States are the same as those for GCHQ; that GCHQ operates under the same legal provisions as the NSA. That, of course, is completely not the case. GCHQ operates under completely different legal parameters and does things in a rather different way. I think one should be careful about drawing analogies between NSA and GCHQ. They work very closely together, but not in every respect and they do not work in systems that are identical. I hear what you say, Mr Winnick, about Mr Kerry. I can’t comment on that. That seems to me a matter for the US.
Q215 Mr Winnick: The Guardian and newspapers in the United States, the New York Times and the Washington Post, in carrying not all-I emphasise not all, as the Prime Minister has admitted as far as the Guardian is concerned-revelations from the whistle-blower, Edward Snowden. Surely the argument is not that these newspapers want to aid and abet terrorism? What do you think?
Charles Farr: Nor did I suggest that they had set out to do so. What I was saying is that the effect of what has been publicised may be to enable terrorists to do things that they may not have otherwise done.
Q216 Mr Winnick: Mr Farr, you said "maybe". Despite what you said to Mr Austin, there is no evidence as such-
Charles Farr: I am not going to be drawn on the evidence, for exactly the reason I said earlier-putting that evidence in open forum would merely make the situation we find ourselves in even more difficult.
Q217 Dr Huppert: Mr Farr, I know you choose your words very carefully on all of these things so can I just check that I have understood what you were saying about a couple of issues that were quite interesting? You said that you had learned things about the NSA that you had not previously known from the revelation that occurred. Did you learn anything about activities by GCHQ or any of the other intelligence and security agencies that you did not already know? Again, I do not need to know exactly what.
Charles Farr: I am not surprised in my own mind that I learned things that were new about the NSA. I did not need to know them and, in my view, I do not particularly need to know them now, but I do. I did not learn things that were new about GCHQ capabilities. I did learn things that were new about GCHQ-specific operations and, again, I would not have expected or needed to know about those operations in the job that I hold.
Q218 Dr Huppert: You also said to Mr Ellis-and I am now paraphrasing, I did not get very good scribbled notes-GCHQ has not collected the communications data that agencies would need. Could I just check what you mean by that? Are you saying that GCHQ has never collected any communications data about anything in the UK or anything to do with UK citizens? What exactly did you mean, so I don’t misunderstand?
Charles Farr: I meant precisely what I said, which is that GCHQ has never and will never collect on their existing legal authorisations the communications data required by law enforcement agencies in this country and indeed the security agencies and which we were seeking to provide for in the communications data legislation.
Q219 Dr Huppert: When you say "required by", they do not have any of it at all. Is that what you are saying? They do not collect any information about who rang who or who emailed who. You say they do not have any of that information at all? That seems surprising.
Charles Farr: No, I did not say that. Of course, in their role as a foreign intelligence gathering organisation, they do collect communications and communications data. My point was specifically about the UK and about the data that we were seeking to obtain through legislation, and my point was that GCHQ cannot provide those data themselves.
Q220 Dr Huppert: But if I send an e-mail to the Chair and that e-mail goes out of the country and then back in again on its way, they can collect the communications data once it is outside of the country, if I understand it correctly.
Charles Farr: We are getting into a level of detail that I can’t get into in this forum. I would repeat very clearly that GCHQ is not a substitute for communications data legislation and the claim that GCHQ is already collecting the sort of communications data or the amount of communications data that we are seeking through legislation is wrong.
Q221 Dr Huppert: In that case, can I move on to a couple of other issues? We have talked a lot about the effects of some of the Snowden revelations. The ultimate source of the leak was the NSA which has hundreds of thousands of contractors who were able to have a look at material that apparently is incredibly damaging. What steps have been taken, firstly, to make sure that we have better security within the UK, that there are not hundreds of thousands of people who can get access to this, and, secondly, to get the NSA to sharpen up their practices? If they are this lax about our material we should surely be very wary about working with them.
Charles Farr: As you know, that question was asked of the agency heads last week, and I refer you to their reply. Clearly it is an issue and they are responsible for dealing with it, both here and in their discussions with the NSA, but I do not think it would be appropriate-and I apologise-for me to go any further than that.
Q222 Dr Huppert: During the discussions about communications data we had quite a productive exchange about transparency, about how communications data were currently used. As you know, there are 570,000 or so requests, but we do not have an idea of how many people that relates to or what sort of cases that relates to. I think it was question 907. You said you completely accepted that and you are trying to get those data. How much progress have you made on that? I and, I suspect, many people think it would be very helpful to have that sort of factual basis. Not about what individual is being monitored, of course, but what the agencies are looking for, what the crimes are or non-crimes, how many people are covered by this and that sort of information that is now routinely produced by Google and others.
Charles Farr: Yes. I am not sure about-
Dr Huppert: I am sorry. The Google requests that they use to make Google reports. They can report how many requests they have had and how many people that applied to.
Charles Farr: I see what you mean.
Dr Huppert: Sorry, that is what I meant.
Charles Farr: I understand. As you know, there were indeed 580,000 or thereabouts communications data requests. You are absolutely right, as we have discussed many times before, that that very large number of communications data requests relates to a much smaller number of people because one person under investigation will lose a lot of different instruments and-
Q223 Dr Huppert: Or requests can be for multiple people, so it could be a larger number as well.
Charles Farr: Yes, in theory, but in practice it is not. It is for a very much smaller number of people. It is right to challenge us, clearly, to produce more data on that. We are doing that and I would prefer to write back to you if I may, Chair, and give you a progress report about what we are doing.
Chair: Please, if you could. That would be very helpful.
Q224 Ian Austin: Without wishing to diminish the importance of Members of this Committee, are there any circumstances you can envisage under which the security services might stop monitoring the people on TPIMs, the 2,000 people on the watch list, people travelling abroad to Syria, and start to look at e-mails from Mr Huppert from the Chairman of the Committee? I mean it is just fanciful nonsense, isn’t it?
Yasmin Qureshi: It is not fanciful.
Q225 Ian Austin: The secret services are not interested in this stuff, are they? They are far too busy-
Charles Farr: I can only agree with you profoundly. There are no circumstances in which they could or would do that.
Q226 Ian Austin: Exactly, and I think it is important to recognise that, because there is some general scepticism and suspicion about the work of the security services on this, but they are not interested in text messages and emails sent by members of the public to other members of the public, are they? You talked and last week the heads of the intelligence services talked about the damage done by The Guardian’s leaks in terms of the information they published, but can I ask you for your assessment of how responsibly you think The Guardian acted in handling that information. Oliver Robbins, who is the Deputy National Security Adviser, called into question the way the information had been handled. He said that it was being transported without proper security controls; that, while much of the material was encrypted, among the unencrypted documents was a piece of paper that included the password for decrypting one of the encrypted files. How responsible was the way The Guardian handled this information?
Chair: Some of those issues are sub judice, so if you can confine yourself to-
Charles Farr: I know. I understand the question. I would rather-
Ian Austin: All of that was published in The Telegraph.
Chair: It was published in The Telegraph? It must be true then, so you can comment on it.
Ian Austin: It might not be true, but I should think it is not sub judice.
Chair: No, quite.
Charles Farr: May I answer the question in a rather broader way, given the legal sensitivities around some of this, which I do think is still present? I would simply repeat what I have said already. The exposure of the information that was, in my view, stolen by Snowden-58,000 documents from GCHQ, all of them secret-reveals capabilities that we have and makes them less effective. There is no doubt about that.
Ian Austin: Could you speak up a bit? I can’t-
Charles Farr: Yes, I am sorry. I was merely saying that the exposure by Snowden of the documents that we removed from NSA, including 58,000 from GCHQ, has had the effect of eroding the capabilities that are the basis for our national security, some of the capabilities, and that has done and will continue to do us damage in the future and I would prefer, if I may, to leave it there rather than discuss The Guardian.
Q227 Yasmin Qureshi: Regarding the Snowden leak, you said there was the aspect about damaging operational capabilities, I think. Obviously, without going into details of what we are talking about here, are you talking about things like investigations that have been carried out by the intelligence services in different parts of the world, that kind of information?
Charles Farr: No, I am not talking about that and it is important that I do clarify that, if I left you with that impression. I am not talking about specific operations or at least not only about specific operations. I am talking about general capabilities, things that the agencies can do. It is both of those that, once exposed, become less effective.
Q228 Yasmin Qureshi: Can I then ask this other question? I know some people may accuse me of being liberal on these issues, but we have known historically, I think for decades, that virtually every country in the world will carry out surveillance, phone tapping, look at taxies, e-mails of various people, whether they are nationals or they are Angela Merkel or whether they are other people, if they think that person is of interest to them. We know as far back as the 1960s that Harold Wilson at 10 Downing Street was being listened into by the intelligence services of our country. Is there a question of embarrassment, in the sense that people did not realise the extent of the surveillance that there is? I think some of us are aware of the fact that there is a much more detailed level of surveillance and of the methodologies like telephone tapping, bugs in the phone, monitoring e-mails.
Charles Farr: I think in general terms you are right, but the material that has been disclosed by Snowden does not describe this in general terms. It describes this in terms of minute detail, and that is the difference. I think it is one thing for people to be theoretically aware of security risks. We are, you are, others are. It is another for them to be told detail about how these operations work.
Q229 Chair: Let us end where we began, which is the concerns we have about the fact that people have disappeared while on TPIMs. While accepting all the evidence we have received from both yourself and David Anderson, this is not something that we particularly want to read about, bearing in mind that there are so few people on it. About 20% have now gone off and absconded. Is it an operational issue? We have talked about the police, and we know you are not here to make policy. You implement it, though of course you are one of the Home Secretary’s principal advisers on this issue. I am looking at the budget of the Single Intelligence Account that you, in the end, control of £1.9 billion, and the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism budget of £567 million. That is a huge amount of money and, at the end of the day, what people read about is when somebody gets into a mosque and puts on a burka and leaves their tag and somebody else hails a taxi. Ibrahim Magag has still not been found a year later. The Home Secretary comes to the House. She raises reporting restrictions. There is a great drama, pages and pages of newsprint about this. Is it an operational problem in the end?
Charles Farr: May I correct one thing first?
Charles Farr: I do not have responsibility for the agency budgets. That is not my responsibility.
Chair: Who would have?
Charles Farr: The Cabinet Office, in particular. We have responsibility for some aspects of those. However, your main point is different. It is true that the agencies do have very big budgets and you are right in that the CT police network here receives £570 million. By the way, on top of that is the additional money that was provided under the TPIM package, which is how I see it.
Chair: How much was that?
Charles Farr: May I just say that it was tens of millions, so it was substantial. That being said, you will recall that Andrew Park, in his speech last month or the month before, quoted the figure of 2,000 people of interest to them in this country. That is merely one aspect of agency business in this country and controlling even a percentage of that number is a very challenging and resource-intensive task and, as I know from first-hand experience in a variety of different jobs, is very expensive. These figures that you quote, accurately, are very large, but so is the size of the challenge we face just on CT much less before you include other issues that the agencies deal with as well, both in this country and overseas.
Q230 Chair: We never get to hear about, except during the trial, all the plots that have been uncovered and all the disasters that have been averted.
Charles Farr: Yes.
Q231 Chair: Obviously you do not control the press, nobody does. We have a free press in this country, but a lot of attention is directed-one man disappearing in a burka must take up a huge amount of your time, combined with all the other stuff that you deal with.
Charles Farr: Yes. You are getting to an issue that I did want to raise if I had the opportunity, so perhaps I can.
Charles Farr: There are eight people currently on TPIMs. There were 52 people ever on control orders. Andrew quoted a figure of 2,000 of interest. Control orders and TPIMs, executive orders of any kind, have only ever applied to a tiny fraction of the number of people of interest to us in this country and the number of people who are of operational interest at any one time. I think it is important to keep the issue of these executive orders, be they control orders or TPIMs, in perspective. They apply to a relatively small number of the people who concern us, and they are not necessarily the people who are the most immediate threat either. They are, as you know, the people whom we can neither prosecute nor deport and feel as though we have no alternative but to put on an order of this kind.
Q232 Chair: But you are satisfied that the state of the security services and our counter-terrorism policy and the operational part is in good order?
Charles Farr: You are doing your work on this, so I will be very interested to read your conclusions. My view is that we have developed over the past 10 years or so here, with a great deal of funding, a very sophisticated Pursue operation within a strategy that is as good as any you can find around the world. Occasionally, it will not deal with all the risks that we want because any programme of this kind cannot reduce risk to zero. I think we have to accept that, but with that proviso, it is as good as the system in any other country and better than the system that we have had at any stage before.
Q233 Chair: Are you happy that the internet companies are doing their best to insure that the Jihadists and those who use the internet and social media are not allowing abuse of this medium that seems to have grown? It used to be, "Go to Madrassa and be radicalised". Now it can happen in a room on the internet, can’t it?
Charles Farr: Your Committee has reported on this before in the context of your Prevent work and I think you, in that work, identified some of the big challenges. Those challenges have not gone away and I certainly would not say that we yet have the relationship with all communications service providers on matters relating to terrorism that we would like. You put forward the view in your report that we should have a code of practice, and we are taking that up now. The Minister for security, who I am sure will talk to you, is talking to a wide range of CSPs about that, but there are many other areas where we need help as well.
Chair: Of course. Mr Farr, thank you very much for coming today.
 Note by witness: It is no t a separate contract , TPIM cases are managed as part of the wider MOJ contract.