Security clearance is not a human right.
The Daily Mail recently carried the story of two UK Muslims who worked for the Immigration and Nationality sections of the Home Office, but who lost their security clearances in 2005/06 after family members and close associates had been shown to have connections with in one case a bomb plot, and in the other, a jihadi fighting with the Islamist insurgents in Iraq.
To have the sort of security clearances to enter restricted areas, or handle sensitive material, is not a human right, it is a privilege granted to someone after their background has been checked. The connections between these two ex civil servants and those attacking British soldiers and plotting mass murder were so close in familial or personal contact terms that it was truly justified in removing the clearance from these two men. They are now whining that they were not allowed to see the evidence that damned them because it most probably came from some form of security agency source. Normally I would be very much in favour of all court procedures being totally transparent, from the divorce and family courts right up to the highest courts in the land, but Thames House must have had something on these two that if released into the public domain, may endanger those who are helping to guard against Islamic terror.
To not disclose evidence in a case against people who appear very small fry employees, not it seems senior enough to do great damage, makes me think that their contacts with dodgy people may have been being examined for a while.
It has not been stated in the Mail article as to what level of security clearance they had prior to removal but it is more than likely to be little more than a basic ‘counter terrorism check’ and not any form of ‘developed vetting’ as used for those who handle material that is classified as Secret or greater. If the situation changed, and for example a family member became involved in terrorism or they suddenly became a much greater blackmail risk* or such like, then it would be reasonable to look again at the security clearance and background of the employee involved.
I do hope this case gets chucked out by the ECHR although that court does seem to have it in for Britain, so I’m not going to hold my breath there. These two have more than had their day in court, they’ve been treated more than fairly over this, so what that they can’t see information that may place a security service operative in mortal danger, very occasionally some cards have to be kept very close to ones chest.
This is a compensation chasing case and a bonanza for left wing human rights lawyers, I predict the outcome of this will not only be more enriched lawyers, but another damaging hole in Britain’s security apparatus. If the final result is that there can be no sanction against an employee whose family members turn to terror, or their close friends fight against British troops, then what is the point of vetting civil servants at all?
Original story in Daily Mail
The Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) web page which gives a brief explanation of the Developed Vetting process.
Different UK government security levels for sensitive material. Latest Cabinet Office guidance
*Having a vetted civil servant who is at risk of blackmail by terrorists or others is a huge problem. Any terrorist could have got hold of one of the family members of these two and under threat of harm to the family member, force them to do their bidding. They could have been forced to admit known terrorists to the UK, or all manner of malevolent things because of fear for their familiy. Blackmail is always going to be a potential problem and now the civil service tries to encourage staff to be open with line management about blackmail approaches for things like sexuality etc. One reason why the Wolfenden reforms on sexual offences were brought in in the Late 1960’s was because there was a problem with people blackmailing gays and lesbians. In a security situation staff who were being blackmailed over issues of sexuality could be a prime cause of data loss, sabotage etc.