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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 April 2007, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Terror leaks inquiry calls grow
Police during counter-terrorism operation in Birmingham
Reports suggested West Midlands police felt their operation was being undermined
Pressure is continuing for an inquiry into claims anti-terror intelligence leaks had put lives at risk.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke described as "beneath contempt" those who leaked details to the media.

Both government and police figures have come under suspicion. Tory leader David Cameron said a Whitehall inquiry was needed - but Tony Blair rejected that.

Commons leader Jack Straw said a police inquiry would be appropriate if anyone had "prima facie" evidence of a leak.

On Tuesday, DAC Clarke, the UK's counter terrorism chief, said there were a "small number of misguided individuals who betray confidences".

'Presentational advantage'

He did not specify where the leaks were coming from, but suggested culprits were trying to "squeeze out some short-term presentational advantage" through secret briefings.

In the Commons on Thursday, shadow commons leader Theresa May asked why, when newspaper reports suggested the source of the leak was the home secretary's special adviser, the government was refusing an independent inquiry.

Mr Straw said her allegations were "wholly unsubstantiated", but said the claims that there had been leaks were serious, and could interfere in a criminal inquiry.

The truth is we can't find out unless we have a leak inquiry and that's why we need to have one
David Cameron

He added: "If anybody has prima facie evidence in the respect of a leak.... and I mean prima facie evidence, I don't just mean newspaper reports, it's a matter for a police inquiry."

Other reports suggest the leaks might have come from Scotland Yard itself.

The Lib Dems have written to West Midlands police to ask them to confirm they will be investigating the leaks. Home Affairs spokesman Nick Clegg told the BBC the Official Secrets Act may have been broken.

Categorical denial

The Conservatives have asked Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell to launch a separate inquiry.

On Wednesday Mr Cameron's calls were rebuffed by the prime minister, who said "as far as I'm aware", no minister, civil servant or special adviser had leaked information.

On Thursday Mr Cameron told the BBC: "The truth is we can't find out unless we have a leak inquiry and that's why we need to have one."

DAC Peter Clarke
Peter Clarke said those who leaked information risked lives

The BBC has learnt that Home Secretary John Reid has already denied that his special advisers had anything to do with leaks of police anti-terror intelligence over the Birmingham raids in January.

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti wrote to Mr Reid about the issue in February, shortly after reading about police concerns their operation was being undermined. She told the BBC she had got "a completely categorical denial".

Liberty has also put in Freedom of Information requests on the issue and also about what guidance was being given about handling requests for information on "ongoing operations".

The Home Office has asked for two extensions to reply, but has said it will do so by 3 May.

Labour MP for Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath Roger Godsiff said there should be an internal inquiry to establish whether anyone in the police was responsible for the leak.

"If it is subsequently found that they had abused their position, there should be criminal charges preferred," he told the programme.

He said the same went for any Home Office officials, if they were involved.

Anti-terror chief says leaks "put lives at risk"

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