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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 13:10 GMT
Cameron attacks Blair on records
Tony Blair
Mr Blair has backed home secretary John Reid in the row
Tony Blair has been accused of being more interested in protecting his ministers than the public.

David Cameron asked why he had not axed a minister who police contacted last year with concerns about the backlog of files on crimes committed overseas.

He called on the PM to publish the letter in which concerns were raised.

But Mr Blair said the backlog of crimes not entered on police computers had not been flagged up. The letter would be published once the inquiry ended.

Doesn't it show that this government and these ministers are interesting in protecting themselves and not in protecting the public
David Cameron
Conservative leader

Mr Cameron, during the Prime Minister's questions exchanges in the Commons, criticised his refusal to publish the letter, saying: "So much for freedom of information."

He added: "This inquiry is being carried out by the head of personnel at the Home Office.

"If this scandal had happened in a care home, in a hospital, or any business in this country - do you think you'd ask the head of personnel to conduct the inquiry?

"This comes at the end of the week in which two more murderers have walked out of an open prison, the immigration staff at Heathrow say they can't cope, and potential terrorists walk free from house arrest and nothing is done.

"And the government's response to things that go wrong is to put junior officials in charge of an inquiry. Doesn't it show that this government and these ministers are interesting in protecting themselves and not in protecting the public?"

Terror records

Mr Blair replied: "Let me tell him, since he mentioned control orders and terrorism... it was the desire of this side of the house to detain people.

"We were the government that introduced legislation toughening up the laws on terrorism that he and his colleagues voted against.

"So the one group of people we will not take lessons on control orders or action on terrorism, is him and his colleagues."

Mr Blair also added: "There are no significant public protection issues that have arisen in respect of the Criminal Records Bureau checks so far."

Last week it emerged that more than 27,000 case files on Britons who had committed crimes abroad, including rape and murder, had not been entered on the police computer.

That national database is checked when people apply to work with vulnerable groups, such as children.

The Home Office has said ministers were unaware of the backlog, although it has been claimed that issues related to the problem were raised in a letter from the Association of Chief Police Officers to Home Office minister Joan Ryan.

The Conservatives and Lib Dems have both put in freedom of information requests for the letter to be released.


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