FOREIGN AFFAIRS – TERRORISM WARNINGS – 11 December 2002
Dr Julian Lewis: The Foreign Secretary is surely right when he says that both Australia and Britain suffered grievous casualties at Bali and both Britain and Australia avoided casualties subsequently in Mombasa. However, is it not the case that the one was the result of good luck while the other was the result of good judgment? Is it not a fact that, based on the same intelligence, Australia gave a much more specific warning to its travelling population than our Government gave to ours? Is it not a fact that this was a serious misjudgement and failure by our Government?
[Jack Straw: I do not accept that. It is a matter that I have discussed separately with the Intelligence and Security Committee. I realise that the hon. Gentleman follows these things with some care, but it is very easy to have wisdom after the event. The Australians based what they said on similar intelligence to that provided to the United Kingdom, and United States intelligence was similar to that of the UK rather than to that of the Australians. Notwithstanding the criticism made by the ISC that I have published today, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom all gave similar travel advice in respect of Bali and none of our travel advisories warned directly against travel to Bali.
May I remind the hon. Gentleman of a point made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (Andrew Mackay)? In our exchanges on 21 October, the right hon. Gentleman warned of the genuine problem of "warning fatigue". We must be careful to ensure that the credibility of our travel advisories is properly preserved. The primary concern has to be that of the safety and security of British travellers, but how we achieve that is a matter of difficult judgments.]