New Forest East



Daily Telegraph – 4 September 2003

The mystery surrounding Alastair Campbell's security status – revealed in this column on Tuesday – is now to be raised in the House of Commons. Tory Defence spokesman Julian Lewis is to table a series of questions to establish if the outgoing Director of Communications was ever sufficiently vetted by the security services.

According to the evidence he gave at the Hutton Inquiry, Campbell was privy to top-level intelligence, including the proceedings of the JIC, and therefore should have gone through a lengthy and intrusive process called positive vetting. Sources in the intelligence community, however, claim that he was never actually given the appropriate clearance – at least not according to the rule book.

Lewis first investigated the issue back in July, and received the following reply from the Prime Minister:

"He [Campbell] has been cleared in the same way as other Downing Street officials, whose roles may include seeing intelligence material."

Lewis, who now regards that answer as unsatisfactory and irrelevant, will seek to uncover the truth of the matter when MPs return to Westminster next week.

"This is a very serious matter,"

he tells me.

"Alastair Campbell was not just any other Downing Street official, and I am still seeking a satisfactory answer. When Parliament returns next week I will be tabling a series of questions to establish whether he ever was properly cleared."