Liberty welcomes anti-terror police chief's concerns on briefings 

25 April 2007

Following extensive leaks to the media during an anti-terror operation in Birmingham in February 2007, the human rights group sent a freedom of information request to the Home Office seeking clarity on its public briefings policy. The response, due on 3 May 2007, will help Liberty to determine whether new guidance on off the record anti-terror media briefings should be established.

Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti said: “Secret off the record anti-terror briefings not only heighten public fear but also undermine police operations, prejudice fair trials and isolate communities who could provide key intelligence.”

“There is grave danger of party politics trumping public safety considerations if political staff do indeed play a role in off the record media briefings during these anti-terror operations.”

Contact: Jen Corlew on 0207 378 3656 or 0797 3 831 128

Notes to Editors

1. On 4 April 2007 the Home Office informed Liberty that it would respond to its Freedom of Information Request by Thursday 3 May 2007. It was the second time the Home Office extended the deadline for its response.

2. On 6 February 2007, Liberty sent a Freedom of Information Request to the Home Office requesting details of all communications between Home Office political advisers and media outlets relating to the operation during a vital three day period from 30th January and 1st February 2007.

3. In early February the West Midlands anti-terror operations unit expressed frustration that off the record media “Whitehall briefings” undermined ongoing police operations in an anti-terror raid carried out in the Birmingham area.

3. A copy of Liberty’s Freedom of Information request and the Director of Liberty’s covering letter to the Home Secretary are available at the links on the right.