MI5 chief drops titbits for agency’s centenary

….there had been 86 successful prosecutions in terror trials since January 2007, and more than half of the accused had pleaded guilty…. That has had a chilling effect. We have probably seen fewer ‘late-stage’ attack plans over the last 18 months,”

MI5 chief Jonathan Evans’ appearance before selected journalists is part of a trend by government agency chiefs directly to provide public assurance and objectivity for their work,outside the framework of ministerial accountability. By itself this can be seen as a tacit admission that politicians have failed to do the job by themselves. This certainly applies to MI5’s accountable minister Jacqui Smith’s discredited insistence on 42 days detention without trial for terrorist suspects. Evan’s keynote statement means that there were enough prosecutions without 42 days to deter – surely an logical contradiction of the government’s now abandoned position. Of course, just over a year since MI5 moved into their regional HQ “ Loughside” ( reminiscent of the old Helen’s Bay Laneside of the 1970s ), there’ll be many saying that Evan’s public appearance is just another twist of the spin.. Personally, I find his report fairly convincing as far as it goes. Nothing was revealed about MI5’s methods.
Update. Irish Times NI angle I missed. Added for the record, no surprises. Thanks Grassy Noel.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London