HL Deb 17 February 2000 vol 609 cc159-60WA
Lord Filkin

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have received the report of the Security Commission on the case of Steven John Hayden. [HL1133]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington)

The Prime Minister announced on 30 April 1999 that, after consultation with the Chairman of the Security Commission and the right honourable Gentleman, he had asked the Security Commission to investigate the circumstances in which breaches of security had or might have occurred arising out of the case of Chief Petty Officer Steven Hayden, who was convicted on 23 October 1998 of offences under Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1989; and to advise in the light of that investigation whether any change in security arrangements was necessary or desirable.

The Commission has now submitted its report, which is being published this afternoon as a Command paper, with the exception of some details which it would not be in the public interest to publish on national security grounds. The Prime Minister is grateful to the Chairman, Lord Lloyd, and to Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, Sir John Foley and Sir Clive Whitmore.

It became apparent to the Commission at the start of the inquiry that the main issues at stake were in the area of personnel security. The Commission has fully examined the history of the Ministry of Defence's security assessment of Hayden. The Commission was critical of the decisions to continue to allow Hayden a security clearance and surprised at the lack of communication between the vetting authorities, the personnel authorities and line management about the management of the risk presented by him. In particular, they considered whether the correct balance was being struck between maintaining vetting confidentiality on the one hand and the effective involvement of line and personnel management in the active aftercare of vetting risk cases on the other.

It was also concerned that recommendations made in earlier Security Commission inquiries had sought to address similar situations to those in the Hayden case which suggested that they had not been fully implemented.

However, the Commission acknowledges the Ministry of Defence's acceptance that Hayden's case represents a clear failure in personnel security and welcomes the changes to vetting processes and procedures that the Ministry of Defence has already implemented based on the lessons learned. The Commission has made a number of recommendations. These, in summary, are that:

  1. (i) It should be standard practice for vetting authorities to consider whether to consult an individual's personnel or line managers, in order to ensure that the latter are aware of any particular vulnerabilities.
  2. (ii) In cases where doubts emerge, it should be normal practice for regular consultations to take place between all those involved in assessing a clearance. Where the recommendations of Investigating Officers seem likely to be overridden for wider policy considerations of a non-security kind, there should invariably be a discussion between them and those responsible for making the assessment, so that options can be explored before final decisions are reached.
  3. (iii) In risk cases where confidential medical reports exist on an individual, someone at an appropriately senior level should have the authority to see all the papers including a medical report on the individual's suitability to hold a DV clearance and thus be in a position to reach a proper assessment based on all relevant information.
  4. (iv) More emphasis should be given to threats outside the traditional risk of an individual being vulnerable to approaches from a hostile foreign intelligence service. Threats from cheque-book journalism and industrial espionage should be given more emphasis in the current Field Investigation Officers Guide issued by the Cabinet Office, and in departmental guidance based upon it.
  5. (v) The question of follow-up to Security Commission recommendations should be revisited to ensure that effective implementation of agreed recommendations take place.

The recommendations of the Security Commission have been accepted in principle by the Government, subject to further consideration of some detailed points and, in the case of (iii), subject to discussion with the appropriate medical authorities. Work is now in hand to ensure that they are effectively implemented.