The media glee about the about the so-called “blunder” by Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, the most senior police counter terrorism officer in the country, has got a little out of proportion.
What appears to have happened is that as Bob Quick got out of his car in Downing Street for a meeting with the Prime Minister earlier today a press photographer with a powerful camera lense got a shot of a document allegedly showing visible details of the forthcoming counter terrorist raid. This was embarrassing and shouldn’t have happened. However, the material was hardly being put on display to all and sundry as Jeremy Paxman thundered on “Newsnight” tonight. Downing Street as we know is not a public thoroughfare.
Yes, the arrest operation was brought forward as a result and that undoubtedly will have caused some operational inconvenience. However, my understanding is that the arrests would otherwise have happened in the middle of the night – tonight. At most, they were brought forward a few hours. The by-product is that the news media who are complaining so loudly about the “blunder” will have had much better footage of the arrests themselves and tomorrow’s newspapers will be able to cover the operation more fully.
I am told that all the individuals that the police wished to arrest as part of this operation were detained and all the premises that they wanted to secure were secured.
So let’s get this in proportion and remember no innocent bystander died as a result of this. A major counter-terrorism operation took place a few hours earlier than otherwise would have been the case. And as Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, said – admittedly through gritted teeth (Bob Quick is not the Conservative Party’s favourite policeman) – the police and the security service are to be congratulated on the diligence of their work in averting terrorist attacks.