04/11/2015 Newsnight


04/11/2015

Government claims a bomb may have downed the Russian plane in Sinai. Snoopers charter. Sexual abuse claims in a home for the deaf. Grime at the mobos. With Kirsty Wark.


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Transcript


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Did Islamic State put a bomb on a Russian airliner? This was the

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Foreign Secretary less than an hour ago after a meeting of the Cobra

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emergency committee. We have concluded there is a significant

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possibility the crash was caused by an explosive device on-board the

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aircraft. As the investigation continues more than 15,000 British

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holiday-makers in Sharm el-Sheikh will be brought home but there will

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be no more British flights to the resort. A terra specialist and

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diplomat will tell us what they think is on. -- terra.

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Also tonight, the government plans allowing

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for extensive online surveillance were put out in the open today.

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We will be joined by the journalist who broke the Edward Snowden

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revelations. Can we strike the right balance?

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In a school for deaf children, we reveal the perpetrator of

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Vision of the UK followed by Ireland to put a stop to flights to and from

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Sharm el-Sheikh just as the Egyptian president arrived in the UK.

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Tonight, Philip Hammond said the threat was such there will be no

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British flights to and from the resort where there remains 15,000

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British tourists. This evening the Prime Minister has chaired another

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Cobra meeting at which we have reviewed information we have

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available from a range of sources. As a result of that review,

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we have concluded that there is a significant possibility that that

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crash was caused by an explosive Earlier this evening, we delayed the

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return to the UK of British-bound flights that were on the ground at

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Sharm el-Sheikh while we conducted a Unfortunately we have concluded we

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have to change our travel advice and we are advising against all but

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essential travel by air through Sharm el-Sheikh airport, which means

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there will be no UK passenger flights out to Sharm el-Sheikh from

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now. Passengers who are on the ground in Sharm el-Sheikh will be

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returned to the UK. We are working with the airlines and Egyptian

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authorities to put in place emergency procedures for additional

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screening and additional security to ensure they can get home safely,

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either on their original return dates or if they wish to leave

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earlier, on an earlier date, although I should emphasise we are

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not changing our advice with regard to the threat level in the Sharm

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el-Sheikh resort itself. I recognise this action will cause immense

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disruption and inconvenience to many people and I apologise to the people

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this evening who have gone out to the airport and have had to go back

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to their hotels. I also recognise the immense impact this will have on

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the Egyptian economy. But we have to put the safety and security of

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British nationals above all other considerations. When we are in

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possession of information we will not hesitate to act on it in order

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to protect that security and we will take whatever criticisms we

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receive. We have to act in the interests of British nationals.

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Our chief international correspondent joins us. Reaction as

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you are getting it in Cairo. To a number of things, first the idea it

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probably according to the British was a bomb, and secondly not only

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have British experts gone to the airport at Sharm el-Sheikh, but

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there will be no more flights, whatever they found tonight, led to

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the decision there will be no more flights. I have spoken to Egypt's

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Foreign Minister who is absolutely furious, saying Britain has jumped

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to conclusions and come out with what he described as an unwarranted

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statement even before investigation is concluded. He said it had been

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catastrophic for the millions of Egyptians who depend on tourism. You

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heard Philip Hammond expressing regret for Egyptians who work in the

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tourism sector, but you have to bear in mind, even in the worst times in

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Egypt, and there have been turbulent moments, Sharm el-Sheikh always

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seemed somehow far from the violence. The tourists kept coming

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stop the amount of British tourists, they used to be 2 million British

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tourists, making up the second-largest group, that is down

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to one million and that is certain to come down more, in Sharm

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el-Sheikh and other parts of Egypt, because the question will be

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raised, how secure is Egypt? I spoke to President Sisi before he came to

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London, insisting that Egypt was under control of Egyptian forces and

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if there is a doubt about that it is a doubt too many for people wanting

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to go on holiday. President Sisi arriving in the UK tonight and

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Philip Hammond has been clear there is some information the British

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Government has that leads them to believe British tourists will not be

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safe flying to or from Sharm el-Sheikh, which is a serious

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allegation. It is a very serious allegation. The Foreign Minister

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said they had taken in hand security precautions around Sharm el-Sheikh

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airport, recognised by the British, although they say there has not been

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enough. It is more than Britain, there are statements coming from the

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US, who are saying similar things to the British. You remember the same

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thing happened with Tunisia, when Philip Hammond came out and said, we

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have decided after the terrible attack at a resort, it was no longer

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safe for British tourist, which provoked a furious reaction among

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Tunisians, who like Egypt depend on tourism. You have the balance

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between the interest of British lives and livelihoods of people of

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this region, for tourism is one of the last threads in their failing

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economies and that now is at risk. Our diplomatic editor has been

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following the story today. Attention is now focused on Sharm

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el-Sheikh airport, which British security experts on their way to

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test its anti-terrorist defences. As they work, there are fears that 224

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lives may have been taken by a non-smuggled on board the Russian

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airliner. My own assumption was that it was probably more likely to be

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mechanical, but given the statement Downing Street has put out, I think

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we have to assume there is some basis on which to assume a bomb

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might have been involved. At the crash site, rescue workers are still

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gathering remains and evidence. But the facts are crystallising that the

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plane exploded at high altitudes. Yesterday the Americans revealed

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their satellites detected that blast. Today it Egyptian

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investigators confirmed what had happened, although they held open

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the possibility a catastrophic failure could have caused it. In the

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past 24 hours the UK has received intelligence confirming the bomb

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theory. We put safety as a priority and that is why we have taken the

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measures we have taken today. There have been people sent from the UK

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today to review security arrangements at the airport. That is

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taking place and it is when that review is completed we will allow

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flights there tonight to depart. At the end of September America issued

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a travel advisory saying Egypt and much of the Sinai peninsula was

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dangerous but insisting Sharm el-Sheikh was safe. Two days ago the

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US Embassy in Cairo change that, telling staff to avoid anywhere in

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the Sinai Peninsula and Sharm el-Sheikh itself was deemed too

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risky. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry responded by asking why the embassy

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had done such a thing? A measure of their sensitivity to anything that

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might cripple the tourist trade. TRANSLATION: This is one way to nail

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the stability of Egypt and image of Egypt. The plane was at 31,000 feet

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altitude. This area is under our full control. With his leader

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arriving tonight to protests in London, the Egyptian Foreign

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Minister expressed his disappointment the UK acted before

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the official enquiry had reached any definitive conclusion.

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Diplomatically, Britain's timing could not have been much worse. I

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have spoken to the Egyptian Foreign Minister and I recognise his

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concern. Of course this will have a negative impact for Egypt, but with

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respect to him, he has not seen all the information we have, and while

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we regard the Egyptians as important partners, we want to work with them

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not just on airport security but all aspects of the development of their

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record me, and the building of Anglo Egyptian relations, when we see

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something we believe represents a threat to British nationals we have

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to act. And the other consequences have to be dealt with, but we cannot

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ignore that information. Tonight, up to 20,000 British holiday-makers are

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still in Sharm el-Sheikh, with flights suspended. The government

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will soon announce how those who want to come home can do so. Mark is

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with me now. What do we know about what happened to this plane? Has

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something changed in view of intelligence? In terms of what has

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happened in the past 24 hours, it is not a piece of intelligence that

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clearly attributes this act to Islamic State in Sinai, nobody is

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saying that. They are talking about a real possibility, may well have,

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this kind of thing. It appears it goes back to analysis of material

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gathered in the run-up to the attack by interception of communications.

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The Americans seem to have had this material and interpreted it before

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we did hence the statement from the Cairo embassy to staff to avoid

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Sharm el-Sheikh on the 2nd of November. We now seem to have it.

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The Foreign Secretary's words imply it came through that sort of

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arrangement and Egypt does not yet have that material. It suggests

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whatever you want to call it, planning for an attack, possibly not

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specifying an aeroplane, but in the Sharm el-Sheikh area, which is why

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the area itself is deemed unsafe. Particular to Britain is the fact it

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is a popular destination for British tourists. Do you think we will have

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any conclusive evidence? If they find evidence of an explosion on the

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plane and trace back how exactly a bomb was put on them would give you

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conclusive answers. For the moment, everybody is playing it through

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their own prism. The UK, the country that puts the safety of its people

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first and believes it is right to collect information on a large scale

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because it can give clues to this sort of activity and allow you to

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give warning. Egypt hoping it will not be a bomb because that will be

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devastating for the tourist industry, and Russia trying to

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project, until it is conclusively proven, that this was not a bomb. To

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discuss the significance of the events today I am joined by the

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former director of global counterterrorism at MI6. In London

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UK's former ambassador to Egypt and from Oxford, an analyst who

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specialises in Islamic State. What do you make of this gathering of

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intelligence prior to the airliner being downed, which seems to lead to

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the conclusion there was an explosion? Yes indeed it seems to be

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that conclusion. Certainly there must be something serious and

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credible in the way of intelligence that suggests that, or else the

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Foreign Secretary would not make that statement. As was pointed out,

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it has not been ascribed yet to Islamic State, although clearly

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Islamic State would be the main suspect. What's more Islamic State

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has twice claimed responsibility, including today when it said again

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it was responsible for bringing down this Russian plane and did not

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reveal how it had done it but saying it would do so in due course. If it

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is Islamic State or a cell of Islamic State, what does that say

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about the organisation's capability? I think it says a number

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of things. We must not forget the local operations and tension in

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Sinai mounting as there is increasing Islamic. We must not

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forget Islamic State has a global reach and ambitions. This is in part

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a message, perhaps, to Russian potential recruits, saying to them

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they are not forgotten in the fight. From the point of view of the

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diplomatic relationship with Egypt, as a former ambassador, we hear the

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Egyptian Foreign Minister has taken this badly, but is the bigger point

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is that the worry or accusation would be Egypt cannot manage the

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terror threat? The Egyptians are understandably

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upset. They should remember that Britain has had the strongest record

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of supporting positive travel advice wherever possible, wherever it is

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consistent with the safety of our citizens. We are the ones who kept

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our advice open for Sharm el-Sheikh, or during the time after the

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revolution when others closed it off. Recently, after the attack in

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February last year, we again kept it open when others closed it off. We

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have taken things very seriously and very positively. Nobody can fault us

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on that. You know Egypt extremely well. And in the aftermath of the

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airliner being downed, or whatever happened, there was all sorts of

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conversations on BBC Radio programmes about the poorest nature

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of security at Sharm el-Sheikh. What is your experience of Sharm

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el-Sheikh airport? It's a continuous process. Whenever human security is

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involved, to keep tightening up, to keep reforming, and there were times

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when we were co-operating closely, we had experts coming from London.

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We have had a active programme, much appreciated by the Egyptian Civil

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Aviation of training in detection at airports, so this is a continuation

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of that, really. We have taken the unusual step of grounding flights to

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Britain for the moment. Indeed for the foreseeable future it seems. Sir

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Richard Barrett, if it is IS, what do you think the Russian reaction to

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this will be? I think it is very significant if it is Islamic State.

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Up till now, the Islamic State has been about state building, about

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attracting people to join it in Iraq and Syria. And where people can't,

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it's encouraged them to commit attacks, and we have seen a few

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minor attacks committed by individuals, or small groups of

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people, which may have been inspired by the Islamic State, but certainly

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not planned and directed. Here, this is a very major terrorist attack,

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probably about the most major terrorist attack on an airline since

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9/11. So it has huge significance and it changes our perception of the

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Islamic State as being some sort of terrorist group into something

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other. That changes several equations within Syria as well, the

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Russian equation, you know, the Russian engagement now, has that

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encouraged terrorists to attack more directly Russian targets? We know

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there are at least 2,500 Russians fighting be the Islamic State. The

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equation of people on the other side in that should they be supplying

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weapons now to any party in Syria which might then fall into the hands

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of the Islamic State. Katherine Brown, you said IS was looking for a

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global reach. Do you think this would be the moment, if it is indeed

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IS, where IS does change, you know, you have heard Sir Richard say that

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the terror threat level will be upped because of this? Yes, I think

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it's worth remembering that Islamic State are rooted in local politics

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and it has always proclaimed that territories are important to itself

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and to its legitimacy. What is important here is that by targeting

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a Russian plane, sorry, Russian tourists, it is suggesting to

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Russian recruits to come to Islamic State and say they care about that

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fight. I'd suggest that really it remains very much a localised

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ambition at the moment and that other groups are trying to affiliate

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with Islamic State to tap into the resources and the funding that it

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has. But also the groups that are claiming affiliation with Islamic

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State are longer-standing groups, they have long had complaints

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against the Egyptian state in relation to Gaza but also in

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relation to jobs in Sinai. Just on that basis, then, if it is a

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disparate number of groups, it will make it much harder to crackdown on,

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to find them? James Watt? The Egyptians have been facing this

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problem for a long time. There are many people in Sinai, or around

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Sharm el-Sheikh, who want the tourist industry to thrive and

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continue. It isn't simply a police operation. There is a strong local

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community interest in keeping that very important economic resource

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going. We have now President al-Sisi, who has been in the country

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for less than four hours. I know you are not involved in the visit. It

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will be a diplomatic minefield, isn't it? It is a very good chance

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to explain it to him, and I'm sure, when he sees the facts, he will

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react positively. Thank you very much.

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If it becomes clear that the intelligence

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about a possible explosion on board the downed Russian plane did not

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come from the wreckage, it begs the question - was it at least in part

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If so, it could be a boost for the Government's plans, unveiled

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today for extensive surveillance powers for our digital age.

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The plans include the requirement for Internet providers to hold data

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on what websites we all visit for 12 months - measures ministers say are

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But the balance between protecting privacy and enabling agencies to

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operate in the digital age is still heavily disputed -

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particularly since Edward Snowden leaked details of mass surveillance

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We asked Nick Hopkins to look at how it might work.

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Today, we discovered the boundaries of our surveillance state. What the

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spies want to spy on. The police want to pry on. And why. Who will

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stop these intrusive powers from being abused? So how would this work

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in practice? Let's look at three examples. In the first, police

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receive a tip-off that a teacher and a pupil are having an illegal

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relationship and are regularly talking on the phone. Both deny it.

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A detective who wants to see their phone records has to get the OK from

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two specialist police officers. They will decide if getting this

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information is necessary and proportionate. They say he can. A

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print-out of the numbers called show the two haven't been in contact and

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the officer concludes the initial claims were false.

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In another case, a university student has been radicalised and the

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police want to know more. The police officer gets the OK from two

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colleagues. He is allowed to get basic details of who the suspect has

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called and e-mailed and what websites he has looked at. If the

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detective wants further information, he has to seek a warrant from the

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Home Secretary and a judge. They give their approval and the police

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can now listen to the suspect's phone conversations and read his

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e-mails. A final example - local councils, a

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little less serious, perhaps, but supposing they suspect someone of

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selling fake watches. In theory, they can go via a magistrate to get

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hold of phone data. But the new law prevents them accessing the

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suspect's Internet records. This draft law appears to have clipped

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their wings. Judges signing warrants was one of Theresa May's concessions

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to privacy campaigners. But they say it's a con. Judges can only say no

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on certain limited grounds. The arguments have already begun.

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Joining me now from Rio is the journalist who broke the Edward

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Snowden story, and here with me is David Anderson. David Anderson,

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presumably, you were the man with oversight, you must have some

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concerns, don't you, at what Liberty say also be a breathtaking attack on

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the Internet security of every man, woman and child in our country? I

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have oversight of the terrorism law. I did a report on the surveillance.

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There are three judges who have oversight of surveillance. What this

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law is trying to add to the dizzying range of powers the intelligence

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agencies already have is one more power, albeit quite a serious one,

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and that's the power to require service providers in this country to

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keep Internet records. You seem to be suggesting the dizzying range of

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powers are necessary? Dizzying range? The reason I welcome this

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Bill is, for the first time in this country, and there aren't many

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countries who have done this, it sets out in terms what these powers

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are. They would have surprised a lot of people two or three years ago.

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They are all set out there. Is there something to be said for that, what

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this Bill does is put it all out in the open? Yeah, I agree with what Mr

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Anderson has just said. Before Edward Snowden came forward, the

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thing that bothered him the most is not the spying itself, but the fact

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this was implemented in total secrecy in democracies. His argument

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was if we are going to allow the government to spy on everything we

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are doing on the Internet, the government should have to come

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forward to say this is what we are doing, we want your permission under

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the law to do it. It is the first time they have been forced to do it.

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That is a positive step. The British Government, we are the first

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government to mandate Internet providers to store a year's worth of

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browsing history. By the same token, do you think the fact it is out in

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the open makes that OK? No, to be perfectly honest, I don't think a

0:25:430:25:46

Bill like this would be presentable, let alone viable in other Western

0:25:470:25:50

country, besides the UK, which does tend to be on the far end of the

0:25:510:25:54

pro-surveillance spectrum. It is radical to say that every single

0:25:550:25:59

person's browsing history must be kept and stored and made available

0:26:000:26:02

to the Government if the Government wants it. Even the judicial review

0:26:030:26:07

that Theresa May was pitching today, as the Conservative MP David Davis

0:26:080:26:12

pointed out today, it is an illusion because the narrow scope of that

0:26:130:26:15

review makes it that it is going to be a rubber-stamp. Is it an

0:26:160:26:20

illusion? I think judicial authorisation will be a big

0:26:210:26:22

improvement. I pushed very hard for it in my report. There is no point

0:26:230:26:26

doing it if the judge is going to be a rubber-stamp. This has to be

0:26:270:26:30

judges who are properly supported, technically, legally, who are able

0:26:310:26:33

to get into the issues and who are, from time to time, able to say no.

0:26:340:26:38

Judges aren't democratically accountable? Neither is the

0:26:390:26:41

Secretary of State when it comes to warrants. You name me one example of

0:26:420:26:45

a warrant in respect of which the Secretary of State has been held to

0:26:460:26:48

account in Parliament. It doesn't happen, partly because it's a

0:26:490:26:52

criminal offence to disclose the existence of the warrant. Do you

0:26:530:26:55

accept as far as journalism is concerned, by holding and having

0:26:560:27:02

access to a year's worth of records, a source, a journalistic source

0:27:030:27:07

could be as it were jigsawed identified in one way and that is an

0:27:080:27:11

erosion of our liberty? What the Bill has sought to do is to build on

0:27:120:27:16

the existing practice by making sure that there is never any application

0:27:170:27:21

for a journalist's communication data without the authorisation of a

0:27:220:27:24

judge. We have to assume the judges are going to be alert to that point.

0:27:250:27:30

It is fair to say that there isn't exactly a public outcry about this

0:27:310:27:39

in as much as the latest report says 53% in a survey backed the

0:27:400:27:42

Government and there is cross-party support for this: Do you think the

0:27:430:27:47

mood, and because of what we have been talking about, about the

0:27:480:27:52

possibility that the IS was involved in that airline downing, that

0:27:530:27:56

actually people support this in the insecure age in which we live? Yeah,

0:27:570:28:08

of course. Fear is a potent motivator. I think it is so crucial

0:28:090:28:14

to note that allowing the Government to do bulk surveillance, which is

0:28:150:28:20

what this Bill allows, it makes it harder to find people plotting

0:28:210:28:23

terrorist attacks than when you are focussed on the specific individuals

0:28:240:28:27

and concentrating on them, when you have reason to believe they are

0:28:280:28:31

engaged in a terrorist attack, that bulk surveillance makes it more

0:28:320:28:34

difficult, not more easy, not easier for the Government to break those

0:28:350:28:41

plots up. So, it's a big broad brush hammer, to crack a nut? You have to

0:28:420:28:45

wonder if it makes it more difficult, why they are spending all

0:28:460:28:48

this money doing it. It is perhaps that they are not as smart... I was

0:28:490:28:56

sceptical about this. I went into this as an independent person with a

0:28:570:29:01

fresh pair of eyes. And what I saw, I got GCHQ to talk me through

0:29:020:29:06

examples of how did bulk collection produced disruption of a major

0:29:070:29:10

terrorist attack. They gave me six. People can look at them. I hope

0:29:110:29:14

other people will have a chance to question GCHQ, as I did, to look at

0:29:150:29:21

the contemporaneous intelligence reports. I wonder, the authorities

0:29:220:29:28

seem to be behind the renegades all the time and every time you put a

0:29:290:29:32

new piece of legislation out, someone devises some special hacking

0:29:330:29:37

ability to get round everything. Are you worried about whether this is

0:29:380:29:42

going to work at all? Well, I think - as far as what Mr Anderson said,

0:29:430:29:47

if you go into the GCHQ's offices and they show you what they want you

0:29:480:29:51

to see, they can probably convince you of anything they want you to

0:29:520:29:54

know. What surveillance experts have said, people who have worked in

0:29:550:29:58

these agencies have said, mass surveillance makes it harder. Every

0:29:590:30:02

tyrant in the world is on the world for surveillance technology, not

0:30:030:30:06

because they want to stop terrorism, but the more you know about your

0:30:070:30:09

population, the more power you have over it. That is the reason that

0:30:100:30:14

governments have always saw mass, broad surveillance. It is a really

0:30:150:30:16

important point to know. Thank you. As work on the Goddard Inquiry into

0:30:170:30:20

historical child abuse in England and Wales continues, a report

0:30:210:30:23

by Newsnight and See Hear can for the first time name the perpetrator

0:30:240:30:26

of horrific abuse carried out at a London school for deaf children

0:30:270:30:31

over three decades. The abuser was allowed to prey

0:30:320:30:36

on the school's pupils even after he was convicted of

0:30:370:30:39

indecently assaulting two of them, and barred by the Department for

0:30:400:30:42

Education from being a proprietor His victims, who fought

0:30:430:30:44

and failed to win justice, Apologies, we had planned to bring

0:30:450:30:56

you a report on the history and successive UK grime music. We will

0:42:490:42:52

have it for you later this week. Good night.

0:42:530:42:57

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