Bugging: 'Significant pressure'
I can reveal the identity of the former police officer who says that he carried out the bugging of a prison conversation between the Labour MP Sadiq Khan and a terror suspect.
A document seen by the BBC reveals that Mark Kearney, the former police intelligence officer at Woodhill high security prison, says that he came under "significant pressure from the Metropolitan police requesting that we covertly record a social visit between a terrorist detainee and a member of Parliament....The MP concerned was Sadiq Khan, the member for Tooting, and indeed the constituent MP for the suspected terrorist... I did record the visit but have never felt it was justified in these circumstances. The government has already ordered an inquiry into the affair."
Kearney's involvement emerged in a statement he drew up as part of his defence against criminal charges that he leaked stories to a local newspaper journalist. Sources have told the BBC that Khan, though not the formal target of the bugging, was of "significant interest" to the police, some of whom regarded him as "subversive". Mr Khan has chosen not to comment on the reports since his interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday. He won't be surprised that some in the Met are not fans of his given his role as a high profile lawyer and campaigner for civil liberties.
The Wilson doctrine, which was supposed to protect MPs from bugging, was drawn up after Harold Wilson was faced with revelations that the security service had bugged political activists including the young John Prescott, one of the leaders of the seaman's union.
The debate now will focus on whether political surveillance is returning, or whether MPs - like us all - should be liable to be bugged if there is a perceived threat to national security.
The government will not be helped by another revelation tonight. I've just been told that officials at the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office were told weeks ago - in December of last year - about the bugging, even though ministers were not told until two days ago. Questions are sure to follow about why ministers - and therefore Parliament and the public - were not told.