Responding to concerns over Andy Coulson’s security clearance, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman has relied on a technicality which cannot be found in any of the Government’s published guidance. In an evasive reply to a set of fourteen questions sent by The Guardian last week, the spokesman claimed repeatedly:
“vetting is about access to paperwork, not meetings”.
But Scrapbook can’t find this distinction made in any official documentation on National Security Vetting. The question of security clearance is consistently viewed through the prism of access to “information” in general.
The Government’s new Security Policy Framework, published by the Cabinet Office, notes that “Vetting is required for those who … have constant and frequent access to SECRET and /or TOP SECRET information or other assets …”, and a Q&A on Developed Vetting issued by the Government Communications Centre reinforces this point:
“Its aim is to ensure that the character and personal circumstances of an individual are such that he or she can be trusted with sensitive government information or assets.”
Can top secret “information” not be disseminated verbally at a meeting?