William Hague’s statement on Prism was a masterclass in not answering the question. Hague calmly, but determinedly, stuck to the line that he wasn’t going to comment on leaks — which made the whole statement slightly pointless as it was being given in response to a leak. His whole approach was ‘trust me’, which will work with those who do trust me but do nothing to reassure those who don’t trust him, government or the security services.
Hague begun by dropping a heavy hint that attacks on the Olympics had been foiled by GCHQ/NSA cooperation. He also went out of his way to deny the accusation that GCHQ and the NSA were using each other to leapfrog the legal obstacles to them spying on British and American citizens respectively.
For the most part, the Commons seemed content with Hague’s terse replies. But Douglas Alexander did look irritated by Hague’s open refusal to answer pretty much all of the questions that he had put to the Foreign Secretary. I suspect that Labour might well return to this subject.
Hague did, though, in response to questions from several MPs, confirm that the Wilson doctrine — which prevent the tapping of MPs’ phones — still exists.
In a sign of Hague’s confidence, he used his answers to push repeatedly for the Communications Data bill. The Conservative side of the Coalition has clearly not given up on the measures included in it.
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