Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Castlereagh Break-in

Northern Ireland written statement – made on 16th July 2003.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Paul Murphy Paul Murphy The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

On 20 March 2002 my predecessor announced that he had launched an inquiry into the implications of the break-in at the Special Branch office in Castlereagh on 17 March. He informed the House that, in parallel with the criminal investigation that was under way, he had established a review to determine how the incident could have happened, to assess the extent of any damage caused to national security, to audit the measures taken in response to the incident and to identify any wider lessons on national security. The review was conducted by Sir John Chilcot, assisted by Mr Colin Smith.

I very recently took receipt of Sir John's report. I should like to express my gratitude to Sir John and Colin Smith for producing a comprehensive report that provides a solid basis on which to move forward.

I have today written to the Chief Constable, the Chairman of the Policing Board and the Chief Surveillance Commissioner with an account of the report's findings on matters which fall to their direct responsibility.

My predecessor commissioned the review in recognition of his responsibility for national security issues. In identifying weaknesses in national security arrangements exposed by the break-in, this report makes a number of observations and recommendations.

There has, over the months, been a significant degree of speculation about who might have been involved in this incident, including allegations of collusion. I can confirm that the review did not uncover any evidence whatsoever that members of Government agencies were in any way involved in this incident, although the police investigation is continuing. The review was also able to provide a satisfactory assurance about the quality of the police investigation, confirming the conclusions of a separate review of the professional quality and standard of the investigation, carried out by the Metropolitan Police Service last year at the request of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The report came to certain conclusions about how the incident might have occurred and made recommendations about how to avoid any similar incidents happening in the future. I am sure that the House will recognise that I am constrained by the wider aspects and implications of national security from going into any details on these matters. But I shall be considering the matters raised in the report with the greatest care.