Sunday, 5 July 2009

"Are you leading the news with that?"

Those are the words of David Milliband this morning on the Andrew Marr show in response to the leading story in the Mail on Sunday.

The newspaper suggests that the future head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, has been exposed to a potential security risk after his wife maintained a Facebook page with basically no privacy settings. Before being taken down from the social networking site, the page gave information of where Sawers lives and works along with where he goes on holiday and various high-profile connections including one with controversial right-wing historian David Irving.

There have already been questions raised as to whether the story compromises Sawers appointment to the position. Patrick Mercer MP, chairman of the counter-terrorism sub-committee, explained that he had some concerns over the potential security risk at stake whilst Lib Dem Foreign Affairs spokesperson Edward Davey demanded an inquiry into the security implications.

It was left then to our Foreign Secretary to (once again) be the voice of reason in this furore alongside former Prime Minister Sir John Major. Milliband suggested that the amount of information released would not have been that great via Faceboook. For instance, the associations on the site are people with whom Lady Sawers is 'friends' with. I agree wholeheartedly with this view; so we know where the family went on holiday but it's not like we've got dates, flight details and what movie they're going to watch during the journey!

I can see why a newspaper would want to run with this story but Major agreed with Milliband that the issue had been "overblown". And as the Foreign Secretary so well put it: "the head of the MI6 goes swimming - wow, that really is exciting."

As a sidenote I would like to comment that I have generally been very impressed with the performance of David Milliband MP. He could easily have resigned a few weeks ago and left the government in disarray but he has stood strong and not sold out. The reaction by the British Foreign Ministry in relation to events in Iran has also been very well thought out and sensible despite the pressure on the Labour Party at home.