G8 Security Plans leaked to UK Newspaper
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Leak of secret plan to protect G8 leaders sparks security alert
'Operation Sorbus' security briefing revealed to the 'IoS'.
Identifies areas vulnerable to attack at Gleneagles summit base. 'Potentially immensely serious breach of national security'
By Francis Elliott, Deputy Political Editor
19 June 2005
Tony Blair's preparations for the G8 summit were last night thrown into disarray as confidential security information relating to the Gleneagles meeting was leaked to The Independent on Sunday.
Details of the effort to protect the eight most powerful people on the planet, code-named Operation Sorbus, including the location of special forces during the summit, have been revealed by a member of the intelligence community in Scotland appalled by ministers' "complacency".
The information includes:
* details of the threat, including assessments of the risk from chemical, biological and radiological attack;
* an analysis of the Gleneagles resort's vulnerable areas;
* maps showing the precise location of lines of reinforced fencing to keep out would-be suicide bombers and protesters;
* and aerial photographs of the estate marking likely terrorist targets.
For security reasons, the IoS will not disclose operational details, but we publish here the codename for the operation and official photographs showing the estate and hotel where George Bush, Vladimir Putin and other world leaders are staying for three days next month.
The IoS was also told the location of a base to be used by special forces, the positioning of regular troops and details of a wrangle between US and British agents over the deployment of surface-to-air missiles. The whistleblower revealed the highly sensitive information because, he said, he wanted to shock ministers, who he claimed were taking for granted security arrangements for the summit. It takes place in three weeks' time.
He said: "I have been increasingly appalled by the air of complacency surrounding this event, particularly as displayed by ministers. The release of a portion of non-operational material is intended as a wake-up call before that complacency becomes truly dangerous."
David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, said the leak was potentially an "immensely serious breach of national security". He said: "The immediate task for the Home Secretary must be to reappraise all aspects of security at the G8 in the light of this breach to ensure the safety and security of all those attending."
The operation to secure Gleneagles is being led by Tayside police, supported by the security services and the Army, at an estimated cost of £100m.
The force is already braced for an influx of tens of thousands of people determined to register their protest at the resort itself. Concern is mounting within the intelligence community that the Government is failing to ensure all organisations are working smoothly together.
Confidence in the security of high-profile figures was undermined last week when The Sun claimed to have secretly filmed Prince Harry as he trained at Sandhurst military academy after gaining access unchallenged.
Today's revelation ahead of the G8 will be viewed with far greater alarm, however, since it calls into question Britain's ability to protect the world's leaders. Security services in the US, Russia and elsewhere will be closely monitoring preparations in Gleneagles to ensure that their premiers will be safe. They will have noted that Tayside police is already braced for the prospect of tens of thousands of protesters demonstrating on the perimeter of the hotel's grounds.
The local authority has rejected an application for a march past the hotel, though as a concession, Perth and Kinross Council has given permission for a rally of up to 4,500 in the neighbouring town of Auchterarder on 6 July, the opening day of the summit. Protesters warn, however, that as many as 20,000 could descend to make their voice heard and are urging the police to accommodate organised demonstration. The former Labour MP Tony Benn and Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP, are among those calling on the Government to overturn the council ban.
However, Bob Geldof, the organiser of Live8 who caused consternation by calling on a million people to gather in Edinburgh, is urging people to stay away from the Perthshire resort, saying it does not matter whether protesters are "1,000 miles or 1,000 yards" away.
Nevertheless, it seems likely that some groups are determined to travel to the summit itself and police arrested three protesters in scuffles outside a preparatory G8 meeting of home affairs ministers in Sheffield on Thursday in a foretaste of what could occur.
Security surrounding the annual G8 summit has been relentlessly increased each year, driven by fears of anarchist protest and terrorist attack. The 2001 summit in Genoa was marred by violent clashes and the death of one anti-globalisation protester.
All the security material passed to this newspaper has now been destroyed.