The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

The situation when I became Home Secretary was -- the day I went in it was in crisis over four national prisoners. Actually, the day after I left it was in crisis, with a terrorist attack in Glasgow when Jacqui Smith succeeded me, and in between time it was kind of filled with crisis as well, and I've at some length laid that out at paragraph 49, the other things that were going on.

But above all, and superseding everything else, in the wake of 9/11 and then 7/7 was the great fear and the great attention paid to the threat of a terrorist attack in London. You'll recall that many people died in London at that time.

Secondly, when I went in as Home Secretary, I had some knowledge, having been Defence Secretary, of the number of threats and plots that were ongoing. I won't go into that in any detail, but there were maybe up to 70 such plots going. So what I've tried to do in here is to describe the atmospherics, the priorities, the agendas that faced the Home Secretary coming in in May 2006, and above all else was the generality of the terrorist threat.

Within that, there was one specific threat, because there may be at any time 50, 60, 70 threats, but obviously the Home Secretary would concentrate on those where he was advised they were more imminent, more serious, more likely to take place, and one of them emerged throughout that period from May to August which then became known as Operation Overt. It was the plot to bring down up to 10 airliners, in the last instance an attempt at seven, with potential loss of 2 to 3,000 lives, and that increasingly as we approached August became the centre of most of our attention, on the official side, on certainly the Home Secretary side, and indeed on the police side.

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