Cabinet briefed on terror threat

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MI5 director-general Jonathan Evans briefed the Cabinet yesterday on the terrorist threats facing the UK in the run-up to the London Olympics.

It is thought to be the first time that Mr Evans has addressed a full meeting of Prime Minister David Cameron’s top team this Parliament.

Downing Street officials said it was a “routine” update, and not prompted by any new intelligence or change in the assessment of the terrorism threat level, which remains “substantial”.

Home Secretary Theresa May also addressed colleagues on legislative efforts to confront the terrorist threat, including measures in the recent justice and security Green Paper.

Yesterday’s 40-minute discussion in Cabinet began with a 15-minute briefing from the Security Service chief, which Mr Cameron’s official spokesman characterised as “an overall assessment of the current terrorist threat to the UK”.

The spokesman added: “There was some discussion of the Olympics and preparations in that context.

“It was a broad discussion about terrorism and an assessment of the current threat and a run-through of the various issues that the Government is dealing with on the legislative side, such as the fact that we have replaced control orders with TPIMS (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures) and the various measures that are being considered in the context of the security and justice Bill.”

Mr Evans regularly takes part in meetings of the National Security Council – created by Mr Cameron shortly after the 2010 election to bring together senior Ministers, security chiefs and military top brass at 10 Downing Street.

The Cabinet met at the Palace of Westminster, rather than Number 10, as Ministers had to get away promptly to attend the address by the Queen to both Houses of Parliament.