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Intelligence and Security professor in demand for comment this week


Professor Philip Davies, Director of the Brunel Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, has been in demand from major news outlets this week, sharing his knowledge and opinion on matters of national intelligence, national security and emergency response.


BBC News 24: Trump wiretapping claims


On the evening of Friday 17 March, Professor Davies was interviewed live by Martine Croxall to comment on the UK national intelligence agency GCHQ's defiant denial of involvement in the alleged wiretapping of President Trump.


Professor Davies provided a historical perspective as to why such wiretapping would be almost impossible nowadays: "There were some early suggestions of similarly politically compromised cross-tasking in the 1990s that were just as vapid and unsound, and they involved the relationship between the Canadians and the British during the Thatcher years.


"This became something of a reputational burden as, being unsound as it was, it was damaging and unnecessary. So the idea that it might have a second round is something that GCHQ is not willing to live with. As a professional agency with a very strict strategy – and stricter still, after the Investigative Powers Act 2016 – it would be considered almost impossible to live with."


LBC radio: Westminster attacks


Professor Davies was interviewed live twice on London-based LBC radio the evening of Wednesday 22 March: soon after the Westminster attacks at 5.40pm, and again for an extended, 8-minute slot at 9.25pm.


When asked about the speed of the police response, Professor Davies commented: "One of the things that is apparent is that the capacity for rapid response was actually quite impressive and very well organised.


"Now the reason I point that out is because good, fast response depends on reasonably good warning, and good warning depends on good situational awareness: being aware at a kind of low-profile surveillance and monitoring level of what's going on in the immediate environment.


"There may be lessons to be drawn about having one's sensors, one's feelers, out perhaps further afield by several blocks than they currently are, and certainly on the south side of the Thames. Part of this started clearly across the bridge, where that was the least immediately responsive area. There has to be good, sensitive awareness on the ground in the area where you have a site or facility at risk.


"Having more police out there, running about with guns, isn't a lot of use because people looking for a target will go for a place where they don't have a lot of visible guns."


Pressed about the country's vulnerability to such attacks, Professor Davies spoke about what the public has been told by ministers and national intelligence agencies: that the UK has had a significant number of successes intercepting and disrupting terrorists' plans while they are in their infancy.


"At the risk of sounding complacent, I suspect the UK is an extremely difficult place for terrorists to operate – more difficult than some other places. This is partly because our intelligence community is so much more joined up than most other countries' intelligence communities. It's partly because the linkages and coordination with the police are so much better than they are in a lot of countries. So I think we're just a desperately hard country to go after in terms of that.


"It doesn't mean we're invulnerable. It doesn't mean if they try hard enough they won't hit us. It does mean we probably have reduced risk because we're just more difficult to get at."

Reported by:

Joe Buchanunn, Media Relations