17 February 2009
A former head of MI5 has accused the government of exploiting the fear of terrorism and trying to bring in laws that restrict civil liberties.
In an interview in a Spanish newspaper, published in the Daily Telegraph, Dame Stella Rimington, 73, also accuses the US of “tortures”.
The Home Office said it was vital to strike a right balance between privacy, protection and sharing personal data.
It said any policies which impact on privacy must be “proportionate”.
Dame Stella, who stood down as the director general of the security service in 1996, has previously been critical of the government’s policies, including its attempts to extend pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days and the controversial plan to introduce ID cards.
“It would be better that the government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism – that we live in fear and under a police state,” she told the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia.