Amongst today’s broadcast bulletins is the news that the Prime Minister is expected announce trade deals of around £750m when he visits Indonesia later.
The Guardian, The Independent, Daily Telegraph and The Times follow reporting in the Mail on Sunday that plans have been drawn up to deploy 5,000 troops on the streets in the event of a major terror attack. The Guardian reports that there is military reluctance to commit large numbers of personnel for indefinite tasking. The Independent reports that Baroness Jenny Jones, who sits on London’s Police and Crime Committee, said it would be seen as a ‘provocative act’. The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) said the minutes which revealed the plans had been accidentally uploaded to their website.
An MOD spokesperson said:
The MOD works closely with other government departments and agencies to ensure that it is able to provide appropriate assistance in response to any security threats, including national security. We keep contingency plans under constant review.
The Times, The Sun and the Daily Express follow the weekend’s reporting with article saying that David Cameron has asked officials to draw up plans to help Libya defeat ISIL. Specialists could be sent to help Libyan authorities organise their own security, the articles claim. The Guardian reports that the proposals do not include air strikes.
An FCO spokesperson said:
Supporting progress towards a UN mediated ceasefire and a stable political settlement in Libya is our immediate priority.
The UK has no plans to launch airstrikes over Libya. We are working closely with international and regional partners to support the Libyans to tackle terror groups and are discussing how to use using existing UN Security Council Resolutions to sanction terrorist groups in Libya, including groups affiliated to ISIL.
The Times and Daily Mail pick up a RUSI paper by Malcolm Chalmers which investigates defence spending in the light of the budgetary announcement that the UK would continue to meet the NATO 2% target. The articles say that because the Treasury has committed to increasing the core budget by 0.5% a year and the economy is growing by 2.4% a year, Britain will only meet 2% by incorporating elements such as war pensions and intelligence spending which were not previously in the calculation.
A MOD spokesperson said:
It’s welcome that RUSI has recognised that the Budget committed to significant real-terms increases in the defence budget, of 0.5% every year, and to meeting the NATO 2 per cent target for the rest of this decade. The threats we face require a full spectrum response and our Armed Forces and Security Agencies work closely together to defeat many of these threats and counting appropriate parts of that spend is in line with NATO's guidelines. With the largest defence budget in Europe, the SDSR will focus on the how to respond to the threats we face to keep Britain safe. An increased budget doesn't mean any let up in our drive to be continuously efficient so that we can reinvest savings in new capabilities.
Fusilier Lee Rigby Photograph
The Mail on Sunday and Daily Star reported that a photo used to pay tribute to Lee Rigby had been removed temporarily from MOD websites after solicitors raised copyright issues against the MOD. The photograph has now been reinstated on MOD official websites along with eight others for which the photographer owned the copyright.
BBC R4’s Today Programme featured a first person report recorded by a British medic who is offering emergency health care in Yemen. Dr Roberts, who has previously worked in Syria, described the Saudi bombing campaign that is causing damage as a civil war rages and the casualties she is treating as a result.
The Independent, Wall St Journal and The Times report that around 100 Afghan police officers were captured by the Taliban in Badakhshan in the north east of the country, as the insurgents took their biggest base since Afghan forces took the lead to security in the country.
The Financial Times reported that a tribunal has ruled in favour of the Ministry of Defence’s decision to deny parts of a freedom of information request by Richard Brooks, a journalist at Private Eye magazine, who has previously reported on allegations that the MOD handled corrupt transactions related to a contract to equip Saudi Arabia’s national guard. The MOD said that to disclose the information would jeopardise counter-terrorism co-operation.
In response to the tribunal’s conclusions the MOD said:
We are pleased that the Tribunal agreed with the Information Commissioner’s assessment that the information requested should not be released under the Freedom of Information Act. It would not be in the public interest and would harm relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), which is an important ally in combating terrorism and with whom we have close bi-lateral relationship on a wide range of issues, including trade, investment and wider defence matters.
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