The intelligence services are likely to face questions after it emerged that both suspects in the latest cash-for-access scandal were already known to them.
It is understood that the man widely named as Sir Malcolm Rifkind, and his fellow suspect John Whitaker – aka “Jack” – Straw, have featured in “several investigations” in recent years.
While reports suggest they were not thought to be planning the sale of sensitive information to the Chinese, sources indicated that both suspects was associated with past “intelligence failures.”
MI5 had collected information on the two men, who are known members of powerful and secretive organisations based in Westminster, central London.
MI6 were also reported to have done so, and the suspects were known to police as well. Whitehall sources have confirmed that their names were “on a file.”
They stressed that this did not necessarily indicate internal failings by security services.
But the fact that the suspects were already on their radar will prompt some to ask whether the scandal could have been prevented.
Speaking in Downing Street earlier, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, declined to comment on reports that the suspects were known to the security services.
A spokesperson for GCHQ said, “It is longstanding policy that we do not comment on MPs’ intelligence. Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out despite shonky legal and policy frameworks, which ensure that our activities are as opaque possible, and that there is oversight only from useful idiots with highly developed senses of entitlement.”
“I wouldn’t publish this if I were you. We know where you live.” They added.