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(The Independent) By Andrew Grice, Political Editor

27 November 2004

Hain denies Canary Wharf terror threat

Peter Hain, the Leader of the Commons, has denied media reports that the security services foiled a plot by al-Qa’ida to fly planes into the skyscrapers at London’s Canary Wharf.

The reports by the Daily Mail and ITV News came on the eve of the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday and were seen as an attempt by the Government to justify the “safety and security” measures dominating its legislative programme.

In a pre-recorded interview for Channel 4’s Morgan & Platell programme tonight, Mr Hain said: “If there was a specific threat to Canary Wharf or anywhere else, we would have said so … That leak, if it was a leak, did not come from a government minister or as far as I know a government source.”

Asked if there have been any specific threats against Britain since the 11 September terror attacks, he said: “I don’t know of a specific threat. But what I do know is that the intelligence services … have constant intelligence on al-Qa’ida-type cells in Britain.”

Counter-terrorist officials have made checks to discover whether details of a plot had been uncovered during investigations or upcoming court cases. A source said yesterday there was no material to back up the media reports and he believed they were wrong. MPs suspect the two news organisations were briefed by a senior official or minister. The reports have fuelled claims that the Government is trying to create a “climate of fear” to justify draconian measures such as identity cards.

Mr Hain also denied a BBC report that there was a specific threat to the House of Commons this month. “I would have expected as Leader of the House to have known about a specific threat and I certainly wasn’t informed,” he said.