The MI5 director-general made a rare public statement last week, warning that more than 30 possible terror plots were being investigated in the UK — but left some newspapers and broadcasters fuming over the way her speech was released to the media.
Comments made by Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, in an address to a discreet audience at the Mile End Group, made front-page news — but only in those papers that had been given access to her speech.
It is understood her comments — which included a claim that MI5's caseload had risen by 80 per cent to counteract terror plots — were only given to selected newspapers and the BBC. Contacts at certain papers were briefed on the story, which first emerged via BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner on the BBC news at 10pm on Thursday last week.
But the Daily Mail, The Independent, the Financial Times, the Mirror and ITV were left in the dark until they saw his story.
The other papers had the speech ready to run for the next day. They included The Sun, which claimed it as an exclusive, and The Times, which splashed on it. It is understood that complaints have been made. One national paper executive told Press Gazette: "Strong representations have been made about this to MI5. We want to know what happened. Nobody knows whether it was deliberate or a cock-up."