The former chief of the UK’s foreign intelligence agency has admitted that terrorism does not represent a “systemic threat” to Britain.
Sir Richard Dearlove has suggested that the risk of being killed or injured in a terrorist attack are slim, and public fears have been artificially magnified by media exaggerations.
Speaking exclusively to BBC Newsnight, Sir Dearlove said terrorism did not present a “systemic threat” to Britain and that the media had overreacted to terror incidents.
In his first broadcast interview, he told Newsnight’s Evan Davis that, “the chances of getting caught up in a terrorist attack are relatively low”.
His comments stand in sharp contrast to those of Andrew Parker, the current director general of MI5 (the UK’s domestic intelligence agency), who in October said Britain faced its most severe terror threat in history.
Mr Parker claimed: “That threat is multi-dimensional, evolving rapidly and operating at a scale and pace we’ve not seen before. It’s at the highest tempo I have seen in my 34-year career.”
In total, domestic terrorist attacks have claimed the lives of 35 people in four separate incidents in the UK in 2017 — in May, 22 were killed at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena by a suicide bomber.
In June three men in a van drove into members of the public on London Bridge and began stabbing revellers in the Borough Market area, before being gunned down by police marksmen.
In September, a bomb went off on a Tube train at Parsons Green in west London, injuring several people.