May denies row led to security minister's exit

Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones stepped down 'at her own request'. Photo:
Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones stepped down 'at her own request'. Photo:

By Alex Stevenson

Pauline Neville-Jones did not refuse to show Theresa May secret documents, the home secretary has insisted.

Her denial of a row with the former security minister, who quit the job last week, followed a newspaper story suggesting the dispute was the real resignation for the resignation.

According to the News of the World, Baroness Neville-Jones said Ms May did not have sufficient security clearance to see documents relating to a potential Mumbai-style terrorist attack on a British shopping centre, perhaps in Wales, Manchester or London.

Ms May insisted she had a "good working relationship with Pauline" this morning, however.

"One of the first things that happens to a home secretary is they are given a briefing about the security matters they will be dealing with," Ms May told BBC1's The Andrew Marr programme.

"Pauline Neville-Jones did an excellent job as a security minister and I'm looking forward to working with her in her very important new role dealing with cybersecurity."

"She did a very important job in government."

The newspaper report suggested Baroness Neville-Jones, a career diplomat, had been concerned at showing Ms May the raw intelligence.

It quoted a Cabinet Office source as saying: "It is unusual for a home secretary to see raw intelligence files.

"He or she is usually given a briefing, or edited extract. But there is no reason why they cannot see them and it has been done in the recent past.

"Baroness Neville-Jones always felt she was closer to the agents than to her fellow politicians."

The former security minister was instrumental in developing the proposals which led to the formation of the national security council under the coalition government.

She stepped down last week at her own request, Downing Street said.


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