UK

Diane Abbott Exposed By Sky News' Dermot Murnaghan Over Terror Report In Car Crash Interview

'Have you actually read the report?'

05/06/2017 22:54 BST | Updated 06/06/2017 11:43 BST

Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott was left struggling for words when probed by Sky News presenter Dermot Murnaghan over a major report on countering terror.

The Labour MP was quizzed on the Sadiq Khan-commissioned Harris Report, which made recommendations on how to improve London’s readiness for terror in October last year.

But Abbott failed to demonstrate much grasp of the report just days after the  London Bridge and Borough Market terror attacks on Saturday night.

Abbott argued “physical resilience is important”, but could not suggest much more beyond erecting barriers. She also seemed to struggle on whether police forces should be amalgamated.

Murnaghan: Have you actually read the report?

Abbott:  I have.

The exchange had echoes of Abbott’s embarrassing interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari earlier in the election campaign as she attempted to explain how much Labour’s policy of recruiting 10,000 more police officers would cost.

The Labour frontbencher went on to dismiss Murnaghan’s suggestion Jeremy Corbyn and his right-hand man John McDonnell had been trying to keep her off the TV because she was a “liability”.

Murnaghan: Well, it is said that you book your own appearances, that you don’t run them through the leader’s office.

Abbott:  No. We work very closely with the press office.

Sky News

Here’s the full interview:

Murnaghan: Let me ask you about these attacks because I revisited - as I’m sure you have recently - the Lord Harris inquiry, the recommendations he made to Sadiq Khan about preparedness in London for a terror attack. Do you think some of the things he said in there were prescient and should be acted on? They have not been acted on yet?

Abbott: I think we do need to re-visit that report because...

Murnaghan: Which part of it?

Abbot: I just think it is about preparedness and resilience.

Murnaghan: But he made some very specific recommendations that have not been acted on. Do you know what they are?

Abbott: He was talking about preparedness and resilience and I do think that we need to act, not necessarily on every specific recommendation...

Murnaghan: But you remember it came out only in October 2016. and Lord Toby Harris had bullet points. That’s what I have read through. What did you make of those? The specifics.

Abbott: I thought, because I know him, he’s a very...

Murnaghan: Absolutely, very thorough inquiry and review.

Abbott:  I thought it was an important review and I think we should act on it, but obviously working with stakeholders...

Murnaghan: What should we act on? What do you think of the recommendations about the various police forces in London?

Abbott:  You mean the idea that they should work more closely together?

Murnaghan: Well, he suggested they should amalgamate.

Abbott: I think that is an interesting idea but I think you would find resistance in some parts of London to the amalgamation.

Murnaghan: Have you actually read the report?

Abbott:  I have.

Murnaghan: What about the physical resilience? I’m referring to this because it seemed prescient.

Abbott:  Hmm. Yes, I think physical resilience is important.

Murnaghan: But there was a specific aspect of physical resilience.

Abbot: Well, I think the physical resilience is important.

Murnaghan: But there was specific aspect. He talked about putting up more barriers in light of the Nice attacks that he mentioned an October 2016?

Abbott:  We are now putting up barriers on bridges and you’d think we might have done not before, particularly after what happened on Westminster Bridge but now in the past few days we are putting up barriers on bridges.
Murnaghan: So would you recommend putting up barriers around all public spaces? There are many spaces even just in London where people gather. Do you think around pakts, around Covent Garden, places like that?

Abbott:  Certainly in Westminster which is where I work.

Murnaghan: They are already there.

Abbott: There’s A lot more barriers to protect us from terrorism and I think we need to consider that. For other places in central London.

Murnaghan: Is it true that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell’s team have been trying to keep you up the airwaves?

Abbott: No. That is why am here this evening.

Murnaghan: Well, it is said that you book your own appearances, that you don’t run them through the leader’s office.

Abbott:  No. We work very close with the press office

Murnaghan: That they regard you as a bit of a liability after your brain fade on police cuts.

Abbott:  I’m here. I have just come from doing another interview. I’m going on to do another one. There is no truth in the idea that I’m not in the media, particularly in talking about what happened...

Murnaghan: So you think you’re an asset clearly not a liability to the front bench?

Abbot: I think I’m Shadow Home Secretary. It woukld be very strange if the Shadow Home Secretary wasn’t doing interviews like this.