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  1. Wealth
May 5, 2009

PC Quick's quick end

By Spear's

Some of his colleagues knew his reputation for blunders, and had predicted something like this would happen.

The career of Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, Bob Quick, came to a swift conclusion after he accidentally disclosed classified data by carrying secret documents in a transparent folder as he stepped out a car in Downing Street moments before attending a briefing.

The documents revealed details of an MI5 surveillance operation and, prompted by this embarrassing incdent, the police was obliged to advance plans for raids on target premises in the Midlands.

More than ten Pakistani college students were detained, and are now to be deported because of breaches of the immigration rules, but none are to be charged with terrorist-related offences.

This episode led, quite properly, to Quick’s swift resignation, as was inevitable when the only person willing to defend his behaviour publicly was the discredited former London mayor, Ken Livingston.

Some of his colleagues knew his reputation for blunders, and had predicted something like this would happen. It will be recalled that Quick had been the police officer responsible for the heavy-handed investigation of Home Office leaks to Damian Green, the Tory front-bench critic of dubious official immigration statistics and the government’s habit of massaging them.

Astonishingly, Green himself was arrested and his House of Commons office was searched in an unprecedented abuse of Parliamentary convention.

When the Mail on Sunday later revealed that Quick’s wife had been running a minicab business from their home, the police officer made some slightly disparaging remarks about the Tories which suggested he had not fully grasped the principle that public servants should keep their political opinions to themselves.

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So has the public been served well by Bob Quick? He would probably argue that he was misled by Downing Street into conducting a top-level leak enquiry after having been told that national security was involved.

In reality, of course, the only issue at stake was the government’s manipulation of official statistics, none of it impinging on the country’s security.

Precisely what he was told by Downing Street will doubtless emerge as more outraged MPs pursue the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell for answers that could put another career in jeopardy.

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