Scottish independence cyber defence plans ‘flawed’

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL
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PLANS for security arrangements in an independent Scotland are “fundamentally flawed”, according to a former head of the UK’s intelligence agency.

Sir David Omand, who was once head of GCHQ, said cyber security would be “much harder” to achieve in the event of a Yes vote in the referendum and would cost more than it does as part of the UK.

His views have been published in an article on Better Together’s website on the day that Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will make a speech setting out the defence case for Scotland staying in the UK.

Sir David writes: “As a Scot I want security for Scotland. So were independence to come it must leave people on both sides of the border no less secure than today, at no greater cost.

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“The SNP white paper is fundamentally flawed on how either part of that condition could be achieved, especially how the different security demands can be accommodated within the security budget said to be available for the first few years of independence.

“The people of Scotland deserve better. Cyber security in particular would be much harder to achieve, and it would cost a lot more than it does today as part of the United Kingdom.”

Sir David, who also served as permanent secretary at the Home Office, said economic growth and jobs depend upon maintaining market and public confidence in companies’ ability to operate safely and securely in cyberspace.

He writes: “The basis of cyber attack is go for the weak point not the strong point and an independent Scotland would need to take on all these responsibilities and demonstrate it could discharge them as effectively.”

He concludes: “It would take considerable investment, it would take considerable time to build up separate capability and it would take a great deal of good will on the part of the rest of the UK, the US and European partners to support Scotland during that period.”


The Scottish Government’s white paper sets out plans to set up a single security and intelligence agency for Scotland which will be responsible for functions including cyber security from the first day of independence.

The white paper says Scotland will work with the rest of the UK on cyber security and would expect “appropriate recognition of Scottish taxpayers’ proportionate contribution to the UK’s current cyber security programme”.

Ms Davidson said: “It is becoming increasingly obvious to everyone that the SNP’s plans for our defence and security in the event of independence are unacceptably lacking.

“The nationalists make the absurd proposition that we should pay more for security services that are able to do less.

“We do not need to take the risk of independence. With a No vote we can continue to benefit from the top echelon security service we enjoy as part of the United Kingdom.”

Allan Burnett, the former Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland co-ordinator of counter terrorism, said: “Sir David is wrong and this is another example of Project Fear at its worst - trying to politicise issues of security and anti-terrorism in this way is the height of irresponsibility.

“It frankly beggars belief that the No campaign feels able to lecture anyone on security issues - with the long list of blunders we have witnessed by Westminster, including - of course - the disastrous and illegal war in Iraq , which made the whole world a much more dangerous place.

“That is one reason why so many senior ex-police officers in Scotland such as myself, James Fraser, former chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, and David Ross former vice chair, are now supporting independence, and of course Dame Mariot Leslie, the recently retired UK ambassador to Nato, is also rejecting this scaremongering and voting Yes. This foolish intervention by the No campaign reeks of panic.”


• Key Scottish independence topic explained: Defence