Spooks and special forces needs mean reliance on England – for time being

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A CRACK team of special operations troops will have to be recruited to protect Scotland’s oil rigs from terrorist attack, a former SAS deputy commander said yesterday.

Clive Fairweather, who was second-in-command of the SAS during the Iranian embassy siege in London in 1980, said a 75-strong special forces squadron would be needed to protect North Sea assets.

With only a “handful” of Scottish SAS troops likely to take up the chance to join the service, he claimed preparations should start now to ensure an elite team was ready. He told The Scotsman Conference on Defending an Independent Scotland: “To get this force and to get this capability, it is going to take three years to be operational and this is with a fair wind.

“I think we will have to go as far as a foreign legion to recruit that number. We can’t wait until day one.”

He said English forces would most likely “still come to the rescue before we’re finally able to go ourselves”. The new force would, he said, cost around £10 million to establish and a further £5m a year to run.

Turning to intelligence for an independent Scotland, Mr Fairweather said that there was “no sense” in Scotland forming its own equivalent to MI5 and MI6.

He said, instead, there would have to be “an arrangement” with the UK’s intelligence facility in Cheltenham, to gain intelligence from British “spooks”.

He added: “We are going to have to continue to have some crucial understanding with the English whatever we do or we will be eyeless in Gaza.”