The former head of Britain’s intelligence service urged the government to cover up allegations of child sexual abuse against a senior MP, freshly uncovered documents have revealed.

Writing to cabinet secretary Sir Robert Armstrong in 1986, MI5 director general Sir Antony Duff said “the risk of political embarrassment to the government is rather greater than the security danger”.

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The UK government has proposed a new bill which gives the police and intelligence agencies special powers to get access to individuals’ communications data.

The British government published a draft version of its ‘Investigatory Powers Bill,’ on Wednesday, which gives law enforcement the power to intercept, and collect information from internet providers on individual internet users. It then imposes a gagging order to prevent anyone disclosing that the warrant even existed, Arstechnica reported on Friday.

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Transcripts have been disclosed of the moment civil liberty campaigners told a Parliamentary committee that terror attacks on the UK are a “price worth paying” to ensure the secret service does not conduct mass surveillance.

Representaitves from the groups – including Liberty, Justice and Big Brother Watch – told members that privacy was more important than forms of bulk surveillance.

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Extremists like Mohammed Emwazi are not becoming radicalised because of their contact with security services, the ex-chief of MI6 Sir John Sawers has said.

He told the BBC such suggestions were “very false and very transparent”.

Security services have been criticised for being aware of Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John”, and not preventing him from joining Islamic State.

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MI5 may have “slipped up” in its handling of Jihadi John before he fled the UK, the Government’s terrorism watchdog said, but David Cameron defended the Security Service and said the terrorist needed to be “put out of action”.

David Anderson QC said it is possible not enough was done to control Mohammed Emwazi and signalled he expected a review in to the case.

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