Did 'Mr Speaker' back police raid?
01 December 2008
The blame game continues over how police were allowed to raid Damian Green’s offices in the House of Commons. With Leader of the House Harriet Harman saying she was "very concerned" about it, all eyes are now turning to ‘Mr Speaker’ Michael Martin.
After complaining that she wasn’t told about the raid before it happened, Harman said there should be a review into exactly what rights police have to search Commons offices and questions should be asked about whether parliamentary privilege had been breached. A major concern is that Green’s computers – bound to contain correspondence from constituents – were seized by the police.
Harman said: "I think the Speaker might well want to review the processes by which authorisation is given to search the Palace of Westminster. We have got to be sure that while MPs are not above the law, that they are able to get on with their job without unwarranted interference by the law. These are very, very big constitutional principles, we have to make sure they are protected."
Some MPs have suggested that Martin must have approved the raid, even though it’s been said that he only found out from the Serjeant at Arms once it was happening. A Tory party spokesperson said: "We are very concerned to know exactly what his role is in all this. There’s no doubt that the Speaker has questions to answer."
Martin will be making a statement in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
The police’s role is also being questioned, with Conservative shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve suggesting that police may have "misled" the Serjeant at Arms when telling her that the raid had been approved by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
However Home Secretary Jacqui Smith defended the police's actions and supported the raid.
"It is not an investigation into whether or not Opposition politicians used information they received to embarrass or hold to account the government," she told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show. "That is a completely legitimate activity it has gone on; it should go on; it will go on. This started as an investigation of a systematic series of leaks from a department that deals with some of the most sensitive and confidential information in government."
• Chris Galley, a junior civil servant in the Home Office immigration directorate, is said to be the source of the leaks that Green used to embarrass the government. When Green was arrested in November, he is said to have named Green and told police that he was 'induced' to provide the information, possibly by payments. Galley is said to be 'in hiding' with a relative.
sack him.(mr speaker that his)
alan washington - blackpool