Conservative Party v. The police

REMEMBER when the Tories described themselves as “the party of law and order”?

Alas, no more. The Shadow Home Secretary, “the lawyer’s lawyer”, Dominic Grieve, has written to the government asking 50 questions about – what else? – the Damien Green affair. All well and good. Except you would have thoight that a lawyer of Dominic’s experience would have known that at least some of the questions cannot be answered by the government and should have been directed at the police instead.

So what’s his game? Simple: if the government doesn’t answer all his questions (which it won’t, I hope), he’ll put on his faux indignation look (does he have any other?) and claim the government isn’t being transparent or accountable. And if it does answer his questions, he will claim that this is proof that the government was pulling the police’s strings all along.

Here’s an example from his nice long list: 

21. The guidance on the offence of misconduct in public office states: “A charge of misconduct in public office should be reserved for cases of serious misconduct or deliberate failure to perform a duty which is likely to injure the public interest”. In what respect was it suspected that Damian Green might have done this?

Why would any experienced lawyer expect a government minister to know the answer to this? More worryingly, if Dominic ever becomes Home Secretary (and even in a Conservative government, I think this is unlikely), he will clearly take the view that he, not the police, should decide on the remit of an investigation and decide whether or not individuals should be arrested.
Or how about this one:
22. Who in the police approved the decision to inform the mayor about the proposed arrest of Damian Green?
The clue’s in the question, Dominic. Good grief.
Or how about this:
23. Who in the police decided not to inform any government minister about the proposed arrest of Damian Green?
Or this:

24. Why was it decided to inform the mayor but no minister?

But this one is the doozy:
26. Why were counter-terrorist officers involved in the arrest?
Now, as some of the more observant readers of this blog will have noticed, I am not the Shadow Home Secretary. Neither am I a lawyer. However, unlike Dominic, I have an attention span longer than your average goldfish, and I am also able to read the comments of Sir Paul Stephenson, acting head of the Met, who has pointed out something that was publicly known at the time of Damien Green’s arrest, namely that the reason counter-terrorism officers were used was because special branch and the anti-terrorist branch had been merged. 
And Dominic Grieve, the man who thinks he should be Home Secretary, the man who reckons he’s got what it takes to hold the government to account, didn’t know this?

As the right-hand man to Shami Chakrabarti the then Shadow Home Secretary, David “Remember him?” Davis, Dominic did a sterling job in defending the rights of terrorist suspects because he thought the government was being too, too beastly to the little darlings. 
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34 Comments

Filed under Conservative Party, Politics

34 responses to “Conservative Party v. The police

  1. Speaking of odd Tories – it has emerged, if Sky News is to be believed, that, soon after his arrest, Damien Green rang Boris Johnson. It may be that the two are friends and Mr Green thought his pal was a reasonable bloke to talk to in his distress. It may be that Mr Green had forgotten that Mr Johnson is the London Mayor (I sometimes try to forget this awful truth too!). It may be that Mr Green had forgotten the London Mayor’s role with respect to the police who had carried out the arrest.

    Perhaps Mr Green has a poor memory. He may lack judgement and therefore was unable to see why making the call wasn’t the most sensible thing to do in the circumstances. Maybe he’s prone to going to pieces when under stress. Any of these disabilities might make one question whether he’s really suited to high ministerial office.

    Whilst Mr Johnson’s declaration that he thinks his friend will not be prosecuted could be seen as a refreshing blast of honesty, it’s more likely to be thought a highly inappropriate remark for someone in his position to make before either the CPS has deliberated on the matter or an enquiry been held. I wonder if he, too, is really cut out for high office – perhaps he should stick to making TV documentaries…

  2. Jane

    We are aware of the amalgamation of the two police units. Regardless as this was a paper trail normal detectives could have carried out the task. It lends credence to the police’s assertion that the Cabinet Office had advised that National Security issues were at stake – an assertion that Dominic Grieve would not have known when he posed the questions. However, the previous DPP stated lastnight on Newsnight that the Met had not sought guidance of the CPS or DPP before initiating the raid on the office of Mr Green within the Palace of Westminster. A crucial error by the Met if this is true. A leading QC has also stated that the searching of the Palace of Westminster was illegal. I am of the view that the nature of the charges against Mr Green did not warrant a search. So whilst the police may have been informed by the Cabinet Office of National Security issues, this was not the case by the time of Mr Green’s arrest. Then the police had interviewed the civil servant involved and according to his legal representative, he openly provided all documents that he had leaked to the police. He has not been charged under the Official Secrets Act.

    A lot of people are now wriggling. The police apparently are saying that the Cabinet Office made statements, the DPP approved and they had written authority from officials in the palace of Westminster. It was not. I do not think it is good enough to say because a Department deals with Security issues per se that one can accuse someone of National Security leaks. This would not stand up in a Court.

    I am sorry Tom but I feel a lot of the questions are pertinent and I would hold this view regardless of political loyalties. I remain astonished that the Home Secretary was not informed of the arrest – the initial investigation was instigated in the home Office. I think the matter was taken out of proportion and indeed, Sky are reporting that there will be no criminal prosecution. This was inevitable following the throwing out of a leak case last week, the unlikelihood of success in the Courts r green’s office. What it has done is provide the Conservative Party a lot of headlines.

  3. ani

    Ah. Tory lists, how we love ’em, and with so many echoes of the Daily Mail too.
    I have to say though, that Peter Lilley was master at it – he even used to sing them (embarrassingly) at party conference but the faithful loved it.

    The latest shot in the foot video release of Cameron and the shadow cabinet chortling over Jacqui’s written response to Grieve, (just a mo…wasn’t that Carolyn Spelman poking her head out there and looking a tad pale) will, I’m sure remind the nation, just how very concerned and how seriously the Tories are responding to this situation, and are illustrating it perfectly with their giggly, unconcerned, and irreverent behaviour.

    …”namely that the reason counter-terrorism officers were used was because special branch and the anti-terrorist branch had been merged.
    And Dominic Grieve, the man who thinks he should be Home Secretary, the man who reckons he’s got what it takes to hold the government to account, didn’t know this?”

    Tom – of course he knows this, as does every Tory politician and commentator who promotes this nonsense. It’s just a tactic to scare the public into thinking that even a low level questioning or arrest is carried out by ‘terrorist police’, and falls into the category, circulated endlessly by Tories, that we live in a police state. Utter and un-reconstructed hyperbole.

  4. Andrew F

    I find it hilarious that he asked exactly 50. Because it’s a round number?

  5. Andrew F

    Ah, no. Nevermind.

  6. Johnny Norfolk

    The party of law and order . Not a police state.

    There is a massive difference that you Tom do not understand.

    This is the problem with Labour they do not have the understanding of the difference and is why they are not fit to govern.

    It is beyond belief that you cannot see this.

  7. Andrew

    I’m surprised at your trivial rather snide tone on what is an important matter Tom. We all know that of roles were reversed, labour was in opposition and one of your shadows was arrested, you have all been screaming like stuck pigs

    How a grown up debate instead of slavish party devotion?

  8. Tacitus

    @ani December 3, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    //
    The latest shot in the foot video release of Cameron and the shadow cabinet chortling over Jacqui’s written response to Grieve, (just a mo…wasn’t that Carolyn Spelman poking her head out there and looking a tad pale) will, I’m sure remind the nation, just how very concerned and how seriously the Tories are responding to this situation, and are illustrating it perfectly with their giggly, unconcerned, and irreverent behaviour
    //

    Whereas Brown’s inability to stop laughing when the financial markets went to shit shows to us the great statesman he is, yes? You know, the Brown who was interviewed on the BBC about his mole in the Home Office? Yes? That Brown?

  9. Tacitus

    So the Serjeant-At-Arms didn’t even check if the police had a warrant, and the Speaker didn’t even check the S-A-A’s actions.

    Long, deep, sigh.

    Fit for purpose?

  10. Zorro

    Bearing in mind you will be in opposition (hopefully soon, but unarguably at some point, assuming this is still a democracy!?) – are you really sure you are happy with the current situation – that leaks of non-national-security issues, merely embarassing to the government is now apparently illegal, to the leakee as well as the leaker???

  11. Zorro – how often do I have to repeat this before you take any notice? I’ll put it in capitals so you know I’m raising my voice: NONE OF US KNOWS WHAT EVIDENCE THE POLICE HAVE OR WHAT CHARGES DAMIEN GREEN MAY FACE. WE SHOULD WAIT UNTIL THE POLICE INVESTIGATION CONCLUDES, AND SEE WHETHER OR NOT DG FACES ANY CHARGES. IT SEEMS PECULIAR LOGIC TO SAY THAT “DAMIEN GREEN HAS EMBARRASSED THE GOVERNMENT – DAMIEN GREEN HAS BEEN ARRESTED – THEREFORE DAMIEN GREEN HAS BEEN ARRESTED BECAUSE HE EMBARRASSED THE GOVERNMENT”. THAT’S THE EQUIVALENT OF THE OLD “I AM PINK, SPAM IS PINK, THEREFORE I AM SPAM”

  12. Rapunzel

    “Despite the best efforts of the Government, Damian Green MP is here in the Commons today.”

    Quoted from David Cameron’s response to the Queen’s speech.

    That should keep the conspiracy theory going.

    You could almost wish for a Tory victory, then apply for a job in one of the main Departments of State and just photocopy everything to send to your favourite opposition M.P. It seems that’s what the current opposition are condoning.

    Or, maybe not.

    Tom, try to stay calm. Outrage doesn’t suit you.

  13. Tacitus

    Brown’s speech …

    1. And that is only possible …

    2. And at the same time …

    3. A plan the opposition …

    4. Diss the oppo

    5. Go to 1

  14. Tacitus

    In what year do folk expect all employment in the UK to be in the public sector?

  15. Tacitus

    Jesus. Someone take out the batteries.

  16. Chris' Wills

    Ani, you called me paranoid seems I’m not paranoid enough.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1091448/Police-given-new-powers-stop-street-demand-ID–refuse-youll-face-jail.html

    Now I know it’s the Daily Mail and so beneath your contempt. But is it true?

    I don’t normally wander around with an identification on me, ATM card doesn’t identify me and why should I in my own country?

    Bloody pass laws, of course the gubermint will say that the ID card will solve this problem.
    But do you trust the goverment to keep your details safe and again why should I have to prove to anyone who I am?

  17. ani

    Chris’Wills. “But do you trust the goverment to keep your details safe”

    Obviously not with the likes of Galley and Green sneaking about.

    Now don’t be so hard on me Chris – I haven’t really got to read the Mail article have I? Give me a break please. I scrolled down and there was Chami, DD’s big buddy, and it was all too much, I had to retreat.

    It’s interesting though what bedmates we cuddle up to in frenzied times like these.
    I’ve surprised myself by agreeing with Mel Philips, and the calmer voices (like mine?) of Marcel Berlins and Vernon Bogdanor, and you might want to look at this website, recommended by Ms. Phillips no less.! So it must be OK for you Tories hmm?

    http://tinyurl.com/6xdgoc

    Unless of course, frenzy and speculation is more of a draw for you.

  18. ani

    Chris’Wills. ..”why should I have to prove to anyone who I am?”

    The world and his wife know already. You volunteered the information yourself to your supermarket, you server, your insurance, your bank, your phone, your car registration, your health details etc.etc.
    Hell’s teeth. When I quote my card I’m addressed by name.
    You tell me your post code, and I’ll tell you what your house is worth.
    It’s already out there and every transaction leaves a trail to/about you. The days of being paid in cash, and a friendly bank manager being on private and intimate terms with your finances is long gone.
    It’s all plastic. So another card in your pocket is what? Scary?
    Someone ‘may’ ask to look at it?
    Well, I’m sure the already stretched (and no doubt fully armed) police forces and immigration officers will all find the time to be jack-booting about our high streets, and stopping every other citizen at the cash out in Boots for a check eh?

  19. Tacitus

    @Ani 9:45pm

    You didn’t answer my post above. Please do. You know, sauce for the goose, etc.

    As for identity – Civis Brittanicus Sum. That’s all you need to know, and the authorities are here to serve and represent me. My identity, as I go about my legitimate daily pursuits, is none of their business. That is the nature of democracy. If there is a legitimate reason for them to know it, such as crossing a border, that’s fine. Otherwise, they go mind their own business, and I will mind mine.

  20. Tacitus

    Tom – between mates, eh, would you mind telling *your* mate Hazel Blears NOT to twatter on about “what the people of this country want…”. That is our business, and not hers. She would do well to get on with her job, the one we pay her to do.

  21. Tacitus

    Brown lied to the Commons this afternoon when he said Lloyds, Barclays, HBOS etc had agreed to his barmy scheme for paying debtors mortgage interest payments.

    Both Sky and ITN have now reported that the banks are furious because this hasn’t even been discussed with them.

    Nice of Mandy to leak it to the press tho’, yes? I would call him underhand if I didn’t know him better…

    Mind you, it’s very cool, as we can now stop paying our mortgage for two years. Oh hold on – I was prudent and have already paid it off. Never mind, now I get the chance to pay someone else’s mortgage off as well.

    How cool is that?

  22. Tacitus

    New Labour – Helping Small Business by strangling them with regulation and red tape.

    http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/6798219245170437228/Burdens_Barometer_2008.pdf

    In short. Cumulative cost to small business = £66 Billion.

    New Labour. Helping Small Businesses into a grave.

    However, good to see that the previous two qu

  23. Zorro

    Ooh I got up Tom’s back.

    Tom did you miss my Brown style careful wording “apparently”?

    Used as a not really hidden caveat, in much the same way as “A proportion of” the interest and “up to” two years, in Brown’s statement yesterday.

  24. ani

    Tacitus
    “Whereas Brown’s inability to stop laughing when the financial markets went to shit shows to us the great statesman he is, yes? You know, the Brown who was interviewed on the BBC about his mole in the Home Office? Yes? That Brown?”

    Just a gentle reminder to you Tacitus, that it’s not obligatory to answer every post; some do deserve ignoring, but if you insist.. and to start at the end.

    Brown’s mole? There’s a video on UTube I think? I haven’t seen it, but reading RedBox last night a commentator who had seen it said this:

    “There’s been a lot made in the blogs recently about Brown’s “admission”, but when you cut through the spin, all the video shows is an admission that Brown had received a leak.
    …Brown’s admission seems only to be that (a) he received one unsolicited leak and (b) it was a matter of importance for the public interest. The fact that it was also embarrassing for the government was a by-product of this”.

    Which is not in the same category of what allegedly, Green is charged with, despite the over excitement and embroidering of facts which seem to be rampant on Tory websites.

    Another perfect example of Tory hyperbole is illustrated here by your assertion:
    “Whereas Brown’s inability to stop laughing when the financial markets went to shit”

    Pictures of him smiling as he shakes hands and meets, or is introduced to, other heads of state en route to him attending meetings to discuss the world wide financial problems, and trying to find solutions to them, is him taking the mickey, is it?

    Stop being so deliberately obtuse!! ;0)

  25. Tacitus

    @ANI – You wouldn’t happen to be Gordon in disguise for you? Again – not OK for Cameron to laugh, OK for Brown, not OK for a Conservative to leak, OK for Brown? One law for New Labour, another for the Conservatives?

    You make yourself look pretty stupid, really. I think I’ ll leave it at that…

  26. Tacitus

    It gets better …

    12.21pm Damian Green (Ashford) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I invite the Home Secretary to correct a factual inaccuracy in her statement. She said that I was arrested “on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office and aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office.” I have a copy of my arrest warrant here, and the phrase “counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office” does not occur. I was not arrested for counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office. She will understand the seriousness of her mistake, and I invite her to withdraw those words immediately.

    Mr. Speaker: I ask the Home Secretary to reply.

    Jacqui Smith: I would certainly be prepared to take that up with the Metropolitan police—[HON. MEMBERS: “Oh!”]

    Mr. Speaker: Order. Hon. Members should allow the Home Secretary to answer in the way that she wants to answer. It is not for me to tell the Home Secretary—or any other hon. Member—how she should answer. Home Secretary, have you anything to add?

    Jacqui Smith: I was quoting from a public statement made by the Metropolitan police on 28 November.*

  27. Tacitus

    @Ani

    http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2008/12/was-labour-mp-gordons-treasury-snout.html

    Never mind. It really is very hard to defend the indefensible, but do carry on doing so, you are providing me with huge amusement.

    Regardless – don’t you think Brown is appalling ill-mannered for a human being?

  28. Tacitus

    Approve of this Tom?

    “This is a Bill to smash the rule of law and build the database state in its place. Burying sweeping constitutional change in obscure Bills is an appalling approach. Having proved – and admitted – they cannot be trusted to look after our secrets, they are still determined to steal what privacy we have left. Parliament needs to wake up before it has no say any more.”

    – Phil Booth from NO2ID on the government’s decision to rush a new Bill through Parliament (without a vote) to give ministers the right to allow all public bodies to exchange personal and sensitive data about every British citizen

  29. Tacitus

    DEMOCRACY WE HAIL THEE

    Theresa May, shadow Commons leader, said it was now clear that Martin’s promised speedy enquiry would be no such thing. It emerged today that the committee of seven senior MPs would meet and immediately adjourn until police investigations and criminal proceedings were finished – a process likely to take many months.

  30. Chris' Wills

    @ani

    So because my privacy has already been compromised it OK to take it all away?

    What a strange argument.

    I objected when the conservatives introduced the sus laws that allowed police to question anyone just ’cause they felt like it and I object to the same law, with added venom in that you will get jailed and/or fined for not being a docile cowed pleb, is being re-introduced.

    You really don’t seem to understand the concepts of liberty, freedom and privacy.

    You are free to publish all your details anywhere you wish, there is no need for you to want the same forced on those who still believe in the rights of man (man is not a sexist term, I’m using it generically and in its original Saxon? meaning or people) .

    Oh what a brave new world that has such people in it.

  31. Chris' Wills

    Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, said he believed Britain had gone too far in helping to bring about a “surveillance society”.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/the-big-brother-state-ndash-by-stealth-1050576.html
    ————————

    I wonder if Tom will vote against the goverments attempt to create its database of us all by goverment fiat and without a parliamentary debate or vote.

    It has come to a pretty pass when we are reliant on the Lords and European (please note not EU) institutions to defend our freedoms.

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