The absence of a warrant

THE ABSENCE of a warrant for the police search of Damien Green’s House of Commons office is by far the most worrying aspect of this whole business. Why didn’t they have a warrant? Why were they nevertheless allowed to continue with their search?

Meanwhile, Michael Howard asserts that the reason Damien Green was arrested was purely for carrying out his duties as an MP. This was repeated by Labour’s David Winnick. Neither of these people have, as far as I know, privileged information that would support this assertion.  

And no protests or walk-outs as far as I can tell. Yet.

UPDATE at 3.18 pm: For the avoidance of doubt, I should have added that those who claim that Damien Green is utterly blameless in this matter have no more justification than those who claim he has a case to answer.

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23 Comments

Filed under Parliament

23 responses to “The absence of a warrant

  1. Johnny Norfolk

    “House of Commons Speaker Michael Martin has said he “regretted” that police had been allowed to search a Tory MP’s office without a warrant.”
    ( BBC report)

    Tom do you need any more proof on what we have been saying.
    It is just beyond belief that the police have done this without a warrant.
    Who allowed this. The police and Speaker must answer just what went on.

    We need a General election and a new Speaker. The whole thing is just crazy we cannot go on like this. No one is running the country.

    It is total disaster.

  2. AngryVoter

    What an amazing turnaround from you Tom….

    Really glad to see you waking the heck up to what happened instead of being so childish about it all.

  3. Bob Jones

    The issue is not just the lack of warrant, as you can ASK to search premises if you make clear you do not have a warrant but they did not make clear that without a warrant it was not mandatory, the Police lied essentially. But operational independence and all that, they can do whatever they like … or we can wait for the appropriate time, after the MET have made even more mistakes than they already have done, to give them a jolly good grilling over why they did that … or we can do nothing, all fine Labour solutions to this huge problem.

    Why does Jacqui Smith not trust herself to be able to be able to keep the police accountable? Is she worried without this supposed operational independence that she would interfere at every moment, even when the MET wasn’t doing something foolish (perhaps a rare situation, I know)? If not, she should be grown up enough to realize somebody needs to keep the Police inline, preferably not a body full of police officers, and that there is sometimes a need for interference.

    If we follow Labour’s line to the end, the Police are free to do whatever they like … that can’t be right in a democracy, and neither can it be right that they’d not be free to do anything without the Home Sec’s approval. Now, here, we find the middle ground. As often is the case, balance is what is missing for the Labour mindset!

  4. AngryVoter – What turnaround? Have I suggested at any point that a search of the Commons without a warrant would have been justified? I think I have been reasonably careful not to make judgments before knowing all the facts – an example some of my commenters might be advised to follow…

  5. No warrant is a worry but it seems to be a Serjeant at Arms blunder. Isn’t she a fairly recent appointment following the demise of the chap who took the rap for those hunting blokes getting into the chamber?

    Perhaps the police used the technique Mr Chisholm often used when he wanted a snoop around the bold Arthur Daley’s lock up. He would remind him that one could easily be obtained but that, if he was put to the trouble of getting one, a rather more thorough search would inevitably result. (Sorry – mild humour may not appeal to all your readers at this earth-shattering moment in our nation’s once proud history)

  6. Iain Dale thinks you’re illiterate…

  7. robtro

    Gordon Brown has just been asked three times the same question by 3 different MP’s whether he though it was proper for the police to search an MP’s office without a warrant, and has 3 times not answered the questions.

    Oh dear….

  8. Rapunzel

    So, who’s writing your blog?

  9. Nick the Greek

    Did the Police actually need a warrant? Don’t certain arrestable offences come with a power of search attached?

  10. Wrinkled Weasel

    Can we have a break from Damian Green please? Yesterday a report came out that is an important statement of intent regarding the future fiscal autonomy of Scotland, or, should I give it its proper description , which is: a bit of Unionist propaganda that will make the oleaginous Prime Minister smile like Malvolio and cause Alex to look like he’s had his nadgers removed with a rusty scalpel.

  11. If a warrant were needed would it have been available? Would this E or O have made a blind bit of difference?

    And wouldn’t most people think it so unlikely that the police would try this caper without a warrant or not follow the correct protocol – and remember this is not a regular occurrence at the HoP – that many reasonable people would not have asked for a warrant.

    It’s more Tory red hairing is what.

    PS Dale is the one who is illiterate. Tom is mistaken about a proper name is all. Both spellings are available by election. So Tim, oops, is not illiterate.

  12. Bob Jones

    What is Damian Green’s blame? Unless he did “scout” the mole into giving many leaks, he simply took leaks like one Gordie Brown admitted to on BBC Breakfast 20 years ago when he was in Opposition. His excuse? He just took them from a concerned Civil Serv – just like Green did, assuming the claims he scouted the mole turn out to be false.

    Unless Gordon is going to be arrested, why should Green have been?

  13. John

    “It’s more Tory red hairing is what”

    And Chris Paul reckons Iain is illiterate?

  14. Bob Jones said “What is Damian Green’s blame? Unless he did ‘scout’ the mole into giving many leaks…”

    Exactly. The police investigation is taking place to discern exactly what Damian did. Why are people finding this so hard to understand?

  15. Bob Jones

    Well the Police don’t usually investigate everybody just on the off chance they’ve done something wrong.

    They’re investigating, allegedly, because a Senior Civil Serv claimed that national security had been breached, which, of course, it had not. If it turns out Green did nothing more or less than Brown did, then we should find out why the MET investigated one but not the other.

  16. Madasafish

    It’s simple why the Met investigated Green.

    The Cabinet Secretary asked them to. Allegedly .

    And Quick who approved it is a policeman who just happened by coincidence to have written a letter (which J Smith quoted) supporting 42 days detention without trial . Of course any suggestion he has a political bias is totally preposterous.

    Any suggestion that the Met are politically biased and carried out an arrest where normally they would have run miles as it’s political – is of course 100% wrong.

    The fact they arrested Green under a rarely used archaic Common Law statute and not under criminal law of course show they took legal advice.. as to the correct way to charge him. It is unfortunate that Criminal Law does not cover what he was accused of.

    Or rather he was accused of endangering National Security… but apparently that was all a dreadful mistake by the Cabinet Secretary as no evidence was found to substantiate it.

    Of course the recent case law says he cannot be guilty anyway.

    Any suggestion , however, that the police enquiry will find that the police have done any wrong is like believing Ms Shoesmith would find her own department had done any wrong in the Baby P case.

    I suspect when it’s all over Mr Green is going to have some fun suing a number of people under the Human Rights Act. Or maybe it will all die a natural death..

  17. I disagree. For me the most worrying aspect of this is that Parliamentary Privilage and the sanctity of Parliament, something vital to any democratic society, is little more than a constitional convention, and as such has no basis in law and can be ignored if there is a will to do so.

    This needs urgent rectification via the statute book, but it won’t happen because the do-gooders have a vested interest in peddling the overly simplistic line that “no-one should be above the law”. Something Mugabe says about his parliament also.

    This whole affair is worrying because our whole constitution is a mixture of codified laws and constitutional conventions across hundreds of documents. If the constitutional convention of the sanctity of parliament can be ignored so readily, then so can half our constitution.

  18. I really don’t see how Tom is making a ‘turnaround’.

    It should be obvious to anyone who has read this blog over the past few days that he was as unaware as anyone else that the police had no warrant.

    This is essentially a matter between the commons, the cops, and the courts.

  19. Donkey Kong

    At least you will actually tell us what you think. Far more than the useless fools in cabinet are currently doing…

  20. Tacitus

    Soap opera? The destruction of democratic process? You are not a well man, Mr. Harris

    By the way – remember this (HT to Iain D)

    Eddie Mair skewered Harriet Harman on PM just now – several times. Click HERE and then scroll in about 17 minutes. The really good bit starts at 20 minutes. Listen to her squirm when he asks her if she received leaked documents from her lawyer sister. “I was perfectly entitled to receive them. I was Solicitor General,” she shrills. Funny how a court of law didn’t see it that way. Her sister was found guilty of a contempt of court, had to resign as a Judge and had to pay £25,000 court costs.

  21. Tacitus

    Finally, for those who think the arrest of Green was fine and above board, and that we are not moving to a police state (albeit of the Keystone Cops variety), might care to reflect on the fact that he was arrested on the basis of an offence he might possibly commit, rather than one he necessarily had.

    Minority Report anyone?

    You are very quiet, Tom. Cat – or Big Gordo – got your tongue?

    ps – reflect on this as well. Every interest rate cut is a tax on savers. What is it that Brown has against those who are prudent, and those who don’t have families?

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