A blue herring

I CAN’T help feeling that all this excitement about the Speaker, the Serjeant-at-Arms and the police search (without a warrant!) is all a bit beside the point.

Surely the central issue in all of this is the guilt or innocence of Damian Green. Like everyone else – including all my commenters – I have no idea of the case against him. And of course I won’t prejudge the police investigation.

But the rights and wrongs of the police search and the actions (or inaction) of the various House authorities are not the central point. Does the fact that Tory spin over the last few days has been designed to focus media attention on the process of the search rather than the reason for it suggest that they are less comfortable talking about the latter?

And when Do-Nothing said in yesterday’s debate that the government had ordered Damian Green’s arrest, he clearly didn’t believe it himself. More likely he’s decided that since at least some of the public are inclined to believe the worst of the government, he might as well capitalize on it, even if it means being dishonest in the process.

The nasty party indeed…

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42 Comments

Filed under Conservative Party, David Cameron, Parliament

42 responses to “A blue herring

  1. Madasafish

    I have no idea of Green’s innocence or otherwise.

    If, however, he is found guilty, then Gordon brown and a entire troupe of Labour and Conservative MPs should also be charged .
    As there is TV evidence and an admission in Gordon’s case, the trial should last about 5 minutes .

    Tom, you know as well as I do this case will never get to court.
    The police and the Home Office not to mention various Ministers would be called to give evidence .. and pior case law says a Not Gulty verdict is a no brainer.

    Perhaps you might care to reconsider your view.. it is unsustainable – in LAW.

  2. You still don’t get it, do you? You’re not even making an effort. Damian Green is NOT being investigated for accepting a leak from a civil servant. That is quite acceptable. GB did it. Many others have done it. I would do it.

    There is a much more serious allegation, one which has never been made against GB.

  3. John

    Perhaps if we had “open government” as many politicians have promised, much of this could have been avoided.
    Surely we have a right to know what is happening in OUR country. None of the leaked information in this case was exactly top secret.
    How do you expect to regain the public’s trust if you (and the other Parties) treat us like idiots.

  4. Madasafish

    There is a much more serious allegation, one which has never been made against GB.

    ?
    Please explain.. I’m being dumb – again..

  5. I think the term used was “grooming” a civil servant. GB was never accused of that, and I hasten to add, Damian may not be guilty of it either.

  6. Madasafish

    So Tom
    Quote me the arrest sheet or the actual police chargesheet.

  7. wrinkled weasel

    Lest you be accused of deflecting the argument away from reality…Your lovely chums are now reduced to a ferrets-in-the-sack routine, with Bruiser Reid and Jacqui, Hattie and Mick, Mick and Jill…they are all at it.

    Be warned, with women involved, revenge will be sweet and quick.

  8. James

    The word ‘grooming’ implies some sort of sexual relationship.

    Funniy you should mention that as I have just read in the Telegraph of a Guernsey man gaoled for 3 years for having sex with a horse. Twice.
    First time, he left his underwear behind and was traced from those.
    Second time the owner noticed a mounting stool had been moved.

    That certainly puts new meaning on the phrase, grooming a horse.

  9. Brian Hall

    Yes, because civil servants above 18 years of age are not responsible adults Tom…

    0/10

  10. richard

    Gordon received plenty of leaks in opposition, many of them apparently from the same civil service source working in the DSS/DWP.

    Clearly only a fool would suggest that there were several “surprise promotions” in that department immediately following the 1997 election.

    1+1 = ?

  11. pr roger j clementine iii cbe

    Have you ever met the honourable member for Bishop Auckland, Tam?

    What’s she like?

  12. Lisa

    Also, some of the leaked information wasn’t (arguably) in the public interest. For example, the whips list on the 42 days vote. All political parties run whip operations, the only reason for it to be released was to cause political embarrassment rather than out of any noble sentiments.

  13. Jim Baxter

    Cameron’s brazen remark about the government arresting people was disappointing indeed and an example of the kind of steamrollering of the facts for a cheap effect that has made Labour so mistrusted.

    Just when I was trying hard to like him.

  14. Zorro

    And what exactly does that mean Tom?, I suspect if I look up ‘grooming’ in the dictionary it might suggest something innocent and perfectly legal involving hair. Typical Labour doublespeak.

    If we knew exactly what ‘grooming’ meant in this context we might be able to better understand if Gordon was guilty of the same thing in the 1990s. He certainly had his own personal leaker(s) in the Civil service at the time.

    And I would hazard a guess that the reason the ‘reason’ for the arrest is not being discussed is that it is the focus of a current police investigation. Possibly. Maybe.

    All this talk of national security is if you’ll excuse the french, complete bull***t. We know the leaks Damien Green received from the Home office which he gave to the press. We know the details of all four examples. We do not know what else was leaked TO him that he did not release but I’m fairly sure the law does not hold you responsible for what you /receive/. If he received sensitive information and did not release it then he’s done nothing wrong. The civil service bod may have done wrong if he leaked such information to Green but not Green himself.

    So I think it’s pretty clear cut that he’s done nothing wrong.

  15. The issue of Green’s guilt is the sideshow here, at least with regard to the debate about the Speaker and his duties to Parliament. To take a (slightly hyperbolic) historical example, your position seems to that when examining the actions of Speaker William Lenthall, we should ask whether the five MPs sought by Charles I were guilty of treason. Perhaps you’re right, the English Civil War due to a red herring. Other MPs, including it seems the Leader of the House and an ex Labour Home Secretary, however seem to disagree.

    But, back to Green’s guilt. There is practically no chance that Green will appear in court, unless he kidnapped Galley sister to ransom for the papers. And the fact that Brown was not previously accused of “grooming”, apart from the fact that grooming had more to do with horses in the early 1990s, was that no-one thought what he was doing was an offence.

    It should also be pointed out that Paul Waugh has, in effect, accused Brown of grooming in the Standard. He discusses allegations that Brown received leaks in the early 1990s from a Treasury official who is now a Labour MP.

  16. Steve

    I think the central issue is that corrispondance between constituents and their MP have been seized without even a nod from a magistrate. Thats what the debate should be about.

    How can any of us ever write to an MP again , when you have no idea where that letter will end up? (are MP’s computer hard drives encrypted? If not why not? That would force a defined authentication path, and sort problems with theft causing similar issues.)

  17. Johnny Norfolk

    Tom

    Just admit is is a cock up. Lets wait and see what he is charged with. If he is I will appologise. If he is not then if you were a normal person I would expect you to. But as you are a Labour person of course you will not.
    Can you not see Tom the police are just becomming overbearing and over the top and if it carries on will loose support yes even from Tories.

    You make the Laws not the police, its your fault not theirs.

  18. Johnny – Not sure why I would apologise for the actions of the Metropolitan Police. As it happens, I share your view that Damian Green probably won’t be charged with anything, but that’s based on nothing more than a hunch. Most people who think the same seem to have come to that conclusion because (a) he is a Tory, and (b) we have a Labour government.

  19. Chris' Wills

    Tom,

    I really think that you do not wish to accuse anyone of grooming anyone else. It doesn’t mean what you think it does.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/suffolk/5180766.stm

    “if you suspect a paedophile may be grooming your child, or your child is being stalked or harassed, you should contact the local police”

    http://www.parentscentre.gov.uk/usingcomputersandtheinternet/paedophiles/

    Perhaps you meant?

    entice – provoke someone to do something through (often false or exaggerated) promises or persuasion; “He lured me into temptation”

    or maybe

    bribe – payment made to a person in a position of trust to corrupt his judgment

    But not grooming.

  20. Johnny Norfolk

    Good to see you have to get rid of all the DNA you have collected via the police of people who have not commited crimes. This country used to lead the world with freedom, that was before Labour came to power. Now we have all 17 euro judges telling you what to do with regard peoples human rights. shame on you Labour. Then your Home Sec. says she is dissapointed. It tells you all you need to know about Labour the new ruling class. God help us all.

  21. I can’t agree with this Tom. The central issue here is Parliamentary Privilage and the sanctity of the house.

    In any free and democratic society you should be able to go about your duties as an MP free from the threat of police investigation or arrest. If there are questions for you to answer there should be independant parliamentary authorities to investigate you, and if they find sufficient evidence to warrant a police investigation, only then should the police have jurisdiction to investigate, with the written permission of the parliamentary authorites.

    The police of this country are NOT independant, and i’m getting sick of hearing that they are. They are under the direct control of the Home Office and the government.

    I have no idea whether the government ordered Damian Green’s arrest, but that issue is irrelevant. I have no idea whether Damian Green is guilty or innocent, but that issue is irrelevant.

    What is the issue is whether we live in a democracy or not. This whole affair has revealed a gap in our democracy. There was a key democratic principal there that we all believed was there and relied upon. It turns out it was simple convention and can be ignored if there is a will to.

    That’s what the Tories are rightly focusing on, that’s what the Lib Dems are rightly focusing on, and that’s what honourable Labour MP’s from your own side are rightly focusing on.

  22. Jane

    It does matter to me. Process in the law is necessary which is why we have the Police and Criminal Evidence Act which governs the actions of police. If evidence is gained improperly (there is a debate amongst law professors at the moment and the balance suggests that the search of the Parliamentary Office of Mr Green was illegal) then it can not be used against a defendant. Please do agree Tom otherwise we go back to the bad old days (The Birmingham Six etc) when police conduct was not controlled. My understanding is a case that has not followed procedures would be thrown out by a Court and the defendant can them make a claim against the police for unlawful arrest.

    Whether Mr Green is innocent or guilty is not relevant. We need to know that the interview, the gathering of evidence etc is in compliance with the laws that govern the police. So far, I am not persuaded that the search of parliamentary premises was legal and neither am I persuaded that an interview which mentioned “grooming” which is an offence under the Sexual Offences Act was appropriate.

    This is not a party political issue for me. They are issues which mean a lot in a democracy. I need to know if the police have been misled about the nature of the documents leaked. I also need to know if that they sought direction from the CPS and the DPP before making the arrest. Finally, I believe those responsible in Parliament for giving consent to the search were wrong. I am sure that this latter decision was not just made by the Serjeant at Arms. I am very sympathetic to her position – she is being hung out to dry!

    The whole fiasco is an affront to us all.

  23. Madasafish

    Note the following:
    “Mr Green was held on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and on suspicion of aiding and abetting misconduct in public office. The MP denies any wrongdoing.

    In a point of order during the debate Mr Green stood up to correct the home secretary, who had said he had also been arrested on suspicion of “counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office” – which he said was not on the arrest warrant he had been given.

    “I was not arrested for counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office she will understand the seriousness of her mistake and I would invite her to withdraw those words immediately.”

    Ms Smith said she would take it up with the police, as she was reading from a publicly released statement made by them. ”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7764857.stm

    oh dear . Another porky pie.. or more “misunderstandings”?

    This looks like it’s going to run for a while..

  24. v., groomed, groom·ing, grooms.

    v.tr.
    To care for the appearance of; to make neat and trim: groomed himself carefully in front of the mirror.
    To clean and brush (an animal).
    To remove dirt and parasites from the skin, fur, or feathers of (another animal).
    To prepare, as for a specific position or purpose: groom an employee for advancement.
    Sports. To prepare (a trail) for skiers, as by packing down new snow or leveling moguls.

  25. Chris' Wills

    http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?item=1&portal=hbkm&action=html&highlight=&sessionid=16777323&skin=hudoc-pr-en

    ECHR says law is illegal (see linked article); Jaquie says, I paraphrase somewhat as she rambles, “bollox, I’ll think about obeying but I’ll delay as long as possible while I think of a wicked wheeze to circumvent the ruling.”

    It seems that, in her mind, people are not innocent; she merely hasn’t invented a suitable law to charge them with.

    The ruling is fairly simple, if no conviction then records including DNA must be destroyed.

    Will the government obey or flout the law?

  26. Chris' Wills

    Interesting letter at wikileaks.

    http://wikileaks.org/leak/smith.pdf

  27. Madasafish

    Tom
    Despite your “grooming ” claim you still have not answered my question :

    “So Tom
    Quote me the arrest sheet or the actual police chargesheet.”

    If you cannot answer, I have to assume you don’t know.
    And if you don’t know, your grooming claim is .. lies.

    I have to admit I do not know if it is right or not.

    But if you claim something….

  28. Thomas

    “The ruling is fairly simple, if no conviction then records including DNA must be destroyed.

    Will the government obey or flout the law?”
    -Chris’ Wills

    I’m waiting to see if the Home Secretary responds to the ruling with Tom’s catch-all put down for civil liberties arguments “I’ve heard it all before”.

  29. Mr R A Morris

    I will never again write to my MP

  30. ani

    Extract from Bloggerheads.
    Suggestion to Tom. Add this guy to your list (and delete Guido!)

    BBC – Row over Green ‘grooming’ claims: Senior Tories are furious that police who arrested MP Damian Green accused him of “grooming” a Home Office mole to leak him information… When police questioned Mr Green – the shadow immigration minister – they are said to have suggested to him that he had not “simply received leaked” information but “groomed” a civil servant who had allegedly passed him 20 confidential documents.

    groom (PREPARE) Show phonetics
    verb [T]
    to prepare someone for a special job or activity:
    She was being groomed for leadership.
    [+ to infinitive] My boss is grooming me to take over his job next year.

    (from Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

  31. I have to take an entirely contrary position. The process here is the central point. It is the process that sets us out as a free society.

    The very definition of a police state (and no, I don’t think we’re in one) is one where the police are allowed to do whatever they like without let or hindrance. We impose limits on what they can do to protect society in order to ensure that they do not in the process transform it into something equally bad.

    As a society we can only remain free so long as we impose limits on those who exercise power in its name.

    Jane makes the specifics of the argument very well. The police cannot just go searching for evidence however they please. They, like Mr. Green, are not above the law. The fact that they did not present the Serjeant-at-Arms with a warrant nor inform her of her right to refuse them entry suggests that they acted as if they were.

    In this case the process has come to the fore because it eclipses the guilt or innocence of Damian Green. It is beyond any individual.

  32. Chris' Wills

    @ani

    http://www.cps.gov.uk/news/factsheets/fs-sexoffences.html

    The New Sexual Offences Act 2003

    Sexual Offences involving the Internet, and ‘grooming’

    It is acknowledged that sexual approaches to children on-line are increasing. To combat this there is a new offence of meeting a child following sexual grooming,
    ————————-

    Your grooming definition is not wrong, just not complete and self serving. In the context of a police interview one could wrongly infer that they may have been refering to the other meaning described in the link above.

    As with many words in English ‘grooming’ has more than one meaning.

  33. Johnny Norfolk

    Please dont ask Tom difficult questions. He wont reply.

  34. timbone

    Tom, I found a link to a press release on the Guardian.co.uk The article was about Damian Green. I know the press release link is a different subject, but it was referred to because it is another case of something which a government does not want to make public. Please will you have a look. Thank you.

    http://www.pr-inside.com/serious-questions-need-answering-in-r941760.htm

  35. ani

    @Chris’ Wills.
    There’s no need to patronise, I know perfectly well how many meanings the word has, and believe me, there’s no way I’m going there, or joining in with any speculation that the word has any other implication than that which I’ve posted in relation to Green.

    I’ve no interest or intention of reading your link.

  36. Chris' Wills

    @ani

    Pot and Kettle come to mind.

  37. Tacitus

    For those who think that this is a storm in a teacup (TH for starters), I suggest you watch this

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00fvg8g/b00fvg7y/This_Week_04_12_2008/

    in which David Starkey dissects how New Labour have demolished the Parliamentary constitution.

  38. Tacitus

    Tom – Banking Bill, Part 7 voids the century old obligation on the BoE to publish its weekly accounts.

    Warming up the printing presses are we? Which we might well have to do, the mess your boss has landed us in. Have a good weekend, but if you have a mo, read this, weep, and then maybe give us your thoughts on it …

    http://burningourmoney.blogspot.com/2008/12/bring-out-your-debt.html

    Pay special attention to the interest rates we are having to pay on UK debts. THREE times higher than Germany. Why could that be? Because they maintain a current account surplus. Why could that be? Maybe their government knows what they are doing? Indeed, they are being very naughty, aren’t they, and not doing what Big Gordo, Saviour Of The Universe, is telling them to do. Naughty Germany. Would we not do better to model our economy on this Germany, rather than pre-war Germany?

    And in the Matthews “family”, we have another set of state parasites, whose TV and car I am only to happy to fund. Such a worthy cause.

    Oh, and do tell Gordo – dumping the interests rates right down worked miracles in the US. My – look what a great state they are in.

  39. Tacitus

    Ahah. Here;s the original reason for the – soon to be revoked – procedure. If you can’t be bothered, the one word summary is

    “Transparency”

    Not New Labour’s long suit, you’d have to say, is it Tom. So what are they up to?

    original reason for weekly disclosure:

    ‘..The question of the proportion which these cash
    assets should bear to liabilities is one of extreme importance to a prudent banker. It is generally considered that it should be about one-third. The publication of the weekly bank return is useful and important to commerce, banking and finance. The Bank of England, through its banking department, undertakes duties merely towards its own customers and the government. Its
    banking business is conducted for the most part (in theory, at all events,) on the same lines as any other banking institution..’

  40. Tacitus

    Oh and by the way, do tell Mandy, ignorant git that he is, that Moses didn’t actually make it to the promised land.

  41. ani

    Tacitus.
    I want to help you with this spy stuff.

    Can I point you in the direction of a CiF debate from June this year, relating to RIPA.
    Many allegations, speculations and questions were answered by a commentator there, name of speedkermit.(good name eh?)
    It was so interesting and enlightening that I saved it.
    Want to look at it?
    OK. It’s here.

    http://tinyurl.com/59wo2f

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