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Archive for December 4th, 2008

Charon on his new talkshow interviews the Home Secretary about the Damien Green MP affair

Film Version: Watch the film here and see my new Australian Bushman hat – Akubra!

Text version

Charon: Good evening…  Tonight I am interviewing Home Secretary Jacky Smith about the Damien Green Affair.  …  Good evening, Home Secretary.  So… is it see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil?

Home Secretary: Good evening, Charon.  It would have been wholly inappropriate for me to have intervened in police operational decisions over the Damian Green affair. The systematic leaking of Government information raised issues that struck at the heart of Britain’s “system of governance”.

Charon: Yes…. but surely you should have been told in advance.  The Plod seems to have told Uncle Tom Cobbley and all… even Gorbals Mick knew… although he did nothing about it.  Why weren’t you told?

Home Secretary:
I have made clear that neither I, nor any other Government minister, knew until after the arrest of Mr Green that he, or any other MP, was the subject of a police investigation or was to be arrested. I hope those who have asserted the contrary will now withdraw their claims…. Even if I had been informed, I believe it would have been wholly inappropriate for me to seek to intervene in the operational decisions being taken by the police….  will not do that and I should not do that.

Charon: Well… short of water boarding the Home Secretary…. it is unlikely that I’m going to get any more out of her than the party waffle…. to coin a phrase… I’m no wiser and no better informed.  That’s it for tonight… I’m off  for a glass of wine.  Have a good evening…. Care for a glass of  cheap British red wine, Home Secretary?  Cheap… 15%, available in all good off licences and excellent for binge drinkers … does the business.

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Important Update: Carl Gardner has a very useful update on the Damien Green affair – and rather more sensible than my parody above.

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The Speaker of the House of Commons is, by tradition, dragged to the Speaker’s Chair on appointment. The present speaker Michael Martin, aka ‘Gorbals Mick’ by some commentators, looks as if he will have to be dragged from the Speaker’s chair.  It is unlikely he will resign.

There have been many and numerous instances in Speaker Martin’s tenure of this office when eyebrows have been raised, hands have been wring, but no more so than in the recent, disgraceful, showing in the Commons yesterday when the arrest of Damien Green MP was considered.

The Damien Green affair has been well covered in the press and by bloggers.  I also did a podcast on the matter with Carl Gardner which gives a fair overview. I saw extracts of the Speaker’s statement to the House.  I was not impressed.  Carl Gardner of The Head of Legal blog was not at all impressed and Guido Fawkes was ‘underwhelmed’“Not exactly his finest hour was it? He really is the most chippy useless speaker to have sat in that chair. He is a terrible champion of parliamentary democracy.”

The Independent covered The Speaker’s statement fully: Briefly –  MPs learnt that detectives raided Tory MP Damian Green’s office without a search warrant ……relying on written permission from Jill Pay, the Serjeant-at-Arms, to search files and confiscate computer equipment belonging to the shadow immigration minister.

The Indie reported… “Mr Martin attempted to point the finger of blame at the Metropolitan Police and Ms Pay, who is in charge of Commons security. But Mr Martin, Speaker for eight years, also admitted he failed to ask about the legality of the planned raid. To gasps, he disclosed that police did not have a warrant to search the Tory MP’s offices”

A few MPs and  journos have been fairly vociferous.  Douglas Carswell MP writes on his blog: “Ludicrous. Utterly indefensible performance. He blames Serjeant-at-Arms for not telling him. He blames police for not having a warrant, or telling him. His failure, no one else’s.”

An Inquiry into the Damien Green affair?

There have, rightly, been calls for a full debate and inquiry into the circumstances of the arrest of an MP and the searching of his office in Parliament. Ideally, this should have been done quickly but it now transpires that it may have to wait until the New Year when the political and journalistic tide has moved on.

Back to Douglas Carswell MP’s blog:

A right Westminster fix
Michael Martin wants to set up a committee of grandees to review his mishandling of events.  It’ll be appointed by him, with a built in government majority.
…. So that’s okay then. It’s sure to be impartial, fair and open-minded….

Another Tory MP has pole vaulted in to join the scrum….

Richard Bacon MP: The Speaker has let us down in something of incalculable importance

Gordon Brown and his handling of all matters to do with government.  Midas or Jonah? You decide.

I don’t have the hear to analyse Jacqui Smith’s waffle on the affair this afternoon.  She saw nothing, knew nothing and avoids the issue of whether she ought to have known in advance of the arrest of an MP and the plan to search an office within Parliament. Waffle – and not very interesting waffle.  I’m off for a glass of wine.

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The Speaker: UK Parliament website

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Daily legal news on Insite Law

Daily legal news up / podcast by 1.00 – on Insite Law

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