Harman 'Concern' over Tory Green Arrest Row; POLITICS Commons Leader Fears 'Principles' Could Be at Stake

The Birmingham Post (England), December 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

Harman 'Concern' over Tory Green Arrest Row; POLITICS Commons Leader Fears 'Principles' Could Be at Stake


Byline: CRAIG WOODHOUSE Press Association

The processes allowing police to search MPs' offices in the House of Commons should be reviewed following the Damian Green affair, Commons Leader Harriet Harman said today.

Ms Harman said she was "very concerned" at the arrest of the Tory immigration spokesman and the way police had raided his Parliamentary and constituency bases.

There were "very big constitutional principles" that needed to be safeguarded, Ms Harman said, including the rights of MPs to get on with their job without interference from the law.

And she said Speaker Michael Martin should look at how police are able to enter the Palace of Westminster once the investigation in to Home Office leaks is concluded.

Mr Green was held and questioned for nine hours on Thursday "on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office and aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office".

His homes and offices, including in the House of Commons, were searched and his computer, phone and other communications equipment seized in the raids. It followed the earlier arrest and then suspension of a junior official, believed to be 26-year-oldChris Galley.

Several MPs have expressed their outrage at how the affair has been handled, and Ms Harman told Sky News Sunday Live: "I think the Speaker might well want to review the processes by which authorisation is given to search the Palace of Westminster, but there was also the question of the search of his home and the constituency office.

"We have got to be sure that whilst MPs are not above the law, that actually 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."

Asked whether ministers should have intervened to stop the raids, Ms Harman said the operational independence of the police was very important and everybody agreed it would be bad if politicians were able to decide what the police did. …

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