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DEMOCRACY - arrest of Damian Green MP


Timeline: Damian Green affair
How the saga of the shadow immigration minister's arrest unfolded

Hélène Mulholland and Andrew Sparrow
guardian.co.uk, Thursday December 4 2008 16.21 GMT

Wednesday October 8
After a series of internal Home Office leak inquiries fail to find the source of the leaks, the Cabinet Office calls in the Metropolitan police to help.

Monday November 17
Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, is told that that a civil servant is likely to be arrested.

Wednesday November 19
Christopher Galley, a junior Home Office official, is arrested at home on suspicion of misconduct in a public office. After being questioned, he is released without charge.

Wednesday November 26
The House of Commons goes into recess. The police call Jill Pay, the serjeant at arms, to say that an MP might be arrested the following day.

Thursday November 27
The police ring Pay at 7am naming Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, as the MP they want to arrest. Pay signs a consent form allowing them to search his office in the Commons. Green is arrested at 1.50pm in his Ashford constituency in connection with the leak inquiry. His constituency home and office, his London home and his Commons office are searched. After being held for nine hours, Green is released without charge.

Friday November 28
Gordon Brown is accused by the Conservatives of condoning "a contempt of parliament" by refusing to be drawn into the row about Green's arrest by counter-terrorism police.

Sunday November 30
The leader of the Commons, Harriet Harman, tells Sky News she is "very concerned" by Green's arrest.

Galley is named in the press and identified as a 26-year-old Home Office civil servant and former Tory candidate for Sunderland council.

The Tories reveal that police allegedly accused Green of "grooming" Galley, in what was seen as an attempt to prove that the Ashford MP had broken the law by offering inducements to procure leaked documents.

Monday December 1
Smith writes to Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, to explain that the Metropolitan police conducted a search of Green's parliamentary office after being told by the Cabinet Office that a series of leaks to the shadow minister could have posed a threat to national security.

"Given the sensitive issues that the Home Office deals with - including matters of national security - there was a clear duty to take action to prevent leaks from happening," she writes.

On the same day, Galley's solicitor says he leaked the information from the Home Office because it was material that was "important for the public to know". Neil O'May says Galley had first met Green in 2006 in parliament.

Tuesday December 2
The Metropolitan police announce that the British Transport police chief constable Ian Johnston is to investigate the police handling of the inquiry into the Home Office. Johnston will give the acting Met police chief, Sir Paul Stephenson, an interim report within seven days, with a final report due to be submitted a week later.

The Conservatives release video footage of the police raid on Green's parliamentary office.

Wednesday December 3
Michael Martin, the Speaker of the House of Commons, tells a packed chamber after the Queen's speech that he had not personally authorised the controversial search of Green's office in the Commons.

In a statement to MPs, Martin says that the police had been given permission to search Green's office by Pay. But he says the police did not explain to Pay that she did not have to sign the consent form and that she could have insisted upon a warrant.

"I regret that a consent form was then signed by the serjeant at arms without consulting the clerk of the house. I must make it clear to the house that I wasn't asked the question of whether consent should be given or whether a warrant should have been insisted on," he says.

"I did not personally authorise the search. It was later that evening that I was told that the search had gone ahead only on the basis of a consent form.

"I further regret that I was formally told by the police only yesterday, by letter from assistant commissioner Robert Quick, that Mr Green was arrested on November 27 on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and on suspicion of aiding and abetting misconduct in public office.

"A warrant will always be required when a search of a member's office or access to a member's parliamentary papers is sought. Every case must be referred for my personal decision."

Thursday December 4
Smith makes a statement on the affair to the Commons. She also releases the text of a letter from Bob Quick, the Metropolitan police assistant commissioner leading the inquiry.

Quick says that Pay was told that the police needed either a warrant or a signed consent form to be allowed to search Green's office.
Vote: Should Damian Green MP have been arrested?

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Members Comments

dignitas 15-Dec-2008 23:49
i have voted yes only because of how the question was asked. technically if he has breeched the law i.e official secrets act, then MP or not Mr Green should not be given any leniency that would not be shown to any other citizen of this country. However, should the Labour party have got the police involved by the blatant authoritarian abuse of position and power? NO. 'leaking' information that is in the interest of the public is a necessary part of our system that forms part of the checks and balances without which governments would be free to do as they please without recourse. In that that sense no he shouldnt have been.
Anselm 5-Dec-2008 23:47
I'm still waiting for my apology from the "if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear" people. This government CANNOT be trusted with anti-terror legislation - Iceland, councils snooping on rubbish bins, and now this. Can't be trusted with ID cards, 42 days, DNA database, etc.

So much for our civil liberties. It's about time there was a realistic approach to terrorism - this is just going to punish innocent citizens.

Damian Green should not have been arrested. Leaks help to hold the government to account, we may not have won WW2 if Churchill hadn't have done so. If it's a "matter of national security", surely they shouldn't employ illegal immigrants as security guards in the first place? The only way you improve is by facing the truth, and the police (and Speaker) have handled this incredibly badly.
springermad 5-Dec-2008 22:12
It is getting very worrying when supposedly a Civil Servant in either the Cabinet Office or Home Office is allowed to send a formal complaint to the Met Police to say their is a leak involving national security when in fact it was a straight forward embarrassment for Nu Labour. If Jaqui Smith did not know about it as she claimed then she should resign as it shows there is no one in charge, likewise the CAbinet Office.
As Cameron said at PMQ's Gordon Grim in his early days made a career out of leaks and he would have spent most of his life behind bars.
Every day this government stoops lower and lower, I am no longer surprised as to what they will do next. The General Election cannot come soon enough, hopefully we might find an honest political party by then?
BarneyBear 5-Dec-2008 20:58
The current labour government is displaying some very worrying authortarian tendencies on number of fronts at the moment :- Including the Blanket Smoking Ban!
AnotherView 5-Dec-2008 19:10
Highlighting the failings of a government should never constitute a reason for arrest.

The current labour government is displaying some very worrying authortarian tendencies on number of fronts at the moment :-

1. 42 days without charge
2. failing to crack down on local councils abusing anti-terror laws
3. freezing assets of failing banks using anti-terror laws
4. id cards
5. a government database of all e-mail communications and the web site usage of everyone in the country
6. storing the DNA of innocent people
7. more surveillance than any other country in the world, with more to come
8. arresting the opposition for highligthing inadequacies of the government

All the early warning signs of a future police state. What kind of world are they trying to create for us?
grace 5-Dec-2008 16:24
Incompetence in Government,
Incompetence within the Met.=
A vote of NO trust, from the People.
Dissolve this pathetic immature government. PLEASE.
StephenPhillips 5-Dec-2008 13:45
Exactly. It sounds like intimidation by the Government of a member of the opposition. Can't wait til election day
avtar 5-Dec-2008 13:36
How is leaking info about govt incompetence terrorism? Once again they have abused a power they assured us was only meant for Al Qaeda and their ilk. The police arresting and questioning a minister or govt MP is a sign of a healthy parliamentary democracy; arresting and questioning a member of the opposition is a sign of a Mugabesque democracy!
frostick 5-Dec-2008 13:23
No. And from what we know, neither should the civil servant. It's an internal disciplinary matter.
All comments are subject to approval.

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