Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Consequences of the Arrest of the Ashford One

It's always dangerous to comment on breaking news stories. The full facts are rarely known, but in the last half an hour quite a bit of information has emerged, which should give all those who cherish our freedoms and democracy great cause for concern.

At 2pm today counter terrorism police arrested Damian Green at his constituency home in East Kent. He was brought to London and currently is detained awaiting interview. It is now 9.43pm and seven hours after his arrest, he has, apparently, still to be questioned. These are the tactics of a totalitarian state. According to reports, he was arrested for "aiding and abetting misconduct in public office". I'm not sure which law pertains to this. Perhaps readers can enlighten us.

His "crime" has been to reveal Home Office statistics and misconduct which they tried to cover up. If it is now a crime for a politician to do this sort of thing then just think how many other people should have been arrested - Robert Peston being a good recent example. What about government ministers who relished leaking information about the PBR?

One of the most disturbing aspects of what we know so far is that the Police were permitted by the Serjeant at Arms and The Speaker to search Damian's House of Commons office. Outrageous. I would guarantee that if Parliament had been sitting, they would never have dared. Their entry would have been barred. One MP I have spoken to tonight said that he would have physically barred their way and shouted for help to assist him in preventing their entry.

The general public should be appalled at these developments, as should the media. I am disturbed that both Sky News and the Telegraph are already speculating that Damian Green's position as Shadow Minister is under threat. They should concentrate on the wider implications of this. If Green can be arrested by counter terror police, what about the journalists who then reported on the information Green allegedly gave them (detailed HERE)? First they came for the politicians - then they came for the journalists. It might be a well worn cliche, but there is a serious point to be made.

There is no way that this arrest could have happened without the involvement of Government ministers. We need to know who instigated it and if the Prime Minister, Home Secretary or Justice Secretary authorised it. One has to assume that Jacqui Smith was the lead Minister.

If the Government feels unconstrained about invoking anti terror legislation and deploying counter terror police at a whim, on issues completely unrelated to terrorism, where exactly are we heading?

We don't yet live in a Police State, but one be forgiven on nights like this from wondering if we are headed that way.

UPDATE 11.09: To those who have questioned why David Davis is not all over the airwaves, I have just spoken to him. He has been speaking at a dinner in Essex this evening and is on his way back to London now, heading straight for the Sky studios. Not sure whether they know it yet though! Suffice it to say, his dander is well and truly up.

UPDATE 23.20: Boris Johnson has just released this statement...

The Mayor of London has expressed grave concern over the arrest of Conservative frontbencher, Damian Green. Boris johnson, who chairs the Metropolitan Police Authority expressed his concerns - in trenchant terms - ahead of his arrest. A spokesman said the Mayor finds it hard to believe that on the day when terrorist have gone on the rampage in India that anti terror police in Britain have apparently targeted an elected representative of Parliament for no greater crime than allegedly receiving leaked documents. The Mayor told the new acting commissioner of the Met that he would need to see convincing evidence that this action was necessary and proportionate. He suggested that this is not the common sense policing that people want when London faces a real potential terror threat and serious knife crime problem on the streets.

152 comments:

Alex said...

hear, hear.
First Iceland, then a Tory MP. Whatever next, Felicity Kendall accused of terrorism?

BJ said...

What Iain said, hear hear!

(To be fair, it's not just the "MSM" -- horrible phrase -- speculating on Mr Green's job prospects, there are plenty of ConHomers calling for him to be replaced by David Davis!)

joshi88 said...

Iain this is a rather cynical attempt to direct the media narrative in a direction more palatable for Conservatives. If this man has broken the law then he should be questioned.

It is hugely insulting to the real victims of police states who are being tortured and are suffering in silence around the world for you to compare their plight to that of an MP in a London Police station whose situation will be followed and scrutinized by thousands. Come on.

Tory Boy said...

To paraphrase Neil Kinnock, "the grotesque sight of a Labour government, a Labour government", sending the police round to do their dirty work.

Shame on you Prime Minister, shame on you.

Iain Dale said...

Joshi, could you explain, in that case, why counter terror police were deployed?

Mike Hobday said...

If it is true that "his "crime" has been to reveal ...", then I'm not sure how he could have been arrested for "aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct." It's surely not aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring to release a document to the media.

Or have I misunderstood the BBC news story?

norman said...

Joshi88

Brown is behaving like Mrs Gandhi did in 1970s,throwing opposition in jail. If you cannot see where this is leading to it is utter shame.

Shaun said...

"If the Government feels unconstrained about invoking anti terror legislation and deploying counter terror police at a whim, on issues completely unrelated to terrorism, where exactly are we heading?"

Icelandic banks, opposition MPs... that's pretty unconstrained

"We don't yet live in a Police State, but one be forgiven on nights like this from wondering if we are headed that way."

Its getting close, Iain. We can be arrested (disappeared) for 28 days without charge, you are now liable to arrest for information given to you by someone else (the police wouldn't arrest you if they found cannabis I'd put in the post addressed to you, as a parallel!), you can't protest, really, without Police consent and they'll film you while you do it, your DNA can be taken and held for the most trivial, or indeed innocent of reasons. You can be prohibited from doing otherwise lawful acts on nebulous 'anti-social behaviour' grounds.

Dissent and contradiction are being stamped on; this is designed to 'chill' internal government dissidents, dissuading them from leaking documents while frightening opposition politicians off from receiving, let alone acting upon, leaked information.

This is MugaBrown's Britain and the irony is that like that African Lion, our Crash Gordo is also having to run the printing presses!

Jess The Dog said...

If this is as grim as it appears, then no freedoms are sacred and democratic accountability is revealed as a sham.

Not sure how this will go. The Official Secrets Act is a blunt tool and charges under it are relatively rare. Witness the embarrasing prosecution of GCHQ whistleblower Katharine Gun.

What concerns me is the apparent attack on the privilege of MPs and their abilities to make inquiries on any issues, without fear of state intervention. Their conversations with any parties should be privileged. MPs should not be arrested for discharging their office.

This has the potential to be a breach of the sovereignity of Parliament up there with Charles I barging in to arrest five MPs. Compare the example of the-then Speaker - I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak save as this House directs me - with the supinity of our latter-day officers.

If this incident is not resolved with a full-scale apology by police and all concerned, and appropriate resignations, then we should be gravely worried - and prepared to use all possible means to safeguard our Parliamentary democracy and liberties, whether legal or not. Physically barring the police from entering Mr Green's office would be entirely appropriate.

In this country the authorities wish to lock people up for 42 days without charge, the police can kill suspects on the Tube with impunity, and MPs can be arrested for investigating matters of public interest. Anyone for a march on Parliament?

Bert Rustle said...

Ian Dale wrote ... Joshi, could you explain, in that case, why counter terror police were deployed? ...

Who do the counter terror police report to? the Met or the government?

Was a warrant obtained to search his house?

King John said...

Joshi - I'd venture it is a rather cynical attempt by the "police" state to direct the media narrative in a direction more palatable for the Government.

What better to deflect the trillion pound of debt, the collapse of high street stores, the loss of 000's of jobs, the repossession of homes, the collapsing currency, the utter failure of the Government to admit to any culpability for the mess we're in - than the return of the old chestnut of "Tory Sleaze"?

It's bollocks, we all know it's bollock - and if what Iain reports tonight about the abuse of privacy of office space being searched without permission, the detention without charge or questioning on a jumped up charge of aiding and abetting misconduct of a public office (as a lawyer that's a new one on me!) - it's very very worrying bollocks.

Dave said...

Sir Ian Blair's last day in the office was today

trevorsden said...

Isn't Green lucky he cannot be held for 90 days.

"We don't yet live in a police state" -- who are you kidding.

Letters From A Tory said...

Every time I think that Labour or the economy simply couldn't get any more depressing, I am proved wrong.

King John said...

By the way word verification and I kid you not "boloct"

Bird said...

So the Telegraph think Damien Green is in deep trouble do they?
No wonder they are known as the Labourgraph.
This sounds like bad news for the Labour party and particularly the Stalinist minister or official who instigated the arrest and investigation. It brings to mind the old Labour chap who was dragged out of the Labour Conference for heckling Jack Straw.
How are the leftie journalists going to treat this story?

joshi88 said...

Joshi, could you explain, in that case, why counter terror police were deployed?

To be honest Iain it would be silly of me to answer that because I have no idea how the police structures work. I suppose it will all come out in the wash who authorised what and when.

For now I would ask you, do you really, honestly, seriously believe in your heart of hearts that we are 'headed' for being a police state? REALLY?!

Shaun said...

"How are the leftie journalists going to treat this story?"

Death to the Kulaks and speculators, Comrade!

jailhouselawyer said...

The way I see it, the leaks were politically embarrassing. Measures were put in place to catch the culprit. The culprit was caught. During questioning he or she grassed up Damien Green. Who is the other person?

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

This will do the Labour Party as much harm as the arrest of Walter Wolfgang at their annual conference.

Man in a Shed said...

This is incredible. Think about how they tip toed around Tony Blair and the cash for honours probe.

The next day or so will tell us if we really have sleep walked into a police state. Though if that's true we will never hear it from the BBC.

The Daily Pundit said...

"could you explain, in that case, why counter terror police were deployed?"

Maybe it's because not all the documents that were allegedly leaked from the Home Office have come into the public domain. And some of those documents may amount to more than just a 'sensitive memorandum' on crime figures.

Stuart said...

As he's been arrested, his DNA will be taken and added to the national database, regardless of whether anything further happens to him.

He will have no right to have that DNA removed, whether he's innocent or guilty of this "crime".

Mark said...

On the surface of it this does indeed seem to be worrying. I hope that when the full details emerge, there has been justification for this and it does not prove to be politically motivated.

I understand Iain that you will want this to be unfounded but it is possible that Green has broken the law - we will need to wait and see what happens.

As for the way this has played out, I am not sure about your argument about MP's offices being out of bounds for searching. I cannot recall if you were as outraged about Tony Blair and various other members of the government being questioned by police last year (and in some cases also arrested). If an investigation is required, why should the police not search MP's offices?

Having said all this, the government is in dangerous territory here and they need to tread very carefully.

Jonny said...

This type of behaviour by police was applauded during the cash-for-honours investigation.

It's also - as you note - a bit risky to comment on an on-going investigation.

My guess is the Home Office mole has made quite a serious allegation against Damian Green (maybe about the "benefits" of leaking information). It's the only possible explanation.

Not to say that there is truth in that (mere speculation) - but very risky to be talking of Stalinist, totalitarian techniques. And also assumes that Brown and other senior Labour politicians had advance knowledge

Tom said...

Speaking of totalitarianism... Pravda is on fine form tonight. Newsnight just started with:

"Conservative immigration minister Damian Green has been arrested. We'll be explaining why."

Not asking - explaining.

marksany said...

Brazil! It's just like living in Brazil!

(Terry Gilliam's Brazil, of course)

girlie_boi said...

You need to view the 'bigger picture' here. This is a blatant breach of Parliamentary Sovereignty. The Police have supposedly executed a search warrant on an office located on the Parliamentary Estate. This could not have been done without the Speaker's agreement. Questions need to be asked of Michael Martin's office imho. We are on a very dangerous downward slope if this sort of thing can be permitted to happen. As an opposition MP Green has a DUTY to hold the government of the day to account and the Police have NO business interfering with that duty. Of course, we all know that this matter will never come to Court. Does anyone really thing the CPS would sanction a prosecution of such a high profile individual on some 'trumped up' charge? That is the real point of this; i.e the Police 'flexing muscle' and (once again) abusing the their power and the democratic rights of this country.

Tory Boy said...

Joshi - when innocent people can be stopped and searched under the guise of Counter Terrorism legislation; when people can be imprisoned for 28 days without charge; when an MP can be arrested for allegedly receiving leaked documents.

Are those the signs of a truly democratic state?

norman said...

Joshi88

I will answer in one word'YES' in Stalin Brown's regime. The fact that you are still asking after Iain said about sending the anti-terrorist police to arrest an opposition MP who in any demoacracy is doing his job exposing rhe scandals of this govt should convince any one with a normal sized brain.

Anoneumouse said...

The offence of misconduct in public office was defined in Russell On Crime, 12th Edition (1964) (J W Cecil Turner) in this way:
"Where a public officer is guilty of misbehaviour in office by neglecting a duty imposed upon him either at common law or by statute, he commits a misdemeanour and is liable to indictment unless another remedy is substituted by statute. The liability exists whether he is a common law or a statutory officer; and a person holding an office of important trust and of consequence to the public, under letters patent or derivatively from such authority, is liable to indictment for not faithfully discharging the office."

hatfield girl said...

We're not 'headed' for a police state; we're in one. You may not find it unusual for a man to have his head shot off in the London Underground by the police, or for an Opposition shadow minister to be arrested by counter terrorism police under terrorism legislation, or for Parliamentary offices to be entered and searched by police, 10.31.

I am utterly horrified by each and every one of these acts. And your comments tell me there is worse to come, and with you assent, indeed justification.

Council House Tory said...

Good post Iain. I know you are friendly with many a labour pol, but this shouldn't blind you to how worrying this is.

Richard Holloway said...

"Anyone for a march on Parliament?"

Exactly my thoughts. If this proves to be politically motivated (and with the information so far available it looks very dodgy on the government's part) then I think a call to march on Parliament would be a very good step.

ashann said...

Iain, while I agree with the basic thrust of your post but there's a lot of very precious, Westminster Village crap in it.

This quote is frankly hillarious.

"One MP I have spoken to tonight said that he would have physically barred their way and shouted for help to assist him in preventing their entry."

How many people in these last ten years have been arrested on fumes of evidence? Plenty. Loads of ordinary people, Muslim, Christian, black and white have tried to shout for assistance and prevent "their" entry. They got arrested too. I didn't notice any MPs amongst them.

Sorry, but an MP who screeches about protecting another MP's office is not a hero. They will both be fine. You do not win the battle for civil liberties in the corridors of Norman Shaw North.

Show me an MP who'll "physically bar" a Muslim's council flat and I'll admire him. Quote an MP who squeals about another MP and I feel nothing but contempt. they let this happen. They said nothing until they came for them.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

joshi88 @ 10.31pm. You ask, "Do you really, honestly, seriously believe in your heart of hearts that we are 'headed' for being a police state?'

Yes.

This government has created hundreds, literally hundreds, of new criminal offences, many of which are not prosecuted through the courts but by way of dockets handed out by police officers.

They have given local authorities powers to access my e-mail account and trace my movements in case I should put my litter in the wrong bin.

They have arrested a heckler at the Labour Party annual conference under anti-terrorism laws.

They want to hold suspects without trial for 90 days.

They want every individual in the country to provide the government with his fingerprints and DNA.

They want every individual in the country to carry a compulsory identity card and tell the government where he or she is living (MPs and celebrities excepted, of course).

And now, they want to leak secret government documents one week and arrest an opposition politician for doing the same thing a week later.

If this doesn't scare you, it damn well should!

williamlack said...

How desperate have Labour become that they arrest opposition MP's - reminds me of Zanu-PF & Zimbabwe - unbelieveable!!

MattyT said...

Jess, you're a clever collie. But of course the King said 'I see that the birds have flown'. Won't be an option now because they'll already have been arrested. And we went through all that as a nation to - Oh I can't be bothered, just read the end of King Lear.

Womble On Tour said...

If this, above all other stories, finally persuades the Tories to wake up to the erosion of our liberties over which this government has presided, then there might yet be hope for the people of this country.

David Anthony said...

This has the stench of Brown all over it.

King John said...

Our defender of civil liberties has been mighty quiet so far! Where is David Davis?

Mark said...

He is a backbench MP because he foolishly resigned, therefore he has a lot less influence these days.

King John said...

Mark - arguably that gives him a lot more freedom to speak out, or did I miss the point of his resignation and subsequent by-election?

Gecko said...

Iain, sorry you are wrong on one point in your article.

This is a police state, right here, right now.

I hope and pray that Cameron has the cojones to stand tall tomorrow morning and tell the press what this country has really descended into. We need mass support for a return to proper policing, and proper politics not the pointless consensus of recent times.

Oscar Miller said...

This is without doubt a sinister development that should put the nation on high alert. And for the record I certainly did not applaud the way Michael Levy et al were treated by the police over cash for honours. There was clearly no need whatsoever to arrest them at dawn and question them for so long. I found it deeply disturbing. But it should also be noted if you follow the trail of who instigated the cash for honours scandal it leads back to Gordon Brown. The man who has used leaks, smears, threats and devious conduct throughout his political life.

Mark said...

King John.

It gives him more freedom to speak out but makes it less likely that the media will be interested in hearing from him as he is no longer likely to be Home Secretary in a couple of years. If he was still SHS we would certainly have seen him on the news leading on this for the Tories. As it is any comment from him will be a footnote from a backbench MP.

African Mum said...

My comments on an earlier post indicated we should be more scared of the pro Labour media reaction. The Telegraph report confirms my fears. At least in Zimbabwe the people know they're being oppressed. Tomorrow, radio phone ins would be all about celebrity and reality TV and obesity and Christmas shopping, not about this.
Next time people in this country comment on Zimbabwe, perhaps we could have less of the nudge, nudge, wink, wink about Africans having totalitarianism in their blood. As far as I know Brown and Mandelson aren't African, but are acting just like Mugabe and the chaps running DR Congo.

King John said...

Mark - I take your point, but I disagree. Surely this is an example of exactly the sort of thing he was trying to highlight. He is a well respected MP, senior backbencher, former SHS - who better to lead for the Tories on this?

Bill Quango MP said...

Cheer yourselves up. Government is getting an absolute hammering on question time over the Vat reduction. no one has fallen for it and no one {not even the head of Sainsburys, the governments favourite supermarket, agrees with it. get your Iplayer on. its great.
twatty Alexander "we will grow the economy" is just pathetic.

Political Junkie said...

Come, you start by saying don't rush to judgement and then rush to judgement.

I've said on my blog I think it looks OTT and I'm a Labour supporter. But really wait for the facts. Governments to have a right and a responsibility to keep some information secret. That's why we have the OSA. There's also genuine public interest reasons to break this law which is why it's a defence.

Lets wait and see which side this case falls on.

Dominic Allkins said...

If it wasn't the for the fact that we've been sleepwalking (or should that be sheepwalking) towards a police state for years (read Taking Liberties for the full history) my flabber would be gasted at this.

But it's not.

We now live in a state where government ministers can leak and spin with impunity without any sanction while an opposition MP is arrested for being the recipient of leaks in the public interest.

By any definition, this now indicates we live in a police state where only 'positive' government propaganda is allowed to be leaked and not the truth that would embarrass the government.

Mugabe would be proud of Gordon Brown.

Mark said...

KJ. You are making my point for me.

I agree he would be the best to lead for the Tories but he is now a back-bench MP due to his actions a few months ago. back-bench MPs do not generally lead their parties response to major events.

That is why I think his actions were foolish as David Cameron and many others tried to tell him at the time.

Hywel said...

I agree Iain. Obviously running the risk not knowing all the facts but to see an opposition MP arrested in part to do with posession of leaked information relating to their opposition role causes me great concern.

There may be very very good reasons for his arrest. Their really had better be.

(And usually I would be fairly happy to hear news of a Tory MP being arrested!)

Iain Dale said...

To those who have questioned why David Davis is not all over the airwaves, I have just spoken to him. He has been speaking at a dinner in Essex this evening and is on his way back to London now, heading straight for the Sky studios. Not sure whether they know it yet though! Suffice it to say, his dander is well and truly up.

Man in a Shed said...

The BBC report (Crick ?) on Newsnight that Boris Johnston was made aware before the arrest.

Could it be a chair of the police commission for the Met or as political cover for someone else ?

Or is there something else altogether going on ?

As you say more details may emerge - but right now the police have a lot of explaining to do.

Neil Evans said...

Extremely sinister - and with the fingerprints of Broons labour party all over it: no one seems to have launched a police investigation or arrested labour spinners, whips, peers and mp's over the leaks of the PBR or RBS's share price.

This has awful overtones of totalitarianism the likes of which we've never seen in the UK.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

This is the biggest story there will be for a very long time.

It will unravel.

It will unravel and somehow, it will either bring down the Government or lead to the biggest clampdown on freedom in a century.

My only worry is Cameron. Will he bottle? On form, yes he will. Now is the time for him to discover a backbone. Will he? I am not betting on it.

You think I am crazy? Watch and learn. The future of our democracy is at stake, nothing less.

King John said...

Mark - my final words, backbenchers do comment on them.
Stephen Pound, Frank Field, John Cruddas et al.
So it's not unusual.
He should be out there making sound rational argument about everything that is so very wrong with this. Especially, as he is unconstrained by (sadly, foolishly) no longer being in the shadow cabinet.
Anyway - I don't think we disagree on the fundamentals of this.

King John said...

Iain (11.11) thank God (or whomever) for that!

Oscar Miller said...

African Mum - well said. The situation here is made so much worse because of the brand image of 'auntie' BBC. They just have to put on a Charlotte Green type voice and it sounds as if all is well with the world. By tomorrow Damian Green's sinister arrest will have been swept under the carpet and trivialised. The BBC gives the kind of cover dictators like Mugabe can only dream of.

strapworld said...

If this was the action of a Conservative Government to a member of the Labour Shadow Cabinet there would be riots in the streets now.

The Rent a Crowd lefties would be flooding the streets demanding the release of the man. The Guardian and Independent would have front page photographs of the poor soul who was arrested! He would be a martyr for FREEDOM.

I am, frankly, appalled by the Brown Bunkers Children and their childish comments. Sleep walking into a communist state is one thing, but knowingly allowing it to happen is an insult to everyone of our brave servicemen and women who gave their lives in two world wars - and others - for us to be FREE.

If this is freedom then I am a Dutchman

Mark said...

KJ. It does seem we are largely in agreement.

To reiterate, I think the best Tory MP to comment on this is David Davis. If he was SHS it would be a no brainer for the media to get him on. As is, there are other Tories in line before him (Cameron and Grieve) and this is his own fault.

I know other MPs will comment on issues but they do not generally lead their parties response and they do not get as much coverage or airtime as front-benchers.

Anyway, as Iain has said Davis will be at the Sky News studios soon battering down the door no doubt and they will have no choice but to put him on I am sure! I will flick over in between the other political programmes this evening.

Iain Dale said...

UPDATE: See front page of post for statement from Boris.

Sunder Katwala said...

For now, those of us relying on publicly available information just don't know enough about it to judge. There doesn't yet seem to be any information from the police. The BBC 10 o'clock news report didn't cast much light on this.

My view is that it would be depressing and wrong if Labour, LibDem and civil society voices just jumped into a partisan response (as the first celebratory post on LabourHome has done) without bothering to find out some of the facts. The issues involved could turn out to be too important for that.

But, in the interests of being even-handed, if John Pienaar's report is correct, that the government and 10 Downing Street first found out about this afternoon's arrest tonight, then I hope the Conservative frontbench will apologise for immediately reaching for the term 'Stalinesque'.

A longer comment on the Next Left blog
http://www.nextleft.org/2008/11/rush-to-judgement.html

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Feck David Davis (much as I love him). This is a moment for Cameron. If he does not appear now, we are all well and truly fecked.

Head of Legal said...

It's a common law offence, Iain - it's not in legislation. Here's the CPS's guidance on it.

It's a serious charge, and may well be reduced to some other charge if they do charge him in the end. But using this as the basis of the arrest at this stage suggests to me they may not be able to fit what they accuse him of doing into any relevant legislation, like the Official Secrets legislation.

Brit-in said...

We don't yet live in a Police State...

Oh yes you do. If you doubt this, please tell us all the difference between the State you're in and a Police State, Ian.

Political Junkie said...

And why should Damian Green get special treatment. Plenty of people wait hours for to be questioned.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Well done, Boris.

Stop Common Purpose said...

Fabians of the Yard:

Common Purpose police

Head of Legal said...

Doing a quick Google suggests the police use this charge as an alternative to computer misuse offences in what they think are serious cases - here's a Met police story about it, and although you can't access this article for free, Prof. Martin Wasik of Keele University has written about the police's use of the charge.

The Insider said...

I think yourself and those that have sprung to this MP's defence will be backpedaling furiously in the morning.

Like Dave your loyalty will be shown to have been extremely kneejerk.

Wait for the polices reason why he has been arrested, then I would like you to post why he is innocent and it is disgraceful for the police to do so.

I always think it is best to get the full story first. Cannot wait to see Dave explaining his stance on unconditional backing when the police release the statement in the morning.

Head of Legal said...

You might also be interested in this answer by Maria Eagle (halfway down the column) which clearly shows that, although still rare, convictions for this offence have been increasing, broadly, presumably reflecting charging practice.

Mark said...

On This Week just now related to this story, Portillio thinks "The Police have a death wish!". That's pretty strong stuff from him on this.

Peter said...

The country short of money, foreign wars, parliament treated with contempt, MPs arrested - all this happened in the 1620's.
Is history repeating itself?
Mind you Charles 1st lost his head!!!

girlie_boi said...

Backpeddling hey 'Insider'? I think not somehow. Green was arrested by Counter terrorism officers. So unless there is an allegation that the MP was involved in terrorism I await an explanation as to why such specialist officers have been engaged in such nonsense. Surely they have something slightly better to do on tonight of all nights?

Also, I repeat what I said earlier, there will be no prosecution of Mr Green. He will be left on bail for months on end and the CPS will take this nonsense no where!

girlie_boi said...

Oh shock horror! He has been released on bail to return in February. Now there's a surprise!

Ben said...

"Oh yes you do. If you doubt this, please tell us all the difference between the State you're in and a Police State, Ian."

1. Green hasn't disappeared. He was arrested as the result of a criminal investigation, he will be interviewed and will be either charged or released. If charged he has the right to a tril and no doubt the finest legal counsel.

2. There is no evidence (yet) that the arrests were politically motivated nor evidence that the government played any part in them.

Paul Pinfield said...

Joshi88 said... "For now I would ask you, do you really, honestly, seriously believe in your heart of hearts that we are 'headed' for being a police state? REALLY?!"

The police have arrested an MP for doing his job. So, yep, we are more than 'headed' for being a police state. We are now very very close.

Eddie said...

Somebody on Guido pointed out a Google sponsored link at the bottom of this page in the Guardian...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/nov/27/damian-green-conservatives-arrest

Now it would be expensive if people clicked on it for no better reason than to spend Labours money, perhaps as a punishment for wasting the countries!

If you click several times Google notice and refund, so anybody clicking more than once would be wasting their time, not Labours money.

nightjack said...

For this and a few other reasons, I am now pretty sure that although I did not join the Stasi, we are in fact being used as such by politicians looking to settle grudges just like the Evil Poor on the Cannonrail Estate. On the emerging facts of the arrest of the shadow immigration minister, this feels like one of those pointless, petty and spiteful “My exes’ new partner’s mate has been harassing me by text” situations. Jacqui Klebb (our boss) has been getting a lot of embarassing flack from some leaks to the Tories. Cut to an unwelcome but deeply persuasive phone call or meeting in person for some compliant A.C.P.O. rank with orders to pull the pin on the leaker on the benches opposite. Next thing you know 9 of our finest are knocking on the poor political bastard’s door, carting him off for interview and searching his home and offices.

Maybe I’m wrong and maybe this Tory politician has done some act to strike at the fundamentals of our parliamentary democracy. I suspect it is nothing that Jacqui and every other politician are not bang at 24/7.

Political dialogue and debate has gone all to hell. Guess its time to polish up the “Only following orders” routines.

The Night Jack

Gordon said...

Dave, stick by Mr Green, do not succumb to the media storm from the mirror (and unfortunately even the newly christened labourgraph), make this a fight showing how the police have been overrun by the government. Show some balls and lets have the proper fight this deserves. We will back you.

wv=evickli (no real meaning but it sounds good)

Darrell G said...

On first a first look this does look to be a worrying and dangerous arrest (though I have to say David Cameron's claim that the mistaken employment of one House of Commons cleaner is a matter of great public import is highly dubious and slightly self-important and please, please no hysterical meanderings about national security being in 'mortal danger')...

What the police did was heavy-handed and clearly wrong (political motivation remains unproven though). What next?? Will everybody who 'handled' the leaked BNP member list be locked away??

Paul Pinfield said...

Portillo and Abbott are in full contempt mode. Looks like they expect heads to roll.

Lord Elvis of Paisley said...

This is the beginning of the end.

The Refuser said...

What really frightens me are the numbers of people who have commented on here that think this is neither frightening or unacceptable.
Wake up half wits this is a very slippery slope. Brown has lost it of he thinks he can get away with this. I have loathed Brown for years, but only now is it becoming obvious that he is seriously deranged. They cannot be allowed to get away with this.

Doug said...

Boris confirmed that he was informed of the arrest prior to its execution. There is therefore no doubt that Jacqui Smith was also told. So either the arrest went ahead with the consent of the Home Secretary or they never told her and as Portillo said the Met have a death-wish.

Lord Elvis of Paisley said...

Let me make this quite clear.

Yes, this act is outrageous. It is politically motivated and has been enacted to provoke a sense of anger. That is what they want. They want people out on the street, they want riots, they want to force a confrontation with the Britsh public in order to use the Civil Contingencies Bill and call a state of emergency. All future elections will be cancelled, and it will be endgame.

Down this road lies madness. We must not fall into their trap. There are legal means to deal with this, enquiries to called. If we allow our sense of outrage to take over, they've won.

Mark my words. This Stalinesque act against the Conservatives by the Government and their agents was deliberately planned, but we must make sure that all legal avenues are explored and those responsible are rooted out before we all end up living in a fully-realised Stasi state.

Sir Enoch Spencer Thatcher KBE said...

hope you've covered your tracks Iain - you anti labour hacks will be next

be worried

Darrell G said...

Refuser,

I think thats a little unfair to be honest with you; I think the majority of commentors on here do feel that way...

Geoffrey G Brooking said...

I think a call goes out to make David Davis a Shadow Cabinet Minister for Civil Liberties (even though Labour don't even know the meaning of it!)

James Enfield said...

After all the screaming hysteria shall we actually think about what really happens in these sorts of cases?

A guy from the Home Office has been arrested in a leak inquiry. If that comes under the Official Secrets Act there is no public interest defence

Speaking broadly when an public official leaks things like this they're toast and they get sent down. The journalist they leak it to who publishes it (who is just as legally at risk) gets let off.

That's because juries think officials should keep secrets and that journalists should publish them.

But even though the journalist is unlikely to face jail it would be bizarre in the extreme if they were not arrested and interviewed by police.

(Politician might replace journalist in a recent context)

The Raven said...

James Enfield wrote:

"If that comes under the Official Secrets Act there is no public interest defence."

That is indeed true. But the OSA also states that "the disclosure must cause harm to the UK or its interests, or it could reasonably be believed that harm could occur" for an offence to be committed. Whichever way you look at it, I find it nearly impossible to see how any harm could come from these disclosures. Embarrassment for the government? Absolutely. But harm the UK's interests? Not a chance.

Head of Legal said...

The lack of arguable harm may be why official secrets offences couldn't form the basis for arrest.

It'll be interesting to see if ministers were given advance notice at all, or were asked for any kind of clearance. If they were, and said anything beyond "do what you think you have to", then it seems to me we'd have a mini-Watergate, wouldn't we?

They probably don't record these calls, mind, since Iain Blair got caught taping his calls to Lord Goldsmith.

Jimmy said...

There seem to be a number of possible objections to this:

1. Civil servants should be free to disclose government documents as they see fit;
2. Civil servants should not have this freedom, however members of the conservative party should be free to encourage them to do so by providing a regular conduit for their disclosures;
3. You could have knocked Mr. Green down with a feather when he discovered the source of these documents, which in each case he found lying on a Commons photocopier.

Which one are you going for here, because the blog post isn't clear?

Ben said...

Doug, 12:25

Is it conceivable that the police thought up this scheme all on their own, without any prompting from their political masters?

As Portillo says, they may be even more stupid than we think they are. But they're certainly not bright enough to have done this on their own initiative.

Leg-iron said...

Joshi88 said : It is hugely insulting to the real victims of police states who are being tortured and are suffering in silence around the world

A most sombre and righteous assessment, Josh88, and straight out of the manual.

Exactly the same as the comments on Guido Fawkes' comparison of Brown and Mugabe. Exactly the same. All that needs to change are the names and the 'infringement'. Otherwise, word for word, as always.

Don't play on guilt, Righteous Joshi. We're all guilted out. The game's up.

It's time for a new game.

John Pickworth said...

I'm outraged!

Damian Green would have been okay if his name was T Blair or he had been selling jets to Saudi Arabia.

iain said...

I trust which ever Tory MP comes top of the private members' bill ballot will draft legislation to protect the rights of MPs, particularly in respect of their offices in the Palace of Westminster. A Civil Service Act should also protect whistleblowers in all but cases of national security (which I do not define to include protecting government ministers from their own incompetence)

Jimmy said...

A Civil Service Act should also protect whistleblowers in all but cases of national security

Older readers may recall the Tisdall case in which the Thatcher administration successfully persuaded the Court of Appeal that it did not matter whether the leak was harmful as a civil servant capable of a harmless leak was therefore equally capable of a harmful one and should be unmasked. If the party were to reverse its position (a nation holds its breath) a few apologies might be in order first.

Of course it's a lot easier to cheer indiscreet officials when in opposition. If you take the view MPs should, subject to national security (defined by whom?), be allowed to cultivate sympathetic civil servants to purloin documents for them from Ministers' private offices then by all means come out and say so, but I'm not sure you've thought this through.

JuliaM said...

"Is it conceivable that the police thought up this scheme all on their own, without any prompting from their political masters?"

*hollow laughter*

No doubt Brown decided to strie now, before his tame Met commander has to leave for his well funded retirement. The next chap might not have been so .. accommodating..

JuliaM said...

"What really frightens me are the numbers of people who have commented on here that think this is neither frightening or unacceptable."

'Numbers'...? This is the internet - it could just be sockpuppets! ;)

But no, there's a fair few with no backbone, or no sense of what it means to be free. But then, in a democracy, there always are.

We should be wary of thinking there's more of them than there really are. Or of ever voting them into power...

Jimmy said...

Fortunately for Mr. Green it would appear that the Mayor has left the incoming Commissioner some very clear and very public instructions as to how far this investigation should be pursued. And to think some people thought he might be unsuitable.

Lady Finchley said...

The timing of this is telling - it happened during pro-rogation when Parliament wasn't sitting. Don't tell me Mandy's filthy fingers weren't all over this.

Stop Common Purpose said...

Common Purpose Fabians of the Yard doing the politicians’ bidding:


Common Purpose police

not an economist said...

I am waiting for the moment when it becomes a terrorist offfence to criticise the govts handling of the current economic crisis.

ranter said...

As a former police officer in the Met Police Farce I was profoundly disturbed by the direction policing priorities were going on the front line for years. This particular incident is extremely disturbing, completely over the top and I really hope that the Conservative Party learns from it AND starts to attack this dreadful, frightening dictatorship that is the British government. I beleive we should all be very scared. Excellent posts from 'Guido' and, as ever, the very thoughtful and intelligent 'Nightjack'. In respect of Nightjack - a serving police officer - his posts over the last few months tell an interesting tale - describe the way this country has gone and is going.

Kippers Dickie said...

"They want people out on the street, they want riots, they want to force a confrontation with the Britsh public in order to use the Civil Contingencies Bill and call a state of emergency."

This explains why the Police need 10,000 Tasers does it not?

not an economist said...

"I am disturbed that both Sky News and the Telegraph are already speculating that Damian Green's position as Shadow Minister is under threat."

I find that odd too. I would have thought the media would come out fighting on this. Cetainly the Tories should - they should be defiant and not simply put pressure on Green to resign. It will be interesting to see the BBC's response - "David Cameron came under fire today for employing unpatriotic, petty criminals-cum-anarchistic terrorists in his front bench team ...."

I am increasingly perplexed that a Labour Party, which when in opposition was always first to criticise the Thatcher Govt's for strong arm tactics that restricted freedom of speach, is becoming so dictatorial in office.

Sbdy compared this Labour govt to that in Zimbwabe a short while ago on a discussion forum I occasionally frequent. The response was howls of abuse from some who said it was deeply offensive. Given the economic crisis, the govt's reckless response to it (i.e., throw money at it) which will likely result in scary levels of inflation, further economic dislocation and increased govt control of our lives as it tries to correct the unintended conseqeunces of each of their prior interventions, and NOW stories like this, I think the similarities are becoming increasingly apparrent.

Infoholic UK said...

One recalls the immortal words of Bernard Wooley

"It's another of those irregular verbs. I hold confidential briefings, you leak, he's been charged under section 2A of the Official Secrets Act."

not an economist said...

One recalls the immortal words of Alfred C Sprockitt:

"They're a bunch of fascist bastards".

mens sana said...

"The decision to make today's arrest was taken solely by the MPS without any ministerial knowledge or approval."

But they told Boris...come on guys this isn't even half credible as a denial. This lying shows how the Metropolitan police has become politicised and corrupt. I have to admit I never thought I would see the day. Thank God Blair is going

tapestry said...

Definition of terrorist under Gordon Brown.

A person or persons who take it upon themselves to inform the public when the government is lying.

Two thoughts -

My God is there anyone left who isn't a terrorist -

and when did the government last tell the truth?

Final thought -

What word can we now use to describe people who kidnap hundreds in large hotels, murder some and maim others? How about

..politically effective representative of the people?

The world has indeed gone mad. Or rather Gordon has.

JuliaM said...

"The timing of this is telling - it happened during pro-rogation when Parliament wasn't sitting."

And when an Indian capital is in flames. Another 'good day to bury bad news', Mandelson and Campbell?

"Sbdy compared this Labour govt to that in Zimbwabe a short while ago on a discussion forum I occasionally frequent. The response was howls of abuse from some who said it was deeply offensive."

As someone who has, very recently, compared Brown to Mugabe, I'd like to apologise. To Mugabe.

Sorry for that slur, Bob...

Mrs Smallprint said...

So, we are all terrorists now, when will they come for the bloggers?

not an economist said...

Mrs Smallprint:

Hazel Blears started just the other week didn't she? Saying they undermined the political process because of their negative attitude.

:-)

Mark Senior said...

I have no idea whether Mr Green has done wrong or not so will wait to see what develops .
I do remember though the protestations of innocence and mention of LibDem plots when the arrest of the obnoxious Mr Oakley was first announced .

cherami said...

This should finish up in court either with Green being charged or with him sueing the police for wrongful arrest. Whichever, the wheels should be kicked off the anti-terrorism legislation.

strapworld said...

No coverage of David Cameron's press conference, which I find quite astounding....the excuse will be the story from India is far far bigger!

From what I can gather from ConHome Cameron DID NOT bring up Green but answered a question!!!!

If that is so, he has failed BIG TIME! Winkled Weasel said that he thinks Cameron has no backbone. IF the account is correct and Cameron has not come out fighting he has missed a golden opportunity. IT IS NOT SUB JUDICIA. No one has been charged.

Mike Smithson on PoliticalBetting says :-

"Clearly this is a developing story which from what we know at the moment looks like a gift to the Tory leader, David Cameron.

The question that’s likely to dominate the coverage will be how much ministers, particularly the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, knew of what was planned?
Apparently the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was made aware so its hard to think that the Home Secretary was out of the loop. The other problems for the government are that the leaks related to one of the biggest political hot potatoes - immigration policy - and that the Tories can claim that all they were doing was to bring information that should have been available into the public domain.

Unless Green has done something really terrible in his relationship with the leaker and the leaks the “public good” defence, is going to look powerful. The opposition’s job, anyway, is to hold the government to account.

The media, of course, has a great interest in leaking because it provides a source of stories and generally coverage is sympathetic to “whistle-blowers”. Also leaking to the opposition like this is common place in British politics as we saw during the final days of the Major government in the 1992-1997 period.

So this story is going to run and, no doubt, the Tories will try to pin the blame on Brown.

Whatever, the affair provides a platform for the Tories to get coverage on the front pages and in the bulletins and that of itself could lead to opinion poll moves.

Mike Smithson.

Dave H said...

Gordon Brown said "I think I speak for the whole world..."

City of Vice said...

The Ashford One? That's a bit of an understatement isnt it. Yes, it's bad enough that the Mr Green's home and constituency office were searched. However it's absolutely OUTRAGEOUS that the Police were allowed to enter PARLIAMENT to rifle an MP's office. Are our liberties and ancient freedoms now so debased in Brown's Britain? How so? The whole thing stinks, not least as at coincides with Met boss Sir Ian Blair's last day in office, Blair having rightly been given the heave ho by new Tory Mayor Boris Johnson. And no one in government knew? Pull the other one!
This outrageous arrest is going to backfire very very badly on Brown and his Stalinist crew. The Tories need to take off the gloves on this one - the public will be on their side.

Raggy said...

It's been a long time since I felt moved to radical action (well ever since the free beer and t-shirts days of Uni) but this 40 something reactionary is painting the placards this weekend. Horrendous, scary, s**t!

David Davis your time has come.

canvas said...

The whole thing is pretty astonishing. Who in the government / Home Office approved this?

not an economist said...

Apparrently Dave hasn't really covered this in his press conference this morning ( or so I read). He took a question on it and that was it.

I'll calm down then. Obviously nothing to worry about. Dave has it under control.

Sbdy tell me I have got this wrong. Please. There are times when I begin to wish David Davies had won the leadership election ...

canvas said...

By the way, this government is constantly abusing the anti-terror laws - they are using the laws for their own agenda. It's not what they were meant for. It's so depressing.

Eddie said...

It appears that 9+ anti terror police spent yesterday arresting and searching the offices of an opposition front bench MP, for having revealed to the public information that the Government found embarrassing.

When the Government were pushing for 90 days, much of the justification was based on the workload of the police on anti terror activities.

It appears that the workload has eased considerably now, if they are no longer needed on real terror investigations.

Primly_Stable said...

When Ruth Turner and Lord Levy were frogmarched out of their homes in the small hours of the morning on a trumped-up charge that was the result of a political campaign by opposition parties (and were both released without charge) the usual suspects were all very clear that it was very important for the police to be able to arrest whoever they wanted to.

As usual Tory hypocrits can't cope when they get treated like everyone else. "Don't you know who I am?!!"

canvas said...

Primly Stable says "As usual Tory hypocrits can't cope when they get treated like everyone else."

I am not a Tory - but I think this abuse of power by the government/police is truly disturbing. When you say 'like everybody else' - what do you mean? We are all in this together. Get a grip.

Man in a Shed said...

Primly_Stable - this came from a complaint made by a SNP MP. Everyone knew what was being investigated, and kid gloves were used, despite very real grounds for the investigation.

Imagine of Gordon Brown had been arrested under the previous Conservative govt as shadow chancellor, using anti-terrorism police, for receiving leaked information. Your Guardinista co travellers would have been up in arms.

Thanks for the spin - but the mere fact your trying to spin it shows that this has been politicly motivated. ( As by the way does the great care not keep the PM's hands clean ).

not an economist said...

To Primly Stable:

If the Damien Green incident were to do with similar cirumstances over party funding then I'd be happy with the police action. Indeed I'd be posting asking why Cameron didn't undertake a full review to ensure that the Tories were blamesless, lambasting him for inaction.

This is different. Its about an increasingly dictatorial govt clampinmg down on freedom of inquiry into the govt's policies.

Contrary to this govts attitude and that of its supporters who will excuse its every transgression of civil liberties for purely party political reasons and nothing more, suppressing non-violent political opposition and freedom of speach is NOT "The Right Thing To Do".

Raggy said...

"There are times when I begin to wish David Davies had won the leadership election ..."

Aye. Twenty four seven three six five, Not an.

mutleythedog said...

I received a parcel of leaked Home Office memos this morning- anyone fancy leaking them?

strapworld said...

Primly Stable forgets the main part of his argument....WHO was in charge when Lord Levy and others were arrested.....Oh, I forgot, it was a LABOUR Government!!!!

Primly stable has neither the sense or intelligence to work this one out. Obviously a bunker boy or girl. Employed by the state to TELL and SPREAD LIES.

Green_Anorak said...

Could this be Ian Blair getting his revenge for Boris forcing him out?

As has been mentioned, today's his last day in post so by the time it's been discovered he was responsible, he'll be miles away.

Kcila said...

First they bury news, then they try and silence the Opposition.

The ghosts of Stalin, Hoenecher and Pol Pot must be so proud. Their bastard heir is alive and well and resident in Downing Street.

Windsor Tripehound said...

To Strapworld @ 8:56...

Softly softly catchee monkey

Cameron is playing it correctly IMO. No point in him going off on one at a press conference that will hardly get a mention. Better for him to stay calm, get the party in step and deliver the blows in the House.

Interesting to note the volume of Labour Troll activity this morning (check out ConHome). Co-incidence, I'm sure.

African Mum said...

Did anyone hear Phil Woolas on the radio this morning? More or less admitted Labour had asked police to go after Damien Green.
Believe it or not, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana were once democratic countries. Their downfall began like this. Elected govts arresting one politician here, a journalist there, people get scared as they have families and businesses, so they don't want their lives disrupted and cease to object or comment whenever the govt does something, and it all goes downhill from there.
Good luck everyone, I have family in America, my husband and I get on really well with them so we can always get a flight in a hurry when things start to go really pear shaped. To those who don't have that option, well, you had your chance to fight Labour and their Common Purpose friends.
And Iain, stop praising Hazel Blears, she's part of the problem.

Colin said...

Does anyone have a list of the occasions when Gordon Brown relied on leaked documents when he was an opposition spokesman? There must be plenty of examples around. When they are publicised can we expect him to be arrested and questioned for 9 hours?

Si said...

Lest we forget the last govt. Things always happened like this

DocRichard said...

As a Green Party activist, I share the deep concern at this apparent abuse of police powers. If Ministers were not informed (as a Minister claimed on the Today programme), the government officials who took this decision must be outed and disciplined.

Please give my sympathies. Nine hours in custody is very boring (I speak as a Trident Faslane arrest veteran). I hope he had a book.

Bert Rustle said...

How is this different to the dozen BNP people arrested for distributing a leaflet in Liverpool last weekend? The BNP stated that the CPS had previously seen the “Racism Cuts Both Ways” leaflet and that the CPS stated that it was not actionable. Those arrested were bailed several hours later without charge.

I do not recall a single Establishment Party member denouncing these arrests last week but several are already denouncing the arrest of Damian Green.

How are the two arrests different?

dalesman said...

Obviously there are a lot of details we need to know yet about this matter, but it stinks of Broon.

David Davis wasn't given much time on the Today programme, but one of his points was that it is intended to intimidate whistleblowers in Westminster.

David Cameron should have been doing the rounds of all the radio and TV studios this morning. He's been too quiet, AGAIN.

Old Holborn said...

It was Michael Martin

LINK

Dungeekin said...

Obituary: British Freedom 1215-2008

It was announced today that British Freedom had died, aged 797, following an eleven-year battle against a cancer.

(full Obituary at http://tinyurl.com/6z2eeh)

It's all over, folks - The Brown Regime (I will no longer grace this Junta with the term 'Government') have finally stooped to using the Police to repress legitimate political Opposition.

Kiss your Freedom goodbye, because it died last night.

Now all we have to look forward to is the Civil Contingencies Act and the long reign of 'President-for-life' Brown.

Dungeekin

Nigel said...

A little background on the common law offense that was somewhat egregiously utilised in this case. The Nolan committee suggested a decade ago that it be clarified and put on a statutory basis.

http://www.archive.official-documents.co.uk/document/parlment/nolan3/misuse-1.htm
15.  A common law offence of 'misconduct in a public office' exists at present, and prosecutions are still undertaken from time to time. We believe that the new statutory offence should be developed from the common law offence. ...
18.  The unifying factor of the common law cases appears to be the existence of some improper, dishonest or oppressive motive in the exercise or refusal to exercise some public function, rather than a mere abuse of power. There are few prosecutions, suggesting that action is taken only when misconduct is particularly gross. The advantage of creating a statutory offence of misuse of public office would be that some clearer indication could be given in the statute of the circumstances in which an offence might occur. The limits should not have to be drawn by the jury unguided.

Neal Asher said...

I wonder, did the police find any bombs or bomb-making equipment, any guns? Was Bin Laden included in Green’s ‘friends’ on Facebook and did he have terrorist training videos in his collection? Maybe he should declare to the Conservative Party his affiliation with Al-Quaeda?

Welcome to the Labour Reich. How long before we can all fear that early hours hammering on the front door?

MattLondon said...

Second attempt to post this (b****y Google!) - and I hope no-one else has made this point. someone said:
It's a serious charge, and may well be reduced to some other charge if they do charge him in the end. But using this as the basis of the arrest at this stage suggests to me they may not be able to fit what they accuse him of doing into any relevant legislation, like the Official Secrets legislation.

November 27, 2008 11:26 PM


Maybe they are using these powers because since Mrs T's reform of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) in 1989 it is no longer possible to use its criminal sanctions just to threaten/punish leakers and recipients just because their activity is politically embarrassing. This little known common law offence (with its potential life sentence punishment!) has been dug up and dusted off to gag whistleblowers and silence effective opposition.

tapestry said...

Bert Rustle. I campaigned outside the Labour Party conference in defence of the freedom of people to choose to hunt wild animals if they wished, on the Promenade at Blackpool in 2004.

There were no people around, other than me and my colleague and some suited Labourites who studiously ignored us.

Old Bill wandered up and said that we had to stop demoing as we were in breach of the Public Order Act.

Which section, I asked.

Section 9.

This section requires that the Police expect that a demonstration is going to lead to a riot.

I enquired of Old Bill who was there who might cause a riot - not Labour MPs presumably?

The reply was telling. I was told that it would mean a night in jail and I cold argue my case with the Magistrate in the morning.

We agreed to stop demoing and go home.

But a squad of coppers then came and inspected our vehicle and refused to let us go. They decided that a particular poster was offensive. It had a picture of Tony Blair doing a NAZI salute opposite one of Hitler, captioned 'The First European To Ban Hunting..'

We agreed to remove them which we did but they still left two stooges instructed not to allow us to move on.

They gave us a running verbal assault on the evils of hunting and how it had to be banned.

The Police were openly acting as heavy-handed agents of the Labour government to suppress our tiny demonstration.

Bert Rustle said...

taapestry wrote ... I campaigned outside the Labour Party conference ...

A youtube video of the encounter would have enabled the Electorate to see for themselves.

Is it legal to record one's own conversations in a public place without the correspondents knowledge? Consent? To video the same?

Jack said...

Perhaps I'm being naive, but is it not reassuring that the police can 'dare' to arrest and interview whoever they suspect of wrongdoing, regardless of ther position? The nature of his 'crime', to me, is beside the point and for the police and CPS to decide- not outraged politicians and bloggers. And any MP who would wilfully obstruct police in their duty (for example, by blocking the door to an office), should be hit with the full force of the law.

Bert Rustle said...

Jack wrote ... Perhaps I'm being naive, but is it not reassuring that the police can 'dare' to arrest and interview whoever they suspect of wrongdoing, regardless of ther position? ...

How many participants were arrested during the Danish Embassy demonstrations? How many afterwards?

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