Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Protecting Damian Green From Himself

What a bleedin' liberty as Catherine Tate's grandmother character might say. It seems the Met used covert recording equipment to tape anything Damian Green said from the moment of his arrest until he arrived at Belgravia Police Station two hours later. This tactic is only ever used on terror suspects, I gather. It was, according to the Met, "done with the best of intentions". Of course it was. No doubt to protect Mr Green from himself. At least, that's the excuse the Stasi would have given.

Does a suspect have no rights in this situation? If he is to be taped, surely he has a right to be told that he is being taped? Fine, if he is a terror suspect, then the rules change, I suppose, but Damian Green was not a terror suspect. The only inference which can be drawn is the the Police were covertly inviting Damian Green to incriminate himself.

As I said, what a bleedin' liberty. They must be held to account. And at the risk of provoking accusations of "helping my Tory friends" from Assistant Commander Quick, if it was he who authorised this, then he has even more music to face.

UPDATE: Paul Waugh says that the Counter Terror Unit is about to be disbanded, with it reverting to two divisions - SO12 and Anti Terror.


Heresiarch said...

Damian Green "not a terror suspect"? Of course he was a terror suspect. He was investigated by the counter-terrorist police, after all. And anything the counter-terror police investigate is, by definition, terrorism.

Did not our beloved Jacqui tell the media to let Boring Bob get on with his job of "keeping our country safe" - which, she tells us, he does all day long? So keeping Damian Green under close observation comes within the remit of "keeping our country safe". Official.

It wasn't just an administrative convenience that when the anti-terror command and Special Branch were merged the resulting department was called "Counter-terrorism".

Anonymous said...

This whole situation gets more and more bizarre/scary.

westminster watch said...

Doesn't the Home Secretary have to authorise this sort of thing advance?!

Old BE said...

"anything you do say may be given in evidence" - it's called the CAUTION for a reason! Officers are not allowed to ask questions until the proper interview but are required to note down anything the suspect says. Recording it is just another way of noting down, isn't it?

Unknown said...

Sounds like you need a Written Constitution to prevent abuses of power like this and a meaningful Bill of Rights that prevents evidence being taken without legal representation, without a right to silence or to non self-incrimination, and without a clear warning as to what your rights are after arrest.

The American Founding Fathers knew all the tricks about the behaviour of the British State and acted appropriately by dismembering the abuses of state power at the source to prevent it.

So Ian, will you do the same or is your only recourse to whine about it incessantly as if its never happened ever before?

Bet you won't reply, Ian.

Tom said...

Jacqui Smith made a bizarre quote the day before yesterday that Bob Quick needed to be left alone to do his very important job "which is to protect this country from terrorists". I have to wonder how Damian Green falls under that purview. Or does she regard all Tories as terrorists now?

Not that Nick Wood said...

I was born in a free country (England). It's sad that I no longer live in one (England)

Unknown said...

Isn't there something about a "Wilson Doctrine" about not bugging MPs. From the BBC website:

"If any of the intelligence services want to intercept communications or plant a bug, they require authorisation from a minister. However, if the police wish to carry out surveillance - such as the use of covert recording devices in a prison as alleged in this case - such a move can be taken with the permission of a chief constable or officer of equivalent rank and without ministerial approval."

So either a very senior officer authorised this or the Police were acting outside "The Doctrine"

Mr Mr said...

"if he is a terror suspect, then the rules change"

Really? I never realised that that we had a two tier legal system.

Jacqui Smith strongly hinted that Green was in possesion of material that affected national security. Of course that does not make him a suspected terrorist. The Police have gone too far this time. When Parliament rushed through all these knee jerk anti terror laws they should have started by defining what a terrorist is, because as the law stands just about anyone can be classified as a potential terrorist, from fly tippers to political conference hecklers.

Tony said...

Following Bob Quick's recent rant, I think some wag at CCHQ could have some fun issuing a release along the lines of:

"The Police machinery and their technical department friends are mobilised against this Honourable Member.

"I think covert recording is a very spiteful act, possibly used in the hope Mr Green would incriminate himself before formal interview, and I feel it has put his rights at risk."

It Will Come to Me said...

"Fine, if he is a terror suspect, then the rules change,"

Innocent until proved guilty?

labourparty said...

Oh dear, the poor chap. They could have warned him or something, perhaps saying something like "anything you say can and will be taken down..."

Presumably the use if the Stasi analogy is because you're alleging that he tortured or something? Oh you're not? Ah, it's the excessive use of the word "sir" you're objecting to then? (as seen on Webcameron.)

A Merry Christmas to all your conspiratorial readers!

Not that Nick Wood said...

The anti-terrorism laws are being misused. When the Conservatives come to power they should change the law to make misuse of such legislation a criminal offence. The police should have to justify to a judge why anti-terrorism legislation was, or is being, used. If the judge finds that there isn't sufficient justification to warrant these draconian powers being used the officer responsible should be prosecuted and if found guilty sent to jail for up to two years. That might stop them arresting people for heckling at their own party conferences, reading out, in Whitehall, the names of soldiers killed in Iraq and other such clearly non terrorist activities.

Not a sheep said...

Damian Green was a "terror suspect" and under this Government's legislation so could all of us be. Wake up people, "1984" is here and none of us are safe.

Vienna Woods said...

As far as I am aware the PACE rules allow recording of an interview only after the accused has been informed that a recording is being made. The standard caution is given at the time of arrest and any reply by the accused may be written down - eventually!!, but this evidence is highly suspect and often ruled as inadmissible, or of little value. Another point is that at the start of recording the police officer must also record the introduction when he states who is present, time, date etc. If this was not done then Quick is in what can only be described as - deep shit!

James Higham said...

Yes but how is that protecting him form himself?

Anyway, Merry Christmas, Iain and let it all wash over.

Null said...

labourparty said...
"Presumably the use if the Stasi analogy is because you're alleging that he (was) tortured or something?"

I think you will find that the Stasi operated a police state whereby everyone feared that they were being spied on at all times. It seems fairly clear to me that this is what Iain was referring to.

WV: coppe

Vienna Woods said...

Looking at this situation now, I doubt very much that a line can be finally drawn under this episode and the Tories must now go for the jugular!

I quite believe that there is a mood of total panic at New Scotland Yard with Quick trying to justify his actions in pushing the whole scenario forward, instead of letting it drop. At the same time Paul Stevenson is probably becoming more alarmed by every hour, when he realises the covert recording may be a killer blow unless it be revealed sooner rather than later. Bit of a yoyo situation this as I reckon Quick knows he is on his way out and might decide to take his boss with him.

JuliaM said...

"...the Tories must now go for the jugular!"

They should have elected a leader who knew how to, then...

Anonymous said...

The distinct whiff of Stasi tactics are increasingly evident, who'd have throught this was Britain, land of Magna Carta, Churchill and free thought.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I notice the Liberal Democrats have done nothing to critise this. Like the comments with regard to the louts - they do nothing!

I have just added some more observations to the Nick Clegg = Neil Kinnock Blog! Something so devestating a leading Liberal Democrat Bans it for fear of it's impact on voters!


Ian M said...

One point on hwich I have suspicions has not come out yet. Were any of the Police Officers who arrested Damien Green armed at the time? It is also fair to ask were those who entered the Palace of Westminster to search DG's office armed at the time?

strapworld said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
strapworld said...

Curiouser and Curiouser. Perhaps those people, who thought that Mr greens office and home could have been bugged, may well be correct!

The whole mess, in my opinion, stinks of political direction and a willing, nay subservient, police!

That must be the direction the Tories should take it. Did Brown demand this? I believe so!

Blue Eyes. You can only caution if you have evidence that suggests the individual has broken the law.

Tape recording is done as a matter of course -with video recording in a proper place at the Police Station. It is overt so that suspects are well aware that a recording is taking place.

The covert use of tapes, on the person of individual police officers, is to obtain 'evidence' and any 'admission' the suspect may reveal or give.

It is such statements, in a car etc.without tapes, that brought about many cries of being stiched up..verbled..enid blyton...
so to avoid such cries they used this method.

They obviously were led to believe, by someone, that green was using the individual for criminal activity and they thought he would cry like a baby! Hence tapes!

It really was a case of overkill.

Quick is now in a position whereby his resignation is nigh!

You have to wonder just how a man with these flaws rose to such high positions within the police!

Catosays said...

Special Branch was dissolved at the behest of Ian Blair who hated it with a vengeance.
Its officers used to provide Protection to Cabinet members, other prominent MPs and visiting Royalty. As such they were used to dealing with these people and were much respected for their discretion.
I feel that had SB been in existence prior to the Damian Green fiasco, then this farce would not have occurred as the Home Office would have been told to go thither.

Anonymous said...

So when would the Tories actually elect a leader capable of fighting Labour and rescuing the once free people of England. When you hear that Tories would rather keep outside business interests than concentrate on fighting the next election, then it's time for a new party that cares about the ordinary Brit.
As it is, we'll be called Airstrip One before long.
Has anyone seen V for Vendetta? That's Nu Lab's vision of England's future.

Weygand said...

If the police simply wished to "ensure total transparency", why did they hide what they were doing from Green?

If they simply wanted to be able to prove later that they had behaved properly during his arrest and detention, why did they hide what they were doing from Green?

This kind of self-serving nonsense is counter-productive.

It would also seem to show that Stephenson was right in complaining that the arrest would dish his own chances of becoming Commissioner; unless of course he becomes the 'olive branch' offered by the Tories in an attempt at peace and reconciliation.

Anonymous said...

"Jacqui Smith strongly hinted that Green was in possesion of material that affected national security. "

Mr Mr you make me want to vomit. You are not her husband are you or her dad or her auntie Ethel?

Oh ans please please PLEASE you dopy numpties, spare us all the precious 'if only we had bla blah blah'.

Yeah lets have a lying bastard like Gordon Brown for out leader, and a sleazeball like Lord Rio as a spinner in chief.
Wake up, haven't you worked out what's been wrong with our country for the last 10 years yet?

Jimmy said...

The cops knew that they were going to get dumped on and wanted to cover themselves in the even of any conflict of recollections. Understandable in the circumstances I would have thought. Secondly, we know the tories were getting national security leaks because Davis blurted it out, before furiously trying to row back from it.

Why not wait and see what happens?

Daily Referendum said...


That's it, turn a blind eye you cock. Have you no shame? When you look in the mirror what do you see? These are your liberties that are being eroded - not just a Tory MP's.

The law was set up to protect the people - not to achieve the government's aims no matter what it takes.

Weygand said...

Of course the latest admission that the police were recording Green in the interest of transparency is rather ironic, when one recalls that officers intervened to prevent their search of his offices being filmed.

The only thing that is wholly transparent is what a useless (and potentially dangerous) bunch of tossers now occupy senior positions in the Met.

Henry North London 2.0 said...

I plead the fifth

Hacked Off said...

The Penguin

Unknown said...

I'm reminded of the line in Frost-Nixon "If the president does it, it's not illegal" As far as Labour are concerned, if they do it or order it, it's not illegal. And for 11 years the police have been encouraged to regard their role as doing what the government wants.

Jimmy said...

Can someone explain how the recording of an arrest, as opposed to the arrest itself, is a curtailment of civil liberties?

Catosays said...

Jimmy said...

Can someone explain how the recording of an arrest, as opposed to the arrest itself, is a curtailment of civil liberties?

Yes, quite simply.
It's against the law.

Unsworth said...

Disbanding the CTU will make no difference whatsoever to their actions and intentions. These people are sinister in the extreme, a change of job title means nothing.

Jimmy said...


Parking over two hours at a meter is against the law. It's not a curtailment of anyone's civil liberties. Would you like another crack at the question?

Mr Mr said...

Good grief Trevorsden @ 3.03pm, if you had taken the time to read all of my post you would have easily come to the conclusion that I am in no way related to miz Smith or the Labour party.

Did it not occur to you that Jacqui Smith in accusing Green of holding and using state secrets against the government has implicated herself in being intrinsically involved in this investigation and has access to confidential police enquiries, something that a Home secretary should NEVER do and have?

Think before you write.

Lola said...

Best policy? Never say anything to the police - any more. They are not to be trusted. Not necessarily the individual officer, but the sect, as it were.

(Much like the government and the banks really)

Vienna Woods said...


A Police Officer can arrest anyone he sees committing an arrestable offence. He may also arrest anyone that he suspects of committing an arrestable offence. This does not affect a person's rights as long as the evidence is sound and the accused has been properly cautioned.

A Police Officer cannot record anybody's voice without first advising them that he is doing so. That, dear sir, is an infringement of his civil liberties. It is also an infringement of any persons civil liberties if you record their voice over a telephone system without first advising them that you are going to do it. It's also bloody actionable. In addition I do believe that the European Court of Human Rights has already ruled on this very subject and following the Christmas break I will be asking them for a copy of the directive.

Jimmy said...

The ECHR doesn't issue directives.

I really don't know how to ask this any more simply. To record my telephone calls without my knowledge is an invasion of my privacy. An arrest on the other hand is not a private occasion. Leaving aside the issue of legality, how is someone harmed by this?

Jess The Dog said...

Cops were probably covering their own arses due to the sensitive nature of the arrest. Illegally. I hope Green sues.

It can't get much worse for the cops and Jacqui Klebb. Ha ha. This battle needs to be fought and won. I have enormous respect for the rank-and-file (usually) but there is clearly a political police cadre at the top - just like the Gestapo in the 20s. In fact, Hitler gave the Gestapo legal immunity (including immunity from judicial review) in the 30s - Ian Blair tried the same with regard to firearms officers before JCDM was unlawfully killed.

As an afterthought, Green and his source could have been locked up for 42 days, if that power had existed. The notion that Green had any material relating to national security is doubtful - otherwise charges would have been brought under the Official Secrets Act. Unless Green was being particularly careful as the OSA relates to a range of circumstances of disclosure and leaking to a MP possibly may not be in breach of the OSA...prehaps a precedent they were trying to avoid???

Iain Dale said...

You've got to love a lefty like Jimmy who has the brass neck to write "leaving aside the issue of legality".

I guess that's what persuaded Blair to invade Iraq.

Unknown said...

Not that Nick Wood said...

I was born in a free country (England). It's sad that I no longer live in one (England)

Nope. England has had these sorts of draconian powers for at least six hundred years. And there's nothing to stop them being abused (as they have been) by Conservative, Labour, Whig or Liberal governments.

You have never lived in a free country. Its a delusion.

Henry North London said...

I plead the fifth

That's in the American Constitution. You have no right to a fair trial, nor the right to silence nor the right not to incriminate yourself. You're a British subject.

Beachhutman said...

I'm reminded of the line in Frost-Nixon "If the president does it, it's not illegal" As far as Labour are concerned, if they do it or order it, it's not illegal. And for 11 years the police have been encouraged to regard their role as doing what the government wants.

Whether its Labour or Conservative, the abuse exists because there's nothing to prevent the State secirity apparatus from behaving like this. What offended America was Nixon was behaving like the British State: above the law.

Do you really think that if Cameron becomes PM, all of these precious and vital weapons against terrorism will be suddenly thrown away next day? Are you really that stupid?

Besides which, its well known that the only people who make claim to civil rights are the criminals and the terrorists, don't you know?

And as I thought: Ian Dale likes whining over any principle. Anyone like to bet that if DC comes to power, Ian's campaign on fixed term parliaments will never be mentioned ever again?

Iain Dale said...

I am happy to have a very large bet with you on that. A campaign is for life ... Not just while Labour are in power.

Spartan said...

Jimmy ... Leaving aside the issue of legality, how is someone harmed by this?

Classic! ... is this a future quote from Bob Quick?

Unknown said...

Ian wrote:

I am happy to have a very large bet with you on that. A campaign is for life ... Not just while Labour are in power.

That's fine. I'll pay you £100 if any Conservative MP sponsors a bill to fix the term of Parliament. Not simply whether you mention it (a trivial thing at the best of times) but whether anyone will do anything about it.

You can pay £100 to me if there's no such bill proposed by the end of between the next election where the Conservatives form the government and the following General Election.

Don't you realise that by compelling Parliament to do something, you're infringing on "British sovereignty"?

Unknown said...

Under the 1966 Wilson Doctrine (confirmed in Feb 2008) no form of MP communication can be covertly recorded without the approval of a Chief Constable or equivalent ranking policeman.

The recent police statement said that approval was given at "superintendent level" ....... and therefore any evidence will not be admissible in court.

Given the sensitivity of the case you would expect the officers in charge to have checked with the Office of the Surveillance Commissioners in advance, not retrospectively.

Anyway, why is the policeman in charge of preventing terrorism spending his time on this civil (not criminal) case?

Shamik Das said...

So he incriminates himself, so what?

Isn't the whole point of the legal system to catch the guilty?!

If he's done nothing wrong (and I don't believe he has) he's got nothing to hide!

Anyway, Merry Christmas to one and all! :)

Little Black Sambo said...

"If he's done nothing wrong ... he's got nothing to hide!"
How can anybody seriously say this any longer?

Henry North London 2.0 said...

What he did was alert the press to the skullduggery in the new bill before it had been passed

Any chance of them doing it secretly and without anyone realising what it was for was over so they picked on Damian for having done it

Welcome to totalitarianism

Unsworth said...

@ Jimmy

"An arrest on the other hand is not a private occasion."

What on earth does this mean?

Chas said...

Best intentions? What is it that is said about the road to hell?