Sunday, April 19, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Damian Green's Wife on the 10 Things To Do If Your Home Is Being Searched By The Police

Some time ago, I helped Damian Green's wife, Alicia Collinson, publish a book called POLITICS FOR PARTNERS. It's a sort of self help book designed for anyone who is unfortunate enough to find themselves married, or partnered to a politician. It was culled from the experiences of more than 100 spouses, partners and children of parliamentary politicians. It was supposed to be a comprehensive handbook on how to be supportive in political life, yet it unaccountably failed to include advice on what to do when your politician is arrested and you find your home being searched for evidence. Even though it’s unlikely to happen again, Alicia does not want her colleagues to be unprepared, and has written an updating chapter to add to the existing book, especially for me to publish on this blog...


1. General notes: Take notes right from the start, recording precise times, names & ranks, things said to you and phone numbers (both received and dialled). After it’s all over, you’ll probably need to write a detailed record of what happened, from your personal experience, and it’s much easier if you record everything, as it happens.

2. Formal documents: Keep copies of every document shown to you and retain any business card. Ask questions about what they’re searching for. Check carefully the details of any search warrant. You will have to give names and dates of birth of all people who live in the house, even children away at university.

3. Police recordings: Assume everything you say and do is being recorded (and assume your emails, phone calls and texts are being intercepted). Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean you’re not subject to surveillance. If you feel unhappy, scared or intimidated, you should say so to the officers and they will make a note of what you have said in their notebooks.

4. Photographs: Take photographs of everything that is going on around you. If you’re not under arrest and you live in the house you’re perfectly entitled to do this. Make sure your camera (if digital) shows the accurate time and date.

5. Hospitality and food: Always have enough milk in the house, so you can offer coffee or tea. Eat proper meals during the search – it may go on a long time and you need to keep your blood sugar topped up, particularly if you’re suffering from shock. The same applies to children: there is something very comforting about filling the house with the smell of grilling sausages.

6. Copies of items seized: You are entitled to be told precisely what is being taken from your house. It is wise to insist on having copies of all the documents, and to take photographs of any item being removed before it leaves your house (even if those things have already been put into ‘evidence’ bags). It is generally better to make physical copies of documents or to scan them, rather than to photograph them, as photographs can be distorted. If you have a photocopier with a sheet feeder it is much quicker than putting individual sheets on a scanner. You are entitled to challenge the removal of any item which does not appear to be covered by the terms of the search warrant.

7. Spring cleaning afterwards: The knowledge that police officers have gone through every room in the house and have taken photographs of everything, can leave you feeling as violated as if the house has been burgled. Take control of these feelings by having a major tidy up around the house after they’ve gone. Move the furniture around, put up new pictures, and do all the filing that you’d been putting off. Upgrade your mobile phone if they have insisted on taking full details of the serial numbers.

8. Recycle redundant electronic goods: Make sure, when upgrading any mobile phone, to dispose of the old handset rather than leave it in a desk drawer and forget about it. That can save the police wasting a huge amount of time packing it up as ‘evidence’ for detailed technical investigation in a neat cardboard box, held in place with plastic ties, when it hasn’t been used for years. The same goes for old laptop computers and old printers.

9. Attendant publicity: However discreet the police may be in searching your home, if you are in the public eye, the media will soon be very interested in the fact that your home has been searched. As a rule of thumb, the interest can be measured by the number of photographers camped outside your home at any moment. (If you ask them nicely, they will not take pictures of your children, but you may have to put up with some pretty unattractive pictures of yourself.)

10. Sources of photographs: A word of warning: if your children’s friends have taken photographs of the whole family while on holiday, and put them on a site like Facebook, then it’s very easy for newspapers to lift them to illustrate a story about you, even if you have been extremely careful not to supply family photographs to the press, to try to preserve some privacy for your children.
If you would like to buy the book - maybe you are a partner of a politician, or you know someone who is - click HERE.

Note: If any part of this is being quoted elsewhere, please quote the source - i.e. this blog.

NB NightJack published this "Survival Guide For Decent Talk".


Steve H said...

What if they stop you taking photos on the grounds that it's now supposedly illegal? What exactly is the legal position?

Unknown said...

What if Jacqui Smiff and Harriet Harman decide they want to put you on a train to a Concentration Camp?

It would be far better if we got rid of this bunch of corrupt Socialists and got the Police back to catching murderers and rapists.

Unknown said...

Never mind advice to politicians partners - this is really good advice for anyone being targeted by the police.

gustavus said...

If the police were to intrude on my property and start rifling through my things, I think I'd be disinclined to offer coffee or tea.

Steve Horgan said...

Isn't it a commentary on the way the Labour government has perverted our society that the wife of a prominent opposition politician has to bear these things in mind? Ordinary decent Labour people must be ashamed of the Stalinist thugs who run their party with their petty paranoia and casual use of the machinery of the state against anyone who gets in their way.

When David Davies resigned, I thought that he had gone mad. Now I realise why he did it. It is up to the Conservatives to roll back illiberal legislation and, more importantly, make the civil service and Police accountable once again.

Anonymous said...

I hope Guido's missus has got a copy - one may reasonably expect Ass. Com. Knacker to arrive at the Fawkes' gaff in the near future.

McDoom said...

Excellently informative and somewhat disturbing.

Surely now though with Blair and Quick ousted as Labour's police enforcers, this will not happen again to a serving MP.

Does anyone know what has happened to Guido's blog, or has he been 'silenced?'
I think I should be told

javelin said...

Helpful advice for those living in a police state ... What have we come to when I feel I have to read this???

Anonymous said...

Guido was running for me just after I read your post. Says he's off on a picnic. Not in the woods I hope.

Anonymous said...

@ McDoom

Guido was there at midday just leaving for a picnic.

There must be resignations over this.

The CPS said there was no risk to national security. Norrington must have known what was missing-ergo so must Smith. If they did not, it was a fishing trip.

At least it won't take the plod long to ransack Smith's boxroom.

The stink from Whitehall is worse than that from an open cess pit.

IAA said...

On Ms. Collinson's Point 8).
I would be so tempted to keep a box of old mobile phones in the house, a really large box with 50 or so phones. An lots of loose unlabelled CDs, just imagine the amount to time there would be wasted ploughing through all this "evidence".

ranger1640 said...

The Police are agents of the government, to the extent they collect tax for the government. Therefore they are not here to up hold your rights they are there to gather overtly or covertly intelligence and evidence that will put you away, as they are agents of the state.

If the same efforts were used on the terror godfathers and the drug and criminal godfathers we would accept the odd occasion when the likes of Mr Green is put in the frame by an unprincipled government.

When was the last time you spoke to a police officer in the course of their duty and were they civil in their interactions with you or the general public? I know from my experience from 2 minor traffic incidents that the police were quite happy to shaft me and when I investigated the rights and wrongs and give them this information the police were still belligerent not now at PC level, this was at Chief Inspector level and they were still happy to put me in the frame.

So when the police say hello, hello, hello what’s going on here then, you need to be on your guard as you could find yourself DNA tested and fingerprinted and on the Stasi States data base forever.

Alex said...

You could also add, avoid any large lorries heading towards your car on country roads that may be inclined to sideswipe you, and if you see any bright red dots of light on your chest, duck immediately.

Anonymous said...

You have not mentioned anything about police leaving a bug whilst they were searching for listening to the family indefinately

Obnoxio The Clown said...

@John -- beat me to it. I've got a collection of crap in my home that would keep the police busy for 20 years. :o>

Dick the Prick said...

Authoratitive, elegant & funny. Well done to the lass. They look like a proper ace couple. I kind of wanted Greeny to go to court - dodgy home raids aside ofcourse - but it seemed like that was never really separated from young Galley who did top work. The offer was never Greeny takes the rap & Galley gets left alone - it was always attack the weakest: typical bloody New Labour.

Anywho - went for a Tory interview last week so wine being drank with fruit juice and hoping for the best - they let me know tmrw. If nothing else I worked really hard for it but ... there's a bunker in the way!!

Well done Greeny & Alicia and young Chris - perhaps it would have been easier for New Labour to make Parliament sit constantly rather than seldom - keeps you lot pegged in!!! Hurrah!

DR said...

@ obnoxio: 5:14pm

only 20 years, FGS? You really must try harder ...

Anonymous said...

Presumably tip 11 is: "Always have a 10 year old photo of yourself and your husband when he still had hair lying around for publicity purposes."

Anonymous said...

"Zeddy said...
What if they stop you taking photos on the grounds that it's now supposedly illegal? What exactly is the legal position?"

The law says that is illegal to "elicit, publish or communicate information" relating to members of the Armed Forces, intelligence services and police, which is "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".

The police would have to show that the had grounds to believe that you piccies were going to be used for terrorist acts - according to the Home Office (and you know how much you can trust them, don't you?)

"The Home Office added that anyone accused under the act could defend themselves by proving they had "a reasonable excuse" for taking the picture. "

"Ooooh, Mrs Green, I'm terrified that you're going to use those pics to sue the sh*t out of me, so I'm arresting you and confiscating the camera"

ADH said...

Someone has got there before me but I can't imagine that the police would allow you to take photos of them, even in your own house. Under the Labour government the police can do whatever they want and cover up afterwards. The situation is becoming quite dangerous - and I'm normally very supportive of the police.

Anonymous said...

A fascinating list and - Correct John - I was also just thinking the same.

A job lot of old phones printers PCs Commodore Pets - and knackered CDs. Maybe I will go out and take a few photos of local landmarks, the airbase the town hall the police station the public convenience and leave them lying around.

Then I could publish some alleged comments about Sarah from a 'No 10 source'.
How much would my story be worth in The Sun

Old Holborn said...

The East Germans were amateurs

The fact that we are even discussing the matter on the UK's top blog is an absolute scandal.

And David Davis said.....NOTHING

According to Wikio, they will come for you and Guido first. I'm 12th in their list.

Laugh all you want. They're already killing not just their enemies like David Kelly but innocent newspaper vendors on their way home from work. And electricians.

(PS. Bagsy top bunk in Auschwitz. 42 days is a long time)

Anonymous said...

This sounds like the security police in South Africa in the
1980s. I lived there at the time. East Germany was humane by comparison. It is sad that that what used to be a first world democracy is now compared to the old South Africa and East Germany. Labour did that.

They need to go.

Watching Them,Watching Us said...

Tip 0, before all of the others, should be to contact a solicitor or other lawyer as soon as possible.

Alicia Collinson is a barrister, so she can look after herself for legal advice, but most people will not be so lucky.

The Polemicist said...

Chilling stuff. No tips on parting with your DNA. It warrants a 'Dear Mary' to the Speccie on the correct etiquette in those kind of situations.

BTW, here is a Nu-Labour conundrum: Once ID cards are introduced will you have to show your ID card when asked to do so by a copper hidding his ID badge?

Calfy said...

The one about having plenty of milk -and children as the smell of sausages is very reassuring- in the house is a little ominous

Steve H said...

***The police would have to show that the had grounds to believe that you piccies were going to be used for terrorist acts - according to the Home Office (and you know how much you can trust them, don't you?)***

Interesting Titus-Aduxas but as the whole justification for the police raiding the home was originally that Damian Green was a threat to national security I wonder if they'd bother splitting hairs and just confiscate the camera.

Jimmy said...

So can Galley have the job now or is it better to wait a bit?

Anonymous said...

Sea Shanty Irish here:

The arrest of Damian Green was a serious breach of parliamentary privlege. Thus a violation of the rights of every British voter and citizen. And by extension the liberties of people in every democratic country, and every land where women and men strive for freedom.

As an offshore Labourite, it pains me to make this commentary against an outrage perpetrated by a Labour administration. But there you have it.

The British Consitition is sufficiently vague to give HM Govt. authority to investigate, arrest and even intern (as was done to in WWII) MPs in cases of genuine threats to national security. Clearly the Damian Green affair was NOT such as case.

The good news is that the investigation of the Green caper will reveal many more facts that need revealing than anything DG could have hoped to accomplish if "unaided" by a heavy-handed, ham-fisted government.

The bad news is that his family suffered along with him. However, it's clear that Joe Friday met his match in Alice Collinson.

Guthrum said...

Whilst sound advice, what in God's name has happened to our Country ?

mistertea said...

Steve Horgan, the godawful Labour Party has been passing illiberal laws ever since they got back into power - in fact since before then, as the first handgun ban was largely pushed through by Labour exploitation of public fear and Conservative fear of unpopularity. So why have you only just realised what the Conservatives must do? Had your lot ditched Ann Widdecombe and her ilk, and concentrated on traditional British principles, you could easily have turned it all around by now. But the EU probably now has enough power to consolidate the Blairite 'gains' and prevent us getting back our freedoms.

Unknown said...

And point no 11 (or is it 21 by now!)

Make sure you have a back up copy of your hard drive stored off site, so that you can get a new computer and be up & running asap.

Richard said...

Surprised that nobody's mentioned encryption of email and computer files. It can be done at zero cost and with about half an hour of effort.

Given that some Tory MPs have their offices swept for bugs, failure to take basic precautions like email encryption would seem to be negligent. It's a bit like buying CCTV to watch your house but failing to lock the front door.

Anonymous said...

Always keep a small bag packed and ready, because you never know when they will come for you.

Actually, I seem to have read something like the above paragraph before.

Now, was it Akhmatova, Solzhenitsyn, Sharlamov, Ginsburg, Klemperer, Frank, Funder, or maybe some film about Other Peoples' Lives or something, think think, so many precedents, one can easily forget...

To think this stuff is happening in the UK. I weep.

Anonymous said...

Being a sad old git with nothing better to do, on Saturday I went to my excellent local library and looked up the micofiches of various newspapers from 1983. There is a distinct lack of Right-wing outrage over the arrest and imprisonment of Sarah Tisdall for leaking documents that did not endanger national security. In fact the general tone, especially in the Telegraph letters page, was how disgusting it was that a Civil Servant - A CIVIL SERVANT! had betrayed her Government in such a terrible manner.

How times change.

One assumes that when we have a new Government in 12 months time regular leaks will be tolerated as a means of keeping them in check?

Rob Farrington said...

'I would be so tempted to keep a box of old mobile phones in the house, a really large box with 50 or so phones. An lots of loose unlabelled CDs, just imagine the amount to time there would be wasted ploughing through all this "evidence"'

Or lots of hard drives filled with files named 'Jihad', 'Smashthestate', 'Killthekuffars' and 'Numbertenattackplan", which are actually knitting instructions.

Young Mr. Brown said...

"The knowledge that police officers have gone through every room in the house and have taken photographs of everything, can leave you feeling as violated as if the house has been burgled."

That sentence hit me. Because of course, the truth is that to all intents and purposes, the house will have been. When uninvited hostile people come into your house and do these things, it makes little difference whether they come in the name of the state, or in order to personally enrich themselves.

Certainly burglars are worse in some respects, but: they usually don't do quite as thorough a job, they don't take quite so long about it so you get your house back sooner, and often they are nice enough do it while you are out, so you don't have the anxiety of watching it all happen. In addition, you can take security precautions to make it a lot less likely to happen next time.

What is happening to this country?

David Davis said...

Could not a case be made for one's DNA being "software"? (it is of course.) Therefore to confiscate some specifically in order to "reverse-engineer" it, and also implicitly copy it so it can be read and stored, must be an Intellectual Property Crime.

The music publishers, all dining-and-drinking-fiends of new Labour and the Enemy Class, would not stand for it for a second - nor would, say, Microsoft.

In the meantime, I guess the best thing is not to have anything the buggers might get upset about. And nothing interesting on your facebook thingy.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you could advise The States of Jersey (Channel Islands) Police and Government on "how NOT to arrest a Senator" Since Senator Stuart Syvret was arrested, his partners house searched, no warrant, no list of items taken by the Police someone needs to Instruct them on How To Do It.

You think the UK has problems I suggest you read Stuart Syvret Blog