Iain Dale’s Diary
November 27, 2008
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.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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.