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Green's arrest draws parallels

Nick Robinson | 12:35 UK time, Friday, 28 November 2008

Tory outrage at the arrest of Damian Green mirrors the anger that many in Labour felt when Tony Blair's aide Ruth Turner was arrested in the cash for honours investigation. Although their cases are very different there are important similarities.

Damian Green and Ruth TurnerGreen (pictured left), like Turner (pictured right), was arrested under suspicion of conspiracy. In other words, he has not been arrested simply for receiving leaked government documents, but under suspicion of conspiring to have them leaked.

Also like Ruth Turner, he found a large number of police officers turning up on his doorstep instead of having an arranged interview. The justification will be the same in both cases - that the suspect could not be relied on to produce computer or documentary evidence that the police want to see.

There are plenty of people who believe that Green like Turner is unlikely to ever face successful charges, and there are plenty of parliamentarians who see another parallel with Churchill. He of course relied on a foreign office mole Ralph Wigram to tell him of the failure to prepare to stand up to the Nazi threat. Damian Green's revelations may be on a rather less dramatic scale but they raise real concerns about the capacity of parliamentarians to do their job.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    This is it? Nick are you serious? Have you read any of the papers, the blogs, the responses?
    Okay well, if ever I needed 100% proof, I now have it. This blog is extremely tame and ending it with the last line, is not good enough I'm afraid. I can actually not believe this is all we are getting from a political editor of the BBC (actually I can).

  • Comment number 2.

    But where's the bit about Brown creating a new Gestapo to fight his political opponents and lock them up?

    Where's the comparison with Mugabe?

    Some here will accuse you of bias I'm sure.

  • Comment number 3.

    Nick - you say "there are important similarities"

    In the 'cash for honours' the investigation was about alleged corruption.

    This case is about trying to silence a whistleblower, and an attempt to cover-up government ineptitude.

    Not the same thing at all!

  • Comment number 4.

    Also: Pathetic to drag Turner in this. Difference there was this: She was potentially involved in the government allegedly selling loans for honours.

    the question here is: Did Smith know about the arrest (she says no, yet Cameron and Johnson knew?) and was the arrest politically motivated.

    Where will this be addressed? Why is this not mentioned? This is an outrage.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Well done Nick, you missed the point entirely! This is an attack on our democracy. Gordon Brown was not arrested having been the beneficary of leaks while in opposition but Damian Green is - what sort of government do we now have. What price a cancelled election as it is not in the public interest?

    It only took 11 1/2 years for Labour to institute the Police state, once they had created the architecture.

    I am seriously considering emigrating

  • Comment number 7.

    Let the police get on and do their job. The truth will come out in the end.

  • Comment number 8.

    And what about the police invading the Palace of Westminster to raid green's office.

    I note you do not comment but surely this is against ALL Parliamentary tradition...

    Arresting someone at home is one thing, seizing an MP's working papers dealing with constiteuency matters is somewhat different.

  • Comment number 9.

    Finally!

    Erm and how is the Turner incident a valid precedent?

    She was not an MP.

    Also what was Turner's role as a decision-making or influencer on honours.

    Damian Green is the Shadow Immigration Minister - the documents is his possession were related to?

    Nice try but 0 out of 10 really.

    Is this the best that Campbell and Mandy can manage?

  • Comment number 10.

    I think we are entitled to ask if Sir Ian Blair and Jaquie Smith knew about this in advance?

    If not, why not?

    If so, how do they justify it?

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    So Nick, are you ready for the New World Order, you know, the one Brown mentioned in his speech?

    I used to feel certain that it was, at best, a distant dream in the minds of the demented.

    Not so sure now. Something is very wrong with Labour, and if they are allowed to continue I don't think it is going to be a whole barrel of laughs - as they say.

  • Comment number 13.

    The Labour party are turning government into a dictatorship.

    They have had Damian Green arrested for political purposes.

    There is a mole in the Home Office and another in the Treasury.

    These moles are helping the British people understand how shockingly bad Labour have been in government.

    The biggest threat to Brown's personal ambition is his record on the economy.

    In arresting Green, Labour are hoping for two things:

    1. To flush out or halt the Treasury mole from releasing the truth about the nations parlous financial state

    2. To halt the run of bad headlines in the press which have finally woken up to Gordon Browns economic mismanagement



  • Comment number 14.

    And why are all comments above awaiting moderation, are they being vetted by the anti-terror sqaud to see if there are any undesirables posting their opinion?

  • Comment number 15.

    Well, great start Auntie.

    First off it takes til mid-day for something to follow the 20%VAT thread and when it does appear, it has no insight, apart from to try and draw parallels with another event that has nothing to do with it; 9 comments, all awaiting moderation.

    Grea stuff. Gis a job, I can do that.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    I was in a position where I could've leaked information that would've blown a Tory minister's career for seriously misleading parliament but Clive Ponting and the Official Secrets Act was ringing in my ears at the time so I chickened out even though there was a clear public interest. That minister's career was over and they got found out later but that's another thing.

    This stuff the Tories are whining about is small beer. I see there's plenty of legitimate reasons to examine where the line between stuff that's kept confidential or not is re-examined, and how much MP's can actually use, as I'm not persuaded "freedom of information" as it stands is necessarily very helpful. Indeed, it can be counter-productive.

    Instead of having a policy view or putting the hands up, the Tories are just grandstanding and fuelling outrage. I just think that sort of thing is a waste of space, and if people focused on the real issues of policy and MP's competence instead of trying to cheat and slime their way around the system we might all be better off.

    Leaks are a feature not a bug. Yeah, right.

  • Comment number 18.

    ooo, CEH is on... I need a laugh...

  • Comment number 19.

    Good man for a new thread.

    A comparison between an investigation in to the alleged selling gongs (and arrest of a non-elected adviser) vs a front bench MP being arrested for revealing true and also awkward facts from the Home Office.

    That's an interesting suggestion surely...

  • Comment number 20.

    Nick,

    I find the parallel between the two cases a little tenuous apart from the same arrest situation...

    One was a Labour member, the party in power, so that the police could investigate the party in power over Cash for Honours

    This case is an opposition member accused of releasing info that damages the government! Even Chris Huhne of the Lib Dems has said "Receiving information from government departments in the public interest and publicising it is a key part of any MP's role"

  • Comment number 21.

    Another blatantly biased comment, Nick.

    When will you feel politically independent enough to tell it like it is, whenever it's damaging to Labour?

    Fact: Cash for Honours revolved around a criminal investigation, where allegations of criminal misdeeds were being assessed.

    Fact: bringing information into the public domain, when such information should have been there in the first place, is the JOB of the Opposition, and is NOT a criminal offence.

    All this on a day when Sir Ian Blair is telling us that you should keep "Politics out of Policing", as well!

    Really - if this didn't have the political backdrop of eleven years of Labour incompetence, we'd scarcely believe it was possible... as it is, we just shrug our shoulders and expect nothing better.

    But we should be able to accept better from you than such blatant political bias....

  • Comment number 22.

    I am even more disgusted in the government than I was before. They really have the police under their control to do their bidding. It is sick that this government are doing god knows what behind the electorates back & when someone dares to expose them he is unceremoniously arrested. it is no wonder that government agencies, such as social services, think they can, and do, act in the same way to cover their backsides when they have done wrong.

  • Comment number 23.

    It’s about time something was done about all the leaks, its got so bad now that the government must be afraid to even consider some things for the fear that the opposition and media will get hold of it and spin it to their own ends. Decision making at the top requires every alternative to be considered however unpopular, knowing that the current opposition seem to get hold of so much information way before it is anywhere near reality will prevent some of the hard questions from being asked and necessary actions being taken.

  • Comment number 24.

    #17 and #640 previous post

    For someone with such strong I find it highly unlikely that you have never voted Labour.

    Could this be because you are not a UK citizen and hence are not entitled to?

    Maybe your interest in UK politics stems from having lived here for a while? I bet you don't have a Bristol accent despite having lived there as revealed by your letters to The Guardian!

    Now's you opportunity to clarify this for all the bloggers or are you going to refer me rather than show some real honesty. So - are you British - do you live in the UK? I can reply in the positive to both of these.

    BTW, as I work for a US company your use of language/phraseology reveals a very distinct US flavour - I see it every day :) Your postings at odd hours seem to indicate you are still there or are suffering from a sleep disorder.

  • Comment number 25.

    As I write this no responses have been moderated but I will agree with them as I have no doubt what their content will be.

    Shame on you Nick

  • Comment number 26.

    Toenails,

    Nice job in trying to take the sting out of the Conservative attacks on the government by the way.


    The Labour spin which you have been fed on this is presumably that the Conservatives shouldn't complain because one of us has been arrested under the same charges.


    There is a key difference between Ruth Turner and Damian Green which you oddly fail to mention.

    Turner was suspected of trying to cover up Government mismanagement, where as Green is arrested for trying to uncover Government mismanagement.


    Long live the Stasi. Long Live Pravda.

  • Comment number 27.

    Now here is something sensible from the Labour side from the Beeb article:

    There was also concern about the arrest on the Labour benches.

    Former minister Denis MacShane said that the Speaker should make clear that MPs were entitled to hold sensitive material in the same way as lawyers and doctors.

    "To send a squad of counter terrorist officers to arrest an MP shows the growing police contempt for Parliament and democratic politics," he said.

    "The police now believe that MPs are so reduced in public status that they are fair game for over-excited officers to order dawn raids, arrests and searches of confidential files held by MPs or those who work for them.

    "I am not sure this is good for British democracy."

  • Comment number 28.

    So you'll discuss the similarities but not the differences? Why, is it not the right narrative.

    This is not the action I expect in a democratic country. Every day, in every way, Brown and his hencemen turn this country into more of a prison. Tame journalists like yourself are complicit in that.

  • Comment number 29.

    Nick, I'm absolutely amazed, is this seriously all you have to say on the matter?

  • Comment number 30.

    Arrest Brown for handling documents leaked by Government:


    Plus nickin' Tory policies

  • Comment number 31.

    What an unimpressively dismissive and flippant response, Nick.

    Are you now suggesting that the role of opposition politicians is NOT to hold the government to account and bring matters of public interest to light, which otherwise would have been kept hidden?

  • Comment number 32.

    And let's not forget to mention Ian Blair in this. This has of course all the hallmarks of one final bit of revenge before his LONG overdue exit. Sickening. This is one of the blackest days in Britain and Nick fails us miserably.

  • Comment number 33.

    Why the need to bring Ruth Turner into this? You yourself mention that the cases are very different.

    I hope that this isn't politically motivated (I guess we shall see if Gordon Brown tries to make a political point of it). However, this is a worrying sign for our democracy.

    If the government of the day (no matter what party) are withholding information that should be in the public domain because it is an embarassment to the government then it is the government that should be investigated and NOT the people who released the information.

    The Government is supposed to be answerable to the people, and none of the information released would compromise national security (if anything it shows us just how lax on national security things can be - which is a failing of the mechanics of government rather then the actual party of government).

    I am glad that the Lib Dems have not tried to make any political capital from this, and have instead agreed that this is worrying.

  • Comment number 34.

    I find it impossible to accept that, if David Cameron, Boris Johnson and the Speaker of the House of Commons knew Damian Green was about to be arrested, no one in the government knew. This proves one of two things , either communication between civil servants (inclduing the police) and government ministers is at an all time low or we are seeing the birth of a police state.

    The implications of this, contrary to what the government spokesman stated above, are very dramatic and of enormous consequence to democracy. If MP's can't make public material just because it could discredit the government then why have an opposition at all? Perhaps this question has been answered by the arrest, Big Brother is alive and well.

  • Comment number 35.

    This is the final straw, Nick, you must pursue the government to the nth degree on this.
    First, that wee old man getting booted out of the Labour party conference under terror laws, then Iceland being treated like a terrorist and now the Loyal opposition. Where will it end? I have never supported a political party before but I joined the Conservatives this morning. This government is morally (and monetarily for that matter) bankrupt.

  • Comment number 36.

    Seems that Big Brother is getting bigger and bigger

  • Comment number 37.

    Yesterday the Labour Party reaches another milestone in its attack on freedom and democracy in the UK. It is inconceivable that Government Ministers were not consulted prior to this raid - and nobody denies that this probe was launched on the orders of a top Cabinet official, who clearly must be someone close to Gordon Brown. It is indefensible to send anti-terror police to arrest a leading politician whose only crime has been to make public accurate information which is in the public interest. The Labour establishment has revealed that it is prepared to use the tactics of Robert Mugabe in order to silence opposition. The only thing more worrying than the fact that this has happened is the supine response from the media, who have scarcely dared to utter a word that might be deemed critical of the Labour Party since Mandelson's return.

  • Comment number 38.

    Ha ha ha ha

  • Comment number 39.

    There may be more to the arrest than meets the eye, we will see.

    Nick has not picked up on No. 10's denial and the fact it does not preclude the PM or Home Sec knowing about the arrest of a MP, or even an opposition spokeman.

    What is striking about this blog is the need to revert to Turner when the similarities are thin at best. Turner's arrest was in the context of an investigation into alleged top level Government corruption. It did not concern making leaked information publicly available. It also did not concern a MP.

    Has Nick never 'assisted' a leak? Are all political journalists to be arrested?

    As I say we may not know the full picture but this blog is a feeble attempt to map out the potential issues.

  • Comment number 40.

    #7 wumper wrote: Let the police get on and do their job. The truth will come out in the end.

    Let the Police get on with the job? Such as prosecuting innocent people like the;

    Guildford Four,
    Birmingham Six,
    Bridgwater Four,
    M25 Three,
    Kevin Callan,
    Dave Wood,
    Adrian Maher,
    Graham Huckerby
    Shay Power

    Etc etc

  • Comment number 41.

    Nick

    No wonder it took you so long to blog -- must have taken ages to come up with such a pointless entry.

    He is an elected MP and a shadow front bencher!

    She was some unaccountable aide.

    If you think MPs are so likely to destroy evidence that they have to be tackeled mob handed, then you are more cynical than most of the public that you complain about !

    Useless Nick, really useless.

  • Comment number 42.

    p.s. What about mandleson/Oleg -- or are you hoping that will go away too?

  • Comment number 43.

    Many previous comments are awaiting moderation but I’ll no doubt echo the thoughts of many...

    Nick Robinson, Political Editor of the BBC, is this all you’ve got to say on the subject!?

    Goodness me. The tin-foil-hat brigade will be wondering why the silence. (After all, you haven’t really said very much in this post.)

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    #7

    Let the police get on and do their job. The truth will come out in the end.

    The perverse thing is that this is all about supressing the truth coming out.

    Look how Nick is choosing to report it. Conflating it with some arrest (not of an MP mind) from years ago.

    Truth come out? I'd like to think so but a decade of this lot has taught me that 'the truth' is whatever they declare it to be backed up with some 'independent expert' that agrees with them.

    War is Peace.

    Freedom is Slavery.

    Come on - join in - we've got the two-minute hate of Maggie up next.

  • Comment number 47.

    This is very weak. Arresting a confrere of the PM (ie Turner and Blair) is entirely different from arresting a member of the opposition.

    I am a Labour supporter, but the lack of respect for basic civil liberties by this government is manifest to all.

    I would not vote Tory, nor trust Cameron, but it would be best for all if we had a hung parliament next.

  • Comment number 48.

    That's it?
    Nick it's very probable our Prime Minister has sold a lie to the British people today, and yet again he is not pulled up on it.

    BBC: "Mr Cameron, London mayor Boris Johnson and Commons Speaker Michael Martin were all informed about the raids.
    But Downing Street insisted ministers had not been given advance warning and Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it was purely a police matter."

    This has to be the biggest load of rubbish I've seen or heard for a while.
    It's ridiculous to believe a Member of Parliment gets arrested and the Prime Minister and Home Office does not know before hand.
    Why aren't you questioning this?

  • Comment number 49.

    Wumper:

    "Let the police get on with their job... the truth will out in the end...."


    If only it were so Wumper, if only it were so. I can think a certain Brazilian family who would like the truth to out, not to mention the rest of us where the truth about 7/7 has certainly not come out.

    Vested interests and political agendas. Dontcha just love 'em?

  • Comment number 50.

    Of course Ministers had forewarning of this arrest. Even Diane Abot said as much last night. The crux of this whole matter is that The Government now have little or no integrity in the eyes of impartial observers and resort to fibs whenever they are backed into a corner. Whether or not Green is guilty of misconduct is another issue.

  • Comment number 51.

    Oh dear Nick, I'm disappointed.

    You are either disingenuous and have decided upon this comparison (between Greene and Turner) on your own (why did it take so long), or have been waiting for the combined forces of Campbell and Mandelson to work out the angle for you.

    In either case its taken a long time, and yet you only have a few lines of blog to show for it. Why? Does your line of argument not stand up to more reasoned analysis? Are you afraid to question the possibilities?

    How long has the investigation actually been going on? If neither the prime minister nor home secretary was aware of the investigation, and the pending arrest, who was?

    Since it is a political issue, was it not prudent to make the head of government aware of the siutation?

    How many other possible incidences are being kept away from the government?

    Who's in charge?

    Is this all purely to provide McCavity with plausible deniabilitiy?

    If I were in charge, I'd certainly like to know what's going on, specially if I'm likely to be accused of complicitiy, and if I can embarrass my political opponents over their wrongdoings.

    Of course, if it turns out there was nothing untoward happening, and it turns into a political hot potato, then I might not want to be involved, which is normally where the great innocent finds himself.

    Who's next I wonder?

  • Comment number 52.

    balhamu wrote:
    But where's the bit about Brown creating a new Gestapo to fight his political opponents and lock them up?

    Where's the comparison with Mugabe?

    Some here will accuse you of bias I'm sure.


    The sad fact is that if this had happened in an African country the government would have made a big thing of speaking out against it.

    However, my guess is that a) the government had no knowledge of this and b) the law will be clarified to prevent this from happening again.

    Of course if the government was behind this then I am sure that they have already placed their order with the supplier for the jackboots and the berets!

    And to be fair, I think the unneeded comparisson with the Cash for Honours scandal is what is putting a political spin on it (basically "Hey the tories can't complain as they didn't complain when it happened to a Labour aide").

  • Comment number 53.

    I wonder if the the Tories will now apologise for imprisoning Sarah Tisdall as leaks are ok!

  • Comment number 54.

    'Could do better' comes to mind on this one Mr Nick.

  • Comment number 55.

    Rather than Ruth Turner, a better comparison would be Blair himself, to consider what did and did not happen.

    Unlike Green, he was interviewed by arrangement, without arrest, in privacy and not under caution.

    Unlike Green, he was accused of being complicit in a serious offence equating to large-scale fraud, for personal benefit and enrichment.

    Unlike Green, his reputation has survived relatively unscathed.

    Unlike Green, he was not interviewed by anti-terrorist police. Why on earth did that happen? Green is neither a terrorist suspect or accused of being complict in terrorist issues.

    Green should count himself lucky the 42 day legislation fell. He could have been locked up for six weeks.

    Brown’s Mugabie style method of persecuting his opponents is a worrying development. Is Brown intending to rig the next election by arresting the entire conservative party 21 days before the poll?

  • Comment number 56.

    I'm amazed that our self-styled Prime Minister Elect believes that using leaks is an essential part of democracy. With the arrogant and unpopular George Osborne likely to be Chancellor I look forward to PMQ's when Cameron will congratulate the Opposition front bench on using leaks to embarass his Government.

  • Comment number 57.

    Bit of a hold up in the moderation queue.

    Just let em in, hartwidge will tell you what can stay.

  • Comment number 58.

    Sorry Nick,

    Your political roots are showing, Turner was suspected of being involved in a huge financial scandal and was not a Member of Parliament let alone a Front Bencher, Green is doing his job.

    We need a Public Inquiry into the disgraceful misuse of terrorism legislation.

    David, Morpeth

  • Comment number 59.

    I wonder if our Terrorist Police (sic) couldn’t arrest Britain’s best known alleged terrorist/war criminal, Mr T Blair. You know, of the Iraq illegal war fame? Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead because of his (…and others, of course!) decisions. His defence that he was doing ‘what he thought right’ is no defence at all. Remember ‘Shock & Awe’ there was a single word for that in the 1930’s… Blitzkrieg.

  • Comment number 60.

    44 post pending

    How many people work as mods???

    Maybe there wouldn't have been such a rapid reaction if Robinson bothered to report the news properly.

    This signal the beginning of the end for the BBC. Once the Tories come into power I'm sure they'll begin to scrap this tax on the Great British public

  • Comment number 61.

    The police have arrested someone for a suspected offence. It's what they do day in day out. If politicians don't like the law that they've created change it. Until then let the police get on with upholding the law and stop briefing against them every time one of the elite get nicked. Surely it's for the court to decide who if anyone is guilty?

  • Comment number 62.

    But where's the bit about Brown creating a new Gestapo to fight his political opponents and lock them up?

    Where's the comparison with Mugabe?

    Some here will accuse you of bias I'm sure.


    Most of that would just be internet talk.

    While Green may be let off the hook, I'm wondering how much this will undermine the Tories earlier making hay. They gained from squeezing every ounce of emotive juice out of allegations they made against the government and if they rush to defend this one it might let some more air out of their bubble.

    I've looked down the list of leaked stuff and it looks trivial. Most of that is just the mistakes and grease of getting an imperfect system to work. But, instead of using that insight to help develop policy or improve the system the Tories look as if they just tried to use it to embarass the government.

    Looking at this from a software developers perspective, I'd rather stuff was designed properly and worked well. If MP's feel that they've got to "hack the system" to make things work that suggests there's something wrong with the design. I get no sense the Tories understand that.

    If you look at the praise they heaped on the City for its "creative products"and never saying a peep about how "Chinese walls" were routinely broken, you have to ask yourself if the Tory party actually has the capacity to identify and fix the system or, indeed, their own internal problems.

    I'm even less certain of Cameron's leadership now than I was yesterday, and I thought that couldn't get any lower. He seems to lack any grip on strategy and is a bit quick to defend his chums without qualification, just more lurid accusations and manufactured anger.
  • Comment number 63.

    Police interfereing in Parliament is a police state, says Tony Benn

    13:31 | 28/11/2008

    Tony Benn, Former Energy Secretary
    The World At One, BBC Radio 4

    Mr. Benn condemned the arrest of Damian Green. He said: “It is a total breach of what accord the privleges of parliament and therefore, the electors. His computers have been searched, his e-mail has been frozen.”

    He said that it was tantamount to a Contempt of Parliament. “Once police can interfere in parliament, then we’re into a police state.”

  • Comment number 64.



    Leaking of confidential information is something Jaqui Smiths Mob do frequently when it suits them, but when its done to them their rage knows no bounds.

    The information was of no consequence to national security but very embarassing to the Home Secretary who is now getting vindictive


    However There are many MPs who could easily be arrested and charged with Fraud Perjury war crimes etc (think of Derek Conway) and the police do nothing

    Yet when the home secretary wants revenge over the leaking of papers which are of no consequence to national security but highly embarassing to her the police storm in using anti terror powers, incidentallly another example of the way anti terror powers are abused by the people in power

    this proves the police are not politically neutral but are the arm of an ever nastier political class

  • Comment number 65.

    I wonder if it had occured to Mr Robinson that the next time he is in recept of a leaked document, the anti terror cops might just bang on his front door..... If I were Mr Robinson, I would be at the shredder right now....... Be afraid , very afraid of this ghastly authoritarian Govt.
    David Davis was SPOT ON>

  • Comment number 66.

    Wouldn't it be great if Mandelson was given the same amount of scrutiny?

  • Comment number 67.

    And Turner was busted by anti-terrorist cops? Oh, and a leak ABOUT illegality, covered up in Government, is in the same catagory as corruption at the highest possible level?

    Is this really the very best you can do? The best spin you can put on this shameful slide to totalitarianism?

    Word on t'street in Macclesfield Nick is that people are more than a little angry with this government, and more than a little ashamed of you.

  • Comment number 68.

    What a load of plonkers that comment on here Nick. These pathetic conspiracy theorists would see you as politically motivated if you farted on camera. They truly do not have a brain between them.

  • Comment number 69.

    I have to say, these posts are right - Nick, what are you on?

    They are completely different incidents and you have totally been spun. Shame on you. The real questions remain unresolved:

    What did the PM and Home Secretary know? If nothing, why not when just about every other leading politian and partliamentarian knew? Why were counter-terrorism officers used? Green is about threatening as the proverbial dead sheep. What do Labour think about this? How does this also affect your job - you rely on leaks just as much!

    Come off it Nick. This is a serious breach of parliamentary protocol and a blatant attempt to use those police-state powers we all feared. Now please start reporting it properly.

  • Comment number 70.

    Nick

    the comparison is not apt in any way whatsoever

    Ruth Turner was arrested due to an investigation into political corruption in which serious laws had been broken. The outrage felt was by people who thought they were above the law which was something that only little people had to obey


    This is a case of the home secretary being enraged by leaks, something she is happy to do herself when its in her interests and using the police to pursue a personal vendetta.

  • Comment number 71.

    This whole episode stinks to high heaven. The parallels with the Ruth turner affair are tenuous in the extreme, it is bizarre to claim similarity.

    We are heading for a police state.

    Election NOW

  • Comment number 72.

    I always read Nick's blog - usually to see how he is managing to twist the latest story in the government’s favour - and it usually earns a grudging nod at a job well spun.

    But I'm afraid that this is beyond a joke. Where is the righteous and justified outrage? - and from where comes the utterly specious comparison with Ruth Turner?

    Nick, you should be ashamed at yourself - you are much better than this....



  • Comment number 73.

    This government leaks like a sieve when it suits them, breaking parliamentary tradition to make important announcements in the House, before going to the press.

    But when embarrassing news about their incompetence is uncovered by a whistleblower, they send in the police!

    Going through an MP's private office is totally unacceptable - unless there was some evidence of a serious crime such as fraud or corruption (which is not the case here)

    This government is all about spin, lies and cover-ups. Is it really the role of the police to silence the opposition?

    Still, Damian Green should be thankful he was only banged up for a few hours, not 42 days.

  • Comment number 74.

    Very much a sign of the times which most of us could see coming.

    Using the terrorism act against Iceland was the start of worse things to come.

    As soon as the police are given more powers they start to use them in ways they were not meant to use them for.

    Thank goodness the 42 days was chucked out.

    Everyone should now fear what is next seeing as they can now use this terrorism act for virtually anything they don't like.

    Perhaps the bloggers will be next.

    We really do need a more sensible government in power.

  • Comment number 75.

    Tony Benn on "World At One" thinks arrest is contempt of Parliament. Parliament is a court and court witnesses can't be arrested.

    The Permanent Secretary, David Normington, may have been under pressure to involve police:

    Bob - halfway down

  • Comment number 76.

    I am a regular reader and occasional poster to this blog, and have up to now been able to hold my tongue on what appeared to me to be pretty blatant bias but I can't believe the current post..

    Nick says...

    Damian Green's revelations may be on a rather less dramatic scale but they raise real concerns about the capacity of parliamentarians to do their job.


    Exactly what concerns could you have about a shadow minister highlighting issues which are clearly in the public interest? If the Tories were in power and this happened to a Labour minister I would be just as quick to jump to his or her defence. And I'm afraid where Nick sees the similarities between this and cash for honours I only see a chasm the size of the grand canyon.

    One was about a clearly planned and concerted scheme to open the upper echelons of our democracy to bribery ( about which no charges were brought ) while the other is the release of information in the public benefit.

    I sincerely hope we can expect police to be arriving at the workplaces of the senior civil servants at HMRC to find the despicable fiends who leaked out the PBR early - but then of course those were 'controlled' leaks weren't they?

  • Comment number 77.

    Like so many others, I am very disturbed by this development. Whilst Civil Servants should not Leak, it is the duty of the Opposition to hold the Government of the day to account.

    For the Police to undertake a search of an MP’s Office in these circumstances should be a breach of Parliamentary Privilege. If it is not, then Parliament should change the rules urgently, our democracy depends upon it.

    I am also concerned that the BBC’s Political Editor was silent on this issue for so many hours. His response is limp. It suggests that the current Government has successfully “tamed” the BBC and is now set to try to “scare” both Civil Servants and Members of Parliament to prevent effective Opposition. Increasingly we appear more like a “Banana Republic” than a leading democracy

  • Comment number 78.

    There has to be real and total outrage about this. The government is lying to us, it is behaving like Mugabe's Zimbabwe at the moment.

    Green's parliamentary offices were raided, his computer and phone lines cut, and he was questioned for 9 hours. About a leak from the home office. which is by the governments own accounts, a department not fit for purpose.

    We have come to a desperate point in this country.

    What next - disappearances?

  • Comment number 79.

    I seem to remember that Busted Brown himself was the recipient of plenty of leaked information when in opposition and that he did not hesitate to use it to his own advantage.
    If challenged he would have said: THE NATION HAS THE RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT THE WICKED TORIES ARE PLANING AGAINST THE FAMILIES, THE SMALL BUSINESSES bla bla bla....
    I have great doubts about the honesty and integrity of Brown and his band of merry men but I cannot believe they knew about it or perhaps they are more stupid than what I thought !!! Even the Dodgy Lord himself ( not well known for his straight batting ) will have seen the dangers and the negative consequences of such a stupid act.
    By the way Nick any further news about his no business related friendship with the rich russian or is it history and all is well!!

  • Comment number 80.

    There's terrorists in India, our economy is going down the pan and MPs are being arrested for telling the truth, and what does Brown deem important:

    X-Factor finalists!! I despair!

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/4/20081128/ten-pm-writes-to-x-factor-finalists-ea4616c.html

  • Comment number 81.

    Brown is deluded, mad and needs removing before he does any more damage to this country. Surely everyone can see this now. This madness has got to stop!

  • Comment number 82.

    I think Nick has really missed the point here. This government has done more to restricts freedoms, install CCTV and monitoring of the population, harden terror laws and now want to introduce identity papers.

    When opposition MPs start to be arrested on jumped up charges for doing there job by holding the government to account, the trend becomes clear. Democracy only lasts as long as we protect it. Good intentions pave the way to hell and chipping away at our freedoms leads to a dictatorship.

    This blog needs to address these issues rather then paint it a party tit for tat.

  • Comment number 83.

    I agree with the general tenor of this blog and am disappointed that it has not been reflected in the Radio4 news bulletins to which I have been listening.

    A number of your contributors have referred to "whistleblowers", which is an emotive term that should be restricted to a person acting on a matter of conscience regarding a matter which has come to their attention during the normal course of their duties. It should not be applied, for instance, to someone who seeks out information on governments, perhaps at the behest of a third party, which might be politically embarrassing or simply conflicts with their own beliefs. There should be no protection for Civil Servants who use their position to root out information of this nature or to any of their contacts who encourage them so to do.

    Speculation is pointless in this particular case because the facts are not yet public knowledge but the use of the conspiracy laws does suggest that it is not a simple case of an aggrieved Civil Servant passing information on a matter of conscience to an MP in a position to put the matter right.

  • Comment number 84.

    It took you all morning to come up with that report did it?

    Comparing an opposition spokesman highlighting information being suppressed by the Home Office to an unelected aide potentially involved in corruption?

    At the very least comment on the likelihood of the Home Secretary and other senior ministers not being warned in advance when Call Me Dave and Boris were?

    While you're at it post a blog on what action you expect to be taken against Treasury officials and ministers who you confirmed on this blog had discussed the PBR before publication. When will the Met be arresting you to gain access to your files?

  • Comment number 85.

    Nick - your comparison is ridiculous.

    Turner was arrested in relation to suspected corruption.

    Green was - allegedly - receiving information from a whistle-blower uncovering Home Office mistakes and failures.

    And, is it really believable that although the Met informed Cameron, Johnson and Uncle Tom Cobbley, neither the PM, Home Secretary or any senior government minister was alerted to the arrest of an opposition MP and the likely outrage that would follow?

    Why do you fall for Mandy's spin time and again? I'm beginning to think that it's neither accidental or naivety....



  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    Come on Nick, there is no comparison at all.

    If Mr Green had NOT brought to light this incompetance by the Government, he would be guilt of not doing his job - a far greater crime than telling the truth. Ruth Turner was trying to procure an offence and got found out. How you can compare these two unrelated incidents is beyond me.

    The comparison with Churchill's sources of information and what was done with this information is much more appropriate, and we all know who was right.

    Did the cabinet office complain of its own volition one has to ask, and why did the police use anti-terrorism laws again - answer, because the government have let them.

  • Comment number 88.

    I promise that I have pondered long the batch of responses to recent Nick Robinson blogs all alleging bias. I have wanted to believe that my my concerns were misplaced and that my own political views (heavily blue I am happy to confirm!) and subsequent sensitivities would not colour my response to this significant (and, so often in the past, impressive) political and journalistic figure. This blog has removed any reservations that I might have had. This commentary represents a serious misjudgement on Nick's part in making a wholly inappropriate comparison in pursuit, I presume, of balance. We should expect better of the Political Editor of the BBC. The two issues linked to the arrest of these figures are entirely different as various responses have highlighted. Secondly, the roles of the two people concerned are entirely different. Damien Green is an elected representative of the people of Ashford. Ruth Turner was a Party appointment working, in effect, for the then Prime Minister in his role as Party Leader. To compare the two is to demonstrate an incredible lack of historical, journalistic and political judgement on Nick's part. If he wishes to protest that balance was his aim then the only suitable comparison was one G Brown who regularly leaked (in the political sense!) in the 1980s. Of course he was never arrested even though his leaks were often from the much more sensitive Ministry of Defence. This blog from Nick truly defies believe and I cannot wonder that there are so many responses awaiting moderation because I suspect that spluttering rage will have been the quite justified response of several correspondents to this story in general and Nick's spin on it in particular.

  • Comment number 89.

    Perhaps you should be worried about freedom of the press next or is that the reason for the lacklustre criticism?

  • Comment number 90.

    Nick, is this the most that Lord Mandy would allow you to say?

    ##1, 3, 4 & 6 say it all really, but it will be interesting to see if any NuLab apologists can come up with something more convincing than balhamu's desperate #2.

    Altogether an appropriate number for the first sycophantic post, methinks.

  • Comment number 91.

    A very very good post in the circumstances.

    This action by the police is incredible in both what they did, how they did it and the ham fisted manner in which they have done it and tried to justify it.

    Speaker Martin is an idiot for allowing police into the private offices of a sitting MP on a matter which is fundamentally political. There is no doubt what was leaked was political, it was not a security matter and as is pointed out similar to Wigram and Churchill.

    It may indeed be true that no Labour minister was informed in advance though given that DC and Boris were this seems on the surface risible.
    That someone asked Jacqui Smith is it ok if we raid and arrest Damian Green I very very much doubt. Even if they did whilst no Einstein I am reasonably sure her answer would have been: NO, have you taken leave of your senses or something very similar.
    You may even think some bright spark at the police said don't ask or tell the government because that would cause a major political crisis but we have to tell DC and Boris ( Boris - MPA chair not Boris - Conservative Mayor, we know Boris isn't very good at compartmentalisation).

    If it transpires even one Labour minister was informed in advance then this is not just a resigning matter for them - it is such a serious matter that the whole lot should resign and call an election instantly.

    When even Tony Benn agrees with David Cameroon you know that someone has made an almightly mistake.

    This was a disgrace.

  • Comment number 92.

    It looks as if mine is the latest in a long line, starting from 1:14pm, of >50 comments that are "waiting moderation". This seems to be the only place on the BBC where we can comment on Damian Green's arrest.

    I'm surprised by your contribution to this debate surrounding this arrest, but I think your last sentence is the most telling,
    "Damian Green's revelations may be on a rather less dramatic scale [sic. than Ralph Wigram's] but they raise real concerns about the capacity of parliamentarians to do their job."

    This arrest, and allied media storm, comes at a convenient time for Labour, not only because Parliament has gone down, but reports relating to the Iraq "War" will also be carefully buried. The government is appealing against the information commissioner's order to release details of cabinet meetings that might show evidence of inadequate debate leading up to the invasion. Where is this reported on the BBC?

  • Comment number 93.

    75

    Link in a previous post didn't work, so the one at 75 should be:

    http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/2008/11/16/so-long-as-its-not-you-2/

    Blog halfway

  • Comment number 94.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 95.

    Bit slow blogging on this Nick. No.10 a bit slow providing the copy?

  • Comment number 96.

    Come on do some moderating!

    This is a joke!

    Where is our right to use our taxpayer-funded website to discuss these issues of vital importance to our democracy?

  • Comment number 97.

    12. Yes, New World Order is beginning to upset some, not least Pakistanis in Bombay.

    Think about it. Many ancient civilisations and cultures want to stay as they are and not be interfered with by the West.

    Whatever you think they need they can speak and think for themselves but they see that right being taken from them.

    Brown is so sinister and hell bent on this New World venture (by the way so is Obama and many others). Idealists in the extreme.

    The police in acting so appallingly arresting Green are acting in a very dark manner too.

    "Dark Forces are at work in this country".

    It's called total control and its very insidious.

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    "Charles_E_Hardwidge wrote:

    I was in a position where I could've leaked information that would've blown a Tory minister's career for seriously misleading parliament "

    And I'm Daffy Duck.

    Please take your idiotic ego-massaging manure elsewhere.

    Nobody here is interested.

    We are more concerned in the erosion of the fabric of our society, than what you dreamt about last night.

  • Comment number 100.

    Ours is a country bereft of its historic freedoms and liberties.

    The individual is increasingly seen as a hindrance to the advancement of a corrupted government.

    They wish to hide from us what they do not want us to know and feed us what they want us to know through an ever-willing state broadcaster.

    The curtailment of freedoms of speech was a step on the road to totalitarianism, the active prevention of public knowledge is the proverbial leap.

 

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