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In retreat

Nick Robinson | 09:51 UK time, Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The Met appears to be in headlong retreat this morning. The acting commissioner has just appointed a chief constable to carry out an urgent review of the handling of the arrest of Damian Green and the Home Office mole. The question it needs to answer is how an everyday Whitehall drama has been turned into a major constitutional crisis.

Damian Green and Christopher GalleyAs I reported the other day, the police took the view that they had to arrest the Tory frontbencher for the same reasons that they had arrested Ruth Turner in the cash for honours investigation.

In other words, in order to gain access to computer hardware, mobile phones and documents an arrest was necessary because the individual was unlikely to volunteer the material. Not so, say some police insiders. The production of a warrant would have done the trick, or better still, an invitation to the individual to cooperate or face the embarrassment of a warrant or an arrest. The Met have made the first move. We now wait to see how the Speaker will react.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Were the police armed that raided the MP's office?

    Did they have valid warrant for the search?

    How many checks where made ?

    How long did they wait to gain entry ?

    We have state opening of parliament this week, you cant have people in parliament without valid checking, remember guy fawkes

    Post 9-11, post Taj terrors we cant have terrorist squad (anti-) gaining easy entry to parliament under any circumstances

    this is outrageous....

    MPs are worried about thier correspondance with thier voters, they should be worried about the security of thier lives


  • Comment number 2.

    Mr Galley's side of this story is now clear:
    • He did give "regular" leaks to Mr Green;
    • All of it was what his lawyer O'May describes as "embarrassment material" and not documents that would be covered by the Official Secrets Act such as those relating to state secrets, terrorism, national security or which would lead to "financial jeopardy";
    • There were no "inducements" offered by Mr Green to persuade Mr Galley to leak (his lawyer said that "the statement was clear re inducements" and it makes no mention of them);
    • He would have been happy to confess all to the police if they'd simply asked him rather than sending seven officers to his house to arrest him and then question him for 17 hours.

    From your previous post

    I would suggest that you too are now in headlong retreat.

    This is what happens when you take the Mandelson Campbell Brown Smith line

  • Comment number 3.

    I really do hope there will be some sort of independent oversight into this appalling shambles especially given the points raised in your blog yesterday regarding the rather self serving comments made by applicants for the Met Police commissioner role. This sort of bull in a China shop police methodology needs to be stopped in its tracks.

  • Comment number 4.

    So the Met went for the sledgehammer option as the method of first choice? Plain heavy handiness or deliberate attempt to maximise embarrassment of the Opposition?

    The officer conducting the enquiry, Ian Johnston, will know that his actions & report will be under the closest scrutiny. Any hint of a whitewash will be jumped upon I am sure.

  • Comment number 5.

    The Home Secretary needs to act as well. She doesn't seem to be able to answer the straight forwards question "did you know Damian Green was one of the subjects of the investigation".

    Until the government come out and answer all the "grey areas", effectively the list of questions put to them by Dominic Grieve - then we do not know to what extent the police were acting under political instruction.

    Gordon Brown should either come out and make a very clear and definitive statement or announce a review of government to mirror the internal investigation within the Police.

  • Comment number 6.

    Surely the Police must already know who leant on them to make the arrest?

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    "Put not your faith in princes (or princesses)" is the lesson learned the hard way for Stephenson and Quick... tough luck about the Commissioner job boys, but that's showbiz.

  • Comment number 9.

    Now Damien Green has been 'arrested' he won't be able to travel to the USA. Not on a tourist visa anyhow.

    As a potential future Home Secretary what will his status then be?



  • Comment number 10.

    Oh for goodness sake......

    How exactly is this everyday Whitehall drama has been turned into a major constitutional crisis.

    Get a grip man

  • Comment number 11.


    Why no mention on the govt trying to whitewash what the Speaker will say?

    I find it a disgrace that they are trying to find a united "story" to cover themselves

    Labour are in disarray

    Gordon Brown's silence has been deafening

  • Comment number 12.

    And so the back-pedalling begins

    The ministers refused to comment on a police issue - I can understand that, we just had to wait and see what turned up - but now it is time to stop hiding behind that, clearly Green wasn't selling nuclear secrets to Russia

    so it seems the leaks had nothing to do with national security and the fears we initially had were warranted - the extreme fear that Labour have started using the police in a stalinist way is over the top (and idiotic as they should've stifled the free press first, obviously) - but the police have clearly overstepped the mark and once again all these counter terror measures have sent a warning shot across our bow

  • Comment number 13.

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

  • Comment number 14.

    9 Guycroft

    He wouldn't be visiting the US as a tourist if he's there as a minister would he?

    I doubt it's likely he needs to travel to the US as he isn't in the foreign office, and I'm sure governments can get immunity from such things anyway

  • Comment number 15.

    Nick, in yesterdays update you reported that the head of ACPO, Ken Jones, had given his support to the way the Home Office and the Met had acted in this matter.

    Today we hear that the Met has engaged Ken Jones to carry out a review of the way the matter was handled.

    Have the comments from yesterday not prejudged the matter?

  • Comment number 16.

    Nick thankyou for the update. Ignore the idiots who try to say you tow the Campbell, Mandelson line. They just get over excited.

  • Comment number 17.

    10 Carrots

    ask the police, it was an everyday drama until they decided to arrest an MP, an unprecedented move (with regards to leaking issues) - that's incredibly scary

  • Comment number 18.

    The Tories sought political gain from leaks and now they've been caught in the act they don't like the political fallout. Golly, what a surprise. How is this a constitutional crisis? It's not. It's just a case that some parliamentary blowhard got rumbled and is being treated like a lot of people who are on the receiving end of the law.

    If politicians applied a more reason in their analysis and were more sensitive to the effects that their policies and attitudes have on other people things would be better. This should teach them something. In the meantime, Green should resign and the Tories should apologise because they haven't learned a thing.

    How is it that someone like Norman Lamont gets hired for his inside influence with companies like Phorm, that intent to hijack our private data and sell it to the highest bidder, when legitimate protestors get their ISP accounts closed and complaints muzzled? Is this, yet again, one rule for the Tory party and one for the rest of us?

  • Comment number 19.

    Once again you get it wrong. The Police did not have to arrest Damien Green. They could have done the same as they did with kid gloves Tony Blair and questioned him. Instead they went in with kick boots and all, and now they look like right idiots. But I do not blame the officers, just like I don't blame the officers at the centre of the stockwell shootings. I blame their bosses who might as well become politicians.

    Nick you’re a clever man and see that this was started by ZaNulabour or maybe you are bias as hundreds of people who pay their BBC licence have stated since Thursday. If your bosses read your blogs they must be worried about the amount of criticism you are getting.

  • Comment number 20.


    GC we could put him in a diplomatic bag, they are exempt :-)

  • Comment number 21.

    #9. guycroft

    Surely merely being arrested is not a bar to entry to the US. Being convicted of a crime is something totally different.

  • Comment number 22.

    The questions that have to be answered are , who instigated the arrest. what was the departing Ian Blair's role in the affair, and the most important question, did Jaqui Smith sanction the arrest , and if not, why was she not aware of what was going on in her own department. The whole setup smells of either ministerial intrigue or downright incompetence. No doubt at the end of all the enquiries and lies, those responsible will walk away squeaky clean and the police will be blamed as usual. Though I suspect the police were pushed into the position they now find themselves in.

  • Comment number 23.

    It's just another political 'snow job'.

    Cameron will not be able to bang the desk on Wednesday because Brown and Martin will just leer about it being a police matter and they should wait for the report.

    Job done.

    Back to the statistics factory.

    Meanwhile the economy is in flames. And the 'solution', to spend a mere 500,000,000,000 quid we don't have to 'keep up appearances' in case our European neighbours think we're poor or something, requires us all to imagine that this mother of recessions will be over in six months time. Hey, we're already half-way through. It's not so bad. Yeah. Right.

    So, that's 500,000,000,000 quid to buy our way through a four quarter recession then. Phew. Good job it's only a 'mild' recession. And there was me thinking it'd be the biggest one in sixty years. Don't recall who told me that.

    And what if it turns out to be (say) an eight or twelve quarter recession? When do we stop spending money we don't have?

    No answer. All we can look forward to is more of the same. 'Bullingdon Club', 'Tory Toff', 'Do nothing Party', 'Started in America', 'Uniquely placed'. Blah blah.

    All dutifully reported into the nations homes by the BBC.

    Oooooh, we're sooo lucky to have an independent service like the BBC. Not like them poor sods in Soviet Russia with propaganda shoved down their throat all day.

    I bet they wished they had the good ol' BBC to help them with their thinking.

  • Comment number 24.

    Re comment 10: The reason that this "Whitehall drama" has caused such a furore is that a self righteous Cabinet minister in a self-righteous government has been caught trying to suppress leaks about the appalling inefficiency of her own department, while at the same time proposing a further tightening of the leash around the citizen's neck.

  • Comment number 25.

    Does anyone know if there will be a PMQ tomorrow?

  • Comment number 26.

    #11. mr moe

    I'd love to be a fly on the wall at that not so private meeting with the interested parties Harriet's holding today. Perhaps whoever they are 'grooming' for the chief Commissioner job ought to sit in as well.

    Harriet, Jaqui and Jill won't be talking about what they'll be wearing for the Queen's speech ("the Armani? Perhaps not in these difficult times...") — that's for sure!

  • Comment number 27.


    I take it that you dont think Nick is also in headlong backpedalling retreat then.

    Time to wake up and smell the coffee

  • Comment number 28.

    The body language of everyone in government i have seen interviewed has said to me " we knew what was going on "

    Ms Smiths point blank refusal to answer a straight question was the icing on the cake.

    It is the fact that all of the documents mentioned were only of embarrassment value that gets me, if they had been doing there job these should have already been in the public domain.We are not as dumb as they think we are, all it makes us think is what else are they hiding ???

  • Comment number 29.

    The more this unravels......

    It confirms the Police are out of control.

    That the Government continue to abuse

    Parliament and all it stands for.

    So now we go to SCAPEGOAT MODE.

  • Comment number 30.

    Dear Nick
    This is entirely the fault of the speaker who allowed access to Parliament.

  • Comment number 31.

    The Brown Pimpernel

    They seek him here
    They seek him there
    The electorate seek him everywhere
    Is he is Heaven, or is he in Hell?
    That damned infernal Brown Pimpernel

  • Comment number 32.

    What we know so far, Mr Galley, over a prelonged period gave an opposition MP (DG) information.

    So Mr Galley has breached his terms of employment and committed an illegal act.

    What we dont know is, what type of information Mr Galley gave to the opposition.

    Its not difficult, Mr Galley knew he was committing an illegal act.

    So the police are inverstigating an illegal act (fact)

    All the tories have done, is set a dangerous
    precedence, where the police have to conduct an internal investigation about how they investigate, Jeez, you couldn't make it up.

  • Comment number 33.

    Dear All, and # 1,

    The raid was carried out by anti-terror police and would, therefore, be armed to the teeth. MP5's, PPK's and stun grenades.

    Standard issue assault clothing would have been worn complete with balaclavas, Kevlar helmets and army style assault boots.

    Do you think a bit over kill or not enough, considering the robustness of some of our honourable members?

    "What out, I think he's got a prawn sandwich!"


  • Comment number 34.


    when legitimate protestors get their ISP accounts closed and complaints muzzled

    I seem to remember you actually championing such behaviour a few weeks back. Par for the course though.

    Your views are to be promulgated as wisdom sent from heaven whereas those who disagree with you should be air-brushed from history.

    Very Nu-Labour.

    'Bullington Club', 'Tory Toffs', 'Do nothing Party', 'Margaret Thatcher', 'Started in America', 'Leading the world'...blah blah.

    That acrid smell? That's the UK's economy in meltdown. Or Mandelson. Hard to be sure.

  • Comment number 35.

    So, no mention of Harriet Harman convening a meeting to direct tomorrow's statement from the Speaker??

    Or do you buy her line that the meeting is purely procedural to discuss the logistics of holding the statement on the same day as the Queen's speech...??

    Of course you don't. No-one with a shred of common sense does...

    Why would the Home Secretary & Justice Secretary be invited to such a trivial meeting? Don't they have more important things to do than discuss the seating and lunch arrangements for tomorrow??

    It's a clear case of them attempting to concoct a story to cover themselves... If Labour are so keen for police investigations to run their course, shouldn't Harman's little cabal be investigated for an attempt to pervert the course of justice??

  • Comment number 36.

    For the home secretary to deny prior knowledge is difficult to believe. If she did not know, she should have known, that is her job.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hmmmm, so today, we have the Police investigating the Police?

    I expect that yesterday's great statement that "No one is above the law" also applies to the Police. Could someone please remind them that fact.

  • Comment number 38.

    Given the Harriet Harman e-mail, surely we will have to wait to see how Harriet wants the speaker to react.

    Just plain risible stuff.

    I know he is the "Speaker", but he does not have to behave like a peice of dumb electronics just muthing the words of the executive.

  • Comment number 39.


    If they'd been doing their job, there wouldn't have been any embarrassing documents to leak.

  • Comment number 40.


    Charles, always good value for an amusing interlude. Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 41.


    Dirk, If you actually read the above blog you would know what type of information was leaked.

    Keep up!

  • Comment number 42.

    The whole thing is a travesty of inappropriate action by the police.

    I am intrigued to know also why so many are freemasons?

  • Comment number 43.

    'an everyday Whitehall drama' ???? ..... Are the police raiding MP's offices commonplace then?

    Please .... tell us more

  • Comment number 44.

    The reason that this "Whitehall drama" has caused such a furore is that a self righteous Cabinet minister in a self-righteous government has been caught trying to suppress leaks about the appalling inefficiency of her own department, while at the same time proposing a further tightening of the leash around the citizen's neck.

    In the real world: the investigation was launched because of leaks in a highly sensitive department. Of the leaks that are public domain, the police just followed the evidence and caught Damien Green. From that, it looks like investigations are ongoing into leaks that may have a bearing on national security.

    In any case, the Damien Green leaks are mere tittle tattle compared to the ones some Tories are saying Labour took advantage of when they were in opposition. How can you compare administrative noise to something like the Tories shutting down the welfare system?

    There's mistakes and fudges in every business and private life. Some measure of privacy is needed otherwise nobody would take risks or bullys would just take advantage. I don't see why government is so different. If the Tories are so convinced, perhaps, they'd like to publish all their policies and discussion documents?
  • Comment number 45.

    Charles @18...

    I interpret from your post that you promote the view that there should be nothing allowed to emanate from Government that the proles might dislike....


    " The Tories sought political gain from leaks and now they've been caught in the act they don't like the political fallout. Golly, what a surprise. How is this a constitutional crisis? It's not. It's just a case that some parliamentary blowhard got rumbled "

    Rumbled for what?Obtaining material that is in the public interest,and releasing it?

    Of course,you will never agree that this is precisely what all Opposition Parties have been doing since time immemorial.Do you deny that Brown did all of the things you so 'despise' when he was in Opposition?

    Or is it that there should be one rule for Labour,and another for all other parties?

    Charles..just be graceful for once,and admit to your inability to be reasonable.

  • Comment number 46.


    We are not as dumb as they think we are, all it makes us think is what else are they hiding ???

    It doesn't matter if you are not as dumb as they'd like you to be. What matters is getting their 'message' across to the voters who are as dumb as they'd like you to be.

    Which means that the truth has to be controlled. And only presented in a certain light and from a certain angle. Or plain hidden if it's an ugly truth.

    And if it's a really ugly truth then supressesd with all vigour.

    Indeed, when you come down to it, and you have a liberal arts education, the truth is just a matter of interpretation so we'll just tell them what we'd like the truth to be and reverse engineer the paperwork.

    Hence the latest PBR and projected 'end' of this recession for example. Gordon Brown's annual budget statements for the last decade for another.

    The Iraq dossier for another.

    It has now become such second nature they don't even realise they're doing anything wrong. But they still hate and fear the truth with a passion hence this parliamentary witch-hunt of Galley and Green.

    And there is always plan B. Smear the leaker. Or the opposition.

    Or Plan C. Announce an inquiry. A very serious enquiry. An enquiry that will report at some point in the future during a parliamentary recess. Ideally a long time in the future. With terms of reference defined by us. And a report that we won't release. Secret doncha know.

    It'd be funny if it wasn't so true. Or is it that it's funny because it is so true?

    Take your pick.

  • Comment number 47.


    Charles, congratulations for writing the biggest load of tripe I've yet read among these posts. Go back and read post #7 and note that none of those leaks resulted in arrest. I only spell that out for you because apparently you do need to be taught how to suck eggs.

    As to criticisms of Nicks reporting on the matter, well you can't please all of the people all of the time. I for one, find Nick's approach very good as I prefer my news not to be laced with personal opinion, preferring to make my own mind up. Nick's reporting has been appropriate all of the way considering the facts available at any given time. It's refreshing to see a journalist who doesn't consider himself to be judge, jury and executioner.

  • Comment number 48.


    I know he is the "Speaker", but he does not have to behave like a peice of dumb electronics just muthing the words of the executive.

    Clearly you've never seen the guy in action.

  • Comment number 49.

    #32 derekbarker

    Are you seriously trying to say that the police have NEVER set up an internal review to monitor their investigation techniques in a particular case????

  • Comment number 50.

    I think the speaker will react by saying

    "it would inappropriate to comment until the police have completed their review and investigation"

    This review has bought them more time in the hope it will all be quietly toned down to the point that it's forgotten.

  • Comment number 51.

    Just wish the Met had done this when the scullduggery was going on over the war to Iraq. Imagine the headlines 'New Labour Ministers raided in commons' Ooooo it would have been so nice to see.

  • Comment number 52.

  • Comment number 53.


    Charles must be taking tips from the Business secretary. :-)

  • Comment number 54.

    29 Alexandercurzon

    Bang on - we are now definitely in Scapegoat mode!!

    The government are not making clear ministerial actions and knowledge over this affair.

    Instead the government are engineering a "Scapegoat Stand-Off" between The Speaker and The Met police.

    That gives two nice weak-links in the chain for the government to exploit:

    1. The met police has a temporary boss. If he carries the blame - then the solution is easy - he doesn't get made full time boss.


    2. The Speaker is blamed for not following parliamentary procedure. He announces his resignation and a review of parliamentary procedures (as per the 'secret' meeting agenda this afternoon).

    Either way - the Government get to avoid explaining what knowledge Minister's had regarding the investigation of Green.

    Once the scapegoat is delivered - the media will move on and Labour's inappropriate political control of opponents will be forgotten.

    New Labour. New Morals.

  • Comment number 55.

    It was strange how the Home Secretary seemed to morph into the Head of Child Services at Haringey - the same sort of hackneyed phrases saying "it's not me gov".

    The police need us to help them or so they keep telling us, but the actions that have been taken in this case so obviously alienate a great many judging by the bloggers over the last few days.

    There is a sinister feel to this - if it can happen to an MP who obtains information that embarrasses the government (that should have been in the public domain anyway if the FOI worked properly) then what hope the rest of us who object to what the government do in our name.

    And Nick, you have not made reference to the cosy little get together that Harriet Harman has called to ensure the Speaker gets his words right on Wednesday. Surely all parties should be represented in what is so obviously a cross party issue.

  • Comment number 56.

    If/when the Tories ever win another election, I presume Cameron and Co will be perfectly happy when any Labour supporter in the Civil Service starts leaking documents with the sort of gay abandon that the current 'mole' has been?

    Oh no, sorry - I forgot, if you leak under a Tory Government you get thrown in jail don't you.

  • Comment number 57.


    I am not exactly sure if Nick is backpedalling. Actually I think as facts emerge he is giving the latest insight. However because you cannot fing any Nu-lab bias in it you describe it as back-pedaling. You can really interpret any blog how ever you want. I have disagreed with him many times. Thats not my problem.

    My problem is with the amount of bloggers and there are a LOT of you, who pour scorn over every article he produces. I think we should concentrate on the debate at hand, not just shout 'LABOUR SPIN!' at everything produced. Its pretty boring.

    Do you really think Nick has time to be briefed by Mandelson/Campbell before every blog as some claim. People do know that this blog is only part of his job at the BBC.

    I may be thought of as naive but I just think that the author deserves a shade more respect.

  • Comment number 58.

    whatever happened to innocent before proven guilty?

    Whatever happened to a vote of no confidence?

    Whatever is happening elsewhere in the news?!

    Oh yes, just saw through a break in the smoke screen-the country is on it's knees!

    Never mind, a good gossip and moan lifts us out of the doldrums.

    That's alright then!

  • Comment number 59.

    18 Charles_Hawtree

    Tory rules???? Apologise? learned Nothing?

    Do you actually know which party are in power at the moment ?

    I have to say that it was good to see a post from you that I could actually understand, and if you swapped the word "Tory" for "Government" then I would actually agree with you. And that really would be a constitutional crisis!

    Keep up the good work CEH, and I hope to see another post I can understand soon.

  • Comment number 60.

    9 officers to arrest a tory mp-

    tough on crime
    tough on the causes of crime

    I WISH

  • Comment number 61.


    What is really depressing is that whenever I need to find out what the Government spin on an issue is, all I need to do is read your blog. First reaction on Damian Green's arrest said: what about Ruth Turner? (even though the situations were totally different, and Tony Blair would have been a far better comparison)

    Second reaction was, Damian Green was "grooming" the civil servant. Then that there were 20 cases being investigated etc. Yet never really an attempt to question whether the objections were valid. Did you not think to ask if there were 20 leaks in all, in some of which the security of the country might have been at issue, what precisely those leaks were. If they had been leaked they were no longer secret so mentioning them in public would change nothing. If they refused to mention them on the grounds that they were not already in the public domain - as inevitably they would - then obviously security had not been breached.

    Like all the other excuses the Government spin has simply been a smokescreen. But there it is being faithfully presented by yourself as a genuine explanation of events.

    Now that even the Met itself has admitted it got it very badly wrong, and that its behaviour was well nigh inexcusable, it would nice to hear that you were, at the least, over-generous to the Government spin machine.

    Fascinating too to note the mauling Vernon Bogdanor is getting in the Guardian for trying to excuse police behaviour.

    Why do you not all just admit it was a total farce and that heads should roll?

  • Comment number 62.

    The PM's silence is deafening, where is Macavity Brown, our glorious leader?

    A general election can't come soon enough to rid us of this odious government.

  • Comment number 63.

    The Met is in retreat and is now moving into into its other government appointed role of scapegoat. Meanwhile Nick, no comment from you about the government's clumsy and ill-informed attempt to stage-manage the Speaker's statement to the Commons tomorrow. They really do not get democracy and I think they have been genuinely shocked by the reaction of people of all political hues to this attempt to undermine our legislature. I hope they pay dearly for such abuses.

    Today the Speaker and Prime Minister will receive my letters of complaint and protest about this grubby affair. I don't expect resignations to follow, but I'm confident that I will now appear on some covert database of dangerous and seditious subversives. What price my army officer's commission from Her Majesty?

  • Comment number 64.


    did Jaqui Smith sanction the arrest , and if not, why was she not aware of what was going on in her own department.

    And what about her two-step approach to avoiding answering whether she'd had Green bugged?

    'Ms Smith - did you bug Mr Green'?

    'I'd have to have signed a warrant to bug an MP'

    'Did you sign such a warrant'?

    'I don't comment on warrants I have or haven't signed'.


    What do you all think?

    What a convoluted way of not answering a question eh?

    One can only speculate why she constructed her non-answer in such a way. I do hope she gets another opportunity to (not) answer the question in the House.

  • Comment number 65.

    32 derek

    Are you aware of Whistle Blower protection?

    Let's hope this isn't revoked in the future.

  • Comment number 66.

    What is so embarassing about this for Nick is that several of the Sunday papers (Tory and no Tory), as well as his colleague Norman Smith, said that it was Labour who were pushing the Ruth Turner parallel.

    Nick - I do not actually believe you are intrinsically biased. However sometimes being unbiased means being brave and taking your own view of things. This you consistently fail to do and are merely a conduit for the latest line of the spin machines on both sides of the political fence.

    The issue here is not what was done - if there was suspicion of a party political mole or the planned political corruption of a department it should be investigated; the issue is how is was done. I expect a few quiet informal discussions between the police and Green could have resolved any question of a criminal investigation. I think the question of the mole's actions, given the nature of the information disclosed, is one for civil employment law, not criminal law.

  • Comment number 67.


    so now we have a senior police officer doing an inquiry into a police inquiry into an MP.

    Surely the Home Secretary is now going back on what she said only on Sunday. She should not be involved in this, so much for principles.

    As for the government surely we will now be told, don't worry we are having an inquiry, so we must not prejudge the inquiry.

    This is getting seriously bizarre. It is no wonder that the pound continues to fall. Can nobody imagine how this looks to foreign investors. We have a country going hugely into debt, which is fighting what many regard as illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and where now we have the police investigating an MP and raiding parliament.

    Then there is a Prime Minister who cannot be found, as usual, when the going gets tough. Mind you he has got form. In the event of him being found he will probably say that everything is about the economy and that is what the government is fighting for, blah, blah. Oh, and you really won't expect me to comment on an on-going police inquiry.

    Finally, we have an unelected member of the government, Lord Mandelson, apparently writing the Queens speech, you really can't make it up.

    What with the electoral fraud, which has previously been revealed, that we have had nothing on cash-for-honours, and that even the Prime Minister has had no votes from any English for him, can you wonder why many consider this country a banana republic.

  • Comment number 68.

    The amount of scaremongering that appears in this blog is ridiculous.

    I hope the BBC doesn't take the comments on this blog as the views of the wider British population because it's clearly just becoming a place where ranting loonies vent their anger - copying and pasting their views straight from the Daily Mail/Private Eye.

  • Comment number 69.

    The funniest thing about today's developments is that an email convening a "secret" meeting between Harriet Harman, Cabinet colleagues, House of Commons and the Speakers' officials, and the Cabinet Secretary, was sent by mistake to David Cameron's office. Apparently someone in his office has a name vaguely similar to the intended recipient.

    This ought to be a lesson for Damian Green and any other of his colleagues tempted to set up risky arrangements to get suppressed Government information.

    Don't bother. Just sit by your computer, and eventually the information will turn up by mistake in your email box...

    Those who are worried that this Government is becoming Stalinist can perhaps take comfort from its continuing displays of gross incompetence and blundering.

  • Comment number 70.

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

  • Comment number 71.


    one thing surprises me. Now we know that some statistics collected by the government should not have come into the public domain. So, why actually collect them if we should not be privy to them.

    What exactly is the point of collecting the data, just so that it is there. Surely, if one bit of data is collected, then it should be in the public domain. Issue it all, so that we can all see the information, total freedom. If there are any secrets then the question has to be asked why? Why not tell us. Surely, if the conservatives are ever elected then they will have to have access to all the numbers?

    You cannot justify the collecting of any data if you don't want to come into the public domain what you have found. Forexample, if only 1000 people come into the country then many would regard that as good news, so it would probably be published. If 100000 come into the country then that might not be so good, so don't publish.

    Of course we should have a free and open society, what have the statisticians got to hide.

  • Comment number 72.

    Charles @44.

    Frankly,Charles,I can't be bothered to even quote your posts any more..They have moved from the sublime to the ridiculous.

    If you are around (which I doubt)when there is a change in Government from Labour (to for example, the Tories),and the same problem arises...what would you be saying?

    Let me speculate.. "Tory Toffs ,that bludgeon the ordinary Man into submission are usurping their power to suppress information that should be in the public domain"..or some such stuff.

    Charles,for one the loves to lecture everyone on politics ,you are indeed politically incompetent,as you do drop yourself in the quagmire so consistently.

  • Comment number 73.

    44 CEH

    so your logic is that these matters are trivial compared to what was leaked in the 80s/90s?

    that doesn't matter - these issues are probably not a matter of national security (as you hope they are) - and there is increasingly more evidence that this was over some trivial documents

    the issue here is that an MP was arrested for what is increasingly looking like he was doing something in the public interest and the police have at least over reacted

    in conclusion - you must be on the take to promote such callous denial

  • Comment number 74.



    What I'm saying is, it's a clear cut case

    Mr Galley knew he was breaching his terms of employment and committing an illegal act.

    Mr Green MP, also knew that the use of Mr Galley as a government employee was an illegal act.

    By the way! David Davis has said he sanctioned the leaks, as shadow HS, so there -fore, one must think at some point the leaks involved the detention of terrorist?

  • Comment number 75.

    Respect is earned.

    So blatantly following one sides breifings and not the other sides has lost Nock that respect.

    Benefit of the doubt evaporated over the yacht affair and nothing has been done to re-earn that confidence

  • Comment number 76.

    56 Mark

    Er, no. Didn't you read #7 organum?

  • Comment number 77.

    I have a proposal for a new serious crime. "Falsely claiming national security" if any minister or senior civil servant (or senior police officer) who claimed that national security was involved had to be prepared to back that and if found to be untruthful stood to face the same punishment as those they were accusing could have faced they may be a little less reckless in invoking these powers. There would also be a lot more public confidence in their pronouncements.

    The simple act of using anti-terrorist police in these raids seems to be a way of suggesting that Damien Green is a traitor and we should condemn him out of hand. If an African nation had acted in this way our Government ministers would be backing UN action.

  • Comment number 78.

    It's all Boris's fault!

    If he had not forced the duffer Blair out of his office then he wouldn't have run to his friend Jacqui and stirred up trouble!!

    A bigger worry is the plotting between the Speaker, Government and Civil Service to carry out a whitewash.

    So much for open and honest Government!

  • Comment number 79.


    The PM's silence is deafening, where is Macavity Brown, our glorious leader?

    His Supreme Sereneness is spending some time in his own beautiful mind. A land where an additional 500,000,000,000 of squandering produces an everlasting green meadows of votes.

    His feet dabbling in the lake of infinite liquidity and perpetual summer.

    A land where the grateful populace cry tears of joy in contemplation of his many wonderous works and at the sound of his name.

    Then Cambell kicks the door in, waking him from his reverie and informing him that us ungrateful sods have failed to realise his genius and he is back 15 points down in the polls. Again.

    Hey, welcome back to reality Brown.

  • Comment number 80.

    what an absolute case of 'let's jump on the bandwagon before we know all the facts'. I' have seen comments on the Have your Say forum that are laughable at best and downright dangerous at worst. And it's quite interesting to see the same nom-de-plumes pop up again and again....

    There have been some absolutely ridiculous comparisons with Stalin, Hitler and Mugabe.... please don't denigrate the memory or the sacrifice of all those who fought and are fighting against those despicable regimes by aligning these with the arrest and questioning of a single MP.....

    The simple fact is that the civil servant in question has stated that he was leaking information to Mr Green over a period of 2 years. Therefore, calling him a 'whistleblower' is disingenuous. Whistleblowers act on conscience and normally leak on a one-off basis. The reasoning being that things have got to such a point, that they can no longer stand by the status quo. The fact that the relationship was ongoing over 2 years, seems to suggest that this person had an agenda that was incompatible with his service to his department. If he felt so strongly about the issues, the correct response would have been to raise those concerns to his management, if he then felt that his concerns were not being addressed, he should have resigned.

    As for Damien Green, if he has in any way encouraged the civil servant to leak information, then he has a case to answer. If he has done nothing wrong, the facts will out and the police should make an apology( as they should in every case of wrongful arrest).

    I agree with a lot of the comments that the 4 leaks that we know about don't have any National Security implications, however we don't know the content of the other 16 and should wait for the facts to come out before accepting the gospel according to Dominic Greave, Jaqui Smith, the Daily Mail or anyone else who is not party to the facts.


    Nirmal Singh

  • Comment number 81.

    Just reinforces my view that 10 years of unchecked socialism under the leadership first of an unashamed thespian and then an unelected megalomaniac was always going to result in the degradation of our society and way of life. We've had a decade of untold administrative incompetence and this is just another notch on the ratchet.

    This latest incident with Damien Green is merely a manifestation of the government's culture, ie its values and beliefs: Labour values state control over virtually every quarter of our lives and believes that individual freedoms are more dangerous than they are liberating.

    However, for me, it's the Tories who have the most to answer for in all of this, for failing to oppose much of the economic and social decline we've experienced under Labour power.

  • Comment number 82.


    Pammy, your talking about the right to express abuse of employment, it's not the case here, Mr Galley was an employee of the government, not an elected representative of conscience?

  • Comment number 83.

    56 MarkofSOSH

    The dreamy promise of another election!!

    How we would love to rid ourselves of this unelected Prime Minister.

    On the subject you raise - one of the first priorities of the Conservatives - should be to reform Freedom of Information requests legislation and procedures.

    if FOI was working well we wouldn't even be involved in this Damian Green "leak" debate.

    Take a look in The Times today - FOI requests just ain't working. We will be reliant on a leak based system until we get FOI actually working.

    Here is a flavour of the article:

    "In the view of the mandarins there is a more systemic problem. The Freedom of Information Act, designed to open up the workings of the political elite to the masses, has, they believe, turned into a huge distraction.

    Last week, the Cabinet Secretary made clear his irritation when he gave evidence to a tribunal considering whether the minutes of Cabinet meetings in the run-up to the war in Iraq should be released.

    Other senior civil servants moan about the time they spend on freedom of information requests. "The whole thing has become a nightmare," says one permanent secretary.

    "It is starting to hamper the way in which Government works."

    Freedom of Information Requests not working

    P.S. I believe the government were warned at the time that their proposals for FOI requests were fraught with operational difficulties. In true Labour fashion, however, they focused on the "6th form-esque" nicities of the policy and forgot to address the key issues of delivering the policy.

  • Comment number 84.

    Its so much fun now that Mandelson is back. Its looks to me like this is just one of a string of 'diversions' to take the heat off of Gordon. Maybe its his way of ousting the home secretary and making it look that he is not responsible.

    I think its Gordons strategy to create as many problems as possible and be seen to be 'coming to the rescue' and get the credit as the man that can fix things.

    This is a classic Mandleson trick.

    Has anybody else noticed that the gloomier the country gets the happier that Gordon is?

  • Comment number 85.

    If police make an arrest it makes it easier to obtain a search warrant.

    Such searches may just be fishing expeditions.

    Is it becoming common practice for the police to abuse the arrest process in order to get search warrants that they would otherwise find hard to obtain?

  • Comment number 86.

    There is a very simple question for Jaqueboots Smith:

    Did the mole have access to any information that would endager the state if known to the official opposition?

    If not then there could be no reason for any action against Green.

    I understand that in the lead up to a GE the opposition are actually given access to smooth any switch over.

    What could Green have had that so urgently needed retrieving?

    P.S. Nick, who will be reviewing your handling of news relating to Mandleson/Oleg and EU tariffs?

  • Comment number 87.

    Dear Nick
    One thing is CERTAIN the POLICE are using Terrorism Laws as an excuse to carry out operations, even thought they are not Linked to terror. This is a Blatent miss use of the LAW and their POWERS, WHICH I MIGHT ADD the Government State Police are getting very good at.

  • Comment number 88.

    62 rrwhooloway

    Our glorious leader is in his bunker, for there is bad news in the air and he only pops out to deal with good news or to re-write history so that good news can prevail again.

  • Comment number 89.

    Nice phrase Nick - "Headlong Retreat" is also a useful description of most situations where the Great Leader instigates a Review of the next policy failure, so we should hear it again a few more times as the Brown economy unravels, and the populace revolt.

    Moving on and to save time and public money, I can write the Review conclusions now: The Met obviously messed this one up by a) making an unneccessary arrest b) over-manning the raids b) using Counter-Terrorist personnel (doh!) c) briefing everyone in advance, apart from Jacqui Smith, and d) overreacting to a call from the Perm Sec in the Home Office - who seems to have an arrest hot-line on his desk now. etc etc etc

    Talking of Reviews, the Speaker clearly made a mess of it as well - but his position is safe as no-one will be surprised at all. His attention was probably on his/his wife's current expenses claim anyway so all very understandable in the circumstances.

    On the Jacqui Smith advance knowledge bit, did anyone else laugh when they saw Jack Straw's clumsy cutting in to her interview to say it was all very clear to him? So perhaps we should ask him to explain it to us? All that was very clear to me that Jacqui Smith was simply (and I use the word carefully)avoiding saying that she new Damian Green was being investigated, by issuing a smoke screen of saying she was not told of "details" of the investigation. Just because she didn't know the inside leg measuremnents of the police on the raid doesn't mean she was out of the loop. Sorry to state the obvious, but our Home Secretary is out of her depth - let's get the guy off Spooks in.

  • Comment number 90.


    You forgot to call us toffs

    No payment for that blog entry.

    Please try again

  • Comment number 91.


    Presumably you don't think the police investigation is required - at no point have you suggested that in your 'expert oppinion' anything is wrong have you?

  • Comment number 92.

    32 -- I think you need to do some research before you post. Read Mr Galley's statement via his lawyer which clearly confirms the type of information being passed to Damien Green.

    "Embarrassing actions by the Labour Government" -- certainly not highly secure or sensitive information -- unless of course you are the head of the Home Office [Ms J Smith I believe].

    More imprtantly now is the time for Queen Elizabeth ER to step in and dissolve parliament and call an election.

  • Comment number 93.

    What with the electoral fraud, which has previously been revealed, that we have had nothing on cash-for-honours, and that even the Prime Minister has had no votes from any English for him, can you wonder why many consider this country a banana republic.

    Back when I suggested that big business and a failed society were sending Britain down the path to becoming a basket case economy, the usual suspects reacted with outrage because it touched on how the CBI, Tories, and themselves might be part of the problem.

    Now Britain is in real difficulty but the government has presented and is executing a plan for recovery, suddenly, those self same people are crying "failed state". As with the Damien Green affair, they trivialise issues of real substance while tub thumping for mere political advantage.

    Ah, well. That's ego for you...
  • Comment number 94.


    Derek, the things you state as 'FACT' are anything but.

    Firstly, we do know what type of documents were passed - those that embarassed the Home Office and exposed failings, but did not compromise any national or international security.

    Secondly, breaching the terms of your employment (whether in public or private sector) may well be a case for dismissal, but it doesn't presume any illegality by Mr Galley. Please don't make the mistake of judging him by Jacqui Smith's standards.

    Thirdly, since Mr Galley was not necessarily commiting an illegal act, he couldn't have 'known' that, could he?

    Fourthly, something you conveniently forgot to mention was that absolutely no requests, inducements, or encouragement to pass information was offered by the Opposition to Mr Galley. Which means he knew that there were things being 'covered up', 'suppressed', or however you want to term it, and felt strongly enough about it to leak the information to the opposition so that it got into the public domain. No state secrets, no security breaches, simply a desire that failings within the Home office be exposed and dealt with.

    And finally, if you want to quote precedents, please re-read post #7, and you'll have all the precedent you need......

  • Comment number 95.

    I am still unable to see why the Police even bothered to pick up on this case and take the action of the magnitude which they employed.

    I think the Police have been duped into following the whim of some autocratic and ill-advised and ill=prepared Government Official.

    There are grave doubts about whether there was any illegal activity in the first place.

    For example, in the Smith interview with Marr, she evidently approved of embarrassing leaks and of MPs using such leaks; and she stated

    'That is a completely legitimate activity it has gone on; it should go on; it will go on'
    (see link below)

    Thus if the leak and use of this leak is a 'completely legitimate activity' according to Smith, then there can be no crime.

    If Smith with all her Home Office Legal Team backup can state that there is no illegality and therefore no crime, then the means of obtaining the results of a non-crime cannot be a crime.

    Thus it appears that the Police have been railroaded into the serious business of arrest, use of anti-Terror Squad, invasion of the Commons and homes, and seizure of property - all for what the Home Secretary considers to be a 'completely legitimate activity' of using embarrassing leaks.

    So the Review should be initially focused on who made judgement on this, who authorised this and on what legal basis.

    Similarly, we need to know what is the illegal activity that Green could be charged with.

    Does anyone , anywhere have a clue about what a final charge could be if the activity is 'completely legitimate'?
    Thought not

    I await the Report and the Smith and Martin statements with interest.

    Smith's comments ref legality of leaking is at

  • Comment number 96.

    Re 44: In the "real world", Charles, gross inefficiency in the Home Office might have a bearing on national security too. Regardless of which party is in power.

  • Comment number 97.


    from misleading the financial authorities

    Oh no. Not Mandelson again.

  • Comment number 98.

    Come on Mr Robinson. Do your job.

    Tell us the real story behind the Harman meeting at which they will decide the line of spin Mr Speaker will use to excuse his behaviour.

    Any journalist worth his salt would have all the gory details fed to him within minutes of the meeting closing.

    We await with eager anticipation!

  • Comment number 99.


    Any chance your blog could address the central issue.
    There was no crime until the police jackbooted their way in.
    Even the daftest of civil servants, which Normington isn't, would not have accused a Tory front bencher of the crime the police purport to be investigating.
    Normington claims he asked for the leaks in the Home Office to be investigated or at least stopped. The leak is not a crime that would support the investigation. The police fishing trip, for that it must be, is clearly outside this remit.
    The crunch is that Normington didn't ask the police to investigate a case of conspiracy to illicit information. So why did the police imagine a crime that then justified them investigating.
    The Answer is bleedin obvious Political pressure from Jacqui Smith "threat to National security" through Normington and on to the Police to ensure a witch hunt to nail not just the leak but anyone in the chain.
    The point is that that the case could only have been started by political pressure on the police and their failure to reject that politicisation.

  • Comment number 100.

    Reading some of these blogs I think it highlights much of what is wrong with our society these days, conspiracy theorist abound, willing to believe one side of the story above the other just because it suits their political views, prepared to accept one persons comments as fact, while dismissing others as spin without ever having any real knowledge of what actually went on, I have no doubt we have not heard the full story, but that applies equally to both sides.
    By the way is it right to describe someone who admits to making “regular leaks” as a whistle-blower?
    Here is the definition from the English dictionary
    somebody who exposes wrongdoing, especially within an organization.
    And here is the definition from the same dictionary of a “mole”
    “somebody employed by a group or organization such as a government ministry who discloses sensitive information while keeping his or her own identity secret”
    Please make your own minds up as to which way the spin has been put on this particular aspect of the story..


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