Nytt

Britiske parlamentsmedlemmer i samtlige partier raser over at de konservatives (Tory) parlamentsmedlem og skyggeminister for innvandring, Damian Green, ble arrestert og fikk hjemmet sitt raidet av antiterror-politiet for å ha lekket fortrolige opplysninger om innvandring til mediene. Flere kaller politiaksjonen mot parlamentsmedlemmet et angrep på demokratiet og parlamentets integritet.

Green – som tilhører venstresiden i de Konservative – ble arrestert og holdt på politistasjonen i 9 timer, der bare en time ble brukt til å forhøre ham om hans angivelige forbrytelse: å ha lekket informasjon som er pinlig for den britiske regjeringen. I mellomtiden ble hans hjem ransaket av ikke mindre enn 9 betjenter fra antiterror-politiet, mens hans kone og barn var tilstede. Greens kontor i parlamentsbygningen ble erklært som et «åsted for en forbrytelse», og mobiltelefoner, PC`er og elektroniske filer ble konfiskert. E-postkontoen hans har blitt deaktivert, slik at Greens velgere ikke lenger kan få kontakt med ham. I stedet får de tilbakemeldingen «din beskjed ble ikke levert på grunn av sikkerhetshensyn».

Parlamentsmedlemmer fra landets 3 hovedpartier er sjokkert over at detektiver i det hele tatt fikk grønt lys til å komme inne i Westminster og ransake Greens private kontor. I Storbritannia har det hittil vært fullstendig uhørt at et parlamentsmedlem blir arrestert og får kontoret sitt ransaket av politiet i forbindelse med granskning av lekkasjer. Talsmannen for Liberale Demokrater, Chris Huhne, sier at å motta informasjon som har offentlig interesse fra regjeringens embetsmenn og publisere det, er en nøkkelfunksjon for ethvert parlamentsmedlem. I følge partileder for Toryene, Davis Cameron, stiller informasjonen Green har offentliggjort i denne kategorien.

The affair was turning into the biggest row over Whitehall leaks since the prosecution of civil servant Clive Ponting in 1985, over leaks about the Belgrano sinking, and the jailing of Sarah Tisdall in 1983 for leaking secrets about US cruise missiles in the UK.

By contrast, however, the molehunt at the Home Office was for the source of a stream of stories that embarrassed the Government rather than threatened national security.

Lekkasjene inkluderer blant annet et internt memo som antyder at innenriksminster Jacqui Smith dekket over regjeringsblunderen som førte til at 5000 illegale innvandrere fikk sikkerhetsklarering for arbeid innen sikkerhetsindustrien som for eksempel i Metropolitan politiet og som vakter for statsministerens bil, et memo fra Byrået for grensekontroll som avslører enda et alvorlig brudd på sikkerheten; en illegal innvandrer fikk jobb i Underhuset ved bruk av falsk identitet, en hemmelig «svarteliste» over Labours parlamentsmedlemmer mistenkt for å konspirere mot statsminister Gordon Browns lov om at terrormistenkte kan tilbakeholdes i 42 dager uten siktelse og et brev fra innenriksminister Smith til statsministerens kontor som uttrykker frykt for at resesjonen vil føre til en økning i voldelig kriminalitet, tyverier og innbrudd. Brevet advarer også om frykt for fiendtlighet mot innvandrere.

Behandlingen av Damian Green har også vakt bekymring og raseri over regjeringens politisering og bruk av antiterror-politiet, og det er blitt reist spørsmål om hvem som visste om aksjonen i forkant. Både ministre, partiledere og mediene mistenker at regjeringen har gått til dette skrittet for å redde seg fra pinlige avsløringer.

David Cameron sier at både Metropolitan politiet og ministre har alvorlige spørsmål å svare på, spesielt hva gjelder bruken av antiterror-enheten:

He added the operation was ‘extraordinary and frankly rather worrying.’

David Davis, the former Shadow Home Secretary, said Mr Green’s job was exposing failures in the Government and that the arrest was ‘reminiscent of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe’.

He added that Winston Churchill relied on a Whitehall whistleblower to expose lack of preparedness before World War II.

‘If the police had applied these rules in the Thirties, Churchill would not have been Prime Minister – he would have been a prisoner,’ he said.

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said: ‘The fundamental duty of the Metropolitan Police is to protect Londoners from harm, not the Government from political embarrassment.’

Mr Green, 52, was finally released on unconditional bail shortly before midnight without charge but must return to face further questioning in February.

The MP described his arrest as ‘astonishing’.

Speaking outside Parliament this morning he said: ‘I emphatically deny I have done anything wrong.’

Some Tories suspected that the action was an attempt to intimidate other civil servants tempted to leak documents, especially from the Treasury where ministers think there is a high-placed Tory mole.

Rasende parlamentsmedlemmer og politiske kommentatorer mener at aksjonen mot Green er av en slik natur at statsministerens kontor og innenriksministeriet må ha visst om den.

Det har i ettertid vist seg at i hvert fall Cameron, borgermesteren i London Boris Johnson og Undershusets Speaker, Michael Martin, visste om raidet på forhånd. Martin skal ha gitt klarsignal til å ransake Greens kontor, hvilket har ført til krav om at Martin må sparkes fra sin stilling. Underhusets speaker har siden Charles I forsøkte å arrestere 5 parlamentsmedlemmer i 1642, hatt en historisk plikt til å forsvare parlamentets og parlamentsmedlemmenes integritet og uavhengighet i forhold til regjeringen:

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith wrote to the Speaker last night to protest at the ‘abuse of the principle of the supremacy of Parliament’.

Mr Duncan Smith told Mr Martin that he and other officers of the House had a ‘prime responsibility to make sure that the agencies of government do not consider it their right to treat Parliament like any other department or agency in the land’.

Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘If it turns out that the Speaker gave the go-a-head for this raid, I will be demanding to his face, on every occasion that I can, that Mr Martin now quit.

‘The purpose of the Commons Speaker is to preside over an institution that holds government to account – not to give the green light to police raids against legitimate opposition.

‘MPs cannot have confidence in Martin if he sanctioned this.’

Mr Carswell said he had asked the Speaker’s office if Mr Martin allowed the raid and was told: ‘There is a process to be followed that was followed.’

‘I am taking that as a yes,’ he said.

‘There needs to be a pretty good explanation as to why he sanctioned this raid.

Statsminister Brown insisterer imidlertid på at han ikke hadde noen forhåndskjennskap til arrestasjonen av Damian Green, og hevder at det hele er en vanlig sak for politiet.

He said: ‘I had no prior knowledge, the Home Secretary had no prior knowledge, I know of no other minister who had any prior knowledge.

‘I knew about it only after it had happened when I was told by the Permanent Secretary to the Civil Service that this had happened.

‘As I said to him, this is a matter for the police, they are carrying out an investigation. It is not a matter for Government ministers.

‘The independence of the police is what should be upheld. I hope that everybody can feel able to uphold both the independence of the police and the statement that no minister was involved.’

Tory-leder Cameron mener på sin side at saken uansett krever forklaringer fra både politiet og regjeringen:

He said: ‘The police have to answer questions. Frankly, government ministers have got questions to answer as well. If they didn’t know, why weren’t they told?

‘What do they think about in Britain today, counter-terrorism police are spending their time searching an MP’s office, arresting him, holding him for nine hours, all on a day when British citizens are being killed on the other side of the world and all because, as far as I can see, he made public some information that was in the public interest that the Government found uncomfortable.

‘Well, let’s hope that our democracy hasn’t come to that.

‘If they wanted to talk to Damian Green, why not pick up the telephone and ask to talk to him?’

Flere politikere og kommentatorer stiller spørsmål om tidspunktet for den ekstraordinære politiaksjonen, og påpeker at den fant sted på avtroppende politisjef Metropolitan politiet, Sir Ian Blairs, siste dag på kontoret. Blair – kalt Nye Labours favoritt-politimann, på grunn av hans politiserte lederskap – ble tvunget fra sin stilling som sjef for Metropolitan politiet av Tory-borgermesteren Johnson. Regjeringen og politiet møter nå tverrpolitiske beskyldninger om å ha begått en politisk motivert handling:

Last night the Daily Mail learned that Mr Johnson was informed of Mr Green’s impending arrest in advance and expressed outrage at the heavy-handed nature of the operation.

A statement issued by the mayor’s office said: ‘The mayor finds it hard to believe that on the day when terrorists have gone on the rampage in India that anti-terror police in Britain have apparently targeted an elected representative of Parliament for no greater crime than allegedly receiving leaked documents.’

The fact that Mr Johnson was notified yesterday of the arrest suggests it is highly unlikely that no one in Government was also informed.

Tory sources also said that had the arrest come while the House was sitting, MPs would have questioned Mr Green’s treatment in the chamber. The Commons rose for a five-day break on Wednesday.

Senior Tory backbencher Patrick Mercer, a member of the influential Home Office Select Committee, said the raid was ‘clearly politically motivated’.

‘This is Jacqui Smith and Ian Blair exacting revenge and trying to even up the score because they have been so publicly humiliated,’ said Mr Mercer.

‘It is extraordinary that a shadow minister should be subjected to this kind of treatment on these alleged grounds, especially by counter-terrorism officers. It once again smacks of a police state.’

Former shadow home secretary David Davis said: ‘Where have the priorities of the Metropolitan Police gone? It would have been perfectly possible for a couple of policeman to have interviewed him in the office. He is an MP – he’s not going to flee the country.

‘For five years, I have avoided using the term ‘police state’ because I think it is an over-the-top term, but the kind of things we have seen today are the kind of thing you see in a police state or a banana republic, not in Britain.’

De Liberale Demokratene minner også om at saken er særdeles spesiell med tanke på Gordon Brown som skyggerådgiver selv mottok og offentliggjorde mange lekkede offisielle dokumenter:

‘It seems that either the law needs to be changed or the police have overstepped the mark.’

This morning Mr Davis said the action was ‘somewhere between an astonishing error in judgment through to judicial intimidation’.

The Haltemprice and Howden MP said Mr Green had only been ‘doing his job’.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘None of this put in any way national intelligence, national security, or international relations at risk – yet we end up with a situation that is in some way reminiscent of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, with an opposition spokesman being arrested for nine hours. It is extraordinary, frankly.’

He added that he found it ‘hard to believe’ that ministers were not told that Mr Green was about to be arrested.

Conservative former home secretary Ken Clarke indicated that he would have been ‘astonished’ if his officials had failed to inform him that such action was being taken.
‘I cannot believe it,’ Mr Davis said. ‘Why were they not told?’

He questioned why at least nine counter-terrorism officers had been detailed to search Mr Green’s property, at a time when the UK threat level was likely to be high in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Både politiet og regjeringen benekter at regjeringen eller regjeringensmedlemmer var involvert i beslutningen om å arrestere – og benytte 9 politibetjenter fra antiterror-enheten til samme formål – skyggeminister Damian Green. Etterforskningen og arrestasjonen ble utelukkende igangsatt som en følge av en anmeldelse om lekkasjer:

A spokesman for 10 Downing Street said: ‘This is a matter for the police. The Prime Minister had no prior knowledge of the arrest of Mr Green and was only informed after the event.’

The statement said: ‘The investigation into the alleged leak of confidential government material followed the receipt by the MPS ( Metropolitan Police Service) of a complaint from the Cabinet Office.

Daily Mail: Terror of Tory MP’s daughter as NINE anti-terror police raid his home over ‘immigration leaks to media’

Daily Mail: ‘Speaker Martin must go’: MPs unite in wake of unprecedented police raids on Tory MP and House of Commons

Daily Mail: David Davis: So let them charge Damian, put him before a jury, and see him subpoena the whole damn lot of them

«The arrest on Thursday of MP Damian Green for disclosing to the public a series of New Labour fiascos was not just a blow to freedom of speech, it was the culmination of this arrogant Government’s 11-year assault on British liberal democracy.»