Dominic Grieve MP

9 Dec 2008 11:14:37

More on the Damian Green debate

Damian_greenMy ConservativeHome colleagues have already covered yesterday's debate on the Damian Green affair. But such is its significance that it is worth recording contributions from other Tory MPs. (The motion was introduced by Harriet Harman, the Leader of the House of Commons.)

Shadow Home Secretary made a crucial point, albeit that Sir Gerald Kaufman didn't accept it.

"Since the passage of the Official Secrets Act 1989, the leaking of material not concerning national security has ceased to be a criminal offence. On what basis, therefore, is a civil servant arrested for that, and on what conceivable basis is my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green) arrested? If the right hon. Gentleman starts by asking himself that question—which relates to a gift to civil liberty from the last Conservative Government—he will start to conclude very quickly that the basis for the police’s erupting into this place and searching a Member of Parliament’s offices is shaky in the extreme. That is why he should be very concerned about what has happened, particularly because all the normal processes and protections that should have operated—including the consulting of the Director of Public Prosecutions—never occurred.

Sir Gerald Kaufman: What puzzles me, in view of that bout of rodomontade from the hon. and learned Gentleman, is why he says that Christopher Galley should be sacked, because Christopher Galley appears to have been doing something which is hugely praiseworthy."

Former Home Secretary and Leader of HM Opposition Michael Howard weighed in too:

"[In] his statement to the London Assembly last Wednesday, acting commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said that the Metropolitan Police Service was called in by the Cabinet Office

    “to investigate suspected criminal offences in relation to a substantial series of leaks from the Home Office potentially involving national security and the impeding of the efficient and effective conduct of government.”

I particularly want to draw the House’s attention to that last phrase. So far as I am aware, it has never been a criminal offence to impede the efficient and effective conduct of government and nor should it be. I do not think that the police should have been called into investigate on that basis, and they should not have agreed to do so.

I have written to Mr. Ian Johnston, the chief constable of the British Transport police who is carrying out an inquiry into the police’s handling of the matter, and asked him to consider this point in his inquiry. I have written to the Minister in charge at the Cabinet Office to ask who in the Cabinet Office called in the police on that extraordinary basis and whether the Minister authorised or knew of that action."

Continue reading "More on the Damian Green debate" »

5 Dec 2008 14:44:29

Debate continues on the Queen's Speech

Dominic_grieveNick_herbertYesterday saw the second day of debate on the Gracious Speech. The Home Secretary was in action again straight after fielding questions about Damian Green.

Unfortunately, very few MPs were present for much of what went on.

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve, who is on fire at the moment, spoke very persuasively.

"On the substance of what the Home Secretary had to say, although I can welcome some aspects of her speech, there are many others that I cannot, because the Government’s record on home affairs and justice is not a happy one and is at variance with the aspirations set out in the Queen’s Speech.

The Government have presided over the virtual doubling of violent crime since they were elected, while their incessant red tape and regulation have tied the hands of the police. Indeed, some announcements that are now being made on the subject are merely rolling back red tape and bureaucracy that the Government previously introduced.


The thirst for headlines and the inflation of ineffective bureaucracy and legislative hyperactivity distract the Government and successive Home Secretaries from the real job at hand: getting more police on the street with the single imperative of cutting crime, and a dedicated border police force to reverse our current vulnerability, which has seen the street value of cocaine and heroin slashed by almost half, while estimates show that the numbers of young women and girls trafficked into prostitution have quadrupled."

Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Nick Herbert wound up for the Tories, and also spoke with great verve.

"Yesterday we saw the Lord Chancellor, in all his finery, skilfully walking backwards, which he did most expertly. That was entirely appropriate, because retreat has been the story of the Prime Minister’s programme on constitutional renewal.

Back in July last year, when the new Prime Minister made his first statement to the House, he promised a

    “national debate...founded on the conviction that the best answer to disengagement from our democracy is to strengthen our democracy.”—[ Official Report, 3 July 2007; Vol. 462, c. 819.]

Constitutional change was not peripheral to the Government’s agenda; it was central to their programme—“founded on...conviction”. That conviction cannot have been very profound, because just 18 months later, the constitutional agenda has all but disappeared. It has become clear that the Prime Minister had no great vision of a new settlement, just the immediate political challenge of dissociating himself from his predecessor."

Good stuff from the Conservatives - but why were so few MPs present?

5 Dec 2008 11:57:35

Tory MPs slam Jacqui Smith over Damian Green arrest

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith came before the House of Commons yesterday to make a statement on the Damian Green arrest. She was very much on the defensive:

"As the statement issued by Sir David Normington on 28 November made clear, he was informed by the police at about 1.45 pm on 27 November that a search was about to be conducted of the home and offices of a member of the Opposition Front Bench. Sir David was subsequently told that an arrest had been made. This was the first time that anybody in the Home Office was informed that a Member of this House was the subject of the police investigation. I have made it clear that neither I nor any other Government Minister knew until after the arrest of the hon. Member that he—or any other hon. Member—was the subject of a police investigation or was to be arrested. I hope that those who have asserted the contrary will now withdraw their claims.

Let me be clear that even if I had been informed, I believe it would have been wholly inappropriate for me to seek to intervene in the operational decisions being taken by the police. I will not do that and I should not do that."

As Quentin Letts writes in the Daily Mail, Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve was ruthlessly efficient. This page has already carried his statement. One point that the Home Secretary made in response does need highlighting:

"The hon. and learned Gentleman asserted several times that “there is not the slightest evidence”. He does not know what evidence the police have. I do not know what evidence the police have—but I do know that it is wholly appropriate that the police should use their professional judgment to follow the evidence during the course of a police investigation without fear or favour."

Unfortunately for the Government, no-one is going to give them the benefit of the doubt. If no breach of national security is uncovered, they will look very foolish.

Other Tory MPs were furious too.

Continue reading "Tory MPs slam Jacqui Smith over Damian Green arrest" »

4 Dec 2008 13:28:41

Latest parliamentary developments on the Damian Green arrest

Two developments this morning:

  1. The 7-member committee announced by the Speaker yesterday may now not in fact meet for months, until after the police inquiry has finished - rather than being the "speedy and immediate" inquiry that was expected.
  2. The membership of the committee will not after all be the decision of the Speaker, but rather will reflect the composition of the House, presumably meaning that it will be made up of 4 Labour MPs, 2 Conservatives and 1 Liberal Democrat.

In the Commons earlier, Dominic Grieve was not short of further questions for Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. Here's what he had to say:

“Mr Speaker, the issues at stake are serious.

They involve basic Ministerial oversight over counter-terrorism police operations against a Member of this House. Heavy-handed and incompetent at best, at worst an unwarranted assault on our democracy.

Let us be equally clear what is not at stake. We can all agree that MPs are not above the law and that the police have no place in politics.

Nor Mr Speaker has this got anything to do with national security. There is not the slightest hint of this and Her Majesty’s Opposition takes the integrity of official secrets as seriously as the government despite attempts by government spokespersons to smear and spin to the contrary.

The Home Secretary has regularly briefed me and my predecessor on matters of national security. Can she name one occasion where she has raised any concern that her confidence was not kept?

Can she now confirm that no known leaks from her department connected to the Honourable Member for Ashford relate to national security?

Mr Speaker, this episode has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with political embarrassment.

Nor is it about confidentiality in the workplace matters for which employment law provides a perfectly adequate remedy.

Continue reading "Latest parliamentary developments on the Damian Green arrest" »

24 Nov 2008 11:40:00

Dominic Grieve asks about the deportation of terror suspects

Dominic_grieveShadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve asked an important written question recently:

"Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons suspected of terrorism offences the Government has been unable to deport owing to (a) legal challenges and (b) an assessment that the individual concerned will be tortured if deported to the country of nationality in each year since 2001. [233979]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 6 November 2008]: Foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism are considered for deportation action. However, deportation action cannot be taken where it is concluded that removal would be contrary to our international obligations, in particular under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The way in which individual immigration decisions are recorded and the timescales involved means it is not possible to provide a comprehensive reply of breakdown cases by year. However:

    16 individuals were certified under part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 as suspected international terrorists and were detained on the basis that their removal was prevented by a point of law which related wholly or partly to an international agreement. One other person was also certified under part 4 but was detained under other powers. Those detained had the right to leave the UK at any time, two did so. Six have since been deported.

    Since 2005, there have been 19 cases where deportation action on national security grounds was commenced, but was later discontinued because it was concluded that it would not be possible to demonstrate that removal would be in conformity with the UK's international obligations, including our obligations under article 3 ECHR. These cases are kept under review.

    There are currently 11 cases where we are seeking to deport individuals on grounds of national security because of their suspected involvement in terrorism. These are at various stages in the appeals process. In a twelfth case, the appeal against the decision to deport was allowed by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission as it was not satisfied that the case for deportation on national security grounds had been made out."

You don't have to be a headbanger to be worried about this. And you don't have to be a right wing firebrand to say that you shouldn't expect a country that you want to destroy to be overly concerned about your welfare.

It is also important to ask whether deporting people who pose a threat to our country is the right approach, even when we are able to do it. If someone is truly dangerous - and might go away and make plans for an attack - should not they be tried here and, if found guilty, incarcerated?

18 Jul 2008 08:27:31

Grieve attacks doubling of violent crime in ten years

On yesterday's Platform, Mark Reckless called for a democratisation and localisation of policing ahead of the publication of the Government's Green Paper on policing.  Below are highlights of Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve's response to Jacqui Smith's statement to the House.

The police are less effective today because of red tape: "Recorded violent crime has virtually doubled in 10 years. Police numbers are up by 10 per cent., and detection rates for violent offences are down by a quarter... Does the Home Secretary accept Sir Ronnie Flanagan’s surgical dissection of serial ministerial failures which revealed “perverse incentives”, a “raft” of targets and officers “straitjacketed by process”? We also know what is needed to free up the police: less red tape, fewer targets and greater local accountability of police to the communities that they serve."

Jacqui Smith has stolen Tory ideas: "The Green Paper offers some constructive ideas, but I have to say that virtually all of them originate from this side of the House. Take the Conservative crime mapping proposals; they were announced in April and are already being implemented by a Conservative Mayor of London—months later, they have been pinched by the Home Secretary for her policing pledge. Take her piloting of the abolition of the stop and account form. That is a greatly watered-down version of the nationwide overhaul that we proposed in February to free up nearly 1 million police hours to get officers back on the street. Why not scrap them altogether, as we propose? There is also the promise to review the onerous bureaucratic burden that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 places on the most basic investigations. That is a straight lift from Conservative party policy."

Labour has failed on crime and police reform: "The truth is that this exhausted Government can offer neither the inspiration nor the perspiration to deliver the serious and sustained reform that the police so badly need. In the meantime, there is a gun crime every hour, there are five fatal stabbings every week, and we still do not have any proper Government information on violence against under-16-year-olds, although the information has been demanded by Members on both sides of the House for years.  In conclusion, does the Home Secretary agree that the 22,151 serious offences involving knives, for which we for the first time have a figure, is a pretty damning indictment of a Government who seem consistently more interested in chasing headlines than chasing the perpetrators of crime?"

13 Jun 2008 09:05:00

Dominic Grieve's post-2005 maiden speech set out his stall on the ECHR

Dominic_grieve In his first speech to Parliament after the 2005 election, Dominic Grieve MP - the newly-appointed Shadow Home Secretary - cited advocating the incorporation of the European Convention of Human Rights into British law as an example of an issue he was at variance with other Conservatives on:

"Perhaps I might give an example of where I suspect I might be at variance with some of the views of my colleagues on the Conservative Benches, but it is a variance that I have held for a long time. The incorporation of the European convention on human rights into our national law is something that, although challenging, is nevertheless desirable if it can be done without diminishing the sovereignty of Parliament. I believe that it can. I hope that I apply the same sorts of criteria to the proposals put forward today."

Read his full speech on Hansard here.