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echoes of zimbabwe

economy in tatters and arresting dissidents

You couldn't make this up. Surely even this government couldn't stoop so low?
If they have been seen to have used underhand tactics than this should backfire in a monumental way.

What is the Constitutional situation regarding the police searching an MP's office? Today's treatment of Damian could set an appalling precedent. Shadow Ministers should not be afraid to embarrass the Government for fear of being arrested.

If Labour government ministers are shown to have been involved in this then it will have serrious repercussions for our democracy.


The Queen should exercise her historic right and dissolve this government as an affront to all that is Holy. ZaNuLabour have prompted a constitutional crisis and nothing but a general election will solve it.

Sky say he is still being held.

Stalinist indeed! NOW will the British People wake up and see what is happening right under their noses?

>The police search of Mr Green's office had to be authorised by the Serjeant at Arms, who answers to the Speaker. (Telegraph)

Guess this answers my question, but it does have the effect of involveing the Speaker in this ugly episode; and what a surprise (!) this happens the day after Parliament rises so no-one can raise it in the House. What a country.

Watch the hyperboyle you may all end up with egg on your face.

I would be surprised if the government engineered this, but they had to have made the complaint to the Police in the first place. If he is charged and sent to trial then it may be the government's responsibility, depending on whether they can stop the process or not.

There is also the outstanding question about the use of counter-terrorism officers. Were they deployed, does that deployment require the Home Secretary's permission and if so why did she grant it?

First they came for the nice man from Ashford......

Better hope there is nothing embarassing in Damians' closet. Now they have an excuse for a fishing trip, who knows what may turn up (and be rapidly leaked to the press...).

Overdue library books - unpaid TV licence or worse!

From the Telegrpah:

"It is understood that the inquiry is focusing on four Home Office documents allegedly obtained by the Conservatives. Last November, documents from the private office of Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, were leaked to the opposition.

They showed that ministers had known for four months that thousands of illegal immigrants had been cleared to work as security guards but had not told Parliament.

Other documents included information about an illegal immigrant working at House of Commons and a list of Labour MPs preparing to vote against the Government's anti-terrorism measures."

Umm - what hewre is in the National interest? May not be in the Government's interest - but that is a separate issue.

This is a serious problem. It is a scandal that the media *must* reflect badly on our dreadful Government and not Damien Green.

You lot are barking mad. Let's get one thing straight: because, in their own self-interest, the press are going to get very pious about any supposed 'press freedom' threats to eg the Mirror's right to Coulson-style turn over Osborne's brother, the government are going to get bashed on the head for this by the media. And they know they are. Far from interfering to artificially enable an arrest, what we've seen here is Labour manfully resisting the urge to politicise the police by preventing a politically inconvenient independent act of theirs (picking up Green).

As far as the presumed laws in question are concerned, let's hear from all those principled Tories who think, on principled Tory grounds, that civil servants should be free to leak whatever they want whenever they want to whomsoever they want. I'm fairly glad that my definition of Toryism doesn't encompass such rocket-fueled space-cadetery. For passing all those laws they do, MPs get paid enough to also know not to break them.

We allegedly went into Iraq and Afghanistan to bring democracy to these countries, now Labour has decided that it is acceptable to arrest a member of the Opposition. I am used to all this nonsense here in Brussels where they no longer know the difference between right and wrong but not in the UK. Our poor country.

I'm on a train on my blackberry with no other news source!

Can anyone shed any light on what the commentators are saying (BBC, sky etc)?

Are any of them taking a 'dangerous for the govt' or 'heavy handed' line?

The government have now politicised the police force to the extent that they now see it as their duty to arrest political opponents.

I think we need to play this for all it's worth: Brown is deperate, using the apparatus of the state to clamp down on dissent, raiding an MP's home and office. All in order to maintain a cover up of their shocking record at the Home Office.

I hope Michael Portillo kicks up a fuss about this tonight on This Week (though I admit it's unlikely).

let's hear from all those principled Tories who think, on principled Tory grounds, that civil servants should be free to leak whatever they want whenever they want to whomsoever they want

So you're against whistleblowing then?

I'm fairly glad that my definition of Toryism doesn't encompass such rocket-fueled space-cadetery.

HAHAHA, that's a joke! You're no Tory.

For passing all those laws they do, MPs get paid enough to also know not to break them.

Please, what a pathetic response. Green became an MP in 1997 - the Official Secrets Act was passed in 1989. Why the hell should he have known it chapter and verse?

This should strike terror into the heart of every opponent of the Labour Government.

Our security services are effectively Labour-controlled and the gloves are off: they are going to persecute dissidents to the full extent of the law.

( Does anyone remember what I said about the need for the right to keep and bear arms? )

Barking mad.

ACT, yes you are barking mad - you don't need to tell us.

"let's hear from all those principled Tories who think, on principled Tory grounds, that civil servants should be free to leak whatever they want whenever they want to whomsoever they"

OK. But, Civil Servants who leak can be sacked - as any employee can. If information is leaked that is harmful to the state, then they should taken to court. But leaking information that is embarassing to the Government because it contains facts we should know is a different matter.

Time for the Army to step in

Its is perhaps necessary to consider what other organisations have common membership between across the police and 'leaders' in the government.

PS Who's last day in his job was it today ?

Utterly Barking. WHAT KIND OF COUNTRY IS THIS BECOMING? I am getting on to Henry Porter first thing. NAZIS.

Can you imagine this happening in any other western democracy?

This is a complete outrage, Labour has stooped to a new horrendous low.

When the police were investigating Labour Party figures for a supposed but actually non-existent breach of party finance laws, David Cameron said: "Obviously it's serious when a serving prime minister is questioned by the police twice. But I think we should wait for the outcome of that investigation."

I think we should wait for the outcome of the investigation.

According to the BBC this is the first time ever that an MP has actually been arrested fo disclosing leaked info. They also made the point that this was not sensitive security info by info which was embarassing to the Govt.

We sleep walk into totalitarianism.

ACT - Raj has got you number spot on.

Once the full info is out, we should know the individuals responsbile for each stage of this (aparantly) heavy handed (clunking fisted) action.

First they came for the nice man from Ashford......

Posted by: John Moss | November 27, 2008 at 21:57

Says it all doesn't it. For gods sake everyone wake up.

Golly, Raj, raving 'Roon devotion and the reincarnation of Wilde, Coward and Benny Hill: Dave's lucky to have you on his side. Anyway . . . so no one wants to pretend to believe that there *shouldn't* be laws against civil servants leaking whatever they want, just as and when it pops into their pretty little heads to do so? Good. And it follows from that that if you have such laws, and people insist upon breaking them, enter friend Plod. No big deal so far. Indeed, it's jolly unfortunate, for poor old Labour, that such a thing - any arrest, let alone prosecution - has happened on their watch, rather, say, than ours, because of course the vastly hypocritical press will now soundly lay into them. But however disingenuously the press now proceeds to attack Labour, for 'attacking press freedom', and similar such guff, even the lowest, basest bits of it, you know, the bits that used to pay Coulson's salary before we started doing so, won't engage in the lunatic, Dave Spart-style garbage cluttering up this thread.

Once again then: you lot are barking mad. We do not have Mugabe-esque government; you're monsters, all of you, who make such comparisons, being apparently utterly incapable of basic empathy with anyone who actually does have to suffer life under a real dictator; and worst of all, but oh so typical of Davist cheerleaders, you've degraded yourselves so far in your tinny partisanship, not least in your willingness to casually smear the integrity of the police, that you sound exactly like raving hard left critics of Thatcher did in the 80s. You know, spouting the same sort of barmy balls they did when she sent people to prison, for leaking government secrets. As I've said, I'm happy to be a Tory and Thatcherite, and evidently there are fewer than ever of us around here.

In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up."

Martin Niemöller

Speaking of Stalinesque... Pravda is on fine form tonight. Newsnight just started with:

"Conservative immigration minister Damian Green has been arrested. We'll be explaining why."

Not asking - explaining.

Proof if ever any were needed of the thin end of Labour's "anti-terror" laws.

Laws designed to prevent us being attacked by jihadists are being invoked against Icelandic banks and now opposition MPs.

Why did Speaker Martin allow this? This proves that this supine piece of government-operated filth isn't fit to hold the office of Speaker. He is nothing more than a government operative in the House of Commons, informing on members he is supposed to defend.

ACT, are you against whistleblowing and the reporting of it (for non-secret material)? In the words of GB£, yes or no please.

Marta Andraesson,Paul Van Buitenen,Bernard Connoly.

What Chris Gillibrand has just posted has to be about the vilest, stupidest thing I have yet seen on this website. Have you no sense of shame or proportion? Massacring 6 million Jews, amongst countless other victims, is not a legitimate point of comparison for the police in a free society tentatively applying the laws of that society freely passed by its free parliament. You are worse than barking mad, you're a fool.

What next from the obssessive clique that surrounds Gordon Brown, to whom wheeler/dealing to score a few cheap political points, is far more important, than making a real effort, to address the real and growing problems, of the rapidly growing number of unemployed workers!!

Some points:

i) this arrest did NOT take place under the official secrets act, it took place under the common law offence of "conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office". If Green was paying or in other way rewarding or promising reward for such leaks then he probably should be charged and found guilty. If he hasnt, then the Police (and by extension, the Government who *will* have made a complaint along these lines) will have an awful lot of serious questions to answer.

ii) there is no specific protection for MPs against committing criminal offences.

iii) this operation will almost certainly have had to have been signed off on by the very top of the Met. Coincidentally, Sir Ian Blair retires on Monday.

I'm all for people who break the law being arrested, prosecuted, and if guilty, being convicted and sentenced. Aren't you Raj? Feel free to take as many words as you to answer. Unlike you though, I'm content to leave those sorts of decisions to the police and courts. 'Whistleblowing' is just another synonym for the process I've described above finding the leaker innocent.

Typical of Newsnight. Typical of the Beeb. Now that there is a risk of the new labour lie being exposed and finished they're pulling out all the stops to assist their socialist chums. Ditch the license fee now. Start a tax strike against it.

ACT, stop apologising for this shameful government using the police as a tool to cling to power. Go and troll somewhere else if you believe anti-terror laws should be used to imprison, IN BRITAIN, political opponents who embarrass them.

Who do you want to speak up when they come for you?

Sorry, ACT, I asked the question about whisteblowing and the reporting thereof first. You answer that directly before I answer any of your questions.

PS And the Conservatives can no longer afford to try and come over all gentlemanly when dealing with the Labour Party. We are clearly dealing with a government that will stop at nothing to retain power. This has the potential to be the beginning of a slide away from democracy- if it happens noone will be able to mark the day precisely when democracy was lost- but we will all suffer the consequences.


You're being absurd to such a degree that I think you must be a troll of some kind. We have laws to prevent Civil Servants leaking whenever they like. Those laws are there to protect the interests and secrets of the country, not the government. They are not blanket gags on any information the Government wants to keep secret, though. There is clearly the question of the public interest and I'm pretty certain a case against Green wouldn't just lose on those grounds but would get laughed out of court.

However, that does not mean the law makes Government cover-ups sacrosanct. It is not just the right but the duty of opposition politicians to expose when Ministers mislead the public and Parliament, when they cover up embarrassing failures the public should know about. If the police get involved harassing opposition politicians who expose cover ups then we really have seen a very dark day for democracy.

It is early days, and breaking news can be misleading, but if the stories we're hearing are accurate this is outrageous.

Chris Gillibrand's post is absolutely right. It has nothing to with the eventual outcome of those persecuted but that early on the general populace stood idle while people were detained for political motives. If you don't speak up right from the start then it is likely you will never speak up when events turn violent. This government and their police have already been involved in disgusting abuses with DeMenezes, David Kelly and Iraq lies and got away with it. The government has only got bolder. All Tories have to speak up and say enough is enough.

Oh, and just to be clear whistleblowing is not, that I know of, an automatic defence. If it is I would like to know why.

This man is my friend whom I have known for over thirty years. A more conscientious and public spirited politician you could not hope to find. I hope the Goverment has good lawyers to defend itself in due course, because Damian's friends will take them to the cleaners if he does not. When we think about the deception and deceit which has characterised this Government, the arrest of an Opposition politician just takes the biscuit. A step too far. We now have to remove not just a useless Government, but a dangerous one. And you can quote me.

ACT - let us assume that you are right and that Green deserved to be arrested. Answer the following:

1. Why was he arrested under the terrorism act and NOT the official secrets act?

2. Why did it happen the day AFTER Parliament recessed?

Cleethorpes Rock @ 22.36 - Ones get the impression that Mr. Speaker is a very simple man, who feels that as he was, so kindly, given this sinecure by his party, that he can't possibly be entirely impartial, but with proviso, he probably likes to think he is doing the job correctly!!!

Damian is totally right to disclose information that may be in the public interest. He should be lauded, not punished.

We're right behind you Damian!

@Alistair Burt: I agree with you about this sinister govt. I hope that DG wipes the floor with them.

Look, this all has the hallmarks of desperation. let's wait for the facts to emerge before anyone judges the outcome. What i would say is that in any role (public life or not), you accept and are bound by levels of confidentiality and trust. To have one individual unilaterally change that arrangement is not appropriate. The law is for all or it is for none.

How desperate have Labour become that they arrest opposition MP's - reminds me of Zanu-PF & Zimbabwe - unbelieveable!!

Osborne is doing a fantastic job on question time (and alexander is completly hopless - but what has he got to work with??) -- but the breaking news makes newsnight tempting -- roll on this week.


He was not arrested under the terrorism act,or official secrets act. he was arrested for the common law offence of "conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office".

How desperate have Labour become that they arrest opposition MP's - reminds me of Zanu-PF & Zimbabwe - unbelieveable!!

Shadow Justice Secretary has just done a fine job on Newsnight laying the whole affair at the doorstep of the government and the police.

I ask you since when did the counter-terrorism police investigate alleged breaches of common law?

Doug - very true. As many have said; we don't know what is going on here, or whether Green has done something seriously wrong. I hope not, but I'm not a lawyer. However, we can already question the strange procedures, the use of anti-terrorism officers, and the unique nature of this case. I don't remember anything happening to - was it - Clare Short when she blabbed about Cabinet meetings over Iraq.

Did I hear right (newsnight Crick) that Boris had been told of this before it happened ? Maybe that's normal as chair of the Met Police commission. But surely the Home Sec would also have been informed ?

We'll probably not hear *too many* squeaks of CH-posting 'Roon outrage that a politician knew what the police were going to do before they did it, and expressed an opinion as to what they should or should not do, on expressly political grounds. What with it being one of our lot who did that, and not one of their lot. And as so many CH posters have helpfully, lucidly, and sanely explained to us, they're Nazis who have politicised the police.

Utterly disgusting.

"What i would say is that in any role (public life or not), you accept and are bound by levels of confidentiality and trust."

Not when it means hiding immigration info from the public you sodding aren't. Defence secrets - yes, obviously. But immigration?

The Queen, as someone said earlier, should exercise her right to dissolve this government.

If this ever breaks out as a Labour plot she would do wonders for the monarchy and the country to dissolve of this corrput Stanlinist government as a vote of no confidence. She would be a national hero, the press would abandon New Labour for generations and the Conservatives will resume control for years to come.

Come on Your Majesty, we support you!

If this is a sign of things to come, it may be time to seriously consider approaching the Queen directly to dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections, to avoid Britain becoming a police state.

Knee-jerk criticism of the police is misplaced. We don't know what information they have and if, for example, it was alleged that the mole was given some inducement to leak documents, or that he was given any direction over the documents that were leaked then the police have a clear duty to make a thorough investigation. One would hope that Damian Green and his associates have resisted the temptation to use the mole in an improper way, but if the Telegraph is correct in stating that the documents included a list of the voting intentions of Labour MPs it would be hard to maintain the line that the leaks have been in the national interest. How would we want a future Conservative government to deal with an analogous situation?

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