Some people refer to the unpopular Labour Government as "New Labour" or "NuLabour", or, to draw parallels with the evil dictatorship of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe as "ZANU Labour".
Most people with an interest in politics in the UK take this joke / mild insult in their stride, but surely even members of the Labour party must feel scared by the news that the Conservative MP Damian Green, their frontbench Home Affairs spokesman on Immigration, has been arrested by the Metropolitan Police, and has had his homes and offices searched, including his office at the Palace of Westminster, by "Counter Terrorism Police".
The police action followed the arrest 10 days ago of a government employee who had allegedly leaked four documents to Green, who in turn passed them to the press. They were:
• A home office memo, which appeared in the Daily Mail on 13 November 2007, which showed that the home secretary Jacqui Smith had been warned four months earlier that thousands of illegal immigrants had been cleared to work in sensitive Whitehall security jobs. The memo emerged days after the Sunday Mirror disclosed that at least 5,000 illegal immigrants had been cleared by the Security Industry Authority to work sensitive Whitehall locations.
• An email to the then home office minister Liam Byrne in February this year which showed that he was informed about an illegal Brazilian immigrant who faked an identity pass to working parliament. The memo, which was published in the Sunday Telegraph on 10 February this year, said Byrne was informed on 31 January. Byrne was accused of a cover up.
• A list of Labour MPs who were likely to rebel against the government's plans to detain terror suspects for up to 42 days without charge. This appeared in the Sunday Times on 20 April 2008.
• A letter from Jacqui Smith to Gordon Brown warning that a recession would lead to a rise in crime. This appeared in will papers, including the Guardian, on 1 September this year.
None of these stories involved any breach of security, only political embarrassment for the incompetent Labour party politicians.
The BBC in that intensely annoying way of theirs, have almost completely re-written their report of this story, but kept the URL the same Senior Tory arrested over leaks - new window">Senior Tory arrested over leaks
They quote a statement from the Metropolitan Police Service (which does not, of course, appear on the Met's website):
"The investigation into the alleged leak of confidential government material followed the receipt by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) of a complaint from the Cabinet Office.
"The decision to make today's arrest was taken solely by the MPS without any ministerial knowledge or approval."
There was no need to waste scarce "Counter Terrorism Police" resources on this blatantly political investigation. Are ordinary Policemen no longer capable of searching an office ?
It is irrelevant whether or not Gordon Brown or any other senior Labour politicians were aware of Thursday's arrest beforehand, or not, they are to blame politically.
This affair also reflects badly on Sir Paul Stephenson, the deputy to Sir Ian Blair, who is taking over as Acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service. If he is seen to be continuing Sir Ian Blair's NuLabour political policing style, then he must not be allowed to be promoted into that job full time.
We strongly suggest that any other Home Office or Treasury etc. whistleblowers, and any investigative journalists, bloggers or opposition politicians should read our Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Activists - Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers
Some Obvious Questions:
- What is the name of the Metropolitan Police officer in charge of this political investigation ?
- Who exactly complained of an alleged criminal offence by Damian Green ? The Cabinet Office instigated the original "Leak inquiry", but who decided to arrest Damian Green rather than just have a informal chat with him, or even like former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, during the far more serious "cash for honours" inquiry, a private interview under caution ?
- Did Damian Green give permission for his Palace of Westminster office and Constituency office to be searched , or this a breach of Parliamentary Privilege ?
- Is this search of an opposition MP's office, a party political abuse of power by the (Labour) Speaker of the House of Commons ?
- Have the Metropolitan Police taken copies of privileged documents or emails etc. to or from Damian Green's Constituents, which have nothing to do with these alleged whistleblower leaks ?
- Have the Metropolitan Police snooped on the Communications Traffic Data of Damian Green's personal and Constituency and Conservative Party political emails, mobile phone and landline phone calls and messages, in order to try to identify his contacts with journalists and / or the alleged Home Office whistleblower(s) ?
- Have the Metropolitan Police intercepted the contents of Damian Green's personal and Constituency and and Conservative Party political, mobile phone and landline phone calls and messages ?
- Where does this leave the Wilson Doctrine ? Has it been secretly changed, again, to permit political snooping and harassment, under the transparently feeble excuse of "prosecution of crime" ?
- Has Damian Green been fingerprinted, photographed and DNA tissue sampled ?