The promises made by the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Home Secretary, about new procedures and protocols to supposedly protect the correspondence. between Members of Parliament and their constituents, following the still ongoing Damian Green scandal, appear to be utterly worthless:
See David Mery's publication of "MR SPEAKER'S PROTOCOL ON THE EXECUTION OF A SEARCH WARRANT IN THE PRECINCTS OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS" - The House of Common server was not accessed by the police
House of Commons Hansard 21 Jan 2009 : Column 865 between 7.16 and 7:32pm, Wednesday 21st January 2009:
Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con):On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am extremely shocked about what I am going to say. I was about to make my speech in the debate on savers when I received a note from my office saying that there was a police officer there, demanding to see correspondence. The
21 Jan 2009 : Column 865
police were already present in my office and I went to see them after making my speech. They said that they were investigating an important case with regard to correspondence that had been sent to Ministers and wanted to see handwriting samples from people who had written to me. I am appalled that officers can behave in that way--entering a Member of Parliament's office, with no warrant, and demanding constituency correspondence. To my great embarrassment and eternal shame, I was so weak that I handed over the letter from my constituent that they demanded. I will have to live with that, but I am extremely embarrassed about it. After everything that has happened to my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green), it is disgraceful that this is happening and I urge you to investigate.
What is going on ?
The Police denial that it was a "search", as reported by the BBC, is complete nonsense.
How can anyone match handwriting samples from piles and files of office correspondence without conducting a "search", unless you abuse plain English with Orwellian newspeak ?
How can you trust that your supposedly legally privileged correspondence via post or email etc., with your elected Member of Parliament, is not regularly being rifled through by the Police or other Government officials ?
Daniel Kawczynski is a prize idiot for betraying such public trust without a fight.
It is time to bring the Wilson Doctrine up to date and put it on a statutory footing, with criminal sanctions against officious Police or other bureaucrats who break the rules.
[hat tip to Not a Sheep: Damian Green Mark II]
UPDATE Monday 26th January 2009:
It looks as if the Speaker has not dealt with the situation properly, again:
- Commons Hansard 22 Jan 2009 : Column 897 Speaker's Statement, which blames the MP for being hasty in complaining.
- Michael Crick's BBC TV Newsnight blog has two statements from the MP's staff involved in the incident: A not so tall story
There might be rather more to the Kawczynski story than I originally thought.
- The The Metropolitan Police report on the Daniel Kawczynski allegations on Friday 23rd January 2009, (.pdf on, for some reason, the Home Office press website, rather than the MPS one), which seems to try to make a distinction between the Private Office of an MP and the shared offices used by his research and secretarial staff, implying that the latter are not covered by Parliamentary Privilege.
At 1750 on 21 January 2009, by appointment, one officer from this unit attended the staff office in Lower Secretaries to speak with the staff of Daniel Kawczynski MP (Shrewsbury and Atcham) to follow up the above investigation. This was not the Member's private office which is located in a different part of the estate.
- Iain Dale's Diary has EXCLUSIVE: Daniel Kawczynski: "The Speaker Has Let Me Down"
Finally, at the first opportunity on Thursday morning, members of staff and I contacted the Speaker's office to request a meeting. I had emailed the details of my concerns to his office on Wednesday night just after 10pm. Despite several calls we were unable to secure a meeting. Obviously such a meeting would have given me the opportunity to clearly set out to the Speaker personally and directly why I felt compelled to raise the Point or Order. I am deeply concerned that he made a statement about my actions without allowing me to put my side of the case and this greatly disappoints me. It is this action by the Speaker which has so shaken my confidence in him. How could he pronounce on my case when he did not even meet with me or my staff to hear out concerns over the incident?