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So now we know. He knew but didn’t check.

The speaker did know in advance of the raid on Damian Green’s office, and in what must be the most pathetic and weakest of excuses possible he says he wasn’t told that the police did not have a search warrant. (I’ll leave aside the very debateable point, that even with a search warrant it’s highly contentious that an MP’s office in Parliament may be searched at all).

Wasn’t told? Why didn’t he ask the most basic of questions? There can’t be anyone who’s ever watched a police drama, that doesn’t know that a warrant is needed to invade private property. What was he doing? Asleep on his watch it would seem. The very fact that he confirms he was aware of the raid makes it even worse. That alone should have put him on his guard and sharpened his senses to ask the obvious question. Knowing of the raid what were his thought processes? Clearly he completely failed to join the dots which should have led him to ask for the warrant to be produced.

For heavens sake, any self respecting low-life criminal knows to ask when confronting the boys in blue on his doorstep, ‘have you got a warrant?’.

This whole episode defies belief and must surely raise the question of Martin’s ability and political common sense.

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Why has Brown been silent over the Damian Green arrest affair?

Look no further than the following.

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Amongst the furore of the Damian Green arrest, and all the other implications that flow from that, is the largely unremarked element of the collection of DNA ‘evidence’.

I, like many others these last few years, have been extremely concerned about the routine collection, and retainment of DNA evidence. It seems to be the case that collection of DNA is now an automatic part of the arrest procedure. Whilst on the face of it that is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, in that it may help tie the suspect into other crimes, even if the suspect is eventually released without charge his DNA evidence is retained. The mere fact that someone is arrested is apparently sufficient grounds for collecting and retaining DNA

That I would suggest, in a society that was previously thought of as a free society, is completely intolerable. Put simply the state has no right to retain DNA evidence of law abiding citizens. Where might this lead? The state may decide that it would be useful to have as many samples of its citizens’ DNA as possible. Short of passing an Act that would require this, (and I fear that we’re getting pretty close with the iris recognition aspects of obtaining a passport), which even for ZANU Labour would probably be a step too far, it may nevertheless think it a good idea to have as many arrests as possible, the better able to collect DNA evidence under the existing system.

What next? An arrest and DNA collection for any minor traffic violation or speeding offence. An arrest for reading out the names of the Iraqi dead in Downing Street? An arrest for heckling Jack Straw at a Labour Party conference.

What fanciable suggestions. Such things couldn’t happen here.

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Dear Helen,

Re the Damian Green affair.

I have on previous occasions reminded you that after the primary duty of representing your constituents, your secondary duty is to hold the government to account. I have so far not detected this in your dealings with Ministers. I trust that even you can see the seriousness of this affair and will change your apparent habit of never questioning the government about a controversial matter.

The Damian Green affair is extremely worrying for our democracy and the constitutional position of the House of Commons. I sincerely hope that you will now ask some questions of Ministers and the Speaker George Martin.

1. No one has yet, as far as I can tell, specifically asked Jacqui Smith if she knew of the arrest of Damian Green before it took place. We have had vague comments from government officials that no minister knew in advance but that’s doesn’t preclude the fact that they may have been consulted whilst the police took a decision whether to arrest or not. These are weasel words and need to be examined in detail. Please do not confuse this with the independency of the Police. It is right that they are independent of government ministers since they are essentially a citizens police force and must make decisions independent of Ministers. But that does not mean that in an obviously serious case like the arrest of an MP that the Home Secretary should not be consulted for advice. Even Boris Johnson for heavens sake knew about the police involvement, and I cannot believe that Jacqui Smith was unaware. Will you therefore specifically put down a question in the House, to Jacqui Smith, asking this specific question. Was she or any civil servant in her department consulted about, told in advance, or in any way made aware of the possibility of the arrest?

2. I understand that George Martin authorised the police to search the office in Parliament of Damian Green? This is intolerable. The House of Commons is in our constitutional arrangement a court of law, and carries the special privileges that attach to any court. Amongst which is the security of information contained within the court. Will you also put down a question asking the Speaker why he has failed to uphold the status of Parliament and why he permitted the police to raid the office of an MP?

These events cause me great concern. There is something wrong with our democracy when the Prevention of Terrorism Act is used for a case like this, when clearly Damian Green is no threat to the security of the realm. I’m not altogether surprised at this slide in our freedom.

We’ve seen how this same Act has been used to suppress a poor woman who wanted to read out in Downing Street the names of the Iraqi dead. We had the disgraceful case of the 82 year old Walter Wolfgang being arrested under the Terrorism Act at your Labour conference for having the temerity to heckle Jack Straw, and of course we’ve had the government wanting to lift the detention period of suspects arrested under the Terrorism Act from 28 days to 90 days.

I look forward to your response and confirmation that you will deal with points 1 & 2 above and ask those questions in Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

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So Damian Green the Conservative Immigration spokesman has been arrested in connection with a series of leaks about immigration statistics from the Home Office. Well if that’s to be the case I sincerely hope that as much attention will be paid to those in government, who in recent days were clearly leaking details of Alistair Darling’s pre-Budget report.

Am I the only one who finds this contradiction in treatment extremely worrying. 60 years ago, Hugh Dalton the then Chancellor of the Exchequer resigned for having leaked details to a journalist on the day of his budget. Clearly that is wrong since this sort of financial information is extremely market sensitive. Yet no one seems to be pursuing those in government who have clearly been leaking this sensitive data.

There is a world of difference between non sensitive immigration numbers and tax and financial information.

Why is Damian Green being singled out?

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I’ve just watched a programme on BBC television, which neatly points out all that is wrong with the surveillance society, and the reliance placed on technology by the authorities, to the detriment of the innocent citizen.

The Liverpool police were having a crack down on uninsured cars one day, and deployed 40 + police vehicles with number plate recognition systems. One car was stopped because the police national computer indicated that it was uninsured. The lady driving it was accompanied by her children, and vociferously maintained that it was insured, yet the police showed that the system indicated otherwise, and seized her car. She was left to complete her journey, (accompanied by her children and a birthday cake and gifts for her mother’s 50th birthday party) without her car.

It turned out that the car was insured and that the central police national computer had not been updated with the relevant information from the insurance database.

We used to have a society where one was innocent until shown otherwise. In so many walks of life these days, this basic premise has been turned on its head. It seems to me that this has crept up on us and these powers have been seized by the authorities without any meaningful mandate from the public.

Is it any wonder that many of us are concerned about the government’s rush towards an identity card system. In so many areas we see a breakdown in technology and systemic failures of administration, sometimes tragically so in the case of Jean-Paul de Menezes.

It’s about time this government backed off and actually started to deal with the real problems in society.

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Embryo police state?

If ever a video shows you what is wrong with New Labour’s Britain these days, this is it. I still can’t believe what I’m watching is true.

Mr Pollard was reported as clearing up flood rubbish from his front garden when he noticed the police harassing a youth opposite his house. Mr P. retrieved his camera and this is what he filmed!

The film needs little further explanation. It is a small but telling example of the gradual breakdown in trust between a once highly regarded police force, and the public in general.

This seems to me a small but important example which demonstrates the way in which policing has changed significantly in the last 20-30 years.

I’m old enough (60s) to remember the ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ era, where police still exhibited the same sorts of characteristics that Robert Peel instigated over 170 years ago when he formed the Metropolitan police. Until recent times the police were essentially the same sorts of citizens as the rest of us, albeit ones with the significant additional powers of arrest. But nevertheless they were a citizen’s force first and foremost. They upheld the citizens rights against those who sought to act outside the law, be they state officials or other citizens.

In the last generation I’ve noticed a distinct shift away from their traditional role, and they are ever more becoming an arm of the state rather than the citizenry. One only has to think of the powers they have acquired to arrest people outside Downing Street who have the temerity to read out a list of those who have died in Iraq, or the arrest of those who wish to protestt within a kilometre of the Houses of Parliament.

This video neatly sums it up for me. The first reaction of the police in question, is to seek to prevent an ordinary Englishman going about his own business on his own property. Moreover they appear to be making up the law on the hoof.

I contrast this with the way in which I have observed the Police in Manchester, who regularly film those who are participating in peaceful protests in the city centre. When I’ve asked them why they are filming, the stock excuse is, ‘in case any complaints are made afterwards, we have the evidence’. Well if filming peaceful protestors is good enough for the police, then it seems the sauce for the gander is that ordinary citizens should in turn be free to film the police.

Mr Pollard (the film maker) is to be congratulated on capturing this evidence on video. It is to be hoped that it receives a much wider audience.

All I’d ask is that anyone seeing this passes it on. And if you are a UK citizen, please contact your MP and ask, nay demand that they get to grips with this. Ask them to raise the whole subject of police powers and their drift away from being a citizens force, and seek answers from the government as to what they propose doing about it.

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