Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Jill Pay, Tut Tut Tut

Damian Green row: I did not authorise police search, says Speaker | Politics |
In a Commons statement to explain why the Metropolitan police were allowed to search the shadow immigration minister's parliamentary office, Martin revealed:

• The Metropolitan police informed Jill Pay, the serjeant at arms, last Wednesday that the arrest of an MP was being contemplated. The identity of the MP was not disclosed.

• At 7am on Thursday police called on the serjeant at arms and explained the background to the case and disclosed to her it was Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister.

• Police did not explain that a warrant could be insisted upon.

• The serjeant called Martin to relay the information.

• Martin was never asked whether consent for the raid should be granted.

Martin was told that a search might take place of Green's offices in the house.

"I was not told that the police did not have a warrant," he added, to cries of surprise and a shout of "Shame!"

Martin added: "I have been told that the police did not explain, as they are required to do, that the serjeant was not obliged to consent or that a warrant could have been insisted on …

"I regret that a consent form was then signed by the serjeant at arms without consulting the clerk."

He added: "I was not asked whether consent should be given."
Regardless of whether this arrest and search should have been carried out, the one thing that is clear is that the process was a complete shambles. I realise that there is not much of a precedent for this kind of thing but I had assumed that the people in charge had processes and schemes in place to deal with it. It turns out that Jill Pay had no idea how to act, and didn't even know that she could tell the police they needed a warrant. It seems the police told her they were going to raid Greens office, when they should have asked. It's unbelievable that the person in charge of approving the arrest of an MP didn't even know that they have that power?


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