Police Searches on the Parliamentary Estate - Committee on Issue of Privilege Contents


Summary

This Summary is intended to set the scene. Detailed factual references will be found throughout the Report.

Home Office official Christopher Galley leaked some Restricted papers to Opposition spokesman Damian Green MP, who passed the documents to the Daily Mail and other newspapers. The Home Office asked the Cabinet Office to investigate 31 unauthorised disclosures from the Home Office. The Cabinet Office invited the Metropolitan Police Service's Counter Terrorism Command SO15 to investigate these and several other leaks, possibly from the Home Office, which included material classified as Secret. Internal investigators pinpointed Christopher Galley as responsible for a handful of leaks of non-secret material. The Crown Prosecution Service told SO15 that it was not possible to prosecute Christopher Galley under the Official Secrets Act but that he might have committed the crime of misconduct in public office. SO15 arrested Christopher Galley and obtained a warrant to search his home. The Home Office gave consent, without requiring a search warrant, for Christopher Galley's workplace to be searched. The police decided to arrest Damian Green for aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in public office by Christopher Galley. A judge granted a search warrant for Damian Green's homes and constituency office on the basis of police information alleging leaks of secret papers. SO15 pressed the Serjeant at Arms for consent to search Damian Green's parliamentary office. The Clerk of the House told the Serjeant she had the delegated authority to permit a search of a Member's office, if the Speaker agreed. The Serjeant gave the police her consent and informed Mr Speaker Martin, who assumed that the police must have had a warrant. A search of Damian Green's office in Parliament was then carried out. The House voted to establish a Committee to review the internal processes of the House administration for granting permission for a search of a Member's office in the Parliamentary Estate. After the narrow defeat in the House of an amendment to remove the restriction which would have prevented the Committee from starting work before the criminal inquiry was completed, the main Opposition parties refused to take part in the work of the Committee, which was never convened. Damian Green's lawyers argued that material seized in the search was covered by parliamentary privilege. About twenty documents among those seized were identified by House officials as proceedings in Parliament, covered by privilege, and returned to Damian Green by the police. The police submitted the case papers to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who decided that the evidence did not meet the threshold required for prosecuting misconduct in public office. All criminal charges against both Damian Green and Christopher Galley were dropped. The Home Office dismissed Christopher Galley for gross misconduct. The present Committee was established three months later, a few weeks after Mr Speaker Martin's resignation.





 
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Prepared 22 March 2010