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

7  The views of the Committee


170.  When the Director of Public Prosecutions announced on 16 April 2009 that he had decided that charges should not be brought against either Christopher Galley or Damian Green for the offences alleged against them, it was because on the particular facts of the case there was no realistic prospect of a conviction against either of them.


171.  We endorse the four concluding Recommendations of the O'Connor Report—

1. That the Metropolitan Police Service, together with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), review and formalise guidance on police investigations involving high impact cases, to fully incorporate the principles of 'without fear or favour'.

2. That the Cabinet Office reviews the Civil Service's capability to respond to leaks and facilitates the development of appropriate standards of preventative security and investigation in accordance with departmental risks.

3. That the Cabinet Office review its guidance to departments on leak investigations to clarify that the police will have the lead in Official Secrets Act inquiries or other very exceptionally serious criminality but that the Cabinet Office/departments will deal with other leaks and agree the guidance with police.

4. That the police, Cabinet Office and Crown Prosecution Service jointly agree a protocol that provides checks and balances for future investigations recognising that decisions on the conduct of investigations must ultimately rest with the police.


172.  We give our support and endorsement to the Speaker's Protocol of 8 December 2008, which makes clear the indispensability of a Judge's search warrant, while reserving to the Speaker on behalf of the House the responsibility for ensuring that any such warrant is executed with proper respect for the functioning of Parliament. We recommend that the Speaker's Protocol should be drawn to the attention of any future Speaker, Clerk of the House or Serjeant at Arms of their initial briefing, handover or induction.


173.  We have set out in this Report our views about the response of the House authorities and particularly that of the Speaker, the Clerk of the House and the Serjeant at Arms to an unusual challenge to the good management of the House of Commons. Despite the progress made since the Tebbit Report towards a more unified House of Commons Service, our inquiry has demonstrated that there were lapses in communication, induction and lines of accountability and responsibility at the very top of the organisation.

174.  As Chief Executive of the House of Commons, the Clerk of the House should have made sure that the Serjeant at Arms had a better grasp of the limits of her authority, that she was fully aware of the McKay Memorandum of July 2000, and that she realised that no claim of confidentiality should have prevented her from making sure that the Speaker and the Clerk of the House were fully aware of the intended police operation affecting a Member of Parliament.

175.  We recommend that the next review of Management and Services of the House of Commons should take place early in the new Parliament, to continue the series which runs from Ibbs (1990) to Braithwaite (1999) to Tebbit (2007). We would like to see a fresh examination of the roles and responsibilities of the officers of the House and the Speaker to ensure the effectiveness of the support for individual Members and the good management of the House. Such a review should include greater clarity on the role of the most senior personnel, line management responsibilities, and lessons to be drawn from best business practice as well as the management of other comparable legislatures.

176.  While the House and its Speaker could and should no doubt have been better served by their officials, the Speaker himself should have been asking the right questions and he should have taken more responsibility for exercising the authority of his high office.

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Prepared 22 March 2010