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

Examination of Witness (Question Numbers 115-119)



  Q115 Chairman: Lord Martin, thank you very much for attending upon the Committee today. I would also thank you for preparing such a detailed statement in advance. I think the Committee would find it helpful if you were willing to read that statement to us. It will of course be published in due course as part of the Committee's papers, but I think it would be helpful in focusing our minds if you were to read it to us. Just one preliminary matter, in the course of your statement you make reference to the actions of a number of others from which it might be implied that some criticism was appropriate in relation to them. I should of course make it clear, as I am sure you will understand, that we will be ensuring that anyone who is referred to in your statement in such a manner has the opportunity to respond in due course.

  Lord Martin of Springburn: That is only right and fitting, Sir Menzies. In the interests of clarity, I know I am here to speak to my statement and answer any questions that you may have, and I know it is about my experiences of the situation, but I did read the Johnston Report, and of course I do not have the access to papers that I once had but there is a point that I do seek clarification on and I do not know if your Clerk might be able to help. It means that we will all be on the same wavelength.

  Q116  Chairman: It might be helpful if we dealt with that now.

  Lord Martin of Springburn: I would rather we dealt with it now. On page 45 of the Johnston Report a small paragraph says: "Police evidence indicates the Serjeant at Arms was first approached by the police on 20 November about consent to search. She was seen again on 26 November 2008 about the need to search offices of an MP. She gave her written consent on 27 November 2008 by letter and signed a form in Book 101 confirming her consent." The clarity I would like is that in my statement, and I will read it out, I did say that it was brought to my attention that the Clerk of the House instructed the Serjeant when he discovered there was a search to write a letter to the police officer in charge of the search and the effect of that letter was to constrain the search to the charge brought against Mr Galley and Mr Green. The way that report reads, it is as if the letter and the signed form were presented simultaneously. That may be just the way it is presented but I wonder if that is not the case then can I ask were there two letters submitted to the police on that day, that is 27 November?

  Q117  Chairman: I do not think we can give you an unequivocal answer to that, Lord Martin, but since you have raised the issue we most certainly will raise it when we question the author of the Johnston Report.

  Lord Martin of Springburn: Thank you very much.

  Q118  Chairman: If it has any significance in relation to the evidence you give today then we will ask you to comment in reply, if necessary in writing.

  Lord Martin of Springburn: It is just that I want clarity. The way that reads there is one letter. If that one letter is the letter that I referred to then that clears up the matter but if there were two letters then it should have read there were two letters presented to the police.

  Q119  Chairman: I agree with you, there is something of an ambiguity. You can take it that we will pursue that ambiguity as appropriate and if we think you need an opportunity to respond then we will give you that opportunity.

  Lord Martin of Springburn: Thank you, Sir Menzies.

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