Examination of Witness (Question Numbers
2 NOVEMBER 2009
Q140 Mr Howard: But on 27 November,
the following day, you were told at half past seven in the morning
by the Serjeant that there was definitely going to be an arrest
and a search?
Lord Martin of Springburn: Yes.
Q141 Mr Howard: Why did you not then
ask the Serjeant whether she had consulted the Clerk?
Lord Martin of Springburn: I took
it that the person in charge of security had consulted her immediate
superior. I took it to be the case. That is what I expected and
that is what I thought. Also if I could say about the search,
I have been a constituency MP for 30 years in an area which can
have some social difficulties and a councillor before that and
never has anyone come to my surgery or spoke to me and said, "My
house was searched and there was no warrant." When there
is a search there is always a warrant. That was basic and that
is what I expected to happen. At that stage I expected Speaker's
Counsel to be involved and I expected the Clerk to be involved.
Also the Serjeant was not saying to me, "By the way, this
search is based on a consent and there has been a wee bit of a
debate about it." Then I would have been able to say, "Wait
a minute, what is going on here?" But all of these peoplethe
Clerk and Speaker's CounselI expected that that should
have been something the Serjeant should have done.
Q142 Mr Howard: But you never asked
for the Clerk's advice and you never asked whether there was indeed
Lord Martin of Springburn: I did
not ask, no, but I expected that, and I have said in my statement
that I expected that to be basic that there should have been a
Q143 Mr Howard: With the benefit
of hindsight do you wish that you had asked those questions?
Lord Martin of Springburn: Of
course with the benefit of hindsight, yes, of course.
Q144 Mr Howard: In the afternoon
when you had gone to Glasgow the Speaker's Secretary phoned you
and told you that the Clerk had wanted convey to you that the
search was underway and was being conducted properly.
Lord Martin of Springburn: Yes.
Q145 Mr Howard: Even then you did
not ask to speak to the Clerk yourself?
Lord Martin of Springburn: No,
that is not true. I am sorry but the Clerk had told Speaker's
Secretary Mr Angus Sinclair, "Tell the Speaker everything
has been carried out properly," and then what I wanted to
know at that stage is what does `properly' mean? Of course by
that time, Mr Howard, your own party was kicking up blazes, with
justification, and then I said, "What does `properly' mean?
I want to know what that means," and I asked for the paperwork.
That was the first thing that I had to do. Bear this in mind:
I do not know at what point the Clerk left to go abroad, I do
not know whether he was still in the country or not, but what
I wanted to know was if everything was all right and I wanted
sight of the paperwork. I wanted to see for myself what the paperwork
was like because Patrick McLoughlin had wanted to speak to me
early onand when I say early I mean on at teatime that
eveningand that was not possible because I was in the house
of a brother who was chronically ill.
Q146 Mr Howard: But if you wanted
to know what the Clerk meant by being conducted properly in respect
of the search, why on earth did you not ask to speak to the Clerk
so you could ask him that question?
Lord Martin of Springburn: Why
did the Clerk not speak to me? Why did the Clerk not come directly
to me? The Clerk has every phone number, the same amount of phone
numbers that Angus Sinclair has got. Why did the Clerk not come
to me? The duty of the Clerk is to serve the Speaker, not the
other way round; it is not for me to run around finding the Clerk.
If the Clerk went to my senior official in Speaker's House and
said, "By the way I want you to pass this information on,"
he is indicating that he does not want to come to me. The message
that he was putting across was that everything was all right,
it had been done properly, and then I said before I speak to Patrick
McLoughlin I wanted to know what being done properly meant. Then
of course you had the difficulty that there are no faxes in my
brother's home and I was not going to have someone who was ill
being upset by phone calls coming to and from. I then said get
me the paperwork. The first thing is the paperwork was not available
at 5 o'clock when Angus spoke to me and then Peter Barratt was
able to phone me. I was on the way home. I pulled into a lay-by
and I said, "Right, the first thing I want to know, Peter,
is: is there a magistrate's signature on this document?"
and he said, "Well, there are only two signatures. There
is the signature of the Serjeant at Arms and a police officer."
I said that is not a warrant because I have enough experience
dealing with constituents, and I was a JP for a short period of
time when I was a councillor in Glasgow, to know there has got
to be a magistrate's warrant. Peter explained to me that it was
an A4 sheet that he had in front of him. I said, "Right,
start reading from the top to the bottom what it says on this
A4 sheet," and when I heard "consent to entry"
or words to that effect I said that is not a warrant and I realised
then that there was no warrant. The point about why did I not
come to the Clerk; why did the Clerk not come to me? That is what
they are there for to advise everyone in the House, especially
Q147 Mr Howard: I want to ask you
about one other matter relating to the Clerk. On 2 December you
held a meeting with all the officials of the House to prepare
your statement to the House the next day and you deal with that
at paragraphs 25 to 27 of your statement. In particular you say
at paragraph 27 that you were told on that occasion that the Serjeant
had gone both to the Clerk Assistant and to the Clerk on a "what
if" basis to ask whether she had authority to grant consent
for the search and you say in the last sentence at paragraph 27:
"The Serjeant had put the same questions to the Clerk of
the House and the Clerk had informed her that she had that authority."
That is what you were told at the meeting of 2 December?
Lord Martin of Springburn: Correct.
Q148 Mr Howard: This is what I do
not understand. When you made your statement to the House the
next day you said: "I regret that a consent form was then
signed by the Serjeant at Arms without consulting the Clerk of
Lord Martin of Springburn: I think
the point I was trying to make, Mr Howard, was that the Serjeant
had informed me that she had gone and signed a consent form without
the Clerk's approval. That is the point. In other words, it was
a consent form. I do not know what was in his mind when he says
that she had the authority but what he was saying to me on 2 December
was that it should have been with a warrant and that was the point
I was making.
Mr Howard: But she had consulted the
Clerk, had she not? That is what you tell us in paragraph 27 of
your memorandum. She had consulted the Clerk
Mr Blunkett: Just before Lord Martin
answers that question from Michael Howard, could we just clarify
for my own sake when the Clerk was available and when he was not
because we are addressing 2 December but obviously from the events
of 20 November when was the Clerk actually available?
Mr Howard: We are only addressing 2 December
because that was when a meeting took place when the events of
27 November were being discussed. It was on 2 December that the
Speaker held his meeting with the officials in order to decide
what to tell the House on the 3rd.
Chairman: Paragraph 25.
Q149 Mr Howard: Exactly. To give
an account of what had happened, so on the face of paragraph 27
the Speaker was told that the Clerk had been consulted by the
Serjeant but that is not what the House of Commons was told the
Lord Martin of Springburn: But
it was not. I think the point has got to be made that I do not
know what was in the Clerk's mind when he said you have authority
to allow anyone in, but the authority should have been with a
search warrant and not a consent. The Clerk has told me in conversation
that in no way was he suggesting that a search of premises should
have been by a consent form.
Q150 Mr Howard: Lord Martin, the
advice that the Clerk gave the Serjeant might well have been wrong
but the fact is that the Clerk did give the Serjeant advice, as
you say in paragraph 27 of your statement, and what you told the
House on 3 December was not correct, was it?
Lord Martin of Springburn: What
I told the House on 3 December was correct. That was not proper
consultation in my eyes, for someone to walk in and give a "what
if" scenario and then walk out the door again. It was not
consultation in the sense that you, Mr Howard, or I would understand
where you would sit down and have a full discussion and say, "Look,
there is an anti-terrorism group, there is a possibility of an
arrest and here are all the circumstances. Do I have the power
to allow a person in?" I understand the "what if"
scenario is that in certain circumstances a Serjeant can allow
someone on the premises, but if you are talking about consultation
let me say that it was not the consultation that you or I would
understand where you say there is a given situation, there is
a Member, I do not know his name but there is an anti-terrorism
group involved, and there are police officers and they could want
into the House of Commons." That was not full consultation
in the sense that I understand it and that was why the statement
I gave was given in good faith to the House.
Q151 Sir Malcolm Rifkind: Lord Martin,
you have indicated what you believe to be the responsibilities
of the Clerk of the House and of the Serjeant at Arms and both
in your statement and in your evidence you have been critical
of the way they carried out these responsibilities. When you were
first informed by the Serjeant at Arms first of all on the Wednesday
and then on the Thursday of the imminent arrest of a Member of
Parliament, what did you consider to be your responsibility as
the Speaker of the House?
Lord Martin of Springburn: I am
sorry, Sir Malcolm, could you repeat the question?
Q152 Sir Malcolm Rifkind: I am asking
you when you were first informed on the Wednesday, the day before
the arrest of Mr Green, and on Thursday when you were told an
arrest was likely later that dayand you have told us in
some detail about your view of the responsibilities of the Clerk
of the House and the Serjeant at Armswhat you considered
Lord Martin of Springburn: I feel
my responsibility was that I was dealing with an anti-terrorism
squad. I did not know all the facts and I felt that I could not
interfere with an anti-terrorism squad.
Q153 Sir Malcolm Rifkind: But what
did you consider were your responsibilities as Speaker of the
Lord Martin of Springburn: My
responsibility as Speaker of the House was not to interfere with
a police investigation. I do not think the House would have wanted
me to do that. My other responsibilities were to see that the
officers of the House were acting properly.
Q154 Sir Malcolm Rifkind: But did
you make any effort to find out if they were acting properly because
you have told us you made no attempt to actually get the advice
of the Clerk of the House or to consult what the procedures should
be on such an occasion.
Lord Martin of Springburn: I was
told that this was highly confidential by the officer in charge
of security and I presumedI presumedthat she had
kept the Clerk of the House informed. That has happened before,
Sir Malcolm, where the Speaker is told by one officer and other
officers are in the loop, if that is the right word to use, are
Q155 Sir Malcolm Rifkind: Lord Martin,
you were told it was confidential on the Wednesday but you have
also told us that on the Thursday, on the day of the arrest, you
were phoned by the Serjeant at Arms at 7.30 in the morning to
be told an arrest was likely later that day. What was to stop
you immediately calling the Clerk of the House, the Serjeant at
Arms, the Counsel to the Speaker and the other relevant officials
Lord Martin of Springburn: It
was the Serjeant at Arms who was talking to me so I would not
have phoned the Serjeant at Arms.
Q156 Sir Malcolm Rifkind: I appreciate
that but nevertheless the arrest of a Member of Parliament and
the possible search of an office in the House was one of the most
serious things that could happen. You had the ultimate responsibility
for what happened in the House of Commons. I cannot understand
why even at that time, when it was no longer a question of confidence
because it was happening that day, you did not actually ask your
advisers to tell you what is the proper procedure if a Member
of Parliament is being arrested and if there is a possibility
that his office is going to be searched because you have told
us you had no knowledge yourself of these matters. Did you not
think it appropriate to find out immediately what the proper procedure
was, what the safeguards should be at that time?
Lord Martin of Springburn: My
understandingand perhaps with hindsight that is what I
should have donewas that the Serjeant had kept everyone
who should have been informed.
Q157 Sir Malcolm Rifkind: But forgive
me, Lord Martin, it is not just a question of whether people were
informed; it is what are the rules that should be observed by
the police and by the Serjeant at Arms if a Member is about to
be arrested and his office is about to be searched? If you had
done that would you not have been told that the proper procedure
would be that a search warrant should be obtained? Did you not
in fact make any effort to establish that?
Lord Martin of Springburn: Every
time that I have dealt with a constituent and there has been a
search there has been a search warrant. As far as I am concerned,
that was basic; if there was search there was a search warrant.
Q158 Sir Malcolm Rifkind: Would it
not have been wise to just check what the proper procedure was?
Lord Martin of Springburn: It
would have been wise for the Serjeant to check.
Q159 Sir Malcolm Rifkind: If it was
wise for the Serjeant would it not have been wise for you as well?
Lord Martin of Springburn: This
is one of the three officers that advise me on a daily basis.
I expected that she had lined up the other senior officers with