Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
2 NOVEMBER 2009
Q187 Chairman: Perhaps you should identify
yourselves first for the record.
Mr Sinclair: I am Angus Sinclair
and I have been the Speaker's Secretary since July 2005.
Mr Barratt: Peter Barratt, I am
the Assistant Secretary and have been since December 2000.
Q188 Chairman: You have been present
throughout the course of the evidence given by the former Speaker,
now Lord Martin, and you have heard the questions and the answers
which he has given. I should perhaps have asked did you have any
role in the preparation of this memorandum that he gave to the
Mr Barratt: No Sir.
Mr Sinclair: No.
Q189 Chairman: Having listened to
that evidence, is there any material point on which you would
differ in your evidence from that given by Lord Martin or any
additional or further explanation you can give the Committee which
might be of assistance to us?
Mr Sinclair: I think I could,
Sir. I was called to see the Clerk at around about 4 o'clock on
the Thursday and he told me that there had been a problem, that
Damian Green's office was being searched and that the Serjeant
had made a mistake by letting the police in with just a consent
Q190 Sir Alan Beith: Who told you?
Mr Sinclair: The Clerk.
Q191 Sir Malcolm Rifkind: What day
was this conversation?
Mr Sinclair: This was on the 27th.
Ms Hewitt: On the Thursday.
Q192 Chairman: And was there any
mention of anti-terrorism or anything of that kind?
Mr Sinclair: There probably could
have been because counter-terrorism I think was the phrase that
was used but the Clerk added that he had instructed the Serjeant
to write a restraining letter which would go with the consent
form and he felt that would be enough to allow the search to have
continued. It was clear to me that he had not known this for very
long. It seemed to be new information and he told me that I should
find where Speaker Martin was and to tell him what had happened
and that particularly the consent form and the letter written,
which of course I had not yet seen, were enough to satisfy police
entry and a search of Mr Green's office.
Q193 Chairman: This is very interesting.
You were told that the Serjeant had signed the consent form but
that she should write a restraining letter?
Mr Sinclair: Well, a letter to
the senior investigating officer.
Q194 Chairman: But if the consent
form had been signed and consent had therefore been granted, what
did you understand the effect of a restraining letter might be?
Mr Sinclair: Well I felt that
the Clerk, who I thought understood these things better than I
did, had felt that the consent form was probably not enough to
allow a search to go ahead and there needed to be further information.
Q195 Chairman: I am in some difficulty
in following this, Mr Sinclair. A consent form was signed, we
can accept that, but I am not sure, and maybe we will have to
ask the Clerk about this, that a letter can modify that either
to expand upon the powers given by it or to restrict the powers
given by it but you understood together with a consent form a
letter had been instructed to be sent?
Mr Sinclair: Yes.
Chairman: Perhaps we will try and find
out where a copy of that letter is.
Q196 Sir Malcolm Rifkind: Just to
clarify, in the Speaker's statement he says at paragraph 26: "The
Clerk told me that he had not known of the search until he saw
it happening on television." Is that consistent with your
Mr Sinclair: That would be consistent
with what I heard from the Clerk.
Q197 Sir Malcolm Rifkind: The conversation
you told us about happened on the same day?
Mr Sinclair: Yes about two hours
after the search had begun.
Q198 Sir Malcolm Rifkind: So he first
got to know about it because of the television not because he
had been informed?
Mr Sinclair: I do not know who
Q199 Chairman: He actually saw it
Mr Sinclair: It was on television.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind: It was being
reported presumably on television.