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

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 200-215)



  Q200  Chairman: Because of course there was a video taken which has been repeated on a number of occasions since then. You do not know whether it was a video or a report of the fact a search had been undertaken?

  Mr Sinclair: I do not know.

  Chairman: Michael Howard?

  Q201  Mr Howard: You were present, Mr Sinclair, at the meeting of 2 December?

  Mr Sinclair: I was.

  Q202  Mr Howard: I do not know if you have had the opportunity of reading the former Speaker's statement but you have heard the evidence he has given this afternoon. Can you confirm, as he says at the end of paragraph 27 of his statement, that at that meeting he was told that the Serjeant had asked the Clerk on a "what if" basis whether she had the authority to consent to bring the police into a Member's office and the Clerk had informed her that she had that authority?

  Mr Sinclair: I think that was part of the discussion.

  Q203  Chairman: Can you also confirm that the expressions by the Clerk about Chief Superintendent Bateman, which are reproduced at paragraph 29—

  Mr Sinclair: I do not remember the term "bamboozled" but I do remember that there seemed to be a feeling that perhaps Superintendent Bateman had not kept the Serjeant fully in the picture about what this meant and there was some concern about the confidentiality of the counter-terrorist police investigating this case.

  Sir Alan Beith: That is rephrasing it.

  Q204  Chairman: That is a different gloss, if you like, on what took place. A concern is one thing but the language which Lord Martin used was very specific and that is why I put it to him that the Clerk intervened to say that Chief Superintendent Bateman had bamboozled the Serjeant and tricked her into keeping the matter from her immediate superiors. Do you remember that language?

  Mr Sinclair: I think there was an expression that he had not dealt with her straightly, he had not really fully informed her of what the position was but I do not remember the term "bamboozled" being used.

  Q205  Ann Coffey: Do you remember the term "tricked"?

  Mr Sinclair: I do not remember.

  Q206  Sir Alan Beith: Whether it was used?

  Mr Sinclair: I do not remember whether it was used or not.

  Q207  Sir Malcolm Rifkind: Whatever words were used, were you left with the impression that the suggestion was that the Chief Superintendent had deliberately not informed the Serjeant that she had the option to decline the search?

  Mr Sinclair: It appeared to be so, yes.

  Q208  Mr Blunkett: Could I just go back to the point I was making with Lord Martin. You recall the phone call, Mr Sinclair, that you had to make when Lord Martin was at his brother's house?

  Mr Sinclair: Yes.

  Q209  Mr Blunkett: And the difficulty of getting him. You had found out by then that a search warrant had not been obtained and it was your unfortunate duty to tell him. Is that right?

  Mr Sinclair: That is generally correct, Sir. I told him that there was a consent form and this letter that I have spoken about earlier but no warrant and he was surprised by that and determined that he should see these pieces of paper. Of course at that time I had not seen them myself.

  Q210  Chairman: Were these pieces of paper faxed to him at home? Is that right?

  Mr Sinclair: They were.

  Q211  Chairman: Was that by Mr Barratt?

  Mr Barratt: Yes, that was me. Later that evening I faxed them to Glasgow.

  Q212  Chairman: Mr Barratt, did you have any other connection with these events that we are discussing?

  Mr Barratt: Not at all. I was told by the Speaker's Secretary between half five and six o'clock on that Thursday evening what was happening and that I should be around to speak to Mr Speaker in due course over the evening.

  Q213  Ms Hewitt: Mr Sinclair, when the Clerk said to you that it appeared that the Serjeant had given consent but should not have done so, did he say to you, "Of course there should have been a search warrant," or make any other reference to a search warrant and did he mention Sir William McKay's memorandum which dealt with exactly this kind of situation but of course was several years old?

  Mr Sinclair: He made it clear to that me there was not a search warrant. He thought that the Serjeant had made a mistake and he did not make any mention of Sir William McKay's memorandum.

  Q214  Chairman: Did you know of Sir William McKay's memorandum at that time?

  Mr Sinclair: I did not and in fact I searched subsequently through my office's records and it is not held in the Speaker's office.

  Mr Blunkett: That is quite interesting.

  Chairman: That is a very interesting piece of information.

  Q215  Ms Hewitt: But it might have been held in the Clerk's office as distinct from the Speaker's office?

  Mr Sinclair: That is true. It was from that office it had originated in the first place.

  Chairman: Gentlemen, I do not think we need to detain you any longer. Thank you very much for your attendance and for your evidence.

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