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

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 540-559)


23 NOVEMBER 2009

  Q540  Ann Coffey: The Speaker when he came to talk to us was quite clear that he believed there must have been a warrant for such a search to occur.

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: I do not know where that could have come from because, having been part of listening to the conversation with the Serjeant at Arms, I do not understand where that came from.

  Q541  Ann Coffey: Because he just assumed that nobody would search a Member of Parliament's office without a warrant. That was his assumption.

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: I cannot have a view on that because I was listening to one part of the conversation. Jill Pay had consented, there is documentary evidence to show that she consented, and again, in the meeting she was very much—and this is very much Jill—in control. In fact, every time the police had an audience with Jill during that week, or the two times, she was very much in control of that meeting.

  Q542  Chairman: Is that so? This is one individual representing the whole of the House of Commons in an unusual set of circumstances with three senior officers of police. You say she was in control of the meeting in those circumstances?

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: She is a formidable lady, sir.

  Q543  Chairman: I do not doubt that for one moment.

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: She is incredibly professional. I took the officers into her environment. She was very much in control. She was very forensic about the questions she asked us and we were left, quite rightly, in no ... We knew that Jill Pay was in charge of that meeting, and she asked some very searching questions. I understand what you are saying sir, but no, Jill Pay was in control, and certainly in her own apartments on the Thursday morning, again, very much in control, sir.

  Q544  Chairman: In your view, she could not be intimidated by these meetings?

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: Clearly, it is a question for Jill Pay. She did not appear intimidated in any form, sir.

  Q545  Ann Coffey: She did not ask questions about not having a warrant or why you were asking her to consent to a search and not applying for a warrant? How much discussion went on about that?

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: A lot of discussion. When I introduced the police officers to Jill Pay on the Wednesday afternoon, that was the discussion, because the police officers needed best evidence. There was no way the police officers would risk losing the evidence because they had gone down the wrong route of not getting a warrant, so it was very important to the police officers to ensure that they had got proper consent and that Jill Pay had the right to give consent.

  Q546  Ann Coffey: That is one area of discussion, clearly, because it shows in your memorandum that a lot of trouble went to confirm that she had ...

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: Yes.

  Q547  Ann Coffey: I was not talking so much about that. I was talking about discussion about why you were going down the consent route rather than the application for a warrant.

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: I think perhaps because I had already had those conversations with the Serjeant at Arms before the Wednesday and rehearsed that with the officers in the case. I do not recall that being too much of a conversation on the Wednesday, no, because in some ways those were already cul-de-sacs that had been cut off.

  Q548  Ann Coffey: There was no discussion about applying for a warrant at all?

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: Looking at my memorandum, the officers re-explained to the Serjeant at Arms why they could not seek a warrant, because a magistrate or a judge would not give us a warrant because clearly they believed Parliament would surely agree.

  Q549  Ann Coffey: Then we come back to the bit that was missing, in which she could have refused. If she had refused consent, then you could have gone for a warrant. That is the bit that is missing, is it not? She did not have it spelled out to her.

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: You are correct. At no time did I or in my presence any other officer explain to Jill Pay, "Serjeant at Arms, you do not need to consent." It was my understanding from my many conversations with Jill Pay during the week that she understood that.

  Q550  Mr Howard: If she had not consented, you or the investigating officer would have had to justify to a district judge the need for a warrant.

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: Yes, and we would have asked for a letter from the Serjeant at Arms and taken the letter with us, and I think it is probably more a question for Mr McDowall on the investigation, but normally we would then go to the magistrate or the judge, show the letter from the House of Commons and then act accordingly.

  Q551  Ann Coffey: Did she know that you would require from her a letter if she refused consent?

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: It is not a discussion I had with Jill Pay.

  Q552  Ann Coffey: It is not a discussion you had?

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: No.

  Q553  Mr Howard: The meeting which you have just been asked about extensively, Mr Bateman, was an important meeting, was it not?

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: There was a meeting on the Wednesday afternoon, sir, and there was a meeting again on the Thursday morning.

  Q554  Mr Howard: Both of them, come to that, were important meetings.

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: I think they were very significant, and we knew they were significant at the time.

  Q555  Mr Howard: Why did you wait a week before writing up your notes of what were, as you have just told us, very significant meetings?

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: With hindsight, I wish I had written them earlier. I wrote a timeline about four or five days later. I was aware that Sir Ian Johnston had been invited to look at the circumstances and my initial timeline was for the benefit of his inquiry, to show from my view where we were. Again, because I was the intermediary, the person bringing together, I would not normally write a note because normally I withdraw. So it is unusual for me to remain close to the circumstances, but with hindsight, sir, yes, I wish I had written a note sooner.

  Q556  Chairman: If I can just come back to a point about which Mr Howard asked some searching questions, you agree with me that, as the memorandum says, you proceeded on a presumption in relation to the level of knowledge of the Serjeant at Arms?

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: That is correct, sir.

  Q557  Chairman: There is nothing in PACE, or indeed the Code attached to it, which suggests that a presumption can be regarded as equivalent to an express indication that the individual need not consent.

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: I have followed the evidence, I have gone back to the Codes of Practice, and I believe you are right, sir. It is a considerable time since I have used the Codes because I have not had an operational role.

  Q558  Chairman: I understand that.

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: Like other senior colleagues, we have gone back, and Mr Howard is correct.

  Q559  Ann Coffey: It was easier for you, was it not, to get consent from the Serjeant rather than apply for a warrant to search a Member of Parliament's office in the House of Commons?

  Chief Superintendent Bateman: I think that is probably a question for the investigation. That is not my area.

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