Examination of Witness (Question Numbers
14 DECEMBER 2009
Q960 Sir Alan Beith: That is a very
different argument. I understand your argument that you had established
there was somebody who was prepared to enter safes and intercept
correspondence within the private office and leak material from
it, but by that time, you knew who it was, you knew what material
he had access to, and you knew what had appeared in the public
Mr Quick: Yes, we knew some material
had appeared in the public domain, and we knew what that was,
but we had eventually recovered evidence that suggested that Mr
Galley was communicating to Mr Green what he had access to, namely
the private office in-tray, the SPD in-tray, I believe it was
termed as, which were areas where we knew sensitive information
flowed. So this was a very difficult dilemma, I think, for the
police, because on the one hand, these facts created a duty to
investigate and find out exactly what had been leaked by whom
and to whom, and we were in the process of undertaking that, and
part of undertaking that was the arrest of Mr Green.
Q961 Sir Alan Beith: So what you
are actually saying is, we have not got anything on the Official
Secrets Act, but if we proceed with this misconduct in public
office charge, we might turn something up?
Mr Quick: Well, it was not the
case of proceeding with that charge, that was the locus of the
continued investigation in law, and under advice from Crown prosecutors,
but there was as a matter of fact an obvious risk that secret
material may have been leaked.
Q962 Chairman: Are you familiar with
Mr Micawber, Mr Quick, who was always bankrupt, but always hoped
that something would turn up?
Mr Quick: I think I have heard
Q963 Chairman: Did that characterise
any of this?
Mr Quick: No, because we were
acting under very clear advice, and very clear facts and evidence
about people's conduct, so I do not think this was speculative,
we were following the evidence that was in front of us.
Q964 Chairman: Can I just say something
else on this unknown Opposition spokesman? I do not know in your
world, but I can certainly tell you in our world that the remarks
of an unidentified Opposition spokesman would normally be regarded
with a certain amount of scepticism, and a large pinch of salt.
How much reliance were you placing on observations of this kind,
which might well have been hyperbole?
Mr Quick: Of course. On the one
hand, you might expect someone commenting publicly on something
that is quite serious to be actually being frank and truthful,
but at the same time, I do accept your point, it could have been
exaggerated. However, of course, I was aware, from my role and
position in the Metropolitan Police, that these inquiries do from
time to time take place, and secret material is suspected of going
Q965 Mr Howard: You have referred,
Mr Quick, several times, to the damage that might be caused by
the documents you had identified and discovered in the context
of the relationship between Mr Galley and Mr Green.
Mr Quick: Yes.
Q966 Mr Howard: What sort of damage
do you have in mind?
Mr Quick: Well, firstly, the question
arose whether secret material had been leaked, and I think we
were in the process of resolving that question. Secondly, there
was a suggestion that damage may have been caused to the Home
Office by the pattern of leaks which were breaking down trust,
stifling frank and candid communicationsforgive me, I cannot
recite word for word the nature of the complaint.
Q967 Mr Howard: How about having
an impact on the efficient and effective conduct of Government
Mr Quick: That is a passage from
the letter from the Cabinet Office. A question does arise as to
what damage was caused, and clearly, in order to answer that question,
I think you are under a duty to find out what has been leaked.
Q968 Mr Howard: No, but there is
another question, you see, which is not how much damage was caused,
but whether damage of that kind is any of your business.
Mr Quick: I think I would refer
to the Director of Public Prosecutions' commentary on 16 April,
and it appears to me he clearly thinks that potentially it can
be our business.
Q969 Mr Howard: Were you influenced
at all in your investigation by the inclusion of that phrase in
the letter from Mr Wright?
Mr Quick: Not unduly. It was a
consideration. I think it was discussed in our Gold Group across
the board whether Official Secrets Act type material had been
leaked. That question was clearly recognised by the Gold Group
that I chaired as being a question that was not capable of being
resolved without investigation. Secondly, the question arose as
to whether damage to government was being caused by these leaks,
and again, it seemed sensible to establish exactly what had been
leaked before trying to answer that question.
Q970 Mr Howard: No one said in your
Gold Group, "That is none of our business"?
Mr Quick: No, and I believe it
was our business to investigate this series of leaks.
Q971 Chairman: Was one of the reasons
because you had been asked by the Cabinet Office to investigate
on the basis of a letter containing the observations that Mr Howard
has referred to?
Mr Quick: That was a complaint
by the Civil Service to the police, I think it was legitimate.
I know there are different opinions in relation to that.
Q972 Chairman: The police did not
write the letter.
Mr Quick: No, we received a letter,
and I thought it was a legitimate complaint, but certainly was
not content just to rely on my own judgment, I consulted with
senior colleagues in relation to that, I ensured that we took
legal advice in relation to that from Crown prosecutors, and the
conclusion of those discussions was that it was, of course, right
and proper that the police did investigate.
Q973 Mr Howard: We have seen the
two letters from Mr Wright, and we know that a meeting took place
between those two letters. Was it only just one meeting, or perhaps
more than one? We do not know.
Mr Quick: What I can tell you,
and I know this particular sequence of events has been of interest,
is that I initially met some representatives from the Cabinet
Office who told me that Mr Wright was going to write to me, and
that was a reference to the letter that I subsequently received
I think on 8 October, although it was erroneously dated 8 September.
At that meeting, the officials really at a very high level outlined
this pattern of leaks that had been giving cause for serious concern
in the Cabinet Office over a number of months and indeed years.
I was also aware from my own knowledge that the Metropolitan Police
had investigated some of these leaks at different times as and
when they occurred. Leak inquiries are remarkably common unfortunately,
they are an irritation to the police, and unfortunately, they
do cause damage, and they do create havoc sometimes, and from
time to time they have to be investigated. So I agreed in principle
to investigate, subject to satisfying ourselves that criminal
offences were involved, and liaising with Crown prosecutors. It
just so happened that the day after, I left London to fly overseas
on counter-terrorism matters, and my deputy had a number of contacts
with the Cabinet Office. I understand that Sir Paul Stephenson,
who was the Deputy Commissioner, in my view quite rightly had
also said he wished to be satisfied that there were criminal offences
involved, and he wished to be consulted about the terms of reference.
Q974 Mr Howard: He originally took
the view that criminal offences had not been involved.
Mr Quick: Well, I think he took
the same view that I took, that we wanted to be sure that criminal
offences were potentially involved in this investigation, otherwise
it most certainly would not have been an inquiry that we would
have picked up. So following the scoping study, and a number of
consultations with Crown prosecutors, I understand my deputy had
a conversation with Mr Wright of the Cabinet Office, and I believe
indicated to Mr Wright that she wished to agree the terms of reference
for the initial stages of this investigation, and that the Deputy
Commissioner in my absence was going to be consulted about those
terms of reference, and that is in fact what occurred. So what
happened was DAC Cressida Dick, my deputy, agreed that as an initial
step into this investigation, a series of five leaks would come
under initial prioritisation. In fact, I believe she may have
written or at least spoken to Mr Wright, who then in turn wrote
a letter in effect sort of acquiescing that these initial five
leaks would be the start point for the investigation.
Q975 Mr Howard: Not acquiescing,
Mr Quick: Possibly, I cannot recall
the letter, but you may
Q976 Mr Howard: That is the word
Mr Quick: I accept he used the
word confirming. I would say that it was not really for him to
confirm, the police were in charge of this investigation. Ultimately,
Sir Paul Stephenson was consulted about the terms of reference,
I believe he approved them in my absence, and the investigation
began. Shortly after my return, I received a number of briefings
about progress, and it became apparent that Mr Galley was a suspect,
and that there had been a sixth leak that had precipitated events,
and so the decision was taken to arrest Mr Galley.
Q977 Mr Howard: The letter of 29
October did not surprise you at all, the second letter from Mr
Mr Quick: I must confess, I do
not think I saw that letter until quite late on, but it did not
surprise me, no, because the Cabinet Office were the complainants,
and they have a professional view that we can consider and take
account of, but once a criminal matter is referred to the police,
then it is very much for the police to decide how that investigation
goes forward, and as you will know, we do that in partnership
with Crown prosecutors.
Q978 Mr Howard: Can you think of
any other potential victim of crime who would be able to ask the
police to investigate, have a meeting with the police to negotiate
or agree the terms of reference of the inquiry which the police
would be about to carry out, and write a letter to the police
confirming the scope of the police investigation?
Mr Quick: Well, I can think of
cases where we might be in that position, with a bank or a commercial
institution, so that, believe me, is not uncommon. I ought to,
for fairness, point out that to the best of my knowledge and belief,
it was actually the police, namely my deputy, who sort of instigated
that, because my understanding is the Deputy Commissioner wanted
terms of reference to be agreed with the Cabinet Office, so I
think it was in fact instigated by the police and not the Cabinet
Q979 Chairman: Can I ask some questions
about the search of Mr Green's office here? You are aware of the
role of the sergeant at arms in the House of Commons. Why was
it that the Serjeant at Arms was given such limited information
up until the point at which the arrest was made?
Mr Quick: My belief is that the
officers were naturally being somewhat cautious about who was
briefed on the full extent of the investigation. This is very
common practice, and I believe DAC McDowall alluded to this point.
No matter who or what is under investigation, we generally operate
on a need to know basis.