Examination of Witness (Question Numbers
14 DECEMBER 2009
Q980 Chairman: But the Serjeant at
Arms is in a rather different position, because she is someone
who has, as we know, responsibility for the security of the whole
of the Parliamentary estate, and in the course of exercising that
responsibility, she has to maintain a very high degree of confidentiality,
and her judgment and her trustworthiness are absolutely central
to the proper performance of her duties.
Mr Quick: Absolutely, and perhaps
it may help to explain how events came about. On 20 November,
the day after Christopher Galley's arrest, I received a telephone
call from DAC John McDowall, who was my deputy on the counter-terrorism
side of specialist operations, and Mr McDowall briefed me on Galley's
arrestI, of course, was aware that it was going to happenand
briefed me on the extent of his admissions in interview, which
of course were quite troubling. He suggested that ordinarily,
in any other investigation, we would act on Mr Galley's admissions
and effect an arrest almost immediately, and, of course, in this
case we were talking about Mr Green. However, the conversation
went along the lines that clearly, in this case, there are huge
sensitivities, and possible legal complexities, and it was my
judgment, I believe shared by John, that we should in this case
exceptionally delay taking action, so that we could take full
legal advice from the Metropolitan Police Directorate of Legal
Services, and indeed consult the Parliamentary authorities at
an early stage, and indeed take further advice from Crown prosecutors.
My understanding is that very evening, an officer was despatched
to the Palace of Westminster to start that engagement. I would
accept, as the Chairman has alluded, that initially, the Serjeant
at Arms was not briefed fully on the whole aspect of the investigation
precisely who was involved.
Q981 Chairman: A consequence of that
was that she transmitted such information she had to the Speaker,
whose reaction was that this might well involve terrorism, either
international or Irish terrorism.
Mr Quick: Yes, I did hear that
evidence, and I have to say I find that difficult to appreciate,
so far as I have read the statements of the officers who attended
Parliament and spoke to
Q982 Chairman: Well, if you are told
that the counter-terrorism unit is engaged, and it is highly confidential,
and you are not told anything else, then it is not an unreasonable
inference, is it, if you are responsible for a public building
of this nature, that you might leap to that conclusion?
Mr Quick: Possibly, but on 25
and 26 November, in good time, well before the arrest, there were
further conversations, and on the 26th, of course, the senior
investigating officer attended the Serjeant at Arms' office, and
briefed her fully on the investigation, save the actual name of
the MP involved, but as I understand it, the provisions of the
powers to search under section 8 of the Police and Criminal Evidence
Act were explained, the fact that they were investigating a leak
inquiry was explained. So I think a good 48 or at least 24 hours
before, the Serjeant at Arms was in possession of the facts.
Q983 Chairman: Do you accept that
she was not properly advised of the contents of the protocol attached
to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, in that she was not told
expressly that she could refuse consent, and indeed that she could
withdraw consent at any time?
Mr Quick: I do agree with that.
There is nothing that I know of that indicates she was specifically
told that she need not consent. However, I have read the officers'
statements in detail, and it does appear to me to be very clear
that the officers acted very reasonably. There was no question
in my mind, having read those statements, that it was not clear
that they were seeking a consent that could be refused, and arguably,
if it could not be refused, it would not be consent anyway.
Q984 Chairman: They acted on a presumption,
but a presumption is not enough to satisfy the requirements, is
it? The individual should quite clearly and expressly be told,
"You need not give your consent".
Mr Quick: I would accept it would
have been much better had the officers adopted the letter of the
Codes of Practice.
Q985 Chairman: Particularly in a
case as sensitive as this.
Mr Quick: And then we would not
be having this conversation. However, I think the test for me
is the legal test, and that is the test under section 78 of the
Police and Criminal Evidence Act, which really implies that the
code of practice is not a strict compliance code. The test is
whether the police acted reasonably and fairly, and I do not believe
my colleagues acted to deceive the Serjeant at Arms. I certainly
think it was quite clear that we were seeking consent that could
Q986 Mr Blunkett: Was there any presumption
that consent lay with the Speaker rather than the Serjeant at
Arms? Even after the arrest, it was some days, was it not 1 December
before direct communication was made with the Speaker? It is as
though the Speaker really was a bit part in this process.
Mr Quick: The legal advice from
Metropolitan Police lawyers was that the Serjeant at Arms could
consent to a search, and I believe she was briefed to that effect.
However, she did say that she would seek her own legal advice,
and I believe spoke to the clerk. I was aware she had briefed
the Speaker; my senior investigating officer on 26 November told
me that he was present when she phoned the Speaker.
Q987 Mr Blunkett: Could I just explore
the extraneous activity that was taking place that you refer to
in your evidence? How much influence did this, including the recruitment
of a new Commissioner, and what was being briefed in the newspapers,
have, in your judgment, on the procedure that was followed?
Mr Quick: Well, it was clearly
a very difficult time. The case generated a huge amount of controversy,
and there was a tension between recognising the duty of the police
to conduct this investigation and see it through to its natural
conclusion and eliminate any possibility that national security
had been compromised, or that criminal offences had been committed,
serious offences, and the sort of expediency of stopping the investigation.
I can sympathise with anyone involved in it. I was there, it was
a painful and distressing experience for a lot of people. But
I would say that in the end, the conduct of certain individuals
created a chain of events that led to what I believe was a completely
legitimate police investigation.
Q988 Mr Howard: Who did you inform
of the progress of the investigation as it evolved?
Mr Quick: Well, it was a very
short investigation, in fact, but the Deputy Commissioner was
briefed to my knowledge while I was away throughout October, and
when I returned, at the end of October, he was briefed on the
scoping report, which I think was completed on or about 31 October,
I think it is dated that date. He was briefed on the findings
of that report, and approved the terms of reference for the investigation.
Unfortunately, just the nature of events, I returned from overseas
at the end of October, but then had to go to Scotland for a few
days, because my role in the counter-terrorism side of the Met
meant I often had to be outside London, so my deputy had some
involvement in the case.
Q989 Mr Howard: Was there any contact
between you or your deputy, so far as you know, with the Cabinet
Office as the investigation
Mr Quick: Yes.
Q990 Mr Howard: Were the Cabinet
Office told that a Member of Parliament was about to be arrested?
Mr Quick: No, they were not.
Q991 Mr Howard: Was anyone in Government
Mr Quick: No.
Q992 Mr Howard: I think in view of
some questions that I have put to other witnesses, I should give
you the opportunity to comment, Mr Quick. As you know, there are
a number of specific criticisms of the investigation which are
contained in the Johnston report.
Mr Quick: Yes.
Q993 Mr Howard: When I put to Assistant
Commissioner Yates that the investigation was slapdash, he did
Mr Quick: No.
Q994 Mr Howard: Mr Johnston himself
used the phrase "pretty sloppy work", although to be
fair, I think that was in terms of the wording of the application
for the warrant, but you will be aware that there are a whole
list of criticisms made in the Johnston report, I hope not to
have to go through them in detail, they are on pages 51 and 53
of the report. Do you accept them?
Mr Quick: No, I do not accept
Q995 Mr Howard: Do you accept many
of them, most of them?
Mr Quick: I have read the Johnston
report very, very carefully, and I had huge sympathy with Sir
Ian, he was given an unenviable task.
Q996 Chairman: Unenviable?
Mr Quick: Unenviable task of reviewing
an investigation, amidst a controversy, against very pressing
timescales, but my honest conclusion is that the Johnston review
does not accurately reflect the nature of the investigation. Yes,
it does quite legitimately draw attention to some administrative
issues that could have been better and cleaner and tidier, but
ultimately, my concern with the Johnston report really is around
the area of disproportionality of arrest. In my view, probably
as a result of being conducted so early in the investigation,
before the facts were properly established, and amidst this public
controversy, the report has a number of inaccuracies, upon which
it appears to draw conclusions; and secondly, it has a number
of quite important omissions, some of which are dealt with in
my document that I have submitted, which I think hopefully bring
more balance into what was going on in that inquiry, and therefore
I do not feel I personally could rely on that document, on a matter
Q997 Mr Howard: But quite apart from
the proportionality question, there are a significant number of
very specific criticisms made about things like keeping of documents,
the relationship between various documents, whether tape recordings
should have been used, the wording of the warrant and so on, very
serious, but very specific criticisms; do you accept them?
Mr Quick: I am not sure they are
all very serious. This was a complex inquiry, and yes, in every
investigation, including this one, under scrutiny, some administrative
shortcomings were identified on the part of the officers, but
I believe the officers' work was generally of a high standard.
These are officers who have led some of the most complex investigations
the Metropolitan Police has ever seen, and been involved in some
of the most successful prosecutions. So they are professional
people, they are not perfect, and they made a few administrative
errors, I do not think any of them were fatal. Had there been
revealed damage that would have warranted prosecution, I do not
believe any of these errors would have stopped prosecution, and
that is my honest belief.
Q998 Mr Howard: I think finally,
from me anyway, in your statement, you go into in some detail
the relationships between yourself and other senior members of
the Metropolitan Police Service, and you have described the controversy
which attended the reporting of the investigation. You say at
one point, in apparent surprise, "Many people commented that
the Home Secretary was more supportive of the investigation than
the Metropolitan Police Service". Did that really surprise
Mr Quick: Well, I guess it did
in a way, yes.
Q999 Chairman: Your position on the
Johnston report is pretty clear. What weight should we attach
to the Johnston report then, in your judgment?
Mr Quick: Well, in my judgment,
the Johnston review was convened very early in the investigation,
uncharacteristically early. It did not adopt the procedures and
protocols of investigative reviews, because it was convened in
such exceptional circumstances. I think regrettably, it was convened
in an air of panic, and unfortunately, we were left with a document
that did not reveal the extent of this investigation, and its
full characteristics, and the grounds upon which the police took
the action that they did, and that was disappointing in a sense,
but perhaps understandable amid the chaos.