Examination of Witness (Question Numbers
14 DECEMBER 2009
Q1000 Chairman: Let me ask you the
question again: what weight should we attach to the Johnston report?
Mr Quick: Well, I think that is
a matter for this Committee. I think my statement reveals where
I and others take issue with the Johnston report on matters of
fact, and I think I can do no more than that to help the Committee.
Q1001 Chairman: Should we take account
of the attitude of the Metropolitan Police towards the Johnston
Mr Quick: In terms of the Metropolitan
Police, which bit of it are you talking about?
Q1002 Chairman: The Metropolitan
Police response to the Johnston report, as I understand it, is
broadly to accept it.
Mr Quick: Well, the official Metropolitan
Police response was to endorse it, the officer that commissioned
it endorsed it, and that is a judgment you must make, but on facts,
I think there are some serious issues that undermine the fitness
for purpose of that review.
Q1003 Ms Hewitt: I just wanted to
pursue in a little more detail the issue of the two warrants that
were obtained for the searches of Mr Galley's and Mr Green's homes.
My understanding is that the information that was laid before
the district judge who granted those warrants referred to secret
Mr Quick: Yes.
Q1004 Ms Hewitt: As far as you are
aware, is that correct, that they did refer to secret materials?
Mr Quick: To the best of my knowledge,
that is correct, yes.
Q1005 Ms Hewitt: Do you accept that
that was a mistake, that that was inaccurate?
Mr Quick: Well, I would accept
it is a debatable point. I think on balance, I would have preferred
the language to be tighter. I do not know what was in the officer's
mind when he or she typed that information, and I was not present
when it was sworn in front of a judge, and whatever questions
were asked or answers given. However, I think it would be in the
circumstances not wholly unreasonable to indicate that there was
a suspicion that secret material may have been leaked, but I think
on balance it would have been better to be more accurate in saying,
"So far, the indications are the material is of restricted
or confidential classification".
Q1006 Ms Hewitt: Do you accept Sir
Ian's criticism on that point, where he referred to "pretty
sloppy work" in terms of the wording of the application for
Mr Quick: I think on balance,
probably. I think sloppy is a harsh term, because I take you back
to where we start, that we have someone in a very sensitive part
of the Home Office who is behaving appallingly badly and possibly
criminally, and the threshold of suspicion was exceeded, I think
quite substantially, that that person may have leaked secret material,
so I do not think it is unreasonable for the officers to have
that suspicion in all of the circumstances.
Q1007 Ms Hewitt: At what level of
seniority would the application have been prepared, and would
it have been approved by a more senior officer?
Mr Quick: Normally, the authority
in law is at inspector level. However, in this case, I know the
senior investigating officer, the Detective Chief Inspector, a
very experienced investigator, and a Detective Chief Superintendent
were very closely overseeing that part of the operation, and that
in turn was under the overall supervision of Mr McDowall from
whom you have heard.
Q1008 Ms Hewitt: Thank you, because
you will understand our worry, I think, that warrants were obtained
in relation to a Member of Parliament's home on the basis of an
assertion that secret material was involved when it was not, not
the material that Mr Galley had admitted to, and that was directly
connected with the raid on that same Member of Parliament's office.
Now it is quite difficult, I think, for Parliament to say, "We
are going to go behind a warrant", if a warrant had been
produced in relation to the office, but on the other hand, it
is very tempting to think that that is exactly what Parliament
should do when a warrant can be obtained on the basis of, at the
very least, an inadequately prepared statement of the facts, despite
the fact that very senior officers were involved in preparing
that statement. You understand why we would be concerned. Do you
feel I have characterised the problem fairly?
Mr Quick: Yes, I think you have
been fair. I think in an applying for a warrant, the standard
of proof required to issue a search warrant is not particularly
high. What I would have preferred was really for the warrant to
have been drafted in a different way, which would clearly have
revealed the potential for secret material to have been leaked,
and clearly we were not in a position to rule that out at that
time. But make equally clear that at that point in the investigation,
the material that had been identified for certain as being leaked
was classified as restricted or confidential.
Ms Hewitt: Yes, rather than secret. Thank
Q1009 Chairman: Just one last point
on that, Mr Quick: you appear to suggest that the more serious
the allegation, the less the requirement to adhere to the precise
details of an investigation. Am I wrong to infer that from your
Mr Quick: Yes, I do not think
Q1010 Chairman: Whether the allegation
is minor or major, the obligation to adhere to proper practice
applies in every case.
Mr Quick: Yes, there is a duty
on officers to comply with the law and the codes as precisely
as possible. The fact is that they are not always precisely complied
with to the very letter. The test in a criminal case is usually
under section 78 of PACE, and the test is: did the police act
reasonably and fairly?
Q1011 Chairman: Yes, but courts have
been loath to excuse what some might characterise as sloppy procedure
under that section.
Mr Quick: Well, that would be
a matter for the individual tribunal or court at the time, but
all I can tell the Committee is I have read the officers' statements
about the interactions they had with Parliamentary authorities,
and on their evidence at least, it appears to be clear that they
acted entirely reasonably, and that the issue of consent was clear.
Chairman: Well, we shall never know.
Mr Quick, thank you very much for your evidence, the Committee
is most grateful to you.