Friday, November 28, 2008

Green hype

David Cameron has been recycling the hype over Damian Green's arrest
....What do they think about in Britain today, counter-terrorism police are spending their time searching an MP's office, arresting him....
Just to make a minor point of fact that nobody else seems to want to recognise. Using the emotive term 'counter-terrorism police' suggests that a heavily-armed mob of masked and body-armoured paramilitaries smashed their way into Mr Green's presence and slammed him to the floor at gunpoint.

I don't think this happened.

The fact is that a couple of years ago, the Met Police - who conducted the operation - merged Special Branch and the Anti-Terrorist Squad (with the Explosives Office and so on) together into Counter Terrorism Command. So, while the primary tasking of the officers is fighting terrorism, there will be a number of them with specific skills in investigating security matters, as one of their less high-profile jobs is aiding the intelligence services. He wasn't arrested under any anti-terrorism legislation, but the rather mundane Police & Criminal Evidence Act - a Thatcher innovation, as a matter of fact.

I can't pretend I'm not concerned at the arrest of an MP, but on the other hand, I don't want to live in society where a member of parliament is above the law. The police were investigating a complaint - as they are bound to do - and they have made an arrest. Mr Green was interviewed and has been released on police bail until the New Year - a technicality to allow further investigations to be carried out.

Perhaps more will become clear in due course, perhaps no further action will follow, but hyping up the matter doesn't do any good.

Unless Cameron thinks that his mates should be beyond the law.

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