UK MP arrested for embarrassing government

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Queso, Nov 28, 2008.

  1. Queso macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    #1
    So, what's everyone's thoughts on this little gem then? The UK main opposition party's immigration spokesman, Damian Green MP, passes information regarding government splits on immigration to the newspapers and receives a visit and subsequent arrest by anti-terrorist police officers. Although eventually released without charge, his office and home were both searched and he was held for nine hours.

    Personally I'm glad this has finally happened to an MP and caused a massive uproar, since the police and government have been pulling this crap on the general UK public with increasing frequency, and it's about time people started reminding the government that protests or disagreements ≠ terrorism.

    So do we take it that it is now against the law to pass information embarrassing the ruling party into the public domain? Not exactly the hallmark of a so-called democracy is it? :rolleyes:

    BBC News
     
  2. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hartford, CT
    #2
    Whats a MP?

    And this anti terrorist label that they slap on everything is rediculous.

    Its like when a fire investigator cant figure it out so it gets labeled as "faulty wiring" so that it makes it look they they did SOMETHING.

    I assume the same goes on across the pond.
     
  3. Queso thread starter macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    #3
    An MP is a Member of the full UK Parliament. This guy is also known as a Front Bench Spokesman, meaning if his party gains power in an election he is likely to become a government minister. So basically the police, under the control of Labour Party Home Office ministers, have arrested and detained a political rival for doing what he is supposed to do, namely holding the government to account.
     
  4. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hartford, CT
    #4
    Now, honest question, is that surprising in your government?

    Wouldnt surprise me to see it happen here.
     
  5. JG271 macrumors 6502a

    JG271

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #5
    To me, this just further proves the illiberal and authoritarian labour government. The label of terrorism and invoking fear seems to be the government's way of passing intrusive legislation or things like this.

    Labour has destroyed much of our civil liberties and inflicted a massive blow to British democracy. Parliament is at its weakest point for so long. I worry that the police have the potential for political control by way of the terrorism act, the societies and organised crime prevention act and various other ambiguous legislation that is limiting free speech, along with other measures.:mad:

    /rant.

    The police didn't say what powers he was being arrested under or what he would be arrested for. To think that they could have held him for 28 days and almost been able to hold him for 42!
     
  6. Queso thread starter macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    #6
    Very much so. MPs are given a lot of legal privilege due to their official position. This particular MP did nothing more than receive documents leaked by a civil servant and pass them onto journalists, which is standard practice.

    The move stinks of desperation, and I'm not surprised in the slightest to learn this evening that every government minister is denying any knowledge of the raids until after they occurred. This is despite the Mayor of London having been informed.

    The stench of corruption starting to come out of Whitehall right now is overpowering.
     
  7. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #7
    That's not the allegation.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/nov/28/damian-green-arrest-conservatives
     
  8. Queso thread starter macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    #8
    However, from the BBC here's the list of information central to the case, which the government classifies as "Official Secrets" if the Guardian is to be believed.

    • The November 2007 revelation that the home secretary knew the Security Industry Authority had granted licences to 5,000 illegal workers, but decided not to publicise it.
    • The February 2008 news that an illegal immigrant had been employed as a cleaner in the House of Commons.
    • A whips' list of potential Labour rebels in the vote on plans to increase the pre-charge terror detention limit to 42 days.
    • A letter from the home secretary warning that a recession could lead to a rise in crime.
    Hardly the location of nuclear submarines is it? All of the above are embarrassing politically, but do nothing to damage the UK's national interest.

    BBC News
     
  9. bartelby macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    #9
    I was reading this earlier. I can't see how any of those items would be "official secrets".

    They may have been secrets as in "can you keep a secret" type secrets. Not not [SECRET] secrets.

    The first one could be Restricted though.
     
  10. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #10

    Doesn't matter what the contents are, that's irrelevant. If the MP played a role in actually coercing or persuading someone in the Home Office to leak classified information, that casts a completely different light on the affair.

    I suggest we wait to see what the outcome of the investigation is, instead of making alarmist statements about the government suppressing its political opponents. Just because many of us are disillusioned with this government, doesn't mean that we should swallow the Tory spin on this.
     
  11. Queso thread starter macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    #11
    The Tories aren't the only ones up in arms about it. Many Labour MPs and the Lib Dems are also demanding answers.

    To quote Labour MP Denis McShane

     
  12. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    #12
    You should be surprised and act with outrage anytime a government's coercive arm is being used for politics.

    BV, am I to understand that he was pressuring a civil servant to leak more documents and/or aid him in breaking a scandal about the Labour Government?

    Is that a crime in the UK? No whistle-blower statute? If so, I can't believe that the British people would tolerate such a thing.
     
  13. bartelby macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    #13
    There's got to be more to this story. Maybe he was suspected of trying to get Official Secrets but they only found these minor bits of information.
     
  14. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hartford, CT
    #14
    I've become jaded with my governments way of acting.
     
  15. Queso thread starter macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    #15
    Why go to all the effort then? If he'd wanted real Official Secrets he only needed to travel on public transport.
     
  16. bartelby macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    #16
    :D

    Very good.
     
  17. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #17
    They're all like US senators. More concerned about their supposed honour, their clubby privileges and their village status. Let's not forget that the police were all over key Labour figures not too long ago about donations for honours. And I don't care what Dennis McShane has to say; he's another blowhard in love with the sound of his own voice. :D


    These are not scandals, these are political embarassments. Let me put it this way. What if a congressman or congresswoman played an active role in persuading someone within the civil service to release information that was classified? And that it was the civil service who went to the FBI first to trace these leaks? And that at first investigation, instead of finding a culprit guilty within the civil service who is not charged, they instead found allegations that the congressman had played a role in persuading, by what means we don't yet know, the worker to break official secrets legislation?

    Should an MP be above the law? If we had found out that a foreign intelligence agent had persuaded a civil servant to release classified information, would we see it the same way? I suggest not.
     
  18. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    #18
    Hmmm, we've some parallel instances in US history, and the one that comes the closest in my mind is NY Times v US.

    I guess for me it comes down to the very information that was classified. If it was political in nature (as in intended to help or hinder one party), then I don't think we should uphold that information as classified, and thus no law is being broken if the civil service or if an MP decides to release said information.

    Now if this was really something top secret (missile codes, fleet locations, etc) then I think we could rightfully go after the MP.
     
  19. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #19

    I can understand that but I don't agree because that leaves the judgement of what is to be classified or not to the leaker, who is usually bound by layers of non-disclosure and secrecy employment laws.

    Anyway, my main point still stands, which is that presenting this as a case of the government suppressing its political opponents is not a true reflection of what has happened. We'll see how it plays out over the coming weeks.

    Edit: Oh, and the case of a newspaper is slightly different, because we're talking about a Member of Parliament who is in public office, hence the possible charge:

     
  20. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    #20
    If history is any indication, leakers in modern democracies have usually been correct. With the glaring exception of the whole Valerie Plame affair, most leaks are done to hold a government that is being tyrannical accountable.

    I'm sure high level judges can see/hear the evidence in camera and make the decision. There's no reason we should trust mindless police forces, Labour, or the Conservatives with something like this.
    I'm always a bit suspicious when it comes to governments classifying information and then subsequently arresting people. It usually doesn't end well.

    Although you will have to keep us updated on this; I doubt any American media will be covering this story.

    Edit:
    In the NY Times case, the leaker was a historian working for the Pentagon, much like the civil servant in this case. IIRC, he suffered no legal consequences because the information itself was not deemed important for "national security" as Nixon had put it.
     
  21. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #21
    There's no disputing the accuracy of the leaks, it's just the information by and large was more to cause political embarrassment than anything else and relatively trivial in the scheme of things... it's hard to argue they were truly done in the national interest, unless you happened to be a member of the opposition. ;)

    The charge is being levelled at the MP, not the leaker.
     
  22. JG271 macrumors 6502a

    JG271

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #22
    I hope that both parties give Brown a grilling at the next PMQs, although the whole thing may be over by then, given the short media cycles we have.
     
  23. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    #23
    By "correct" I meant that their decision to leak was later judged to be morally correct because what they leaked wasn't truly important to national security and only brought out the truth.
    These trivial things usually decide elections though, especially when one side tries to cover it up. ;)

    In that case I'd say the leaker is acting in the national interest, since s/he is holding the government accountable to at least some sense of honesty.
    That's usually how these things go though. Leakers are notoriously hard to find, and even when they are found they are typically shielded by a lot of bureaucracy and/or legal protections. Much easier to chop the head off if you think about it.
     
  24. BoyBach macrumors 68040

    BoyBach

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #24
    Since Mr. Green was arrested on "suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office and aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office", are the Met also intending to arrest half of the Parliament? Journalists?

    Also, why were nine counter-terrorist police officers involved? Or is Mr. Green as evil as those evil Icelanders?

    Yet another reason - and the list is getting very long - why I won't be voting for the Labour Party at the next General Election.
     
  25. és: macrumors 6502a

    és:

    #25
    It's sad that people are turning away from Labour, or having to turn away from Labour, because the alternative is more of the same + a bit more.

    It might open eyes up in this country. We need somebody to come through and take the bull by the horns. I don't see anybody in the Labour party that can do that.
     

Share This Page