Here we go again. It only seems ten minutes since I was exasperated by the Damian Green affair, specifically the way MPs, media and blogs all focused quite wrongly on the extremely lawful and proper search of Damian Green’s Westminster office, while ignoring the highly improper arrest of the MP and the civil servant who leaked to him. Well, now we have another MP complaining about the police entering his office and “searching” for a document. Give me strength.

It’s difficult to be absolute without knowing the full facts, of course. But my reaction to the BBC report is to think this is a storm in a teacup, and that Daniel Kawczynski risks making a fool of himself. The police may well have committed an offence in the world of spin; but in substance I’m far from convinced they’ve done anything wrong.

First, nothing in the report suggests to me that any search has taken place. What the police did – and according to the BBC website they say they were Westminster Palace police (who obviously are allowed in… to protect MPs) they say they did by appointment. They seem to have arrived at his office, stood talking to his staff, and to have asked for documents. Then when he arrived the MP gave them to them. What’s all the fuss about? No search was conducted; so obviously no warrant was needed to authorise a search. Is it suddenly wrong for the police to do things by consent and presuming law-abiding citizens will cooperate with them? Is it suddenly wrong to cooperate with the police? Apparently so, as Daniel Kawczynski had a subsequent crisis of conscience about it.

I reckon going for a warrant would have been massively disproportionate as a search wasn’t needed, and it would have wasted the courts’ time. Indeed, has I been the magistrate I don’t think I’d have granted a warrant. I’d have said the police should just ask – as they did. It really has come to something if MPs think every time the police need a document from them, they should mount a full search under a warrant.

I wish people would stop this warrants nonsense. At another place I wrote about Greengate and quoted Trouble-All from Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair, but perhaps he could do with being quoted again:

Trouble-all: Have you any warrant for this, Gentlemen?
Winwife: Ha!
Trouble-all: There must be a warrant had, beleeue it.
Winwife: For what?
Trouble-all: For whatsoeuer it is, any thing indeede, no matter what.

I’m afraid MPs and commentators are beginning to sound a lot like that.

2009-01-21T22:45:00+00:00Tags: , , |