Let me ask you a question. Which of the following issues are not in the national interest, or if discussed, would be damaging to national security?
- The effect of the economic downturn on crime;
- The likely way in which MPs would vote on the extension to 42 days of detention without charge; or
- The employment of illegal immigrants?
If you’re the Government and the police, the answer is “all three”. Because all three were topics of information fed by a Home Office official to the Shadow Immigration Minister Damien Green MP. As a result, anti-terrorism officers raided Mr Green’s home, his office in Westminster, and his constituency office in Ashford. Subsequently Mr Green has been questioned for nine hours, his computers have been impounded and searched, and his email accounts have been blocked. The entire matter is now in the hands of the Crown Prosecution Service to determine whether there has been a threat to national security. But whether or not Mr Green – a committed and talented politician with a reputation bar none in his Ashford constituency – ends up being convicted of the crime with which he is charged, some serious questions remain:
- Since “aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office” is a common law offence, why were anti-terrorism officers used to raid and arrest Mr Green and the Home Office official?
- The Government seems to be at great pains to deny both its prior knowledge of, or involvement in, Mr Green’s arrest – yet the details were passed to the police by the Cabinet Office. Why the denials? What are the Government worried about a perceived audit trail leading back to them?
- and finally – if the state can use and abuse both its power and its servants in this way, who controls the state, and can British democracy ever be the same again?