Archive for November 29th, 2008

29 November 2008

Vladimir Brown?

Mysterious story circulating in the UK today about the arrest of shadow immigration minister Damian Green by counter-terrorism forces. Green has been arrested for attempting to make use of leaked documents, or, more precisely, of “conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office” and “aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office”.

The Guardian tells us that:

Green, the shadow immigration minister, was held for nine hours before being released late last night. His Ashford constituency home and office in Kent, his London home, and his office in the House of Commons were all searched. […] The police seized his phone and his computer, giving them access to text messages and emails going back for months and years respectively.

On a side note, very many people have had their computers seized in the name of counter-terrorist operations over the last few years.

Brown responded to the news by saying:

The independence of the police is what should be upheld. I hope that everybody can feel able to uphold both the independence of the police and the statement that no minister was involved.

The Tories have responded to the accusations promptly, providing an equivalential link between Green and – in The Guardian story – Winston Churchill, Charles I, and Gordon Brown himself who all, it is claimed, made use of leaked documents. Over and again, they point to the need in a democracy for politicians to leak andor make use of leaked documents. And Brown is aligned to the most other of others:

The police action followed the arrest 10 days ago of a government whistleblower who allegedly leaked four documents to Green, who then passed them to the press. Cameron was convinced that such a move would have to be approved at top political levels. A Tory source said: “David Cameron is angry. This is Stalinesque.”

Strangely enough, Putin’s Russia has not been mentioned, although much of the same language has been used (Stalinesque, non-democratic, chilling, heavy-handed police operation, terror, and tinpot dictatorship).

More on Green’s arrest at the BBC (Q&A on the case), Times (on the anger at Green’s arrest), and Sky News (reporting on its exclusive interview with Brown). Iain Martin asks in his blog at The Telegraph ‘who the hell do those involved in this decision think they are treating an elected member of parliament in this way?’ (So, one could respond, it’s okay to treat other members of the public in this way?).