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MP Damian Green arrest 'disproportionate'

Ashford MP Damian Green
Ashford MP Damian Green

by political editor Paul Francis

Ashford MP Damian Green says a damning report into his arrest in 2008 has exposed serious failures at the heart of the government.

He spoke out after the publication of a highly critical report by the Commons privileges committee into his arrest in connection with an investigation into Home Office leaks.

The latest and final report into the affair said former Commons Speaker Michael Martin should have done more to block a police search of Mr Green's Westminster office as part of the leaks inquiry.

The report also criticises civil servants, the police and Commons officials for their failings.

But it is particularly critical of the former Speaker, saying he "should have been asking the right questions and ... should have taken more responsibility for exercising the authority of his high office."

Mr Green, who was never charged and always denied any wrong-doing, responded by saying: "This report exposes serious failures at the heart of government, the police, and the parliamentary authorities.

"The ultimate responsibility for this wretched attempt at authoritarian government lies with ministers, and in a few weeks the British people will be able to pass judgment on them."

Green's arrest was controversial because it emerged the police had searched his office without a warrant.

The MPs' report also says the Home Office allowed an exaggerated impression to form about the damage caused by leaks and takes aim at the Cabinet Office for giving the "ill-judged, hyperbolic and unhelpful" impression they involved damage to national security.

The police should have refused to get involved and their arrest of the MP was "quite unnecessary" and "poorly executed" the report states.

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