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Samizdata quote of the day

The fact is we know nothing about the files Damian Green allegedly had on his laptop, and it is simply untrue to say that any such pictures would immediately result in dismissal from a regular job. This is a hatchet-job, and Theresa May needs to make it her personal mission to destroy the life of this ex-copper who is attempting to bring down senior members of her government. If she doesn’t, this sort of thing is going to become the norm; I’d rather see a bent ex-policeman doing a fifteen year stretch than have the entire political system further undermined. However they go about it, they need to make an example of him.

Tim Newman, sadly missing the fact that Theresa May never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to do the right thing

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31 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    I despise Damian Green and so many other “Remainer” ministers who are working to sabotage (to discredit) the independence of the United Kingdom. But I will not use this utter nonsense (“oh look you have got naughty pictures on your computer”) against Mr Green – or anyone else.

    As for Theresa May – as Michael Jennings is fond of pointing out, all one has to do is listen to the speeches of this lady, then one knows her political philosophy. No wonder Mrs May HATES being compared to Margaret Thatcher – they are poles apart politically.

  • Laird

    Why is a private civil action against the offending policeman not in the cards?

  • Eric

    The more I learn about Theresa May, the less I think of her. How did someone so positively average end up on Downing St.?

  • Why is a private civil action against the offending policeman not in the cards?

    This is not a private matter, it is about the shattered public trust and confidence in the UK Police as a whole. Not that there is much left obviously.

    The public need to feel that criminal matters are dealt with appropriately and anything else unrelated to criminal matters is not cast about willy nilly be some chatterbox cop (or ex-cop in this instance) that can’t keep his gob shut.

    The only thing that will bring these buggers into line is criminal sanction and MORE IMPORTANTLY the removal of his police pension.

    The Damian Green affair is a wilful and deliberate abuse of police powers and heavy sanctions need to be taken against those officers involved in such nonsense.

  • Laird

    JG, I understand all that, but in the absence (or, for that matter, even in its presence) of a criminal action a successful civil suit can result in substantial monetary penalties which have to be against the offending officer personally. You can drive someone into bankruptcy that way, which could have a significant deterrent effect. Not the best option, obviously, but a decent runner-up.

  • I think you have the wrong parity on your negations.

    do the right thing = the right thing is done
    not do the right thing = the right thing is not done
    an opportunity to not do the right thing = the right thing may not be done
    miss an opportunity to not do the right thing = the right thing is done
    an opportunity to miss an opportunity to not do the right thing = the right thing may be done
    misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to not do the right thing = the right thing is not done
    Theresa May never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to not do the right thing = the right thing is always done

    It looks like you might want an extra “to miss an opportunity” in there, if I’m right about what you’re trying to say.

  • William H. Stoddard (December 4, 2017 at 6:39 am), the very last paragraph of this long comment may be relevant to your concerns. 🙂

    I agree with your analysis: ‘Theresa May never does the right thing’, so ‘never misses an opportunity to do the wrong thing’, so ‘never misses an opportunity not to do the right thing’ (except that maybe she does not split infinitives), so it is ‘Theresa May never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to do the right thing’

    It would be more accurate to say that she fills a much-needed gap in our political life. After a week of Corbyn as PM, we would be noticing just how many opportunities to do the wrong thing had been missed even by Theresa May.

  • I find I am stuck with the notion that I wish a pox on both their houses. Certainly an ex-cop with confidential knowledge should face loss of pension and charges. One wonders what promises were made to induce the act.

    If Damian Green were y MP and I had a right of recall, I would want him facing his voters… The IPSO seems like a toothless tiger frankly.

    I suppose the ex-cop is the greater risk to national liberty, but Damian Green is party of a party and a parliament that don’t want ordinary people looking at porn, but has shown himself above sanction. Corruption and hypocrisy amongst ruling classes is how they impose unpopular and unjust laws on the rest of us.

  • I suppose the ex-cop is the greater risk to national liberty, but Damian Green is party of a party and a parliament that don’t want ordinary people looking at porn, but has shown himself above sanction. Corruption and hypocrisy amongst ruling classes is how they impose unpopular and unjust laws on the rest of us.

    If what he did was illegal then I might agree, but it isn’t, so I don’t.

    What I do object to is Rozzers who think that just because they have had a search warrant issued (in rather dubious circumstances that lead back to a now unseated political opponent), then said Rozzers started blabbing to all and sundry about the perfectly legal albeit unsavory things said Rozzer discovered during his raid then I’d be a bit annoyed about it as well.

    Especially if I had to resign because of it.

    What happened to “Duty of Care”? or has that gone out the window of New Scotland Yard along with common sense and a sense of proportion?

  • APL

    Eric: “How did someone so positively average end up on Downing St.?”

    That would be average compared to the rest of the Tory party.

  • Derek Buxton

    APL,
    Very low from what I hear and see. As for the May creature, to be polite she is obviously not a conservative and would not know one if we could find any. But then perhaps as a “remainer” she has a plan, obviously a bad one.

  • Mr Ed

    Laird,

    Mr Green could bring a private civil claim in relation to a breach of his right to privacy, and at a rough guess way outside of my field, from the phone hacking cases, he might be looking at substantial damages in the region of £60,000 plus an injunction. Would he? I doubt it, even if he had a friend to fund it. I suspect that Mr Green is so ‘wet’ (Left Wing) that if the BBC ran pieces about him and porn for a week as their banner headline across all stations, TV, radio and internet, with no basis other than hearsay, he still wouldn’t vote against the BBC licence fee given a free vote.

    I did notice that Mr Andrew Mitchell, the ex-Minister who resigned after an argument with a police officer and who lost a libel action against the policeman involved was on the radio last Friday defending Mr Green, not as a lawyer but as a friend. I was in a traffic jam at the time, and couldn’t concentrate fully, but it did seem to me from Mr Mitchell’s putting of the case, in snippets, what came across at one point, was that what was on Mr Green’s computer was legally-held material, from which I drew the presumably unintended implication that what was on it was legal porn, rather than no porn at all, which I understand to be Mr Green’s case, but the interviewer missed the distinction. It might have been that what Mr Mitchell was saying was that only legal stuff was on the computer, and that didn’t include porn, but I was left with an unfortunate impression from that interview (BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’, Friday 1st December). I am sure that he meant to say that there was nothing on the computer as it was Mr Green’s word that he had none.

    I also heard the interview with the former police investigator concerned, and the BBC explained that his speech was slurred at points in the interview, without elaboration as to whether this was a natural impediment, an affectation or pharmaceutically-induced or any combination thereof. However, the investigator confirmed that having examined Mr Green’s computer, he made no mention in his statement about the contents of the computer to his senior officer that there was porn on it, and he claimed to have determined that 1,000s of thumbnails on it were legal porn, without saying how that had been determined, e.g. did he view and assess them all, did he scan them with goat-sensitive software etc.? I came away from the interview with the police investigator profoundly unconvinced by him, and the interview fed him lots of leading questions designed to give him a chance to remove doubt in the way that the sleaziest lawyers try with their unsatisfactory witnesses. No explanation was given as to how this police officer had left the force either, e.g. time-served, health, conduct.

  • Niall: I do take the use of the multiple negative in English as an emphatic form of the negative; “I ain’t never done nothing to nobody” is a denial, regardless of the parity of its negations. But this sentence, with its elaborate periphrastic constructions, didn’t read as vernacular English; it read as a way of making a very specific point (or a very specific joke), one that turned on the exact word choice. For a simpler example, “He never misses an opportunity to fail” is not a way of saying that a person succeeded, but that he failed; the double denial in that particular case functions as an affirmation. So I applied a different set of rules in trying to puzzle out the meaning of the more elaborate statement we are discussing.

  • John K

    Laird:

    The chances of a Conservative politician winning a libel claim against these two retired police worms is very low.

    Andrew Mitchell lost his libel case against two policemen who claimed he called them “plebs”, largely on the grounds that the judge thought the two cops, although they were proven to have lied about the circumstances of the incident, were too stupid to have come up with a word like “plebs”.

    With a precedent like that, I can understand if Damien Green preferred not to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on a court case.

  • bobby b

    Mr Ed
    December 4, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    “Mr Green could bring a private civil claim in relation to a breach of his right to privacy . . . “

    Does Mr. Green have an expectation of personal privacy in the contents of a publicly-owned computer that was assigned to him in order to serve his public employment? Here in the USA, the answer would be “no”, even for elected officials, but our laws don’t always mirror yours.

    Cops generally have a duty to preserve privacy when they come upon information they wouldn’t have reached without resort to a warranted search – a search that concedes that a person might well have expectations of privacy without some overriding social or law-enforcement concern. If a cop, walking a beat, sees me viewing sheep porn in my front yard, I have no expectation of privacy in that situation and the cop’s knowledge may be shared freely. If, instead, the cop enters my home with a warrant allowing a search for evidence of check fraud, and finds me viewing that same sheep porn during his search, he may well have a duty to hide that knowledge.

    If Green had no legal justification to expect privacy in his computer contents, he has no claim against the cop, unless the cop tries to blackmail or pressure him with that knowledge.

    Someone also brought up libel/defamation. Remember that truth is a perfect defense in such cases, and no one is disputing that the cop found porn on Green’s computer – what’s disputed is that the cop had the right to make it public. (Although, if sued, it would be the cop’s legal burden to prove the truth of his assertion, which might be difficult now.)

    It may have been unethical as hell, but I don’t see any legally redressable violation. And, if you believe that someone’s behavior and practices are proper subjects for judging the character of someone who runs for public office, you might even see this act as ethical.

  • John K

    Bobby:

    The computer in question was not “publicly owned”. MPs are given allowances to buy office equipment for their private offices, but the items they buy belong to them, not the state.

    The raid on Parliament did not even have a warrant. The police gained permission from the Sergeant at Arms. Normally, this post is held by a senior ex-serviceman, and it is his job to ensure the security of Parliament. In typical New Labour fashion, Tony Blair gave the job to a pathetic ex-civil servant, largely on the grounds that she was female. She gave the police permission to enter Parliament and search an MP’s office, something which she may not even have had the power to do.

    Everything about this case stinks. The police were being used in a political way by the Blair government to stifle leaks about immigration, the Sergeant at Arms let MPs down, the police found no crimes had been committed, and nine years later two embittered ex-cops are seeking to use information gained in their inquiry, which was not in any way criminal, to blacken a man’s name and ruin his career. It is pure banana republic politics, and further proof of the way Tony Blair dragged our political system into the gutter.

  • bobby b

    John K
    December 4, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    “The computer in question was not “publicly owned”. . . . The raid on Parliament did not even have a warrant.”

    This is where the differences in our laws trip me up. If one branch of government here tried a warrantless entry and search of the offices of another branch, we’d have a constitutional crisis and probably an armed standoff.

    Also baffling to me is the idea that an elected representative’s computer system lies outside of government and within the representative’s personal ownership. Remember the mess here when Hillary used just such a personal system for e-mails in order to evade the fact that the contents were properly possessed and controlled by government. She was illegally evading our Freedom Of Information Act requirements – which are only founded upon the principle that the People’s Business is just that – the people’s business.

  • Mr Ed

    bobby b

    The position is that Mr Green as an MP is entitled to the privileges of a Member under the Bill of Rights 1688, and the Police were regarded as only being entitled to raid his office with the Speaker’s permission. We have no provisions in law requiring a warrant for a search (hence the Amendment to the US Constitution to enshrine it), and in England and Wales the police have an express power to search premises after an arrest without a warrant for an indictable offence (roughly, a felony), although a warrant is generally preferred.

    An MP’s computer is covered by the privileges of the House, whereas a Ministerial computer is property of the Crown and pertains to the Minister’s department. Mr Green was purely an MP at the time, in opposition and the computer was essentially (as I understand it) his personal property, the data on it included data relating to his work as an MP. The Speaker and House of Commons authorities could have asserted the Privileges of the House had they objected to the search, and committed the police to imprisonment within the Houses of Parliament (in the Bell Tower iirc) had they sought to search without permission, but this was an ex-Labour Speaker with a Labour Government doing a Zanu-PF and perhaps the Speaker’s perception of the matter went against the Continental view of ‘immunity’ for politicians from police action.

  • Mr Ecks

    It is essential that May be punished for her BluLabour antics.

    Her pension needs to be confiscated. She needs to be booted out of the job sans any compo. It needs to be insured that she receives none of the usual post-politics perks. No Quangos, no seats on boards, no Directorships. Indeed it needs to be assured that she publically receives humiliating offers such as a job as a shelf-filler at Tesco etc.

    I don’t know how to arrange such events off-hand. If anyone has any ideas as to how she can be suitably destroyed please contribute them.

  • Paul Marks

    Laird – as in the United States, the television and radio stations act as cheer leaders for the “Deep State” (the leftist establishment) against elected politicians. So any legal action Mr Green brought would be doomed to fail.

    To the BBC and Sky (yes News International owned Sky) even leftist Mr Green is some sort of “right winger” (because he is a member of the Conservative Party) and so must be destroyed – by-any-means.

  • Alisa

    Bobby, see also here.

  • bobby b

    Mr. Ed: One question: Who issues the MP’s paycheck?

    Alisa, yeah, that was where I started wondering about all of this. I thought your question was the right one.

  • Lee Moore

    bobby : This is where the differences in our laws trip me up. If one branch of government here tried a warrantless entry and search of the offices of another branch, we’d have a constitutional crisis and probably an armed standoff.

    As Mr Ed explained, permission for the search of the office was given by the appropriate official of the legislative branch – ie we have an intra legislative branch question, rather than a question between the executive and the legislature. The premises are clearly not owned by the individual member. So by comparison – if the Speaker of the US House agreed to allow federal police onto the floor of the House for some purpose, would that be an armed stand off sort of problem if one or two members disagreed with the Speaker’s decision ?

    Of course when we come to the member’s personal property – his computer – we have moved beyond the rights of the legislative branch and on to the rights of the individual member…..

    Also baffling to me is the idea that an elected representative’s computer system lies outside of government and within the representative’s personal ownership.

    Really ? In the US do members of Congress not own computers ? I seem to recall some argument involving the ghastly Debbie Thingummy-Wotsit and her Pakistani IT guy, where she was eagerly maintaining that a computer could not be seized because it was hers. Before changing her story and claiming it belonged to the IT guy. Either way, it was never suggested that the computer belonged to the government.

    Remember the mess here when Hillary used just such a personal system for e-mails in order to evade the fact that the contents were properly possessed and controlled by government. She was illegally evading our Freedom Of Information Act requirements – which are only founded upon the principle that the People’s Business is just that – the people’s business.

    This seems rather different. Hils was Secretary of State, an appointed Officer of the United States – so not merely a federal employee and member of the executive branch, but a person to who the Freedom of information laws apply. I find it very hard to believe that members of Congress and the contents of their computers are subject to the Freedom of Information laws in the US. But i’m ready to be corrected.

  • Mr Ed

    bobby b

    Who pays MPs? Well, this was before the expenses scandal with MPs putting anything and everything on expenses, from wreathes for Remembrance Day to duck houses in their ponds, which led to some cosmetic reforms, but in short, the House of Commons has control over government finances and taxation in that it authorises both, as Charles I found out the hard way, and the House of Commona paid its Members their salaries. So they could and did vote themselves whatever pay they liked, kept in check by Party discipline and the vague notion of an election every 5 years. Now they link their pay to ‘similar’ professionals with some ‘recommendations’ of an outside committee of ‘good people’ to follow, and yet it still goes up. There is a reason for that other amendment in the US about Congressional salaries not going up before an election, there’s again nothing like that here, only political perception to restrain it.

  • John K

    Bobby:

    At the time, Damien Green was an opposition MP. His computers were his property, and were used by the staff he employed out of his parliamentary allowance. A government minister would have the same arrangement for his parliamentary business, but his government business would be done on computers owned by the state, by civil servants working in government offices, an entirely different arrangement.

    As I recall, the Speaker should have been consulted by the police, and he should have been the one to have given permission for any search of an MP’s office. But they did not ask the Speaker, who, although Labour, was a defender of the rights of MPs. Instead, they went to the pathetic Sergeant at Arms, who folded like the career civil servant she was. It is thus unclear if the police were ever really in Parliament with any lawful auhtority.

    For two bitter retired cops to pursue a personal vendatta against Green nine years later, using information they had retained illegally, and which they had been ordered to destroy, is an absolute scandal. Even Comey and Mueller would probably think that this is aiming very low indeed.

  • NickM

    Considering the complexity of the issues here I feel the nation must engage in a public mass debate.

  • Lee Moore

    For two bitter retired cops to pursue a personal vendatta against Green nine years later, using information they had retained illegally, and which they had been ordered to destroy, is an absolute scandal. Even Comey and Mueller would probably think that this is aiming very low indeed.

    I thought Comey had retained his notes of his conversations with Trump, either illegally or at least in breach of his duty to hand over all government materials on ceasing to be an employee. And then he leaked it to the NYT. I doubt very much that Comey would have thought the two UK policemen’s behaviour was “very low.” Just public servants doing their duty. Even after they’ve retired.

  • John K

    Lee:

    You are probably right. Maybe they should have a meeting and compare notes about the best way of unseating elected politicians via dirty tricks. It could become an new course at police academies.

  • Considering the complexity of the issues here I feel the nation must engage in a public mass debate.

    Very funny. Can’t say I’m impressed by those who watch porn at work (shitty morals and work ethic if nothing else), but cops trying to force the resignation of an elected MP and government minister just isn’t on.

    Cops (both current and retired), need to be told to BTFO in no uncertain terms.

  • NickM

    JG,
    My thoughts exactly. And whether it is “Debbie Does Donkeys” or an email to his auntie Doris to ask how Bognor was doesn’t matter. I am self employed but I wouldn’t dream of billing for time I took on my lappy playing games or commentating on Samizdata.

  • NickM

    And Cressida Dick is head of the Met. Yup, that Cressida Dick of Jean Charles de Menezes infamy. There is a reason they are called the “filth”.

    I know a few coppers and they are decent souls. None work for the Met.

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