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Wright Case (Appeal)

Volume 114: debated on Monday 6 April 1987

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42.

asked the Attorney-General what discussions he intends to have about the progress of Her Majesty's Government's appeal in the Wright case.

I have had discussions with my colleagues within Government and with counsel in the case and these discussions will continue during the preparation of the appeal. As Members of the House will know, the Government lodged their notice of appeal on 31 March.

Speculation about some of the allegations of this obsessive, senile twerp range from "predictable" in the case of Walsall to "reasonable" in the case of Leeds, South, but does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the main issue is the bounden duty of somebody who has taken an oath of security to the Crown to honour those pledges of confidentiality? As the Opposition parties fall over themselves to criticise the Government for the course that they are following, will my right hon. and learned Friend take some comfort from the fact that most of our fellow citizens applaud the Government's firm, albeit uncomfortable, line?

I think that it would be right if I did not comment on my hon. Friend's opening words. After that, he put his finger on exactly the point that the Government are seeking to make.

Will the Attorney-General comment on the allegation that has also been raised in connection with this affair: that there were serious breaches of the law by agents of MI5? Will the Attorney-General now confirm that if the Government thought that it was a serious enough matter they could have an independent investigation into it, without having to wait until the end of the case?

I shall make certain that the right hon. Gentleman's remarks are made known to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, because that is not a matter for me.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend seek an undertaking from the office of the Leader of the Opposition that during the appeal his office, and those Opposition Members who behaved like that during the hearing at first instance, will not contact the office of Mr. Malcolm Turnbull? What steps does the Crown propose to take to ensure that Mr. Paul Greengrass is not present in court when hearings take place in camera, because he informed other journalists waiting outside the court about the proceedings inside the court, and it is strongly suspected that this information filtered back to this House and that it was used by Opposition Members? What action will be taken to prevent a repetition of what happened last time?

It is not for me to advise the Leader of the Opposition. It is up to his good sense as to how he behaves during the course of the appeal.

As for Mr. Greengrass, that will be a matter for the Court of Appeal to decide, just as Mr. Justice Powell, against the Crown's wishes, allowed Mr. Greengrass to attend the hearings.

Does the Attorney-General recognise that all the legal ramifications and the rest will not stop Labour Members demanding that there should be a full judicial inquiry into the serious allegations that criminal and subversive elements in MI5 tried to destabilise an elected Government in the 1970s? Are not the Attorney-General and his right hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General not concerned at the way in which the Prime Minister has, over a number of years, seriously besmirched their office and used various ways to undermine the position of the Attorney-General?

With regard to the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I am satisfied, as is my right hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General, that there has never been any case in which any improper influence was brought to bear by the Prime Minister upon our office. I want to make that absolutely clear.