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Speaker’s Statement

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 22 January 2009

I have a statement to make. Yesterday evening, the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski) raised a point of order in which he reported that police had entered his office without permission and demanded that he release to them correspondence from his constituency. The House authorities have looked into the matter. I can tell the House that the case concerned general inquiries in the course of an investigation into a serious crime that may involve threatening behaviour towards Members and other public figures. It did not involve the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham or his staff.

In the course of the investigation, a police officer assigned to duties in the House, but exercising her responsibilities as a constable, sought assistance from the staff of the hon. Member and agreed a time to meet them. Assistance was given by the hon. Member’s staff after the officer had explained the nature of the inquiry. At a point in their discussion, the hon. Member was contacted by his staff because it was thought necessary to seek his permission for the police to obtain a single-sheet document from his office. The purpose of the investigation was explained to the hon. Member, and after discussion, he agreed to supply the document. [Interruption.] Order.

I can confirm to the House that at no time during those proceedings did the police exercise any compulsory powers to require the document to be supplied. The hon. Member and his staff were not the subject of the police inquiry. It was not a matter that involved the seeking of a search warrant. I can confirm that the document is not privileged, but for reasons related to the sensitivity of the police investigation, I make no further comment about the details of the case.

The hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham was made aware of these details by the police. While I accept that, in this case, the police officer acted with good intentions, I have instructed that any police officer assigned to duties in the House must advise the Serjeant at Arms of the intention to seek the assistance of a Member and his staff in his offices. The Serjeant at Arms will in turn approach the Member before the police take further action. I shall, of course, keep the House informed of any details concerning the case in-so-far as it affects the privileges of the House.