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Point of Order

Volume 538: debated on Tuesday 17 January 2012

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On Thursday 12 January, the Russian embassy published on its website a highly personal and inaccurate attack on me. The attack related to a debate the previous day on human rights in Russia and the treatment of Sergei Magnitsky, in which several Members of all parties spoke. I believe this is the first time that a foreign embassy accredited to Her Majesty’s Government has so attacked a Member for carrying out his parliamentary duties. Clearly, the Russian embassy is not covered by the rules of privilege or free expression in Parliament, but I hope, Mr Speaker, that you do not think this is a welcome development, and that Members must be able to say what they think about other countries without coming under pressure or intimidation from embassies and accredited diplomats.

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order and for notice of it. I certainly agree that no Member of the House should be intimidated in exercising his or her undoubted right to free expression in this House. I might add that although my own imagination is moderately vivid, the idea of the right hon. Gentleman being intimidated by the Russian embassy or anybody else is beyond it.

If there are no further points of order, or sedentary heckles by the hon. Gentleman, we shall move on to the ten-minute rule Bill.