THE statement by the Speaker of the House of Commons yesterday about the Metropolitan Police's search of the parliamentary office of Damian Green last week was unsatisfactory. He said clearly enough that he “had not personally authorised the search” and that the Sergeant-at-Arms, Jill Pay had signed the consent form enabling the search to take place. What Speaker Martin did not make clear, however, was the extent to which he had been consulted and whether or not he had asked the right questions about the police's intended action. He did remind the House that in 1999 a joint committee of MPs had said that the Commons “could not and should not be a haven against the law”.

Of rather greater interest yesterday was the trouble that London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, has got himself into with the police over the Damian Green and leaked Home Office documents affair. Last week, when the acting commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Paul Stephenson, told Mr Johnson, as chairman of the Police Authority, that Mr Green was going to be arrested for questioning, Johnson expressed his “grave concern”. That was perhaps fair enough, but he then got in touch with Mr Green, a political friend, apparently to discuss the matter. Yesterday Sir Paul understandably described that action as “entirely inappropriate”. I have rather warmed to Boris since he took over as mayor but his impulsiveness and lack of respect for the rules of the game will get him into deep trouble one day.


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