Thursday, October 01, 2009

Return of the Redact

The report on the Whitehall leak inquiry that led to the arrest of Tory MP Damian Green is due to be released shortly. However, just what will it reveal? Apparently according to sources objections from senior civil servants and police officers involved mean it is so heavily redacted it 'makes MP's expenses look like a model of transparency'.

The senior policeman who led the enquiry former Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick objected to publication of any part of the report. Sir David Normington, Permanent Secretary to the Home Office first raised concerns that leaks of sensitive material could damage national security, is another who asked for large passages to be blacked out.

The police have concerns that the review misrepresents their investigation. Hello! Isn't that the point of this review. The police have taken one line on this, it appears to have been the wrong one, now we want to find out what actually happened. Of course they are going to say that it misrepresents them if hit is highlighting errors in their methodology.

The fact is that the report was written by Ian Johnston last December when he was Chief Constable of British Transport Police. It is not written by some PhD student like a certain dossier on weapons of mass destruction, but someone who understands police operations and procedures.

However, some are objecting to the fact that the material seized from Mr Green's office in the Palace of Westminster has not been considered. This was allowed to be examined until March of this year after a dispute over whether it was subject to Parliamentary privilege. But in April the judge rules out criminal proceedings against Mr Green and Christopher Galley the Home Office civil servant who admitted passing the documents to the MP.

But if this is review in the public interest why are we not going to see so many important swathes of it. The cover all excuse of national security is being used too much, to either hinder civil liberties or public scrutiny. This Labour government has opened the flood gates to allow an almost secret state exist to protect too many of its own interests rather than those of the individual.

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