Feature

United Kingdom: An arrest unworthy of a democracy

The arrest of Damian Green, a Conservative member of Parliament, was an outrage, said William Rees-Mogg in<strong> </strong><em>The Times. </em>The MP was held for nine hours while his home and his parliamentary offices we

William Rees-MoggThe Times

“British liberty is under attack,” said William Rees-Mogg. Police last week arrested Damian Green, a Conservative member of Parliament, and held him for nine hours while they searched his home and his parliamentary offices—reportedly as part of an investigation into leaks about a supposedly sensitive immigration matter. But in holding an MP, the police were committing “a much more serious crime than the one they imagined they were investigating.” In a democracy, one does not simply arrest members of the opposition on trivial grounds. Indeed, MPs are protected from prosecution except in extraordinary circumstances, such as treason. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith say they did not know of the arrest beforehand, which is improbable at best. In any event, once they were informed, neither immediately ordered that Green be released. Both, therefore, abetted in contempt of Parliament. “Many people now think we are living in a police state,” and if nobody responsible for this outrage resigns, they could be right. “This has been a horrifying mixture of ignorance, incompetence, and shame.”

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