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MPs call for inquiry into Tory terror arrest

Security risks over-egged for effect

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The Home Affairs Select Committee wants a fuller inquiry into the arrest of MP Damian Green, and believes politicians should be kept out of police investigations in future.

Damian Green and a junior Home Office official were arrested in November last year. Green's Parliamentary office and home were searched after Home Office officials complained of leaks. The Home Office, helped by the Cabinet Office, had already conducted its own unsuccessful mole hunts before calling in plod.

The Committee criticised officials from both the Home Office and the Cabinet Office for exaggerating the risks associated with the leaks.

A letter written by officials to police said: "We are in no doubt that there has been considerable damage to national security already as a result of some of these leaks and we are concerned that the potential for future damage is significant." The Committee blamed frustration among civil servants at their failure to find the source of the leaks for overstating the risks.

Sir David Normington, permanent secretary of the Home Office, told the Committee that there was one piece of information out of 20 leaks investigated that could have been damaging, but that it was known in other areas of government, not just the Home Office. The Committee said there was a "clear mismatch" between Normington's description of the leaks and that sent to police.

The Committee also noted that Met boss Sir Paul Stephenson refused to hand over the report prepared for him on the issue by British Transport Police boss Ian Johnson - MPs called for the report to be published as soon as was practicable.

The Committee noted that the case has been referred to a committee set up by Speaker Martin but that: "the Committee has still not met, and there are no signs it will do so in the immediate future."

Because of this failure, the Committee recommended that the House of Commons should debate whether or not to refer the matter to the Committee on Standards and Privileges.

The full report is available from here.

The Crown Prosecution Service is expected to make a decision on whether or not to prosecute Green later today. ®

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