Mole leaked papers for two years

Civil servant out of hiding to insist actions were in public interest
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The Home Office mole who leaked secret papers to the Tory MP Damian Green broke cover yesterday to insist that he was acting in the public interest and to accuse police of a massive overreaction.

Christopher Galley admitted being in regular contact with the shadow Immigration minister, whose arrest has provoked a constitutional uproar over the freedom of MPs.

As Scotland Yard vowed to press on with its investigation into the leaks, growing numbers of MPs threatened to mount a parliamentary protest tomorrow over police being allowed to raid Mr Green's Commons office. Michael Martin, the Commons Speaker, will attempt to soothe MPs' anger in a statement tomorrow.

Mr Galley, 26, a junior Home Office official, has been in hiding since the storm erupted over Mr Green's treatment. But he emerged into the spotlight yesterday when he appeared alongside his solicitor, Neil O'May, at the London offices of the legal firm Bindmans LLP.

Although Mr Galley did not speak because of the continuing police inquiry, he made clear through his solicitor the anguish and dismay he felt over his treatment. Mr O'May confirmed that Mr Galley had been in "close to regular" contact with the Tory frontbencher for two years.

He had passed on information that was "important for the public to know in an open and democratic parliamentary system".

"In providing this information for a shadow minister, Mr Galley believed that it would be used in a wholly responsible matter in the public interest," Mr O'May said. His client had been arrested and questioned for 17 hours after a raid on his home 13 days ago. "If there was ever a case of 'don't shoot the messenger' then this is it."

The papers passed on by Mr Galley had been of "the lowest level", not touching on issues such as national security or terrorism.

Metropolitan Police sources said yesterday that they would not abandon the investigation because of the outcry over police tactics.

Tory sources disclosed last night that Mr Green was having both his computer in his west London home and his car swept for bugs. He has complained that his computer appears to have been tampered with since it was examined by police last week.

*The Government faced fresh embarrassment last night after details of plans for secret talks today on the crisis between ministers, civil servants and Commons officials were leaked.

An email announcing the meeting was inadvertently sent from the office of Harriet Harman, the Commons Leader, to a Conservative MP. It disclosed that the meeting would address tomorrow's statement to MPs by the Commons Speaker, Mr Martin.

The cabinet ministers Jacqui Smith and Jack Straw were invited, as well as Sir Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, senior civil servants, Jill Pay, the serjeant-at-arms, and a representative of Mr Martin. A Tory spokesman said: "It looks like government ministers are trying to stitch us up."

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