Transport police chief to review Home Office leaks probe

The Metropolitan Police's handling of the controversial inquiry into leaks from the Home Office is to be subjected to an urgent review by the Chief Constable of another force, it was announced today.

And Prime Minister Gordon Brown indicated that there may be further inquiries after the conclusion of the investigation, which last week saw the arrest of Conservative immigration spokesman Damian Green on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.



The Met's Acting Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson called in the head of the British Transport Police Ian Johnston to look into his force's "decisions, actions and handling of the investigation", Scotland Yard revealed today.



The decision reflects Scotland Yard's concern about the mounting political furore over Mr Green's arrest and the search of his office in the House of Commons. The Ashford MP, who denies all wrongdoing, has been bailed until February.



Sir Paul said he was "properly concerned about the issues being raised within the continuing debate surrounding the ongoing investigation".



Mr Johnston, who chairs the Association of Chief Police Officers crime committee, will deliver his interim findings to Sir Paul within seven days, followed by a full report in two weeks. In the meantime, the investigating team will hold discussions with the Crown Prosecution Service on the next steps in the investigation.



Mr Brown today hinted that this may not be the last inquiry into the affair, telling reporters: "There is going to be a time when all these things are going to be investigated and reviewed after the police have finished their work and MPs, of course, have got to be allowed to get on with their job.



"But no MP is above the law. There has got to be operational independence for the police. The police have got to be able to get on with their job without interference by politicians."



Home Secretary Jacqui Smith welcomed Mr Johnston's review, and restated her support for the police's operational independence.



"No-one should seek to prejudice a police investigation in any way," she said. "These are very serious matters, and the police should be free to pursue their investigations without fear or favour."



But Tories seized upon her revelation that she sought and received assurances from Sir Paul yesterday that the investigation was being carried out "diligently, sensitively and in a proportionate manner".



Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve said Ms Smith appeared to be "finally... (doing) her job as Home Secretary in scrutinising the way the police are doing their job - not telling them what to do, but asking the searching questions that are her responsibility.



"This should have happened before any action was taken against Damian Green and the failure of that to happen has never been properly explained."



Mr Grieve called for an urgent statement from Ms Smith about the instigation and progress of the Home Office inquiry into a series of leaks over the past year, and how it developed into a police investigation.



Ms Smith was today meeting representatives of the Commons authorities and Leader of the House Harriet Harman to discuss arrangements for tomorrow's statement by Speaker Michael Martin about the police search of Mr Green's office in the Palace of Westminster.



The raid has sparked widespread anger, with some MPs condemning it as a breach of parliamentary privilege.



Mr Martin is expected to make his statement tomorrow afternoon, after MPs return from hearing the Queen's Speech in the House of Lords.



Senior Tories including former Home Secretary Kenneth Clarke and ex-shadow home secretary David Davis are expected to lead demands for a full debate, which may delay the scheduled debate on the Government's legislative programme for the coming year.



Some Tory MPs are understood to be considering tabling a motion of no confidence in the Speaker, which could potentially pave the way for his removal. Harwich MP Douglas Carswell said he was not alone in thinking Mr Martin was "not up to the job".



"It seems that the one person in Westminster who is still hiding behind the fiction that correct process was followed is Michael Martin," Mr Carswell told BBC News 24.



"It's simply not acceptable that the Speaker of the House of Commons should not understand the enormity of what he's allowed."



Liberal Democrats are expected to push for a full examination of events.



Leader Nick Clegg warned: "If we let the Damian Green incident just pass, I think we'll go down a slippery slope of letting the Government do whatever it likes between one election and the next, and that's not going to help anyone in the country as a whole."



London Mayor Boris Johnson, who chairs the Metropolitan Police Authority, welcomed Mr Johnston's appointment: "It is right that someone independent should look closely at how the police conducted this investigation and whether the actions and decisions they took were proportionate and necessary and I am pleased at the common-sense approach this represents."



MPs on the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee are to question ministers over the handling of the leak inquiry when they appear to give evidence over the coming weeks, said committee chairman Keith Vaz.



The senior Labour backbencher said there were "clear concerns and questions" over the conduct of the investigation so far, and welcomed the decision to call in Mr Johnston.



Meanwhile, the Association of Police Authorities urged ministers to rethink plans to introduce direct elections to the bodies which oversee local policing, in order to avoid future political rows over investigations.



Only in London are the police accountable to a single political party, through the Home Secretary or Mayor, while in other parts of England and Wales police authorities are appointed in a way which prevents any party holding a majority, said APA chairman Bob Jones.



He added: "Outside of London, allegations of Chief Constables working to a party political agenda are rare, as the balanced structure of police authorities which oversee local policing means this allegation has no credibility.



"The proposals from all three front benches, including the Government's proposals to introduce direct elections to police authorities, would re-introduce a party political majority to whole swathes of the country, opening up even more allegations of a party political agenda to the detriment of both policing and politics."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English Teacher - Saffron ...

Primary Supply Teacher - Northants

£90 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Primary School Supply Teache...

Maths Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Maths Teacher - Saffro...

Chemistry Teacher - Top School in Malaysia - January Start

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain