Update: Tories hitting back hard over Damian Green arrest
In a bold and provocative move, British anti-terror police arrested a top Tory MP last night, alleging that he leaked top-secret government information. Today it became more clear that the Tories see this as a winning issue and a damaging blunder by the Labour government. The leader of the Tories, David Cameron, is staunchly defending Green, saying his arrest is "Stalinesque" and resembles a police state. London mayor Boris Johnson, the next most high-profile Tory in British politics, also hit out at the arrest this morning saying he was "deeply disturbed" by it.
A political row has broken out over the incident. Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary was not pre-warned about the arrest and the Government has categorically denied that the Prime Minister had any prior knowledge. Yet Mr Cameron, the Tory leader, Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London and the Speaker and Serjeant at Arms of the House of Commons have confirmed they were all informed.
Speaking outside his London home on Friday morning, Mr Cameron said that while "ministers tell us they didn't know" about the arrest, they and the police must now explain the decision.
"They've got some serious questions to answer. If they didn't know, what they've got to say is what they think of it," Mr Cameron said, adding that Mr Green had been working to disclose information in the public interest.
"In our democracy, I really don't think that what has happened is right," he said.
David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, described the move as "somewhere between an astonishing error of judgment and judicial intimidation".
"Damian Green was doing his job, he was holding the Government to account ... None of [the documents] put the national intelligence, national security or international relations at risk," Mr Davis said, "Yet we end up with a situation that is in some way reminiscent of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, with an opposition spokesman being arrested for nine hours. It is extraordinary, frankly."
The arrest took place last night.
ORY immigration spokesman Damian Green was held yesterday on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.
Police searched his home and Commons office.
Green wasn't charged but was being questioned by Met officers last night.
Conservative Party bosses said the arrest was connected to leaked information from the Home Office but that the MP for Ashford in Kent denied any wrongdoing.
A spokesman added: "Mr Green has legitimately revealed information which the Home Office chose not to make public. Disclosure of this information was manifestly in the public interest."