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Monday, 1 December 2008

Sir Paul Stephenson and Michael Martin

The man who ordered the raid on Damian Green was Sir Paul Stephenson, the acting head of the Metropolitan Police. He has applied for the permanent post that became vacant after Iain Blair was forced to resign after he lost the confidence of Tory mayor, Boris Johnson. Blair should have been sacked after the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes. However, a deal was done and Iain Blair was protected in exchange for Tony Blair not being prosecuted over the cash for honours scandal.

The post of Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is appointed by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary. Stephenson, who has applied for the post, obviously thought he would impress Smith was his “pro-Labour” attitudes by ordering the arrest of Damian Green. However, to get permission for the raid on Green’s offices, he had to get permission from the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin. This would normally have been refused. The tradition of the Speaker protecting the rights of MPs goes back to 1642 when King Charles I entered the House of Commons and ordered the Speaker, William Lenthall, to identify five MPs he accused of treason. Lenthall refused and this act triggered the English Civil War.

However, Martin was in no position to refuse because of his own corrupt past. Since 2007 the Tax Payers' Alliance have been calling on the Metropolitan Police to investigate Martin for claiming expenses he was not entitled to receive. For example, it has been revealed that Martin claimed £17,166 last year towards the cost of his Bishopbriggs constituency home, on which he no longer pays a mortgage. When this was reported in the newspapers, Martin spent more than £20,000 of taxpayers' money on lawyers to challenge these stories. Understandably, Martin played an important role in trying to block the publication of details of MPs' £5m-a-year travel expenses under the Freedom of Information Act. Martin also used air miles accumulated on official business to fly his children and their families to London in business class. His wife, also illegally claimed more than £4,000 in taxi expenses. As long as Martin does as the police want, he will not be prosecuted for these offences.

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