Letters regarding the arrest of Damian Green MP
A number of excellent letters appeared in the Times, among them -
Sir - Parliament should impeach the permanent secretary at the Home Office, Sir David Normington, and any other senior public officials who initiated the police investigation into Home Office leaks that led to the arrest of Damian Green.
According to Jacqui Smith, speaking on Sunday's Andrew Marr show, the Cabinet Office ordered the investigation, which also makes Gus O'Donnell, the head of the civil service, a prime candidate for impeachment.
Impeachment has not been used since 1806, but it was designed for occasions when public servants deserve to be removed from office because of their misconduct. A motion to impeach can be put to Parliament and, if agreed by a simple majority, the accused has to be tried by the House of Lords. It is not a criminal procedure. No one can go to jail. But it is an effective way of removing a civil servant from office.
The charge in this case would be abuse of public office in a manner likely to suppress valid criticism of the Government by parliamentarians acting for the common good.
Dr David Green, Director, Civitas, London SW1
We note that impeachment as a tool for rooting out corrupt and incompetent members of government was invented in Britain in 1376.
Sir - The present Government is probably the most oppressive this country has suffered since the mid-17th century. But at least in the 17th century, the Speaker of the House of Commons, William Lenthall, made a stand against an attempt by the state to arrest five Members of Parliament.
Speaker Martin simply seems to have stood by while the police took everything they wanted in their attack on an MP.
The House of Commons is our only hope against this over-mighty Government. Its first step must be to remove this feeble Speaker and elect someone who is ready to stand up for the rights of MPs - and of us all.
Stephen Graham, Littlebourne, Kent
We do not look for a rescue from the House. The House has spent the last forty years ignoring the British Constitution.
Sir - Parliamentary privilege was created by our ancestors with much bravery. Its purpose is to protect members from the state in the discharge of their duties. The present case demonstrates forcefully why it is necessary.
The papers must be returned, and the acting head of the Metropolitan Police should be brought to the House to apologise for a breach of parliamentary privilege.
F.J. Silvester, London SE1
Sir - Mr Green was arrested on suspicion of "aiding and abetting misconduct in public office", for which, I understand, the maximum punishment is life imprisonment. If true, it is scandalous that there exists such a wide-ranging, ambiguous, over-the-top law capable of abuse by the authorities as in this case.
Why doesn't David Cameron commit the Tories to the repeal of this law?
Ian Lang, Liphook, Hampshire
Sir - Why do many MPs seem so shocked by Mr Green's arrest? It is merely the logical progression from the gradual dismantling of our historic protections.
Peter Steadman, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire
Thanks to Idris Francis for pointing out the letters.