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Friday, November 11, 2005

New Labour use police as lobbyists

The Telegraph tells us what we all already know:

"Former Cabinet ministers said that Labour was using the police in the same way that Mr Blair used the intelligence and security services three years ago to provide "evidence" that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

The police chiefs' venture into politics backfired when the Commons rejected 90 days and voted for a maximum 28-day detention period, defeating Mr Blair for the first time since he came to power in 1997.

Senior police officers around the country were asked last week by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) to telephone and write to MPs, urging them to back the 90-day proposal. The move followed a request from Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, for support in making the Government's case after it became clear that MPs were likely to vote against the measure.

Letters from the chief constables of Wiltshire, West Mercia, Cheshire and Surrey, which have been passed to The Daily Telegraph, all make similar arguments in favour of 90 days.

David Maclean, the Conservative chief whip, said he had launched a full investigation into police conduct. He was concerned at the "blatant political lobbying" to which MPs had been subjected by some senior police officers. He has asked Tory MPs to submit details of letters, telephone calls and e-mails they received from chief constables before Wednesday's vote.

Mr Maclean said that lobbying MPs apparently at the behest of ministers was a breach of the traditional political neutrality of the police service.

Two former Tory Cabinet ministers, Stephen Dorrell and Peter Lilley, tabled a Commons motion deploring the Government's attempts to embroil public servants in political controversy. The motion claimed that some chief constables had "acquiesced" to the demands for them to endorse the 90 days policy because they would shortly be up for re-selection as a result of the Government's plans to merge police forces. Mr Dorrell said that in 26 years as an MP he had never known such a campaign by chief police officers."


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