Guido is distinctly underwhelmed at the Speaker's statement. Iain seems to think he is on his last legs and MPs took pity on him.
For my part, I think that he has got away with it. He has announced a debate on Monday which I fear will be dominated by the Sir Patrick Cormacks of this world. It will be lots of MPs saying how important they are and that the Police were bang out of order. It will be a parade of pomposity. David Winnick started the ball rolling today by demanding that a Policeman be called to the Bar of the House to explain himself. If MPs insist on making themselves appear so different to the rest of us then they will continue to lose favour with the public. The rest of us don't have a 'Bar of the House' to call people to, and most people cannot relate to MPs when they talk in this language. And, let's face it, it's not as if Mr Winnick's call will be heeded.
The real issue for me is twofold:
- was Damian Green doing his job in publishing the leaks? I think he was and the Speaker was right to say just this. It is this acknowledgement that is most to Speaker Martin's credit and the reason he will hangmon to his job;
- were the Police justified in searching his office without a warrant and jeopardising the confidential information held there? The answer is clearly no.
So how come the Police did conduct such a search without a warrant? Mr Speaker makes clear that he wasn't asked and didn't advise the Serjeant to demand a warrant. Perhaps he should have done so. If it is true that the Police should have advised the Serjeant that she did not have to agree and that they failed to do so then they are clearly in the wrong. She is also clearly wrong in not knowing the rules she is paid to enforce (albeit that she is new to the job). She had the time to double check and could have asked both the Speaker and Clerk if she were unsure.
So what will happen now?
Well a forgettable debate featuring Sir Bufton Tufton will take place on Monday. It will reassert the importance of MPs and the sancitity of the Palace of Westminster. It will reinforce the Speaker's statement that only he should be allowed to consent to a search and that a warrant will be needed in future. But as this situation has not arisen for hundreds of years, who's to say that it will come up again. This whole protocol is likely to be a complete waste of time as is the investigation by seven wise MPs (insert joke here).
The Speaker is further damaged but not in such a way that he will be forced out before the General Election.
The new Serjeant will be made the sacrificial lamb over the whole issue but Harriet Harman and the wimmin's brigade will not want to see the first female Serjeant lose her job and so she will survive - but she will be utterly powerless.
The Police will admit their mistakes but claim that no one is above the law and that they asked for and got consent to the search. They will be overjoyed that they got one over the politicians.