A large amount of today’s news coverage seems to have been about the alleged “row” between the Conservative Party and Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, who has overall responsibility for the continuing police investigation into the leaks of material from the Home Office which led to the arrest of Damian Green MP.
The story so far seems to be that the Mail on Sunday for reasons best known to their editor (and no doubt completely unrelated to his role in the Green case) decided to investigate Assistant Commissioner Quick and, in particular, whether there was anything reprehensible in the wedding hire car business run by his wife. They couldn’t find anything wrong, so instead published a story alleging a “possible” security risk because the family home of the head of Scotland Yard’s Specialist Operations Directorate was also where the vintage cars used for the wedding hire business were garaged. Then to make sure that any security breach was maximised showed pictures of Assistant Commissioner Quick, his home and the vintage cars.
The following day, as Assistant Commissioner Quick was in the process of moving his family away from the security risk exacerbated by the Mail story, he was collared by another reporter and made some tetchy comments suggesting that the whole farrago was part of a smoke-screen set up to distract attention from the investigation being carried out into the leaks from the Home Office and intended to create sufficient fuss to get the investigation dropped. No doubt he shouldn’t have been so tetchy, although I suspect most people in similar circumstances might have reacted in even more forthright terms.
In response, the Conservative Party threatened to sue for defamation and David Cameron went into over-drive and, using the prestigious platform of his end-of-year interview with the BBC’s “Women’s Hour” called for the offending remarks to be withdrawn and for Assistant Commissioner Quick to make a full apology.
Finally, after an apology was made in more fulsome terms than I would have been able to manage in the same position, David Cameron declared that the matter was closed and that the Conservative Party were “drawing a line” under the affair.
So what exactly was the Shadow Home Secretary, Dominic Grieve, doing on BBC Radio 4’s “World at One” programme a couple of hours later? Apparently, he was very keen to go on air (or so I was told, when the programme contacted me to join him to debate the issue – I declined on the basis that that nice Mr Cameron had declared the matter closed and therefore further discussion was pointless).
What in the event Dominic Grieve said on the programme was hardly drawing a line under the affair, as he said Assistant Commissioner Quick should consider his position and stand down from his role in respect of the inquiry into Home Office leaks.
So either David Cameron was being disingenuous when he accepted Assistant Commissioner Quick’s apology and said that it “drew a line” under the controversy or Dominic Grieve was deliberately ignoring what his Party Leader had said.
Either way, it begins to look as though the Conservatives really are trying to make sure that Assistant Commissioner Quick stops his investigations.