MP faces same charge used against Sally Murrer

MP Damian Green was yesterday arrested under the same obscure offence for which local journalist Sally Murrer is set to stand trial.

Green was arrested under the offence of “conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office” for which the maximum possible penalty is life imprisonment.

Murrer was arrested under the same charge last May in what is believed to have been the first instance of it being used against a journalist.

Her lawyers have been arguing at pre-trial hearings in recent weeks for the charges against Murrer to be thrown out.

News on whether or not they have been successful is expected to be announced today. Press Gazette cannot yet report the pre-trial arguments because of reporting restrictions.

The Murrer case relates to stories which were allegedly given to her by a police contact. She has always maintained that she has not done anything that any journalist covering crime does not do every day.

MP Green is accused of leaking a memo which revealed that an illegal immigrant has been working as a House of Commons cleaner, Green was held by police yesterday for nine hours.

Similarly to Murrer, Green said: “I was astonished to have spent more than nine hours today under arrest for doing my job.”

The stories which Green was allegedly behind were all damaging to the Government.

Murrer was first arrested by Thames Valley Police under the same charge last year and was held for 30 hours. Police also raided her office and home.

The Financial Times has tracked down the papers which ran the stories first and which may have been the recipients of the alleged leaks from Green.

They are:

  • A Daily Mail story last November about a Home Office memo claiming that home secretary Jacqui Smith had been warned in advance about thousands of illegal immigrants who had been cleared by Whitehall to have sensitive security jobs.
  • A Sunday Telegraph story in February revealing a Liam Byrne, then a Home Office minister, revealing he had been told about an illegal Brazilian immigrant working as a cleaner in parliament.
  • A Sunday Times story in April about a secret list of Labour rebels thought to be plotting against government plans to extend detention for terror suspects to 42 days.

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