Examination of Witnesses (Questions 800
TUESDAY 6 FEBRUARY 2001
D LLOYD CLARKE,
800. I do not want to get into the individual
cases, but on the general issues it raises we would be very interested
to hear your comments, Mrs Craig, about just where the lines are
drawn and also of course any comments that the Chief Constable
and Deputy Chief Constable have to make.
(Mrs Craig) Mr Rucker was and I am departmental security
officer and as such that post has responsibility for protecting
MoD assets of all kinds. If you lose MoD secrets there is a standard
procedure that you follow laid down by the Cabinet Office who
are the central body responsible for investigating the leaking
of classified information. The procedure at that time was that
you would make a preliminary inquiry, then take stock and decide
whether the inquiry needed to go any further. Most government
departments do not have their own police. They would normally
use internal investigators to do that investigation. So would
the MoD in many cases. I have done several in my time in the post.
I think in this case Mr Rucker thought that because the information
which appeared to have been passed to the person in question was
quite highly classified there was a potential crime involved and
that was why he drew it to the attention of the police. I think
he used some infelicitous wording and I think he was in fact thinking
in terms of the normal leak inquiry that he would do. He was very
quickly disabused of any idea that he would get a report and be
able to report back to the Cabinet Office. As Mr Comben said,
he did report to him orally that this inquiry was going to continue
as a criminal investigation and from that point on Mr Rucker had
no involvement in the case at all. If, however, the police had
come back to him and said that for one reason or another they
were not going to pursue this case any further, I think he would
have taken stock at that point and decided what to do.
(Mr Clarke) The only comment that I would makeand
that is the first time that I have heard thatis that it
does seem in terms of language to be a directive which would cause
me particular concern. I am not aware of the relationship that
there was between Mr Rucker and Mr Comben but I am surprised at
the language. It is interesting hearing Mrs Craig say here that
he was disabused of the notion of the kind of language used in
it. I would certainly do exactly the same.
(Mr Comben) The only thing I can add to the statements
is just see what happened. From that moment he did have no further
involvement in the case and to a large extent it was controlled
and directed by the Crown Prosecution Service and he had no contact
with them. Going back to it, as a victim of crime, as the representative
of the victim organisation, if he had asked me some questions
about the investigation (provided they were broad) there is no
reason why I should not have told him. If he had said to me how
long would it take or when might it get to trialyou can
imagine yourselves that is the kind of question any ordinary citizen
who had been a victim of crime would ask: "When is this likely
to go to court. Will I be required?"those kind of
questions can be translated at a departmental Civil Service level
and translated into departmental Civil Service language.
Chairman: Okay. I think in terms of training
and experience we have certainly already dealt with some points.
On the issue of firearms, though, are there any further points
that the Committee want to raise? Any further questions then by
members of the Committee? Mr Davies?
801. I would like to go back to the questions
I was asking the Chief Constable earlier on about efficiency and
effectiveness. It is clear that he feels there is some progress
on both fronts with the Ministry of Defence Police. I wonder if
I could ask him to enlarge on that and say in what areas he thinks
efficiency and effectiveness might be enhanced and what measures
he is taking to achieve that?
(Mr Clarke) In respect of efficiencies I think there
are efficiencies to be made out of reducing sickness, for example,
among MDP. Sickness amongst our staff is higher than that of normal
Home Department forces. There is work we can do drawing on our
experiences, drawing on my own personal experiences of Home Department
policing. That is an example in terms of efficiency. In respect
of effectiveness, I am proposing changing a target in respect
of the security at establishments because it is not just the Ministry
of Defence Police that have got a responsibility for security
at establishments. It is those people who preside over and manage
those establishments who have also got to share in that partnership
provision. I think that we can work with them. Again, for example,
it may well be that we can provide better security by a combination
of officers and technology. So it will be those areas that I shall
be looking to explore. Again, that is not a criticism that it
cannot, per se, be done. These are areas for me coming
into a very different organisation from Home Department policing
with a new eye asking, I would like to think, probing questions.
Some of them come from naivety but very often those are the best.
802. Let me ask you again about a concrete case.
There was a break-in through the perimeter of RAF Wittering about
a year ago which is a few miles from Stamford and that was particularly
worrying because it was a break-in not merely through the outer
perimeter but they got into the inner perimeter which is at least
a mile away and where some fairly sensitive material is stored
from time to time which I will not go into any further. Is that
the fault of the Ministry of Defence Police or is this another
case of `it's not my fault, gov. It's the RAF, the provost services,
the RAF regiment," something like that?
(Mr Clarke) I cannot comment in respect of the specifics
but what I can pass a comment about as a generality is if MDP
officers are deployed at that site we clearly have some responsibility,
perhaps with others. It is not necessarily laying the blame, is
it? It is how can we do it better. That is the purpose of your
question. Can we be more effective in how we perform our tasks
in respect of those key targets that we have? Examples like that
flag them up all the time. Did we do the best we could? Can we
improve? Are there lessons to be learned? That is what I would
be constantly looking at in terms of establishing our effectiveness.
803. Let me ask you a final question. Is what
our Chairman calls `proliferation' and what I referred to as `fragmentation'
of police officers in the military itself a barrier to effectiveness?
Is there scope for greater rationalisation there?
(Mr Clarke) I honestly genuinely am not in a position
to comment at the moment.
804. You really have not thought about this,
(Mr Clarke) One of the questions I answered much earlier
was I have not taken this particular role with expansionism in
mind, whether it be Home Department policing or provost policing
in the Services, none whatsoever. I ask questions, particularly
in respect of the MGS/MPGS such as why is that being done by that
person and not by an MDP officer? It is those kind of questions.
I have not formed a view as to whether the three provosts should
be merged into one or whether MPGS or MGS should be merged with
MDP, no I have not.
805. Next time we or any other parliamentary
committee has the pleasure of having you before us perhaps you
will have had an opportunity to think about that?
(Mr Clarke) I will be happy to articulate my thoughts
at that time.
806. Mr Legge, can I ask you or your team are
there any final points you wish to make to us before I adjourn
(Mr Legge) I think only one, Madam Chairman. We have
obviously done our best to help the Committee in a very wide range
of questions that have been addressed to us. In a fair number
of them I have to say, for example in the Geraghty/Wylde case
that Mr Key raised, the action taken by the Ministry of Defence
Police was under the existing 1987 legislation. I would just wish
to emphasise that the proposals that we have put forward in the
Bill before you are intended to be very strictly limited. We are
of course very happy to answer questions on the whole range of
policing, but I would hope the Committee would not lose sight
of the fact that the proposals are very specific and limited.
Chairman: Thank you. Can I then thank
you Ms Nash, Mrs Craig, Mr Legge, Mr Clarke, Mr Comben and Mr
Crowther for some of you once again and for some of you for the
first time in coming along and giving us the opportunity of your
views and evidence this morning. Thank you very much for your
time and efforts and thank you very much for the daily job that