I wish to make a personal statement, Mr. Speaker.
On Monday 12 January the hon. Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill), during a point of order to you, Mr. Speaker, alleged that a
highly regarded member of the Parliamentary press lobby"—
that is to say, Mr. Adam Raphael—
that is the hon. Gentleman—
that he had been told by the hon. Gentleman him self"—
that is the hon. Member for Workington—
that Sir Stephen Hastings and I"—
that is, the hon. Member for Davyhulme—
That was identification of the hon. Gentleman and Sir Stephen Hastings as persons who
had been sent letters by the hon. Gentleman"—
that is myself—
had engaged in a conspiracy with officers of MI5 to bring about the downfall of Her Majesty's Government by unconstitutional means"—[Official Report, 12 January 1987; Vol. 108, c. 34.]
If the allegation that I had disclosed this matter to the journalist was true, it would mean that I had broken a solemn undertaking given to the House on Monday 15 December when I said:
I do not intend to name the Members of Parliament
involved."—[Official Report, 15 December 1986; Vol. 107, c. 7831.]
In the circumstances, I wish to inform the House what happened. On Saturday 13 December, Grania Forbes, a political journalist on the News of the World, acquired a copy of the first edition of The Observer. She has stated that, during the course of the evening, at about 8 o'clock, she was informed, on a confidential basis by a senior Conservative politician, that the hon. Member and the former hon. Member referred to could be the hon. Member for Davyhulme and Sir Stephen Hastings, and that she then telephoned the hon. Member and put the allegation to him. That was two days before I spoke in the debate in the House. The story was therefore already known in Fleet street before I spoke.
On 15 December, I gave the undertaking not to divulge the names of the Members concerned. On Thursday 18 December, three days after that debate, the attention of Mr. Adam Raphael was drawn to an article in Tribune which identified the two Conservative politicians, by name, as agreeing that they had received material concerning allegations of plots against the Wilson Government.
It should be said that Mr. Raphael had also spoken to Grania Forbes, who told him that she had spoken to the hon. Member for Davyhulme. Adam Raphael then approached the hon. Gentleman to ask him about the allegations and ascertain whether he had received a letter from me. The hon. Gentleman agreed that he had received a letter from me and showed him his reply to me.
I make this statement, Mr. Speaker, to demonstrate that I have kept the undertaking that I gave to the House on 15 December that I would not identify the Members concerned and, furthermore, have not disclosed the names of the hon. Member for Davyhulme or Sir Stephen Hastings to Adam Raphael.
I recognise that I cannot in any way contest what the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) says in a personal statement, and it would not be my wish so to do. I wish to say that I was misquoted from Hansard. I did not make mention of Mr. Adam Raphael: it was the hon. Gentleman who made that reference. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it would be in order now for the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the false and malicious accusations that he made against Sir Stephen Hastings and myself on 15 December, for which he has produced not one shred of evidence.
Order. The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) has made a personal statement which has been cleared by me. I take note of what the hon. Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) has said.