Police Complaints Authority (Report)

– in the House of Commons at 3:32 pm on 4th February 1987.

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Photo of Mr Stuart Holland Mr Stuart Holland , Vauxhall 3:32 pm, 4th February 1987

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely, the need for immediate publication by the Government of the report of the Independent Police Complaints Authority into the role of Inspector Douglas Lovelock in the shooting of Mrs. Cherry Groce. The matter is specific inasmuch as it concerns both individuals and the issue of police procedures in the use of firearms. It is both important and urgent in terms admitted by the Home Secretary in his letter of 11 November 1985 to Mr. Astel Parkinson of the Lambeth police consultative group, in which he said of the incident involving Mrs Groce: If no charges were to be brought (by the authority) … then there would be no such bar to early publication … In that situation, if it were to arise, full and early account from the Authority of the circumstances involved would be all the more necessary in the public interest". This admission by the Home Secretary of the importance of a full and early account from the authority conflicts with his written answer to me published in Hansard yesterday that the Police Complaints Authority has received from the commissioner a memorandum under section 90 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 containing proposals in respect of disciplinary action arising from this incident. He added: Memoranda under section 90 of the 1984 Act are not published."—[Official Report, 2 February 1987; Vol. 109, c. 477.] However, unless the proceedings of the disciplinary inquiry are published, it will not be clear whether or in what way the Metropolitan police investigated, first, the claim that Inspector Lovelock had worked some 13 hours the previous day on hazardous work including the use of firearms; secondly, whether later that day and on the evening before the raid on Mrs. Groce's home he had been drinking at the same strip club as the nine officers of the Hertfordshire force against whom disciplinary charges are being brought; thirdly, whether he admitted, or stressed either at the time or later during the disciplinary inquiry, that he had been drinking in that club, and that he did not wish to take part in the armed search of Mrs. Groce's home for that reason; fourthly, how it could be, in such circumstances, that a request from a leading officer not to be assigned to the search raid early the following morning could have been refused by more senior officers; fifthly, whether those other officers insisted that he take part in the raid while being aware that he had been drinking and that this was in contravention of a Metropolitan police regulation that no officer should drink alcohol within 24 hours of handling a firearm?

Photo of Mr Stuart Holland Mr Stuart Holland , Vauxhall

It is widely known that the charges of unlawful and malicious wounding of Mrs. Groce brought against Inspector Lovelock have been dismissed in court. It is clear that Inspector Lovelock could not have borne malice against Mrs. Groce, any more than I bear any malice against him as an individual involved in an incident with so tragic an outcome.

However, this is the third occasion, after the Waldorf and Shorthouse cases, where the police have failed to pursue disciplinary charges against officers involved in the shooting of innocent civilians. Both in terms of the Home Secretary's commitment to publish a full and early account from the (Police Complaints) Authority … in the public interest and in terms of the principle that justice not only should be done but be seen to be done, the Home Secretary should both publish such an account and make a statement to the House—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. The hon. Gentleman has had his three minutes.

The hon. Gentleman asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely, the need for immediate application by the Government of the report of the independent Police Complaints Authority on the role of Inspector Douglas Lovelock in the shooting of Mrs. Cherry Groce. I have listened with care to what the hon. Gentleman has said, but I regret that I do not consider the matter that he has raised as being appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20 and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.

Later

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , South Staffordshire

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not a fact that when an hon. Member seeks leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 he is supposed to give brief and succinct reasons why the debate should be granted and not make the speech that should be made if you, Mr. Speaker, were to grant the request?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

That is correct. Such applications are now limited to three minutes, and that is what the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Holland) had.