State Security

Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1987.

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Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow 12:00 am, 20th July 1987

asked the Attorney-General if he will request the Director of Public Prosecutions to reach a decision on prosecution by 24 July in the case involving the search of BBC premises in Glasgow in relation to the Zircon satelite project.

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

The Director will reach his decision, if necessary in consultation with me, when all the relevant police inquiries have been completed and the evidence obtained has been carefully considered.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

When will the Zircon material currently in the possession of the police be returned to the BBC?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

That is a matter for the police on which I am not qualified to reply today.

Photo of Mr Jerry Hayes Mr Jerry Hayes , Harlow

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that if the police had not searched the BBC premises they would have been accused of incompetence and endangering national security?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

Critics of the police, to say nothing of the Law Officers, do not lack versatility.

Photo of George Galloway George Galloway , Glasgow Hillhead

This invasion of BBC Scotland took place in my constituency and one of the makers of the Zircon film, Mr. Brian Barr — a film maker of distinction—is one of my constituents. Is the Attorney-General aware of the deep sense of violation which is still felt in BBC Scotland about this raid and the unjustified cloud of anxiety about prosecution that still hangs over my constituent and his family? When will this sinister farce be brought to an end and the book on this matter closed?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

Responsibility for a possible prosecution rests with me, as I superintend the Director of Public Prosecutions. I repeat the answer that I gave, which is that the Director of Public Prosecutions will reach his decision, if necessary in consultation with me, when all the relevant police inquiries have been completed and the evidence obtained has been carefully considered.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Bennett Mr Nicholas Bennett , Pembroke

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that many Conservative Members are delighted that the police raided the BBC and that we accept that the BBC is not above the law on matters of national security?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

The Director of Public Prosecutions makes any request to the police for investigations, regardless of any partisan considerations. He acts impartially, as do the police, in all circumstances.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Shadow Attorney General

When will the decision be taken?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

I hesitate to give the same answer three times in one Question Time, hut, as I have said, the decision will be taken when all the evidence has been fully considered. I intend next to meet the Director of Public Prosecutions on this matter later this week.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

In view of that unsatisfactory reply. I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.