Will the Home Secretary discuss with the Director of Public Prosecutions the collapse of the charges against Mr. Kevin Taylor? Does he recognise that public accountability and confidence in the rule of law can now be upheld only by a full and independent inquiry into the whole Stalker affair, both in Greater Manchester and in Northern Ireland, because the public sense that there is something very wrong about the whole business, and the truth must out?
Certainly not. Allegations were made that resulted in Mr. Stalker being sent home on leave and later suspended by the Manchester police authority. In view of those events in Manchester, he was taken off the Northern Ireland inquiry and replaced by Mr. Sampson. The document that Mr. Stalker says that he is going to bring to my office will presumably arrive this afternoon. My officials asked him to produced it earlier, but he could not and I do not criticise him for that. I have no reason whatsoever to believe that anything improper occurred. Indeed, after the suspension of Mr. Stalker in Manchester because of the allegations made against him, it would have been extraordinary if he had remained in charge of the inquiry in Northern Ireland.
While it is regrettable that so much public money was devoted to the prosecution, which in this case so sadly lapsed, does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that that sad waste of public funds, regardless of the innocence or otherwise of the person accused, is something that happens every day in British courts? Does he further agree that it is far more important that if the chief constable of Greater Manchester wishes to investigate the circumstances, as the DPP has advised him, and wishes to call on officers of another force to assist him in that investigation, it is entirely up to him to do so?
Part of the case against Mr. Taylor rested on documents disclosed by the Co-operative bank as a result of an order made under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which was obtained from the recorder of Manchester, but doubt was cast on the truth of the evidence that was given to get the order. There is no connection whatsoever between those events in Manchester and the withdrawal of Mr. Stalker from the inquiry in Northern Ireland. Opposition Members should use a little common sense for a change and should not for ever be hunting for conspiracy theories, which are entirely inappropriate in this case.
When the Home Secretary next meets the Director of Public Prosecutions, will he raise with him the appalling three-year delay in bringing charges against the police officers who are accused of violence in the Wapping dispute in 1987, which as I have said, is now three years ago—
All that I am raising with the Home Secretary is the delays in bringing forward the charges. I particularly wanted to ask him this: does he agree that it is unfair to those accused to have such long delays between the charges being brought and the hearing of them in a court? Does he further agree that it is a matter of major grievance for those who have been injured and who have brought the charges against the police? Does not the whole affair greatly undermine the authority of the independent Police Complaints Authority?
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman did not understand the significance of my first reply. Ministerial responsibility for the Crown prosecution service rests with the Attorney-General and that is, of course, why I do not have official meetings with the Director of Public Prosecutions. I have no intention of having any such meetings and there is no reason why I should. When hon. Members talk about Wapping, while it is obviously important that people should be brought to trial as quickly as possible, it is also important that no mythology should surround what in fact happened at Wapping. The police came under regular and violent attack throughout the dispute—[Interruption.]
When my right hon. and learned Friend meets the Attorney-General, will he make available to him any information that may come into his possession about the theft, and subsequent leaking to the BBC, of information from the Northamptonshire police about the Wapping incident three years ago? Is he aware that the leaking of such information is an offence under section 86 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984?
Does the Home Secretary accept that the Opposition are not talking about conspiracy theories either in Northern Ireland or in Manchester? Is he aware that there is a great deal of confusion in the public mind, and certainly in the minds of Opposition and Conservative Members, about what went on in Northern Ireland and in Manchester? Will the Home Secretary, as a first step, come to the House and make a full statement so that he can be asked why £1 million of public money was wasted in the Manchester trial and about what is in the document that Mr. Stalker has presented to him today?
I am not responsible for confusion in the minds of Opposition Members. It is as plain as a pikestaff that if a police officer in charge of an inquiry in Northern Ireland is removed from his duties in the force of which he is a member, he can no longer remain in charge of the inquiry. That is what happened in this case. After the removal of Mr. Stalker from the inquiry in Northern Ireland, Mr. Colin Sampson took over his duties. Anyone who has followed the history of the inquiry thereafter will know that Mr. Sampson did not shirk his duty. Hon. Members will recall what he eventually reported to my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and the resulting statement by my right hon. and learned Friend to the House.