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I completely understand the point that my right hon. Friend has made. That is why we must all be responsible in the way in which we approach the issue of pre-appointment hearings. This is not the first time that there has been such a hearing-there have been many before, all of which have asked tough questions-but this is the first time that a Select Committee has failed to endorse a candidate and has published its report at midnight.
The question for me was whether I should respond in a thorough way at that time, or whether I should stand back and allow an independent, highly respected figure to be impugned. I decided that the right thing to do was study the details of the report, then make my response, and that is what I did. Unfortunately, the impugning has continued from the Conservative party. That, I am afraid, is what happens when issues of public interest are reduced to party politics.
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