Privilege (Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Advice)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:22 pm on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Robert Courts Robert Courts Conservative, Witney 3:22 pm, 4th December 2018

The hon. Gentleman is right—he makes a good point— but he is referring to something wholly different. He is referring to disclosure, not the waiving of privilege. Any Member—[Interruption.] I am sorry, but they are wholly different concepts. I did not wish to sound patronising to the hon. Gentleman, but, as any lawyer—including those on the Front Benches—will realise, legal privilege is protected. That is totally different from the disclosure of relevant documents, when someone is expected by a court to disclose documents that can assist the other side. For example, the prosecution may be expected to disclose documents that undermine its case or could be reasonably expected to assist the other side’s. There are procedures laid down in law, through practice and regulation, which deal with those circumstances. They do not apply here, because they do not exist, and they do not apply with regard to legal privilege. That is the crucial difference. There is no mechanism to weigh, under the Humble Address procedure, all the subtle points that we have been discussing today.

I will end my brief remarks by making the point that the Attorney General has come down to the House and spent two and a half hours answering questions—