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Privilege (Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Advice)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:16 pm on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset 4:16 pm, 4th December 2018

Well, the right hon. and learned Gentleman was tarting his letter around this place on Thursday, trying to get signatures in order to instigate contempt proceedings. He may not have put it in the envelope and got the stamp out, but he had the letter drafted. The Attorney-General had only been on his feet for about 20 minutes when the letter was handed in to say, “Let us have a contempt motion.” I have heard of a judge trying to come to the final judgment, but not when the prosecution or the defence are still trying to make their case. It begs the question what sort of a lawyer the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras made.

I have also heard the right hon. and learned Gentleman and Joanna Cherry make an incredibly powerful case in support of privilege. They did so during the course of the Investigatory Powers Bill, when the right hon. and learned Gentleman and I both sat on the Bill Committee, and he was absolutely right to talk about the sanctity of privilege. In that case, it was with respect to the lawyer-client relationship and the relationship between a journalist and their source. But it now seems that he wants to cherry-pick which bits of privilege are important.