New Clause 6 - Police directions stopping the harassment etc of a person in his home

Part of Criminal Justice and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 pm on 6th March 2001.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 11:45 pm, 6th March 2001

I want to pursue the point made by the hon. Member for Hall Green. What would happen if Roger Cook, or the new Roger Cook replacement, my former employee Paul Kenyon—who has now received good coverage for ``Kenyon Confronts'' on Monday evening on BBC1, which I commend to the Committee—were, as he has successfully been doing, to expose issues while the person involved was, in the words of the provision, ``not under any obligation'' to say something?

For example, there might be no obligation to explain fraudulent dealing with people's investments, dealing in non-returnable defective goods or disappearing with people's property. Surely the person on the receiving end of that treatment is likely to be caused alarm or distress. The provision is not cumulative: harassment and alarm or distress do not have to be caused, just one or the other; and the alarm or distress do not have to be serious. The example given by me and the hon. Member for Hall Green would appear to be caught under the Bill; it would be quite possible for the police to prevent such activity continuing after they had given a warning, as a result of a telephone call from a rogue dealer, a rogue business person or some other person whom only effective journalism can counter.

I shall return later to the question whether Members of Parliament should be exempt—we should perhaps be less exempt than the Minister thinks, but that is a separate debate.