Operation Midland: Henriques Report

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:30 pm on 13th December 2016.

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Photo of Richard Arkless Richard Arkless Scottish National Party, Dumfries and Galloway 3:30 pm, 13th December 2016

Thank you, Mr Streeter. I will not attempt to take up any more time than I have been allocated; I am keen to hear what the other Front Benchers have to say. I, too, congratulate Sir Gerald Howarth on bringing this sensitive and difficult topic to the Chamber. It is not easy to take the position that he has taken on this matter, and I recognise his bravery for doing so.

I will start by bucking the trend and praising the police—although obviously not in the context of Operation Midland. In my experience, the police in all four nations of these islands do a terrific job, and we should not forget that. This seems to be an isolated incident, and it is right that we express concern about it and try to tackle it.

Like most Members in the Chamber, I believe two things in this respect. First, I believe in the presumption of innocence. I am a lawyer, so for me that is a cornerstone of a civil society and the rule of law and it ought never to be discarded. Secondly, I believe that child sexual abuse is the most heinous crime that human beings have ever committed against other human beings. It is a heinous crime not only to be committed, but for someone to be accused of if they have not committed it. We should remember both those things. It is the only crime for which I could possibly justify reinstatement of the death penalty—clearly not in cases where people are innocent, but it is the most appallingly disgusting crime.