After several weeks delay, Hampshire police have finally replied the Member of Parliament for East Hampshire, Damian Hinds, who raised questions about their investigations into my affairs, following the police raid on our home shortly after publication of my memoirs.
The reply, signed by a female detective inspector who was not even on the team that invaded us, included four provable inaccuracies which my MP is now putting to Hampshire police.
It has been protocol in the UK for many generations that a serving Member of Parliament asking questions of a private organisation receives a reply from the managing director, chief executive or chairman. Equally, all questions to government departments are answered by ministers, not civil servants.
So was the discourtesy shown to Damian Hinds MP deliberate, or sheer ignorance on the part of the Chief Constable, Andy Marsh? Perhaps Simon Hayes, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire, who appointed Mr Marsh immediately after his own election in 2013, can explain.
Much more crucial than such a discourtesy, however, were the serious inaccuracies in the detective inspector’s letter to Mr Hinds. Was its purpose to mislead a serving Member of Parliament? If so, that raises some fundamental questions about senior police management in Hampshire.
Facts are facts and the letter to Mr Hinds has four of them wrong.
1. The letter refers to the officers present during the police raid explaining why they were there, and ends with the words “relating to the misuse of Mr Mote’s parliamentary allowances”. Not true. They did not. Nor was DI who signed the letter present. At the time, the officers present were evasive and vague, as my contemporaneous notes confirm. Either those on the team lied to the DI, or she made a wrong assumption.
2. The search warrant the police waved on their arrival in March made several references to activities which took place – and ended – well before I was elected an MEP. For example, one of Britain’s top constitutional lawyers, Leolin Price, QC (sadly now deceased) is named on the search warrant. My work with him, concerning the way in which the British constitution was being undermined by the EU, went back over a decade.
Such speculative fishing for information confirms that my parliamentary allowances were not the only alleged reason for the search warrant. My past political activities were also of interest, but they were ignored in the DI’s reply.
So a new question arises : why are the EU bureaucrats, who obviously briefed the UK police, interested in tracking my political activities several years before my election in 2004? There are only two possible – and equally cynical – explanations.
Either the EU’s investigative arm, (known by the acronym OLAF) has stretched the use of its powers to the limit, or MI5 and/or GCHQ might just have been following my activities as a known anti-EU activist. Unlikely, but possible.
Paragraph 5 of EU regulation 1073/1999, which extended the role of OLAF, reads : “…the responsibility of the Office as set up by the Commission extends beyond the protection of financial interests [of the EU] to include all activities relating to safeguarding Community interests against irregular conduct…” (There is no definition of “irregular”.)
This sweeping power, which the EU gave itself, to investigate anyone and any organisation before, during or since their having any direct involvement with the EU, is awesome. It has been used before against activists in the UK, and abroad. There is also good reason to believe that that part of OLAF is more akin to a secret service than to an accountable EU institution.
How else would Hampshire police, right now, be asking questions – by letter - of some of my friends and political acquaintances about their activities more than a decade ago?
If the DI’s letter to Mr Hinds had been correct in its assertions those individuals would not now be under investigation themselves. And how did the police acquire their addresses? Only their phone numbers were on my mobile phone directory seized during the raid.
3. The police’s reply also claimed that questions relating to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 could not be answered “without more detail as to what was not followed”. Yet full details were set out in my own letter to the Chief Constable on 23 April. Again, the DI had either been misled or the police were being evasive. Either way, their obfuscation can only have been deliberate.
4. Finally, the letter’s author argues that there were no “unspecified offences”. Such a reply was obviously written without reference to the original search warrant which mentions only “offences”. If “offences” exist at all, they were all “unspecified”. The words used in the warrant were “relating to the offences”. Nowhere were they specified, and nowhere was the word “alleged” used - in qualification, or at all.
To this day I still have not the faintest idea what the raid on our home was all about. I left the European Parliament in 2009 and published my memoirs in 2013. At the time of writing, the police are still not willing to explain themselves - even to my lawyers.
They complain that they need more time. I’ll bet they do!