Parliament braced for drama over Green arrest

Parliament is braced for drama in the Commons today, with anger over the arrest of Damian Green overshadowing the Queen’s Speech.

Officially, the only event concerning the controversy today is a statement by Speaker Michael Martin at 14:30 GMT.

But the Westminster village is still cautious a Conservative protest could disrupt the debate on the Speech.

Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve said there would be no protests today, shortly after releasing a film of the arrest to the media, timed to coincide with the evening news.

The shadow home secretary also revealed he had implemented a freedom of information request to discover home secretary Jacqui Smith’s actions in relation to the arrest.

“The home secretary has finally, after several days of self-contradiction, stated that she was in complete ignorance of the facts surrounding an MP being investigated. Will she now supply a full and candid account of who in government knew what, when and how? Mr Grieve asked.

It was speaker Michael Martin and the serjeant-at-arms who had to authorise the police to enter parliament when they searched Mr Green’s office last week.

Yesterday Mr Martin held a meeting with Harriet Harman, leader of the House, Jack Straw, justice secretary and various civil servants.

His statement describing those events should be followed by the beginning of the debate on the Queen’s Speech, but various MPs are expected to raise points of order on the affair, at the very minimum.

The arrest of the Tory immigration minister has provoked a constitutional crisis at the heart of government and in the upper echelons of the Metropolitan police.

The Conservatives have compared the arrest to a Mugabe-style police state, and are working closely with the Liberal Democrats to discover what government figures knew about the arrest before it happened.

Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith, home secretary, have categorically denied knowing anything, but refused to apologise for the arrest.

Yesterday, the prime minister said: “MPs have to be allowed to get on with their job but no MP is above the law.

“I’m concentrating on the work in hand.”

Speaking on Wednesday, acting Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson insisted it had been the police’s decision alone to arrest Mr Green.

politics.co.uk will be covering events live from 11:00 GMT.