Liberty director Chakrabati ‘targeted in search’

Tory MP Damian Green has claimed police searched his laptop for information on civil liberties campaigner Shami Chakrabati.

In an interview with the Times, the shadow immigration spokesman, who was cleared last week of any wrongdoing by the director of public prosecutions, said his arrest resembled actions taken in “police states”.

Speaking to the newspaper, Mr Green said: “They chose key words to search all the e-mails and documents and among the more noteworthy and alarming words they were searching were Shami Chakrabarti, [the director of Liberty].

“The police wanted to look at every e-mail over the past few years between an opposition politician and a civil liberties campaigner, although Shami Chakribarti had nothing to do with any of the leaks.”

He added that the search for information on the human rights campaigner was “very disturbing”.

Liberal Democrat shadow home secretary, Chris Huhne, said: “The Damian Green saga is looking less and less like an incisive operation to staunch breaches of national security and more and more like a spooky attempt to put the frightners on people who embarass ministers.

“Jacqui Smith and Sir Paul Stephenson must say exactly what the brief given to police officers said, and whether they exceeded it.

“If an MP’s correspondence with a civil rights campaigner is not private, heaven help the ability of the House of Commons to hold an over-mighty executive to account.”

However, Mr Green admitted that he would angry if he was home secretary and had found out that a civil servant had been leaking information to the opposition, but, he added that he would have dealt with the matter differently and not sanctioned someone’s arrest.

At the time, the government said Mr Green had been grooming a mole inside the home office who had been involved in leaks of confidential information. Police then searched his home and his private office in the Commons which sparked a debate about the rights of opposition MPs.