The First Post : Bob Quick didn’t know the law, says Davis

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bob Quick didn’t know the law, says Davis

April 13, 2009

Bob Quick, the senior police officer in charge of counter-terrorism who had to resign last week after carelessly allowing Downing Street photographers to picture a top secret document he was carrying into a meeting with the Prime Minister, has been firmly put in his place by David Davis, the former Shadow Home Secretary.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Davis recalled how Quick came to see him about raising the period of detention without charge for terror suspects from 28 to 42 days - something the police and the Government wanted, but which Davis and other Conservatives were firmly against.

Quick was seeking to explain to Davis why 28 days' detention was sometimes not enough time to put together their evidence and how the police could end up releasing a terrorist onto the the streets, thereby endangering the public.

Wrote Davis: "I looked quizzical at this. 'So then you charge him using the threshold test,' I said. This was a piece of law that allowed police to charge suspects, in special circumstances, with a lower level of proof. Police have to have an expectation that they will get enough evidence in the near future.

"I explained this to Quick. 'Oh no, it doesn't work like that,' he said, and as he went on I realised that he simply did not understand the law. My heart sank. The new head of Special Operations... did not know a fundamental piece of law about charging terrorist suspects. And he came to lecture me!"

This was bad enough, Davis went on, but then came the 'Keystone Cops' arrest of Tory MP Damian Green last November for his alleged involvement in the leaking of Home Office documents about immigration.

A new Official Secrets Act in 1989 had removed from criminal law the offence of leaking confidential information if it did not affect national security. So, by arresting Green, Quick "was not enforcing the law, he was inventing new law", wrote Davis.

It was little surprise, concluded Davis, that no one rushed to Quick's defence when he made his blunder in Downing Street last week. "At least he did the honourable thing by resigning."