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Monday, February 22, 1999 Published at 10:50 GMT

UK Politics

Straw to explain gagging move

Jack Straw: Will release the Lawrence report on Wednesday

Jack Straw will address the House of Commons at about 1530 GMT.

Click here to watch his speech live.

Home Secretary Jack Straw is to give a Commons statement on Monday afternoon following widespread criticism of his bid to stop the press leaking the Stephen Lawrence report.

Special Report: Stephen Lawrence
Mr Straw has defended his controversial request for an injunction.

He was granted the restriction on Saturday night to stop the Sunday Telegraph publishing details of the long-awaited report into police handling of the 1993 killing.

But thousands of copies of the paper had already hit the streets and on Sunday afternoon the injunction was eased to allow the extracts to be published, although further revelations were banned.

The report in full is to due to be published on Wednesday.

Mr Straw's tactics have been fiercely criticised by opposition MPs.

Jack Straw: Nothing in the report is embarrassing for the government
But the Home Secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he acted to spare those who had not seen the report any distress.

"I accept that if it was a run-of-the-mill White Paper policy announcement, something that just embarrasses the government, then an injunction should not be sought," he said.

"But what this report is is a full judicial inquiry and all the way through I've thought it extremely important that the procedure should be followed properly and the first people to know of the report should be Parliament with a warning to the family and the police.

"That is what I was seeking to preserve."

There was nothing in this report to embarrass the government, he said.

The injunction has been condemned in the press and by the Conservatives as an attack on press freedom and evidence of the government's "hypocritical" approach to media leaks.

Family to see report

The Home Office has invited the Lawrence to read the report on Monday on a confidential basis.

Mr Straw challenged suggestions that they would have been happy to see the report published by the newspaper.

He also said that the Sunday Telegraph had voluntarily accepted that they and other newspapers should be restrained from publishing anything else.

The editor of the Daily Telegraph, Charles Moore, appeared on the same programme to attack the injunction.

"The essential complaint is that you wouldn't expect an injunction in a matter of this sort," he said.

"This is simply something the Home Office didn't want out."

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