Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Thursday, 22 January 2009

Speaker rebukes MP in police row

Daniel Kawczynski: 'I find it disgraceful this is happening'

Commons Speaker Michael Martin has rebuked a Conservative MP amid a fresh row over police entry to MPs' offices.

Daniel Kawczynski alleged that police had entered his Commons office without a search warrant demanding to see constituency correspondence.

But the Speaker said the officer had acted in "good faith" and said the MP should have checked his facts before "rushing to judgement" over the matter.

The Speaker said he would change rules on police procedure in the Commons.

From now on, police officers will have to inform the Commons authorities before approaching MPs in the course of an inquiry.

Daniel Kawczynski said on Wednesday evening, in a statement in the Commons, that he found the episode "disgraceful".

'Take a breather'

The Shrewsbury and Atcham MP said he was informed about the police's intentions while taking part in a debate and his staff felt under a "certain duress" to hand over information related to an inquiry over "white powder" sent to a minister.

Mr Kawczynski said it was to his "eternal shame" that he had complied by handing over the letter.

Responding to Mr Kawczynski's allegations on Thursday, Mr Martin said the officer - stationed in Parliament - had sought the MP's help beforehand and had not required a search warrant as the information he sought was not privileged.

The MP would have been advised to get his "facts together" and "give himself a breather" before making comments which could "reflect badly on professional people who are doing a decent job of work", the Speaker added.

Scotland Yard has said the officer had entered the office "by appointment".

The row follow the arrest of shadow immigration minister Damian Green and the search of his Commons offices in November which aroused widespread anger among MPs.

Given the current sensitivities over parliamentary privilege and the work of MP's, Mr Martin said police, in future, would have to inform the Serjeant At Arms, who is responsible for security in Parliament, before making enquiries to an MP.

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