HC Deb 15 January 1987 vol 108 cc395-6
5. Mr. Tony Lloyd

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what representations he has received concerning the Sampson report.

Mr. Tom King

I have received a number of inquiries about the progress of Mr. Sampson's inquiry and the contents of his reports. As the House is aware, the first part of Mr. Sampson's report is now with the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland. The second part is expected to be completed by Mr. Sampson shortly. As I informed the House, I shall wish to make a statement as soon as possible on any aspects of the report that fall within my responsibility.

Mr. Lloyd

Is the Secretary of State aware, however, that there is a degree of impatience at the fact that this report is always promised as coming shortly? When does he expect to make the statement that he promised over three months ago? During Mr. Sampson's inquiries, did he get round to interviewing the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and his deputy, as was the intention of the deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester when he was involved?

Mr. King

With regard to the seond half of the question, my understanding is, yes, Sir. In regard to the first part, I clearly gave the information available to me in my answer. That is a matter for Mr. Sampson, who, I know, has been anxious to make the most thorough but speedy completion of his inquiries. I fully share the impatience that the hon. Member feels. It is obviously very important for the RUC and its good name that these matters are resolved at the earliest possible moment.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

The Secretary of State said that he would make a statement eventually on those parts of the report which fell within his responsibility. Will he explain to the House what those responsibilities are?

Mr. King

As I made clear in an earlier reply, aspects of the report which involve allegations of criminal offences, on which criminal charges may be brought, will have to follow the normal procedure. In so far as they affect organisation, management structure and wider policing issues, there may be aspects which fall clearly within my responsibility.

Mr. Meadowcroft

I appreciate the sensitivity of the matter for the Secretary of State. Does he intend to publish the report as far as possible? Will he contemplate publishing as much of it as possible on the lines of other reports relating to Northern Ireland which have been published in the past?

Mr. King

The hon. Gentleman must understand that the report was commissioned by the Chief Constable of the RUC. He has forwarded the first part to the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland. Clearly, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and conceivably my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, will be concerned with aspects of it. Police reports of this kind would not normally be published, but I hear what the hon. Member says. Obviously, I am anxious that everything possible should be done to clear the matter up fully and to deal with it effectively, but I am in some difficulties in replying fully because I have not myself seen the contents of the report.

Mr. Archer

In view of the disclosure earlier this week by Mr. Stalker that he would have remained in the police force had he been permitted to continue the inquiry into the RUC, is it not vital in the interests of everyone that, irrespective of the Sampson report, the public should be told quickly what inquiries Mr. Stalker was making and what conclusions he had reached, otherwise is speculation not inevitable that he was investigating something important and that some people in high positions wanted to prevent his investigation?

Mr. King

The right hon. and learned Gentleman's question illustrates all too clearly the importance of getting as much as possible established in the public domain at the earliest opportunity and of resolving the matters as early as possible, otherwise such rumour and speculation will spread. The House should remember that the question whether Mr. Stalker was or was not available for the inquiry was not a matter for me but for the chief constable of Manchester, who advised the Chief Constable of the RUC that Mr. Stalker was no longer available, so alternative arrangements had to be made. Having said that, I certainly recognise that while Mr. Stalker was not able to continue, the whole of his team which was working on it did continue its work, albeit under the direction of Mr. Sampson.