§ Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the action of the Home Office in regard to the investigations into the Leicestershire constabulary".A year or so ago, Colin Pitchfork was jailed for life for the brutal murder of two Leicestershire teenagers. Two weeks ago, an American best-selling author and former policeman, Joseph Wambaugh, published an account of the killings and the police investigation entitled "The Blooding". It was clear from the account in the book and the credits given by the author that persons, possibly police officers, were involved in divulging confidential information to the author. This information was never published by the police, it caused great distress to the parents of one of the children, and it raised crucial questions concerning the conduct of senior police officers.
Three investigations into this case have already started. The first was launched by the complaints department in Leicestershire, and this was superseded by an investigation by Mr. Don Dovaston, the deputy chief constable of Derbyshire. Last Friday it was confirmed that the Police Complaints Authority would supervise the inquiry. Last week the matter was raised by a senior police officer during the annual visit of the inspectorate.
During the past month, the head of the CID, one of the officers named in the book's credits, has been moved from his position, as has his deputy. Both have many decades of service, and were highly regarded by fellow officers. The chief constable has now announced his retirement, the deputy chief constable has asked to leave to become the chief constable of Suffolk, and one assistant chief constable is being questioned about this inquiry. The situation is rapidly becoming farcical, and with constant and bizarre developments it is more akin to a soap opera than to the workings of a respected constabulary of police.
620 The officers of the Leicestershire police force are among the finest in the country, but morale is low, as has been revealed by letters sent to me from senior officers. It is vital that the public knows the current status of the various investigations and the stages that have been reached. We need an estimate from the Home Secretary as to when these investigations will be concluded. The Home Secretary must give the House an assurance that the results of the investigations will be published. Nothing less will reassure the public and restore morale. It is of the highest importance that confidential information given to police officers in trust should not be given to best-selling authors for material gain. If senior officers were entertained by or entertained Mr. Wambaugh, the public has a right to know, especially at a time when the chief constable has asked for more police officers because of pressure of work.
I ask that leave be given to adjourn the House so that we can discuss fully the recent and serious developments in the investigation of the Leicestershire constabulary.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,the action of the Home Office in regard to the investigations into the Leicestershire constabulary".I listened with care to what the hon. Gentleman said about this matter, but I regret that I have to give him the same answer that I gave the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden). The matters raised do not meet the requirements of the Standing Order. Therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.
§ Mr. Jim Marshall (Leicester, South)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I listened with interest to the second application under Standing Order No. 20, and I wish to put the record straight about the chief constable of Leicester. The present chief constable is seeking the permission of the police committee, which I understand is meeting today, to move to another job, with the British Transport police. Therefore, it is not strictly correct to say that he is retiring.