HC Deb 19 February 1996 vol 272 cc18-20
32. Mr. Winnick

To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on references in the Scott report to his official role. [14189]

The Attorney-General

As will be clear, I welcome the Scott report, which conclusively shows that there was no conspiracy to send innocent men to gaol. My role was to advise Ministers on the law of public interest immunity. I did so carefully, and strictly in accordance with the accepted view of the law as it then stood. Following my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister's request and the drafting of his special public interest immunity certificate, I took the exceptional course of calling in the prosecution team, who assured me that the prosecution was fair.

Mr. Winnick

Does the Attorney-General realise that he has not managed to persuade public opinion since the Scott report was published, and that he has not even managed to persuade some of his own Back Benchers, who rightly take the view that out of honour he should resign? Has the Attorney-General not made the comparison between the way in which he pathetically clings to office and the way in which, five years ago this month, members of the armed forces reacted, as one would expect them to do, to Saddam' s criminal aggression? They made no excuses. They acted honourably. It is a pity that the Attorney-General does not do the same.

The Attorney-General

I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman has said. I acted carefully and properly throughout. If there has been any distortion, it is in the material of which I have received a copy today and which, regrettably—indeed, lamentably—is being sent around by the hon. Gentleman's party.