§ 6.33 p.m.
§ Lord BRUCE of DONINGTON rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will state the circumstances in which Mr. Michael Carver came to be arrested in Brighton on 10th October 1980 after having been dragged unconscious from the Conservative Party conference hall; the reasons for his fingerprints being taken and for his being required to appear at the Brighton police station at 6 p.m. on Tuesday 11th November; the steps taken to identify his assailants and apprehend them; and the steps taken to afford him medical assistance both before and after his arrest.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg leave of the House to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. Your Lordships will be aware that on 30th October last I had a Starred Question in which I referred to the removal, unconscious, of a demonstrator from the Conservative Party Conference hall on 10th October, and I received a reply from the noble Lord opposite in the following terms:
My Lords, I understand that on two separate occasions on the afternoon of 10th October the proceedings at the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton were interrupted by a protestor. In each case the man concerned was first approached by the conference stewards and was then escorted from the hall by plain clothes police. Both men were released later that day, and no complaint of assault has been made by either of them".[Official Report, 30/10/80; col. 541.]
Then in reply to a further supplementary by me, the noble Lord said:
I understand that neither of the protestors was unconscious when escorted from the hall and neither has complained of an assault".—[Co1.542.]
Indeed, the noble Lord confirmed in the last answer he made on the exchange of views across the House. He said to your Lordships:
My Lords, the obvious thing to do on being asked a Question of this kind was to get in touch with the people who had escorted the two young men from the hall. They were the Sussex police, and it is upon that contact that my replies this afternoon have been based".—[Col. 543.]
My Lords, your Lordships will recall that this matter was first referred to in The Times of the next day, under the pen of Mr. Fred Emery, the political editor of The Times, and on the day following the Parliamentary Question
—that is, 31st October—Mr. Emery reiterated what he had said before. The report reads:
Lord Belstead, Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, was questioned by the Lord Bruce of Donington, a Labour peer, after my report of the violent pounding Mr. Carver received on the floor from stewards and from Conservatives, including women".
The incident occurred in full view of the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and Cabinet, as well as television cameras".
Now, my Lords, quite clearly the two versions of the events which were the subject of my Question are a long way apart, and so indeed it appeared to me at the time. The Times is well-known for its accuracy; it is a paper of record. On the occasions when it does make mistakes it is very careful to publish a correction of what it put in before. On this occasion, not only was there no correction but there was in fact a reiteration by this distinguished journalist of what he had said before.
I thought it wise, however, to seek further evidence in support of the integrity of my original Question. I made some searches, and I find that in the Daily Telegraph for 11th October, the day following, under the pen of Mr. Ian Glover-James, another well-known journalist, the following appeared:
More demonstrators broke their cover minutes after Mrs. Thatcher started speaking. One pulled off his coat to expose the bright orange safety jacket of the Right to Work marchers and shouted "Fight for the right to work".
Then Mr. Glover-James goes on to say this:
He was felled by a blow from a security man and carried out face down. His companion was led off in handcuffs by plain clothes police in the audience".
But, my Lords, I decided that it would perhaps be wise to go even further afield, and I had the good fortune to meet the political editor of the Guardian, Mr. Ian Aitken, who was kind enough to write to me on the matter. He said this:
The heckler gave every impression of being totally unconscious, was certainly quite limp, and was being carried by the arms and legs as if he were a shot deer".
My Lords, I decided to go even further afield than that, and I was informed that the item had been included in the Granada Television programme What the Papers Say, on 16th October, in which Mr. Ian
Waller of the Sunday Telegraph broadcast as follows—and I have for reference, if the need arises, a complete transcript of the whole programme. This is what Mr. Waller said:
In fact, the only real violence of the day took place in the conference hall itself—and the guilty people either party officials or supporters. It happened to one of the hecklers who had managed to get through the strict security and Mrs. Thatcher managed to turn his brief outburst to good advantage; [she said] 'Never mind. It's wet outside. You can't blame them. It's always better where the Tories are'.
Then Mr. Waller continued:
The heckler, Mr. Mike Carver, a London printer and SWP supporter, fared less well however … 'I saw him carried out face hanging down and being handled with rather less respect than a side of beef'.
My Lords, I have given those four quotations, for which I have the original documents, to illustrate how wide the difference is between the verdict of four distinguished journalists—two of them very eminent distinguished journalists—as shown by what they said and wrote, and the explanation given by the Minister. The Minister said that they were "escorted out". The words "escorted out" are capable, I suppose, of being stretched a little—I doubt whether you could stretch them to frog-marching, although perhaps it might be permissible—but they are certainly not consistent with the evidence of these four journalists. Both versions cannot be true. My Lords, there are certain grave implications about this difference which I shall deal with a little later on in what I have to say, as I shall submit to your Lordships that the status of Parliament is involved in this.
Since I have now put down this Question relating to Mr. Carver—indeed, my original Question related not to two men but to one—I will perhaps acquaint your Lordships very briefly with Mr. Carver's account of events in so far as he can recall them. I shall not weary your Lordships by reading from his written, signed statement, which I have, but I will endeavour to shorten it as much as I possibly can. Mr. Carver's first recollection following his being carried from the hall was waking up in a very dazed conditon, and with a splitting headache, in the Brighton police station somewhere before 3 o'clock on the afternoon of Friday 10th. He recalls having his particulars taken at a desk, on which he says he rested his hands and head 1338 —because, of course, he had a splitting headache—and he remembers the presence of a plain-clothes officer who he thought (and he cannot put it any higher than that) he recognised as being the same one he saw in the conference hall itself.
§ He remembers being finger-printed, and says that he may have given permission for this to be done. He was also photographed. He was taken down to the cell area—at least, that is how he described it; I do not know how accurate his description is; it may not have been the cell area, it may have been a hall of some kind—and was questioned by an officer in connection with his possession of a pass to get into the conference hall. He was then put into a cell, but he does not know for how long. He was then brought out for questioning, but he was not cautioned. At the conclusion of that interview he was told that it was about 5.45. He was then put back into the cell, and remained there, he thinks, for something like 2½ to 3 hours. Indeed, since he was released shortly before 9 o'clock at night it must have been somewhere in that area; but since, as your Lordships will appreciate, when a man is arrested his possessions are taken from him, he obviously was not able to look at the watch which at that time he did not have.
He was then handed a form, which he signed before he left. This form is a G20. I shall not refer to it in any great detail, but it says this—and it is signed by himself and the officer in charge of the station:
I, Michael Kenneth Carver"—
and his address and date of birth are given—
Occupation, printer, having been arrested in connection with the matter shown below, acknowledge that I am to appear at Brighton Police Station at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, 11th November, 1980".
Then, below, there is some print which says:
Brief details of principal charge, including Act and section … Details of warrant which was backed for bail …".
Then, underneath that, instead of specifying any particular charge, there are inserted the words "Further inquiries". Indeed, it emerges that he was not charged with any offence, and in those circumstances it is a little difficult to find out why he was issued with that form at all.
Your Lordships will be aware that the law is not my subject. I am not very familiar with these things, but doubtless explanations can be given.
§ On his release he was taken to the Royal Sussex Hospital and was seen by a casualty officer, who, after examining him, referred him to the house surgeon. After an interview with the house surgeon, he was detained for the night. He was examined at two-hourly intervals (at midnight, 2 a.m., 4 a.m., 6 a.m. and 7.30 a.m.) and after that he was discharged—and he was discharged, I am very happy to say, as being fit. That is a rough outline of his account, and the noble Lord may perhaps be able to supplement it from information at his disposal. Indeed, the noble Lord will readily agree, I think, that I caused a communication to be sent to his office at the end of last week saying that if he wished to have a word with me on this case I would be only too happy to meet him on it.
§ My Lords, in my view the following questions arise. Why were not Mr. Carver's assailants identified and taken to the station? It is quite clear, I think, and I may have established beyond all reasonable doubt, that he was assaulted. According to the Answer given to my Question on 30th October by the noble Lord, the police escorted Mr. Carver out of the hall, so they must have been there. Therefore, the first question that I must ask—and it may be that the noble Lord can inform me that the police have made endeavours and have since taken action—is why his assailants were not identified and taken to the station.
§ The second question I have to ask is concerned with his arrest. Why should he be arrested after being taken out of the hall, whether carried out or escorted out? One hears of and appreciates to the full the very considerable difficulties that the police forces have in dealing with political demonstrations and indeed with industrial disputes. These are always very delicate matters with which to deal and the police, by and large, I should have thought, deal with them very patiently and they are bound to make their inquiries. I can understand, therefore, that there may have been some reason which the police apprehended at the time for him to be taken to the station. I accept that. 1340 But I should still like the noble Lord, if he will, to tell the House just what the reason was. Perhaps it was because they wanted to discover from Mr. Carver how he got into the hall, how he obtained the pass in order to get in. This is quite a legitimate inquiry, particularly when the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and other Ministers are inside the hall. Security must always be a very considerable headache and worry to the police.
§ The next question I have to ask is this. Why was Mr. Carver not given medical attention? Blows to the head are always dangerous. The danger arises not necessarily from the heaviness of the blow. The important thing is the degree to which people expect the blow. If persons expect a blow, as, for example, in boxing, they tend to be able to move the head, to roll with the punch and so on. But when a person is hit unexpectedly—and the word that the Daily Telegraph used, "felled", is very clear—this means that a comparatively small blow can cause brain damage because, as your Lordships' will be aware, the brain to some extent floats in a fluid and a sudden unexpected blow can very often cause the brain to impinge upon the skull itself and can cause considerable damage. In all cases where a person is unconscious for 15 minutes or thereabouts, most medical opinion will agree, some care is necessary. Therefore, I should like to know why medical attention was not available. I should like to know also why finger-printing was necessary; why it was necessary to photograph; why it was necessary to issue the form G.20 to which I referred; and why he was detained for so long. He was there shortly before three and released shortly before nine. It seems rather a long time.
§ I wonder whether the answer to this can be that there was no assault at all by anybody. To say that is, I am afraid, not only flying in the face of all the evidence which I have read to your Lordships but also flying against the experience of people who watched the conference on television. The other answer that may be given is that there was no complaint. It is perfectly true that Mr. Carver was informed while at the police station that he could complain, that he asked whether he had to complain "now", and that they said, "No"—that 1341 that was not necessary. But still the question, and the noble Lord put it, is: Why did not the victim in this case complain?—not that that in any way diminishes the events that I have recounted to your Lordships.
§ I invite your Lordships to contemplate a situation where an inquiry by the police into the activities of the police does not always command confidence. The right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary himself published an article in the Police Review for 26th September 1980 in which he referred precisely to this point and in which he said that it was desirable (I have the text here but I shall not weary the House with it) that police inquiries should be seen to be absolutely fair. He also referred to the position in Scotland where he outlined the position of the procurator fiscal which in his view gave some degree of independence.
§ But, my Lords, Mr. Carver did complain. He complained to me. And a complaint conveyed by me to your Lordships is, I suggest, quite a proper thing to take place. This House is supposed to be, and is getting the reputation for being, the guardian of the people's liberties. I am bound to say that I made an endeavour at one point to have the question raised in the other place but was advised—or, rather, the Member of Parliament who tried was advised—that the question could not be put because of lack of ministerial responsibility. It may be that your Lordships consider it to be an advantage that the question can be put down here and therefore properly ventilated.
§ Why, in any event, should I be interested in it as a Member of this House? After all, there are attitudes prevalent in the country that might imply that Mr. Carver interrupted and he only got what was coming to him. I would suggest that that is a very dangerous doctrine to adopt. I appreciate that it must be very irritating and angering to members of a party conference to be interrupted. I am well aware of the provocations that are offered. Indeed, we had the same thing, if I may say so, at the Labour Party conference when we were interrupted by demonstrators from the National Front. We, too, were irritated; but we escorted them out. We did not fell them and we did not in any way cause them to become unconscious.1342
§ This gentlemen was a member of the Socialist Workers' Party. Why, therefore, should I raise anything on his behalf? My answer is to recall to your Lordships' memory the action of the late Sir Winston Churchill when it was reported to him in another place that somebody had assaulted Mr. Phil Piratin, who was a Communist. Mr. Churchill was the first on his feet to pass the whole thing over to the Committee of Privileges.
§ The other reason why I decided to pursue this matter with your Lordships was its uniqueness. We cannot involve ourselves in raising in this House every particular offence or crime. Most crimes are committed when the police are not there and when the assailants cannot be identified. There is however a certain uniqueness in this case: the police were there when the offence was committed. The assailants were there and also the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary were there. That is the uniqueness of the event.
§ It is right that this should be drawn to your Lordships' attention; that the Government should be given an opportunity of replying to it. We cannot afford any suggestion—any remote suggestion or hint—that somewhere, somehow, there is a cover-up by somebody. We all have fairly long memories concerning the Watergate situation, with which of course I do not compare this. One remembers that the offence was a comparatively minor one by United States standards; but the real, ultimate offence was the cover-up itself.
§ I have endeavoured to raise this matter in no partisan spirit. I have tried to present the facts as honestly as I see them. But I am bound to tell the noble Lord that if the Answer from the Government is that this particular offence did not take place, then I must tell the noble Lord that I will pursue this matter to the bitter end. I am hopeful that the noble Lord, in view of this conflict of evidence, of this conflict of account, will see fit to institute an inquiry into the whole question, unless of course the noble Lord does admit the central truth of the bulk of the story—I do not necessarily mean the detail. It is the offence that matters. If it is not possible to do that, the matter will have to be taken further. What 1 think the country will want, and 1343 what I think we in your Lordships' House will want, is simply the truth.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Lord HALE
My Lords, the truth is not always simple to ascertain in even the least controversial inquiry; but I hope that my noble friend is successful in obtaining it because the more one thinks of this, the more one appreciates that it has gone a few steps further than what can happen at a rowdy meeting or when there are demonstrations.
First, I apologise for the fact that I was two or three seconds late. I was studying the Magistrates' Courts Act 1952, with profit. I also apologise for the fact that, with your Lordships' permission, I shall leave the House for not more than two minutes as early as I can because I have a vital telephone call for which someone has been waiting anxiously for some time.
Subject to that, may I say this: these are times of increasing gravity. I do not think that anyone who has watched the rapidly accelerating events of the past few weeks can look with confidence to a peaceful future in this country and to the country maintaining its balance, its endurance and its capacity for suffering. Those are political remarks. I make them quite deliberately, speaking as someone who has been in politics now for 60 or 70 years. I have lived through the miners' troubles and the period of fascism; I saw the use of mounted police more than once against people who were legitimately attempting to voice grievances. I believe someone ought at least to give a serious warning of an atmosphere which is getting more and more polluted by the powers of suffering and sacrifice.
Here we have a young man who is trespassing, who uses an entrance ticket given to him. So far as I know, apart from one of those single interruptions which Lloyd George used to value so much to enable him to make a brilliant speech, he made a single observation which was replied to by the Prime Minister to her advantage. It is after that that we get a scene in which a life might easily have been lost. I can recall a member of the other House taking part in a political demonstration in Chicago where they are apt to use tougher methods than here. I recall what 1344 followed. Whether what followed was post hoc or wholly propter hoc, I am unable to say.
Here is a man who, as my noble friend has said, is knocked unconscious. It seems to me that one of the matters to worry about most and to treat most gravely is this question of whether there were hired persons outside the police force to carry out their duties of maintaining order by force. Indeed, the description that is given of what happened is quite difficult to believe: that delegates to the conference should take part in the violence, that the man should be beaten up until he is unconscious and carried out knowing nothing more until he wakes up an hour or two later in the police station, is a sufficiently serious matter to which we should pay just a little attention. He was then released from the police station. I am bound to say that it seems a rather surprising procedure in the circumstances that there was no charge. I imagine that my noble friend has told us—I did not hear—what happened on the day the man was remanded. Did he receive notice that he need not attend, or did he have to go down to Brighton to reply? I understand that he did not: then the charge was not pursued. That of course would be the right course, if such a course was necessary at all and I fail to see, in the absence of any allegation against the man—because the allegations were all against the conference delegates—that it could be.
I do not very much like this sort of story and I do not very much like pressing it, because one does not wish even to give the appearance of stirring up something to a greater degree: indeed it would be very wrong to do so at this time. People are beginning to use the language of controversy. And I observed on the tape this afternoon that at Brighton—and there is something in the air there which seems to have lasted since George IV—the CBI conference at Brighton has ended with a rousing call from the Director-General. Sir Terence Beckett, to employers or employees—the word has an "e" missing, which leaves it open to be either but it is probably "employers"—to have a "bare-knuckle fight" with the Government. That is what it says and it was thought sufficiently important to report it. This is the language of the Teamsters' Union and we do not particularly want it to come to this country.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Lord GRANVILLE of EYE
My Lords, I agree that there is a certain amount of disquiet about this matter, which I think was first raised last week in your Lordships' House. I am intervening only very briefly because I happened to watch the incident—with millions of others, I suppose—on the box. The Unstarred Question asks Her Majesty's Government whether they will state the circumstances, and also asks: was Mr. Michael Carver dragged from the conference? It further asks whether his fingerprints were taken and why he was asked to report today at six o'clock. It will be very interesting to hear the Minister's answers to these questions, because I hope very much that he will be able to set our minds at rest. Of course, a great number saw this on television: it happened to be a prime viewing time of the day and a superb opportunity for maximum publicity.
This was a ticket session, according to the reports. How did Mr. Carver get in with the delegates? Perhaps the Minister can tell us that. Did he have a ticket? Also, when he was taken to the Brighton police station, why were his fingerprints taken—if they were?
I should like to ask the Minister the following questions in addition: was security genuinely and sincerely involved in this and who were the stewards who in fact did the eviction? Were the police called in and asked to help in removing Mr. Carver from the hall? Above all, was Mr. Carver on his own? Was he a single individual who happened to have penetrated the conference?
When heads of Government, whether a President, a Prime Minister or senior Ministers are involved, security is very much concerned. Of course they can be worried about many things. It could be terrorists, it could be the IRA or all kinds of things. What has happened in the past over the months and years has taught us to be on our guard about these things: I accept that. Were the security people there to guard or protect the Prime Minister and were they concerned that some terrorist had got inside? Perhaps the Minister can give us an answer to these questions.
Heckling has been part of our hustings since Eatanswill, as the noble Lord, Lord Hale, said; but unfortunately today young 1346 people hear and see violence on television. They even hear on the radio the shouting that goes on in another place at Question Time, and they think it is the thing. Then there was Grunwick; picket lines and violence—they think it is all right today. It is all very different from the heckling of the hustings of long ago. I very much hope that when the Minister replies to this short debate he will give us some reassurance on what I consider to be a very disquieting case.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Baroness TRUMPINGTON
My Lords, a person making a protest at a meeting to which he has gained access through false pretences must expect to leave that place in a different way from that in which he got in. I watched, as well as other noble Lords, that gentleman's eviction on television. He struggled and, rather naturally, he was restrained. I have seen the same thing happen on television, or because I was actually there, many times. I deplore violence but I equally deplore the original speech, which I think was made more for political reasons than as a plea for justice. If the gentleman was innocent, why not fingerprint him? How long after the event did he make a complaint?
I believe that the police have to safeguard their own interests very seriously, and therefore they would call in a police surgeon if they were in any doubt at all about the man's physical condition. I really do not see why we should knock the police, who have a very difficult job to do in very difficult circumstances. Those of us who believe all that we read in the press must have taken a good few knocks to the head to be so utterly gullible ourselves.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Lord GARDINER
My Lords, I apologise for not having put my name down to speak in time for it to be on the list of speakers, but I have given notice since and I understand those concerned have been advised. My interest in this Question arises because I think—and I am not alone, I believe—that we ought to be apprehensive in the next 12 months regarding an increase, and perhaps an alarming increase, in public disorder. If so, two things are very important: first 1347 —and I deliberately put it first—the maintenance of law and order; and, secondly, the maintenance of civil liberties.
I recently came across, rather by accident, one of the Melchett Lectures which had been delivered by the noble Lord, Lord Rothschild, an eminent biologist in which he said something with which no other biologist would have disagreed: namely, that most men reach the height of their mental and physical powers in their late teens and early twenties. After that, biologically speaking, we all go downhill. Of course, we learn considerably from experience. If a recent leading article in the Guardian was right, of all the registered unemployed, one-half would be under 25. Some of them will have more brains than muscle, and more of them I expect will have more muscle than brain. They will be at the height of their powers, full of energy and with absolutely nothing to do. It is in those circumstances that we have to safeguard ourselves from public disorders as far as we can; and I have said that both maintaining law and order and maintaining civil liberties are important.
The first aspect about this matter that I do not understand is this. Mr. Emery is not just anybody. He is, after all, the political editor of The Times. We are familiar with his writing, and this is what he said the following day:…one young man near me was being dragged from the hall unconscious after a pounding on the floor of the central aisle by security men in plain clothes and some Conservatives, including women".If that is right, if he had called out "What about the unemployed?" or whatever it was, nothing can justify that assault. The gravity of this case, as I understand it, is that here an assault takes place before the public in the presence of the police, in the presence of the Prime Minister, in the presence of the Home Secretary and no one has been charged.
The first question that I should like to ask is: Is it the view of the noble Lord the Minister that the political editor of The Times invented this, or is it his view that he was suffering from an hallucination? It was partly corroborated by other journalists in The Guardian, the Telegraph and so on. But if so, this was 1348 an assault which nothing can justify. It was a criminal offence. It reminds one of the Olympia meetings of Sir Oswald Mosley. If so, how does it come about that no inquiry seems to have been made to arrest whoever was responsible for it? The man himself does not pretend to know—not unnaturally. But these other people know.
Ordinarily, of course, so far as the public are concerned, they find difficulty in identifying police in plain clothes, because they do not know their name and they do not know their number. But it seems incredible, if no real inquiry has been made. Have those who saw what happened been visited and asked for statements? Have the television people been asked whether, by chance, they recorded this incident or not? There seem to be some curious factors about this, so far as the police station is concerned.
This form that he was given is, to my mind, very odd, because after giving his name and address, date of birth and occupation, it goes on:I"—so and so; this is for him to acknowledge—having been arrested in connection with the matter shown below, acknowledge that I am to appear at Brighton Police Station at 6 p.m. on Tuesday the 11th day of November"—here we are—Security in the form of … N/A … has been taken from me/full name and address of person providing security … N/A. Brief details of principal charge, including Act and Section Details of warrant which was backed for bail—Further inquiries".So he has been arrested, but what for nobody knows. Apparently, they could not think of anything—or did not.
In answer to what has just been said, I have here a letter from Sussex police, written to him on 5th November:Further to the recognizance which you entered into at this office on 10 October 1980 to attend the Police Station on 11 November 1980 unless previously notified to the contrary, in accordance with the provisions of section 38(2) Magistrates Courts Act 1952, I now formally advise you that your attendance is not now required".If this man—it is possible—committed some summary offence by shouting out "What about unemployment?" he ought to have been charged. Why was he not charged? If we are to maintain law and order, nothing is more important than that 1349 people who commit offences should be charged. But he was not.
Another circumstance which I do not understand—the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, may be able to tell us—is that he says he asked several times to see a solicitor. Am I not right in thinking that the police are now directed, in pursuance of the terms of a recent Act, that if someone in a police station asks to see a solicitor they may agree or they may refuse, but if they refuse they must record the reason why they refuse. What I should like to ask is: What does the police form say about his request to see a solicitor?
But that, of course, is a minor matter. The major matter is that if, in times when there may be an increase in disorder, we are both to maintain law and order and maintain civil liberties, how does it really come about that a man was clearly knocked to the ground by somebody in the presence of policemen, in the presence of the Prime Minister and in the presence of the Home Secretary and nobody at all has been charged?
§ 7.26 p.m.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY of STATE, HOME OFFICE (Lord Belstead)
My Lords, since I replied to a Starred Question by the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, on 30th October, I have had the benefit of a further detailed report from the Chief Constable of Sussex. I have had an opportunity, therefore, to go into the matter in greater detail. It will perhaps help if I begin replying to the noble Lord by describing the events as they have been reported to me by the chief constable.
I understand that a disturbance took place during the Prime Minister's speech at the Conservative Party Conference on the afternoon of 10th October, when the proceedings were interrupted by protesters, one of whom was Mr. Michael Carver. Mr. Carver ran towards the platform, shouting as he went. The noble Lord, Lord Granville of Eye, asked whether security was involved in all this. No one knew at that moment what were the intentions of this man. Obviously, it was extremely desirable that he should be stopped and he was intercepted by conference stewards—not, I understand, members of a private security organisation, 1350 as has been suggested—and by conference delegates. It is at this point that an assault upon Mr. Carver is said to have taken place. A police officer who was present went through the crowd to Mr. Carver, who was on the floor. The police officer identified himself and Mr. Carver was taken out of the conference hall. The noble Lord, Lord Bruce, has asked me why Mr. Carver was arrested. He was arrested for a breach of the peace.
When I answered the Question from the noble Lord on 30th October, I said that the man concerned was escorted from the hall by police. The further inquiries that I have made have revealed that Mr. Carver was carried from the hall by stewards and, possibly, some delegates. They were accompanied by a police officer. I am informed that it is apparent that, certainly from the time he was seen by police officers, Mr. Carver was not unconscious. After his removal from the conference hall, he stood up and walked unaided a distance of about 100 yards to the vehicle in which he was taken to the police station. During the journey, he talked to the police officer who was with him and, in particular, lie was interviewed about a conference pass which was in his possession.
On arrival at the police station—and, incidentally, I should say that he was arrested at 2.28 p.m. and, I believe, arrived at the police station at 2.45 p.m., so that is a very long way from an hour which the noble Lord feared was the length of time it took for this young man to get to the police station—I am informed that Mr. Carver walked up two flights of stairs, along a corridor, down a further flight of stairs and into that part of the building which was being used for the purposes of documentation. I understand that a police doctor was standing by, in case any injuries were sustained during the conference, and had Mr. Carver been unconscious he would have been taken immediately to hospital. Mr. Carver did, however, ask for a glass of water, which he was given. According to the version of Mr. Carver's story that appeared in the New Statesman, after he left the police station he went to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, where he spent the night. However, at no time while he was detained by Sussex police did 1351 Mr. Carver request medical attention. Had he done so, it would have been provided.
The noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, asked me why Mr. Carver was kept at Brighton police station. Mr. Carver was questioned about the pass with which he gained entry to the conference, since it was thought that it might have been stolen. He was released at approximately half past eight that night.
One of the questions that has been raised concerns the alleged assault upon Mr. Carver. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, spoke of this in his speech at the end of this short debate. As the House will know, the responsibility for the investigation of alleged criminal offences is the responsibility of the chief officer concerned. So, too, in general is the question whether proceedings should be instituted against any person.
The chief constable tells me that Mr. Carver has at no time made an allegation to the police of assault and, indeed, when he was specifically asked whether he was complaining of being assaulted he replied, "No". Had Mr. Carver made such allegation it would, of course, have been thoroughly investigated. Under the circumstances, the police decided that the incident did not call for any further action. That is, and must remain, a matter for the chief constable. If the noble Lord will forgive my saying so, however lengthy the speeches which the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, may make on this subject, it is not a matter in which my right honourable friend the Home Secretary can intervene.
In his Question the noble Lord raised two further points. The first is the reason why Mr. Carver's fingerprints were taken; the second is the reason why he was required to appear again at Brighton police station, a matter which other noble Lords have also raised. As to the first point, Mr. Carver's fingerprints and photograph were taken with his consent, in accordance with normal police procedure. Since a decision has been taken that Mr. Carver should not be prosecuted for any offence arising out of this incident, both his fingerprints and his photograph have been destroyed.
As to the form G.20 which appeared to puzzle the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of 1352 Donington, this was to require Mr. Carver to appear again at Brighton police station. He was released under Section 38(2) of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1952, which permits a police officer, where it appears that an inquiry cannot be completed forthwith, to grant bail, subject to a duty to appear again at a police station. As your Lordships know, Mr. Carver has been informed that he does not need to appear.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, asked me about the situation in which Mr. Carver found himself with regard to seeing a solicitor. I am informed by the police that Michael Carver arrived at the police station, as I have said, at 2.45. He requested that his solicitors should be notified at 2.55. He was able to give the name of the solicitors and the road in London, but I understand that he was not sure of the number. At 3.45 contact was made with the solicitors by telephone, but no one from the firm attended the police station.
It is open to Mr. Carver to make a complaint about his treatment by the police if he wishes to do so. Any such complaint should be addressed to the chief constable of Sussex, who will arrange for it to be investigated. In accordance with the normal procedure, a copy of the report will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, unless it is clear that no criminal offence has been committed, and to the Police Complaints Board for their independent consideration of the possible need for disciplinary proceedings. I understand that, although Mr. Carver asked about making a complaint, and was assured by a senior officer that it remained open to him to do so at a later stage, none has so far been received by the chief constable.
I should like to make it clear once more that where an allegation is made that an offence has been committed, or where a complaint is made against the police, certain procedures should be followed. Where an allegation about an offence is made it is for the police to investigate it, and where a complaint is made against the police again the chief officer has the responsibility for investigating it. If the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, or anybody else has any evidence, he should immediately contact the Sussex police. But the Home Secretary cannot intervene in these procedures and, as I have 1353 explained, in this case no allegation regarding an offence or complaint against the police has been received.