HC Deb 24 November 1982 vol 32 cc490-1W
Mr. Mates

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has received Lord Bridge's report on the appointment, as the Queen's Police Officer, and the activities of Commander Trestrail; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Whitelaw

I informed the House on 21 July that I had invited Lord Bridge to investigate the appointment, as Queen's Police Officer, and the activities of Commander Trestrail, with a view to determining whether security was breached or put at risk; and to advise whether, in the light of that investigation, any change in security arrangements is necessary or desirable. I also arranged for Lord Bridge to see all the papers relating to the intrusion into Buckingham Palace on 9 July by Mr. Michael Fagan, so that he could make any further inquiries he considered necessary and advise on the adequacy of police inquiries. I have received Lord Bridge's report and it has been published today.

The report makes it clear that there was no breach of security and concludes that security was not put at risk; there was no connection between Commander Trestrail and Mr. Fagan; but the risks Commander Trestrail took in his homosexual activities, and the indiscretions he committed, cast serious doubt on the soundness of his judgment which made it impossible for him to continue as the Queen's Police Officer.

For the future, Lord Bridge has observed that the question whether the positive vetting procedures can or should be enhanced could be resolved only after fuller consideration than has been possible in the course of this inquiry. This is a matter which will no doubt be further considered by the Security Commission in its examination of the Prime case. For those to whom positive vetting does not apply, Lord Bridge has concluded that the safeguards lie in careful staff management, and in particular in the careful selection and supervision of staff. It is Lord Bridge's view that the reorganisation of Royalty protection arrangements, which I announced to the House on 21 July, offers the opportunity to devise new and appropriate measures to ensure that the selection and supervision procedures are as effective as they can be made.

The report makes two specific recommendations. The first is that the current positive vetting criterion for the police service is imprecise, and that the Home Office, with the police, should attempt to give more positive guidance on the application of positive vetting to police posts. The second is that the identification by the police of positively vetted posts within the Royalty protection organisation should follow the outcome of the attempt to provide more positive guidance.

I am grateful to Lord Bridge for his full and detailed report. I accept the recommendations which he has made, and will ensure that they are taken forward by the Home Office in consultation with those concerned.