HC Deb 23 March 1987 vol 113 cc7-8W
Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether the studies recommended by Mr. Calcutt in his report on the investigations carried out by the service police in the 9 Signal Regiment case have been completed; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Stanley

In my statement in the House on 22 May 1986 at columns 558–59 I said that Mr. Calcutt had recommended seven matters for furter consideration, all of which the Government accepted, and that the House would be informed of the outcome of this further work. These studies have now been completed and our conclusions are as follows.

Mr. Calcutt's first matter for consideration concerned the potentital conflict between learning the nature, extent and full circumstances of any breach of security and bringing the offender to justice. Whilst acknowledging that the rules applicable to criminal investigations can, in certain circumstances, inhibit the counter intelligence aspect of espionage inquiries, we have concluded that this is an inevitable consequence of according all suspects the basic rights which the law requires.

Mr. Calcutt also recommended that consideration should be given to the need to give, at an early stage in an investigation, clear guidance on the relative priority to be given to the counter intelligence aspect and the criminal aspect of a security case. We accept the need for this and there are instructions to service units to ensure that any such cases or suspected cases are reported immediately to the Ministry of Defence. These instructions have been reviewed and, where appropriate, are being amended.

Mr. Calcutt recommended that we should consider whether, in certain circumstances, the 48-hour maximum period allowed under current service procedures for suspects to be detained without charge should be capable of being extended. We have concluded that in present circumstances such an extension would not be justified.

Mr. Calcutt's fourth recommendation was to consider whether RAF Queen's Regulation 1034, which deals with forms of custody, should be either annulled or amended. We have concluded that this regulation, which Mr. Calcutt found to be of doubtful utility and obscure in its meaning, should be deleted and replaced by appropriate amendments to other regulations in QR(RAF) so as to remove any ambiguity about the special circumstances which it was originally intended to cover.

Mr. Calcutt recommended that consideration be given to how far the rigid application of the need to know principle may have the effect of depriving a suspect of the protection which the law provides for him. We have considered this and have concluded that, whenever practicable in future security cases, persons under investigation should not be placed under the command of officers who do not hold the appropriate security clearance and that suitably cleared legal advisers and investigators should be available. Instructions to service units are being amended as necessary.

Mr. Calcutt's sixth recommendation was to consider whether the routine documentation in security investigations might itself give rise to security considerations. We have reviewed our existing rules and have concluded that no amendments are needed; existing procedures provide for such documentation to be given a security classification where necessary.

Mr. Calcutt's last recommendation was to consider whether investigations such as those leading up to the Cyprus case trial should be conducted from the United Kingdom rather than overseas. We have concluded that, for practical reasons, such investigations should be carried out in situ, but that they should be directed and coordinated from the Ministry of Defence. A contact point in the Ministry will be nominated for this purpose in any future case.

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