Trawling: better news from the House

BACK TO THIS HOME page after my working break, I find that the task of supplying my long-promised comment on the House of Commons debate has been completed for me by Margaret Jervis, writing in the latest edition of the BFMS newsletter: 

The justifiability of the Government's response to the Home Affairs Committee Report on police 'trawling' was severely punctured in a House of Commons debate when the Government was exposed as relying on unreliable witnesses and endorsing the dangerous assumptions of the discredited 'recovered memory' movement.

The attack was launched by Claire Curtis-Thomas, MP for Crosby and Formby and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on abuse investigations. In a wide-ranging rebuttal, Mrs Curtis-Thomas aimed her most telling criticism at the Government's endorsement of a Merseyside complainants' group . . .

For the full article, click here.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat Jonathan Calder has also offered his particularly interesting comments.


Whether the new Home Office minister for crime reduction, Hazel Blears, will prove as receptive in practice as she appeared to be in the debate remains to be seen, but, at the moment at least, a degree of optimism reigns among those MPs who have taken this highly unpopular cause to their hearts.

Those who read the the record of the debate through the links below will see that Claire Curtis-Thomas garnered tributes from her colleagues (in all political parties) as readily as a diva might bouquets at the end of a gala performance. She deserves them. It has been noted that, with the departure (yet again) of Chris Mullin to ministerial office there is a vacant seat on the Home Affairs Committee. Justice, as we know, is not always done, but on this occasion it might be.


On which subject, I would simply end by noting that when David Rose, Bob Woffinden and I gave evidence to the Committee last year, and found ourselves being quizzed with some tenacity by a young conservative MP, I don't think any of us realised that we were being cross-examined by a future Conservative prime minister.


Bob Woffinden kindly emails to express his delight at the return of to some semblance of vitality. More importantly still he relays news that justice has indeed been done and that Claire Curtis-Thomas now sits on the Home Affairs Select Committee.


The other news he relays is that the position of Chris Mullin as Chairman has been taken over by John Denham, formerly, of course, a home office minister himself. John Denham in the past has resisted arguments about the dangers of police trawling operations. It may conceivably be, however, that, freed from ministerial duties, his attitude will now change.

Links to House of Commons debate on Children's Homes (Investigations), 19 Jun 2003

2.14 pm

David Winnick (Walsall, North)

2.38 pm

Mr. Tim Boswell (Daventry)

2.52 pm

Mrs. Claire Curtis-Thomas (Crosby)

3.23 pm

Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough)

3.38 pm

Mr. Marsha Singh (Bradford, West)

3.40 pm

Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield)

3.57 pm

The Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing, and Community Safety (Ms Hazel Blears)

David Winnick

22 June 2003; revised 30/31 July


Richard Webster, 2003


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