New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: Does the Secretary of State agree that it would be wrong to infer from the fact that there is a confidentiality agreement about the substantial sums paid to these individuals that that confidentiality agreement was imposed at the behest of one side rather than the other?

[The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Kenneth Clarke): The other side wanted confidentiality as well, I am assured. It is not at all unusual, when mediating an action of this kind, for both sides to agree that they wish to have confidentiality. My hon. Friend is quite right: there is no point in trying to read into this that either side has resiled. Anyone who has been involved in any kind of civil litigation on a less serious matter will know that, often, a party that has been busily protesting its side of the argument can be quite well advised to stop running up costs, to stop wasting management time, to make a reasonable offer and to get out of it. In this case, the considerations were much more important for the public interest. How much longer did we want man-hours in the intelligence services to be absorbed, and how many tens of millions were we prepared to spend on interminable litigation?]