CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

POINT OF ORDER – LEAKS TO THE MEDIA – 23 March 2010

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman [Angus MacNeil] for his point of order, and I endorse what he and other right hon. and hon. Members have already said on the matter. In fairness, I think the Foreign Secretary, who is no longer in his place, made very clear his own belief and insistence that matters of public importance should first be disclosed or reported to the House, rather than to the media. It is fair to say – I will deal with the specific point that the hon. Gentleman made – that Ministers cannot be held responsible for what is speculated about in the media. If there is specific evidence  –

Dr Julian Lewis rose  –

Mr Speaker: Order. I will come to the hon. Gentleman, who is in a state of overweening excitement.

If there is specific evidence that something has been disclosed externally first, the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr. MacNeil) knows that I would regard that as an extremely serious matter. I do not think this is quite such a case. I note what he said; those on the Treasury Bench will also have noted what he said.

Dr Lewis: Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I quote briefly from the BBC posting at 13.52, which has been referred to? It says:

"BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen said the person to be expelled is likely to be the London head of Israel's secret service, Mossad. Diplomatic sources stressed the British government has stopped short of accusing Israel of the murder."

That is a fairly clear indication that that report was written as a result of conversations with someone connected with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Mr Speaker: I still believe, if I may say so to the hon. Gentleman, that we are in the realms of speculation. We have not got a concrete finding. If I had not known him for 26 years and five months, I would think that he was trying to continue the debate, but as I have known him for 26 years and five months –

Dr Lewis: Name the days.

Mr Speaker: I cannot name the number of days, but as I have known the hon. Gentleman for 26 years and five months I know that he would not indulge in misbehaviour of that kind.