Police defend handling of MP’s dispute

SUSSEX POLICE has defended its issuing of a harassment warning notice after an MP ‘sacked’ a constituent during a debate in the House of Commons.

Thursday, 30th January 2014, 4:30 am

East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton sent a record of a debate to a constituent, with whom he had a long-standing feud with, last year.

He was later sent a PIN notice by police in September, warning him further similar behaviour would be subject to potential prosecution.

Mr Loughton argued sending the record was covered by his parliamentary privilege and the matter was referred to the Privileges Committee for investigation on Tuesday.

When questioned by MPs, former assistant chief constable Robin Merrett said the notices had been served on ‘half a dozen parties’ who were involved in the dispute.

He said: “We were trying to diffuse the situation and chose to use PINs as part of a range of tactics to try and deal with a difficult situation.”

Police sought advice on privilege afterwards but were advised the sending of the records was not covered by parliamentary privilege.

Mr Merrett apologised for the apparent misunderstanding.

Mr Loughton said he had since become a ‘Dear Deirdre’ figure for MPs with similar concerns about constituents.

He said he intended the sending of the records would ‘draw the line’ under proceedings and that he had not spoken to the constituent since.

The committee will give feedback at a later date.