Hillsborough, Greg Barker and Europe were discussed at this press briefing.
Asked whether the PM supported the idea of a criminal investigation into the Hillsborough tragedy, the PMS said that it was a matter for the relevant authorities to decide on, independently from Government and based on the evidence.
Asked what the PM had in mind when he said “after truth comes justice”, the PMS said that it was for the Attorney General to decide whether to apply to the High Court to quash the original inquest. The PM said that he thought the evidence had raised new questions that needed to be examined. It was right that the Attorney General, acting in his independent capacity, examined that issue just as it is right for the relevant authorities to consider other issues, such as the case for a criminal investigation.
Asked whether it was possible that the Home Secretary might ask the IPCC to look at the conduct of the South Yorkshire Police, the PMS said that it was for the IPCC to make a judgement.
Asked whether the Home Secretary was likely to make any further comment on the Hillsborough report, the PMS said that these issues were for other organisations to consider. The Government’s role had been to ensure that the independent panel was able to do its job properly by making available appropriate documents, including cabinet papers.
Asked whether the Cabinet Secretary looked at Greg Barker’s relationship with an advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) after it was raised in the House of Commons, the PMS said that the issue had been looked at by the Cabinet Secretary and the Permanent Secretary of DECC. It was raised about a year ago, including in the House of Commons. It was also looked at again in the context of the Freedom of the Information request and the Government’s response to that.
Asked whether the Cabinet Secretary looked at the relationship after fresh issues were discovered with regard to an advisor’s contract extension and meetings with her clients, the PMS said that the contract was agreed by civil servants and the correct process was followed. The advisor’s clients were also known to DECC. The Energy Minister had met with companies involved in clean energy, as would be expected.
Asked whether the Government was looking at staging a referendum on the new EU proposals put forward by President Barroso, the PMS said that President Barroso had been talking about actions that the EU needed to take to restore stability including measures to improve the competitiveness of the European economy. On the issue of a referendum we had passed a law to ensure that if powers were to pass from London to Brussels it would trigger a referendum.
Asked whether the Government would consider the ‘federation’ a transfer of powers, the PMS said that President Barroso was saying that Europe needed to come together to solve its economic problems. Part of that would be closer economic union for the members of the Eurozone, which was a point that the Chancellor had made.