Press briefing: afternoon 5 November 2013
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on the Home Affairs Select Committee, and the British Ambassador in Germany.
Home Affairs Select Committee / Andrew Mitchell
Asked if the Prime Minister (PM) was minded to give Andrew Mitchell a job back in the Cabinet as the police officers had expressed their regret, the PMS said he would not comment on reshuffles. At a recent Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), the PM had expressed his view that Mr Mitchell was owed an apology and this had not changed.
Asked if the PM regretted accepting Mr Mitchell’s resignation, the PMS said the reasons for Mr Mitchell’s resignation were set out in the exchange of letters between Mr Mitchell and the PM at the time. Nothing had changed.
Asked if the PM was worried about wider trust in the police, the PMS said, as the PM has set out in the House, the vast majority of police officers do a first class job and he pays tribute to their work. Incidents such as the one the Home Affairs Select Committee have been looking into raise important questions. As the PM had said at PMQs, it was right it was being looked into the way it has been.
Asked what the PM’s relationship with the Downing Street police was like, the PMS said that the PM had strong working relationships with all those who work in or around Downing Street.
British Ambassador in Germany
Asked why the British Ambassador was summoned by the Foreign Ministry in Germany, and if the PM was concerned about claims in the Independent that the British Embassy was a listening post, the PMS said he would not comment on matters of intelligence or security.
Asked if the Ambassador was invited or summoned, the PMS said his understanding was that he was invited. It was the British Ambassador’s job to speak to the German government.
Asked if the PM had spoken to the German Chancellor today, the PMS said they had not. They had an excellent relationship.
Asked if British intelligence was acting like the News of the World, the PMS said that the UK’s intelligence agencies operated within a strong legal framework, alongside Parliamentary oversight from the Intelligence Committee.
Asked if the PM was concerned about reports that the Guardian had passed on the details of 14 spies to the New York Times, the PMS said there nothing further to add to what the PM had previously said.
Asked what should be made of the pause in the Lobbying Bill, the PMS that it was important to get right all the parts of the legislative programme of government. The Bill had been raised in Cabinet as part of the weekly update on Parliamentary business.