Murnaghan 4.03.12 Interview James Brokenshire, MP, Home Office Minister

March 04, 2012


DERMOT MURNAGHAN: Now the extremist preacher, Abu Qatada, could still be living in Britain for another two years or indeed more, that’s despite calls for the government to ignore the European Court of Human Rights who said he can’t be deported back to Jordan. When a Home Office Minister was sent to Jordan last month and many hoped he would be followed soon after by Abu Qatada but it wasn’t to be. That Minister in question was James Brokenshire and he joins me now, a very good morning to you, Minister. So you failed with the Jordanians did you?

JAMES BROKENSHIRE: I think the discussions with the Jordanians were actually very, very useful, there’s a strong recognition from the Jordanian government as the responsibility they have for one of their own citizens. Yes of course, there are detailed legal issues that I discussed when I was in Jordan that are being worked through with our officials and our lawyers and the Home Secretary will be going out to Jordan very, very shortly to continue that.

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: I was going to mention that, that’s a sign that you failed then if you’ve got to send the boss out?

JAMES BROKENSHIRE: No, I think you can look at this, Dermot, as the fact that there is a lot of detail that is contained within the European court judgement, that there is this focus on the way in which evidence is treated and actually it was a very positive session that we had there and a recognition that there is work that can be done, that can be advanced with the Jordanians, which is precisely what we are doing, recognising our desire to see Qatada removed from this country at the earliest opportunity. DERMOT MURNAGHAN: Do they talk to people in Jordan, are you satisfied that they don’t use any coercive techniques?

JAMES BROKENSHIRE: Well the interesting thing is that we have our deportation with assurances that’s been reached with Jordan to arrange for people to be deported and whilst we were very disappointed with the European Court judgement, what it did do was uphold that basic principle. There are certain specific elements of the Qatada case that we are having to work through to facilitate his deportation on its facts but the court did uphold the fact that these arrangements could take place in principle and it is just working through some of the legal detail, which is why we judge it is important to get this right so that when we go back to the Special Immigration Court, we can present the strongest possible case to see Qatada removed rapidly.

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: Okay and you hope that’s as soon as possible obviously. A lot of issues to discuss with you, just this one on the front page of the Sunday Telegraph today on same-sex marriage, a lot of trouble with the church. Now the Catholic church really firing both barrels, do you feel this is something that the government must continue with?

JAMES BROKENSHIRE: David Cameron has been very clear as to his commitment to this issue but I want to be quite clear on this, that what we’re talking about is civil marriage. We are not seeking to prescribe to the Catholic church to change their views in some sort of way, this is not what this is absolutely out. It is about allowing civil marriage to take place for same-sex couples and not to try in some way to change the religious terminology of marriage which is why we have been quite clear in the emphasis that we’ve been giving.

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: Okay, and I see you are wearing the Olympic badge, the Olympic logo, and I wanted to talk to you about Olympic security. We saw some of the preparations being made for security and some people are saying, look, we’ve got the RAF involved, we’ve got AWACS planes, are you overreacting or do you know something that we don’t know? Is it that scale of potential threat?

JAMES BROKENSHIRE: Obviously we are having to put on, with great pride and great enthusiasm, the biggest sporting show on earth and it is right that we get the security aspects of this correct. We don’t think that the work that we are taking is disproportionate but I am absolutely clear, this Games is not some sort of security event, it’s a sporting event, something that I know we will be very proud of as a country but we are being very careful to prepare to ensure that we are delivering our obligations on a safe and secure Games. That’s the responsibility that we hold, we want to ensure we are getting it right and ensure that the training, the testing, actually judges all of that.

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: But missile laden aircraft, pictures of it beamed around the world, welcome to London for a peaceful Olympics, I mean it just looked a bit scary.

JAMES BROKENSHIRE: I have to say that the preparations that we are putting in place are actually so people will see the bobby on the beat, rather than armed personnel on the streets. The preparations that we are putting in place are consistent with preparations for other previous Olympic Games. We do need to ensure that we have robust measures in place to look at all potential issues, that’s why we are preparing in the way that we are but the Games is going to be about sport, it is going to be about that Olympic spirit and I certainly don’t want London 2012 to be remembered as some sort of security event, I want it to be about gold medals for this country and for that sense to be shared around the world as well.

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: And you mentioned there the bobby on the beat, remembering what we heard last week about private security companies being asked to bid for police contacts, could it be that the private security guard on the beat?

JAMES BROKENSHIRE: I think that the police forces that have been involved in actually seeking to look at procuring private sector services to support police have been very clear, this is about supporting the front line, looking at ways in which the private sector can be involved in the middle and back office actually to free up that bobby on the beat to be out there more to ensure that we have that continued visibility. I think this is absolutely right for police forces to look at the way in which we can use private companies. Indeed there are around ten police forces around the country that already use this in terms of their custody …

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: It’s cheaper isn’t it, you are getting a cheaper security guard because a bobby would cost you more?

JAMES BROKENSHIRE: This is not about replacing your police officer, your police community support officer with some sort of security guard, that is absolutely not what this is about. The way in which the police forces with our support are looking to support the involvement of private companies is actually on the back office, on the middle office, on the IT, on the procurement, on the HR, all of those sorts of issues that frankly we need to be getting police officers out of so that they are on the street, that is what this is all about.

DERMOT MURNAGHAN: Minister, thank you very much indeed, James Brokenshire there.

JAMES BROKENSHIRE: Thank you very much, Dermot.

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