A senior parliamentary source tells Guido that the arrest of News of the World lawyer Tom Crone has thrown a mighty spanner in the works of the Standards and Privileges Committee. After the Culture Select Committee concluded that the three News International executives had misled the Parliament, the Standard’s Committee were deciding on a suitable punishment for Crone along with Colin Myler and Les Hinton. Having declared back in July that they would not be locking them up, the punishment most expected was admonishment from the Speaker at the bar of the House, though this has not happened since the fifties. However the minutes of the July meeting state:
“The Committee will suspend its inquiry if requested to do so by the Director of Public Prosecutions on the grounds that to continue might prejudice any pending legal proceedings or criminal investigations.”
As Guido understands it, there has not been a formal request, but the arrest of Crone means that no punishment passed, without risking prejudicing any future trial. As this issue is likely to take years rather than months to resolve, there is growing anger around the committees that the three executives are going to get away with their deception scot-free. Parliament has been neutered.