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  1. Kate MacDonald said:


    TWO MPS AND CURIOUS CASE OF THE GREAT DANE (News of the World, 14th December 1975)

    An MP has accused Mr Roy Jenkins, the Home Secretary, of ordering a police force to withhold information to the Press about a shooting incident.
    And he has put down a motion in the House of Commons.
    This advocates the registration of cases where the Home Office have intervened to persuade provincial police to withhold information which would be damaging to the personal reputation of MPs.
    The rumpus arises from the strange case of a Great Dan which was shot dead by the roadside at Porlock, Somerset.
    The dog’s master was found weeping by the animal’s body.
    Later a man was arrested and charged with an offence against the Firearms Act. He will appear in court at Minehead, Somerset, on Friday.
    Reporting the incident, the West Somerset Free Press said a police spokesman told the newspaper that the Home Office had asked them not to release details.
    The newspaper’s editor, Mr J. E. Hurley told me: “We don’t know who actually said this, but I’m sure that the reporter heard correctly.
    “The fact that the police declined to give the name of the man arrested for the alleged firearms offence was unusual.
    “What did excite our curiosity was that a member of my staff was told that the Home Office had asked our police force not to give information.
    “There is great rumour and speculation in this county.”
    A Somerset police Press spokesman, Chief Inspector L. J. C. Clark told me: “We would very much like to know who said this to the reporter.
    “Neither I, nor my Press liaison colleague, Superintendent Ormerod, of the Bridgwater division, in which the incident occurred, said any such thing.”
    But Mr Alan Clark, Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton, said: “It seems to me that the Home Secretary implemented a sort of D-notice. He can’t do it.
    “Only the Ministry of Defence can issue a D-notice requesting the Press not to print certain information.”
    Mr Clark said he had already questioned the Home Secretary about police involvement at the Watchfield pop festival, Berkshire, in August.
    Mr Jenkins denied instructing the police to give immunity from prosecution to people attending the festival.
    But Thames Valley police chiefs said they had been asked not to patrol the site, but stay outside acting as a buffer between the festival and the public.
    Mr Clark said: “It does seem that the Home Secretary has been at it again, in this case with the Somerset and Avon Constabulary.”
    Mr Clark and another West country Tory MP, Mr Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton, Devon) last week introduced a motion in the Commons which read “That this House, concerned that there should be registered in the Register of Members’ Interest those influences which might either affect, or reasonably be expected to affect, the actions in Parliament of honourable members, advocates the extension of the categories of information which must be registered to include instances where the Home Office has intervened, officially or unofficially, to persuade provincial police forces to withhold from the Press information which would be damaging to the personal reputation of MPs on whose support (or lack of effective opposition) the continuation in office of the Government depends.”
    Mr Maxwell-Hyslop told me: “There is an important matter of principle here, and I want it aired.”

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