David Blackburn

Clegg: No MP is above the law

Clegg: No MP is above the law
Text settings

The sun shone on the deputy prime minister at DPMQs earlier today. Nick Clegg usually wears a grimace at the despatch box; but he was assured this morning, successfully defending a Labour onslaught on the NHS reforms. There were even flashes of, well, Flashman. He replied to a question from Chris Bryant by quipping, “Every time the Honourable member asks a question, I wonder why anyone bugged his phone.”

Clegg also rebuked John Hemming for breaking the Giggs super-injunction yesterday; a popular move among those MPs who think Hemming degraded parliamentary privilege. Clegg said:

“I don’t think anyone should be above the rule of law. And if we don’t like the law in this place then we should act as legislators to change the law, not flout it.”       

This matches the attorney general’s position that MPs must respect the rule of law and await the inquiry into super-injunctions.

That process will be intriguing. Clearly there are those for whom free speech is absolute, so it (and therefore parliamentary privilege also) must operate without qualification. On the other hand, there will be those who accept Lord Neuberger’s judgment that super-injunctions serve to protect the right to privacy and should be retained in some form. Parliamentary privilege and the freedom of the press would therefore have to remain subject to qualification.