Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has today repeatedly refused to apologise for the way in which the police arrested Damian Green and searched his homes and offices under anti-terrorism laws on Thursday.

Interviewed by Andrew Marr this morning, she was given the opportunity to apologise on at least three occasions, but resolutely refused to do so. She said that she believed in the principle of operational independence for the police and that it would therefore be wrong to intervene.

She said that this was not an investigation into whether an opposition politician was using information he received to embarrass the Government, but rather into a "systematic series of leaks from a department dealing with some of the most sensitive and confidential information in government".

Ms Smith said that the leak investigation was initiated by the Cabinet Office alongside her permanent secretary, and that no minister has asked for it. She also reiterated that she was only told about Damian Green’s arrest and the searches at his homes and offices after they had happened.

Earlier on the programme, former Home Secretary Kenneth Clarke compared Damian Green’s arrest to the stuff of "President Nixon’s America".

He said that if the Home Secretary/Prime Minister had not been told beforehand of the arrest then on being told afterward the least they should have done would have been to apologise to Damian Green and his family and to launch an inquiry.

Furthermore, he said that the Speaker and Serjeant-at-Arms should have told the police to "go away" when they sought to search a parliamentary office on the basis of "parliamentary privilege".

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