Chester MP Chris Matheson took his gripe to parliament after a court official prevented him from supporting his constituents in the High Court on Friday although he was eventually allowed in.
Mr Matheson and a Chronicle reporter were told to leave Manchester Civil Justice Centre where an eviction notice hearing, which was ongoing at that time, later decided to clear an anti-fracking protest camp off Duttons Lane, Upton .
It is understood the court room was extremely busy although Mr Matheson insists he was not given a clear explanation at the time.
Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service has since agreed to write and apologise to Mr Matheson and Chronicle chief reporter David Holmes.
Mr Matheson, who holds an anti-fracking stance , was eventually allowed in part way through the hearing, along with the Chronicle.
This was after a police officer tracked him down and asked him to return at the request of the judge who arranged for a larger court to accommodate everyone including many anti-fracking activists who had also been turned away but had behaved in an 'orderly manner' according to the MP.
An incensed Mr Matheson, who attended in support of 40-50 constituents, said shortly afterwards: “It was disrespectful to the office of MP, it was disrespectful to my constituents and it was absolutely disrespectful to the media.“
And he told parliament on Monday: “On a point of order, Mr Speaker. May I seek your guidance and advice on an incident that took place last week in which I believe I, as a Member of Parliament, was prevented by the actions of public officials from undertaking my duties in supporting my constituents?”
To cries of ‘disgrace’, Mr Matheson explained: “After about five minutes, a manager came up, pointed his hand towards me and said, 'You’re not coming in. I’m now telling you to leave, and the police have been called'. Obviously I had no desire to cause any trouble for Greater Manchester police, but I did have a desire to join my constituents to support them in the court case. I identified myself to the police inspector and had a quick chat with him, and then left.”
The Speaker said whether MPs should be given access to a court of law was ‘not a matter’ for him and nor was the conduct of court officials.
But he added: “That said, I make two other observations. First, the honourable gentleman has made his point and put his concern on the record. I have a sense that colleagues who know that they could be in a similar position will empathise with him. From personal experience over the past six months, I can confirm that he has always been fastidious in his courtesy—courteous to a fault—in his dealings with the chair.
“Secondly, I think that sometimes people who are not quite conversant with the circumstances, or who perhaps lack directly comparable experience but are anxious to execute their duties in the most zealous way, err on the side of caution. That caution sometimes makes them think that it is easier to say no than to say yes.
"I was not there, and I make no criticism of any individual, but personally I am very sympathetic to the honourable gentleman and think it is very regrettable that he has had to bring the matter to the House. I think we will have to leave it there for today.”
An HM Courts & Tribunals Service spokesperson said: “Decisions taken by court staff and security officers at Manchester Civil Justice Centre were based on the risk of potential disruption to court proceedings and the need to ensure the safety of court users considering the large number of people already in the courtroom and in the court building generally.
“Mr Matheson MP and Mr Holmes of the Chester Chronicle were eventually allowed into the hearing. We will be writing to apologise to them both for the inconvenience caused.”
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