20 OCTOBER 2001, Page 36

Growing power of police

From Mr John Parfitt Sir: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (Police state', 6 October) omits one important piece of the legal jigsaw being assembled by David Blunkett and the EU. Under a 1997 deal, never properly scrutinised by Parliament, employees of Europol, unlike our own police, are exempt from legal action — except in road accidents — when they come to this country. In effect, they enjoy the kind of extra-territorial rights and diplomatic immunity which were unsustainable in the Chinese treaty ports a lifetime ago.

As for using the law to stifle anti-EU protest, it is happening already. Last year an utterly respectable lady whose only offence was to circulate a Eurosceptic newsletter was grilled in her own home by two large policemen from an organisation so strapped that it is selling police stations, removing village policemen and even charging car-theft victims for getting their vehicles back. Enquiries got a reply from the chief constable that 'these things have to be looked into'. Why? And will it be Europol next?

John Parfitt

Painswick, Gloucestershire