Credit where it’s due: Whatever you think of the Labour Party, its leaders deserve praise for asking the right questions about the Patrick Rock affair.
Mr Rock was arrested on February 13, suspected of possessing child abuse imagery – shortly after he resigned his position working on policies that we all thought were intended to make it harder to find such images on the Internet.
Details of his resignation and arrest were not released to the public, but the media sprang into action and in a matter of days, the Daily Mail ran a major story accusing three leading members of the Labour Party of sympathising with paedophile groups.
It was only after this story had run its course that the major news media made the public aware of Mr Rock’s arrest – and Vox Political was not the only blog that voiced suspicions about the sequence of events.
It seems somebody at Labour was paying attention. Shadow minister Jon Ashworth has asked, in the public interest:
- When were 10 Downing Street and David Cameron first made aware that Mr Rock may have been involved in an offence?
- How much time passed until Mr Rock was questioned about the matter and the police alerted?
- What contact have officials had with Mr Rock since his resignation?
- What was Mr Rock’s level of security clearance?
And, most importantly:
- Why were details of Mr Rock’s resignation not made public immediately?
The last question should also refer to Mr Rock’s arrest – but it could be suggested that this is implicit as the details would include the reason for the resignation.
Mr Ashworth’s letter was sent to Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood. He is Britain’s top civil servant and not a Tory politician; as such he is duty-bound to provide answers that serve the interests of the nation, rather than the Conservative Party.
He’d better get it right, too – as this story unfolds and more information is revealed, we will be able to judge the validity of Mr Heywood’s response.
It would be unfortunate for his career if it became clear at a later time that he had tried to protect anybody. Closing ranks to look after your own people is a human response – but inappropriate at high levels of government.
When senior government advisors come under suspicion, it is right that everyone connected with them should be investigated as well.
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