British justice really has hit a new low. I blame the Tories and their ‘secret courts’, where defendants aren’t allowed to know the charges against them.
I’m aware that Charlie Elphicke isn’t facing criminal charges yet – nor was Carl Sargeant – but the principle should still hold true; if a person is being investigated for an offence, they should be told what the offence is and the circumstances of the accusation.
The shocker here is that both Labour and the Conservative Party have equally appalling policies here.
Both refused to let their members know what the allegations against them actually were.
And knowledge of Mr Elphicke’s situation means This Writer can say authoritatively that both the Tories and Labour are guilty of telling the press about accusations against before telling the members themselves.
I’m not aware of whether this happened to Carl Sargeant, but it certainly happened to me. When I was falsely accused of anti-Semitism in May, I was phoned by a newspaper reporter, asking me how I felt about being suspended by the Labour Party, before I received notice from Labour that the suspension had actually happened.
I still have no idea who my accuser actually is – I was suspended on the basis of a lying article by a so-called charity calling itself the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, but the identity of the person behind that smear piece is anybody’s guess.
Even when I was interviewed by Welsh Labour, no solid allegations were presented to me. I was asked about my reasons for writing certain passages in previous articles on This Site, but nothing was said about their relationship to the claims against me.
So I hate to admit it but I have a certain amount of sympathy for the Conservative MP in the same situation.
Needless to say, that sympathy would evaporate if the allegations against Charlie Elphicke became public knowledge and a subsequent trial found him guilty of a crime (or multiple crimes).
In that circumstance, I hope I would not be the only UK citizen to be angry at the way the political parties have fumbled these investigations.
An MP who had the Tory whip suspended and was reported to the police has claimed the process being followed by the party is “fundamentally wrong” because he still does not know what he is accused of.
Charlie Elphicke … who denies any criminal wrongdoing – claims the press were tipped off about the action being taken against him before he was told and the whole area of reporting allegations of misconduct is a “mess”.
Commons Speaker John Bercow also stressed that people accused of wrongdoing had a right to know the case against them – and should not have to find out through the media.
Mr Bercow said it was “predictable” there would be a tragedy such as the death of Carl Sargeant, the former Welsh government minister who is understood to have taken his own life after being accused of “unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping” without being given the full details of the allegations he faced.
[Mr Elphicke] was told … by a journalist that he was having the whip withdrawn and then “minutes later” was called by the chief whip “telling me that serious allegations had been made against me earlier that week and that these had been passed to the police”.
“I asked what the allegations were and he would not tell me. He only said that he and the Prime Minister had decided the whip should be suspended from me. As we spoke, the news spread across the national media.
“And that is all I can tell you. Since then I have had no further information. And here we are. So extraordinary as it may seem I am no wiser now than I was on Friday evening when the chief whip called me.”
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