Betrayed again: it seems early inquiries into the Hillsborough tragedy were organised in order to deflect criticism of the police while having no legal weight at all.
It seems to me that somebody has been dancing around the law in a very clever way.
Three people accused of perverting the course of justice, with regard to the Hillsborough disaster that killed 96, have been acquitted.
The reason? The statements they prepared – which have been called into question – were provided to a public inquiry chaired by Lord Taylor in 1990 – but it was not a statutory inquiry, therefore not “a court of law”, so there was no “course of public justice” which could be perverted.
In that case, what was the point of having such an inquiry?
Nothing it found can be considered safe.
We have no information on whether the statements by retired Ch Supt Donald Denton, retired Det Ch Insp Alan Foster and former solicitor Peter Metcalf were slanted to minimise blame on South Yorkshire Police.
Without knowing that, we cannot know whether the conclusion of the inquiry – the inquiry, mark you – was accurate or not.
The question therefore arises: why was this not a statutory inquiry? Was a political decision made to run it as it was, in order to avoid possible legal repercussions in the future – like the accusation of perverting justice now?
Some might be hoping that this judgement will close the book on Hillsborough – but it has only given us more reason to demand justice for the 96.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Keir Starmer: his response to the EHRC report on Labour anti-Semitism is a betrayal of party members and former party members who were falsely accused.
Keir Starmer: what a piece of work!
Responding to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report that found Labour was not guilty of “institutional anti-Semitism” – and to Jeremy Corbyn’s reaction to it, Starmer said that anybody who claimed complaints of anti-Semitism against Labour were “exaggerated” has “no place in the party”.
But the fact that complaints were exaggerated is recorded in the EHRC report.
It shows that the party was unfair to the respondent – the person complained about – in 42 of the 70 cases that it investigated.
This indicates that the extent of anti-Semitism in Labour was inflated by people making false accusations – and that Labour Party officers helped perpetuate this myth.
This Writer was among those who bore the brunt of this discrimination. I was expelled from the party under false pretences and had to go to court to point this out. The verdict in my case against the party for breach of contract will be announced on November 24.
In the meantime, I await an announcement of action against those party officers who used the complaints process to attack innocent members.
I fear I may be waiting for a long time.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
By the back door: Theresa May wants to inflict hundreds of “corrections” (read: perversions) on EU laws before allowing them onto the UK statute book.
This Writer had never before heard of the obscure Committee of Selection – but its members will decide whether the minority Conservative government will be able to pervert thousands of EU laws, without a single vote in Parliament.
The Tories want to pass a huge number of Statutory Instruments (SIs) – legislation that does not require a vote in Parliament as it does not change the broad framework of an Act, but only the details of its operation.
For the Tories, the Repeal Bill represents an opportunity to steal rights from UK citizens – and already the alarm has been raised over workers’ and consumers’ rights, environmental standards and devolved powers.
In the last Parliament, the Conservatives claimed five of the nine MPs on the committee, but officials have advised they are entitled to four only, after their Commons majority was destroyed. Nevertheless, they are insisting on keeping their five representatives.
They have lost their Parliamentary majority; they do not have the right to try to bully anybody – especially as they are trying corruptly to strip us of our hard-earned rights.
And, without domination of the committee, will the Tories press ahead with their underhand plan?
Theresa May is accused of trying to break parliamentary rules in order to ram through controversial law changes after Brexit.
The Conservatives are demanding to pack a crucial decision-making committee with their own MPs, despite losing their Commons majority at the election, The Independent can reveal.
Now Opposition parties plan to join forces to derail the attempted fix, in what threatens to be the first autumn Parliamentary clash over leaving the EU.
The effect of Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘welfare reforms’ should, by now, be plain for all to see: Increased poverty – including child poverty, the torture of starvation for people who have been sanctioned off of benefit and cannot afford food, hopelessness, despair, suicide.
We saw the signs as long ago as 2012, when the man we call RTU (Return To Unit) and SNLR (Services No Longer Required) launched his famous rant on the subject against Owen Jones.
This blog reported it at the time: “Irately wagging his finger in Mr Jones’s general direction, he barked: ‘We’ve heard a lot from you. I didn’t hear you screaming about two and a half million people who were parked, nobody saw them, for over 10 years, not working, no hope, no aspiration. We are changing their lives; I’m proud of doing that. Getting them off-benefit is what we’re going to do.'”
Establishment figures like David Dimbleby, it seems, wanted us to take this at face value – that the Secretary-in-a-State was going to put people to work (whether they liked it or not).
Now we know that wasn’t what he meant.
He meant he was going to force people off benefit by perverting the system in the worst way possible. He was going to order his staff to find any slight excuse to inflict benefit sanctions on society’s most vulnerable.
As we read today, “Unlike benefit delays, where in theory claimants can receive backdated payments to cover the period when they were without income, sanctions left already vulnerable recipients struggling with a massive hole in their finances which they had often filled with expensive credit, trapping them in a cycle of debt.”
He has inflicted torture on the innocent, in contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
His benefit assessors practice “chequebook euthanasia” – when claimants say they have suicidal thoughts, they are asked why they have not yet killed themselves.
And sometimes he just condemns people to die in the cold. Note that Job Centre staff – like Nazi soldiers – use the so-called ‘Nuremberg defence’ for their actions; they were “only following orders”.
Take this comparison to its logical conclusion and Iain Duncan Smith may be compared with Hitler; the unemployed, sick and disabled are his Jews, Romanies, sick and disabled; and the whole of the UK is his extermination camp.
But a general election is coming and the Conservatives are not expected to win. Will Iain Duncan Smith take Hitler’s way out?
He’ll probably try to cover his tracks, too.
So let us appeal to all DWP personnel: Here’s your chance to get something worthwhile from the last five years!
It is time to start copying information. Iain Duncan Smith will want to cover up all his dirty little secrets and it is likely that his shredder will be working day and night if he thinks someone else might discover any inconvenient truths.
If there are any inconvenient truths, then as servants of the country – rather than servants of the Conservatives or the Secretary of State – it is your duty to collect this evidence, preserve it and bring it forward after he has been ousted.
Nobody can order you to do this. Undoubtedly you will be discouraged from doing it; there are likely to be rules that say you must not, invoking the same national interest that Yr Obdt Srvt is invoking here.
This is a matter for your conscience.
Do you think Iain Duncan Smith and his associates should be allowed to go unpunished for the harm they have caused?
The face is red but the heart is black: Cameron’s strategy is now one of false arguments and ignoring the questions put to him.
Was anybody else dismayed to see media commentator after media commentator blithely commenting that this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions was, for example, an “easy win” for David Cameron (George Eaton, New Statesman), with Guardian political correspondent Andrew Sparrow tweeting, “Verdict from the Twitter commentariat – Unanimous for Cameron”?
It offends this writer’s sense of Britishness and fair play. If Cameron won, he did so by evasion, false argument, and perverting the facts.
Let’s go through the leaders’ exchange together, using the BBC live blog and Hansard for reference.
The first thing mentioned by Ed Miliband was the Iraq Inquiry – he called for its findings to be published as soon as possible. Then he changed subject, pointing out that the Coalition government will be the first to leave office with living standards lower than when they came into power.
David Cameron did not answer the question but went back to Mr Miliband’s comment about the inquiry instead. He said he too wants to see the Iraq Inquiry published as soon as possible – but it would have been ready years ago if the previous Labour government had set the inquiry up sooner, as the Conservatives and others had wanted.
This not true. Labour’s position on it is that the inquiry was set up at the appropriate time – after hostilities in Iraq had ended. In any case, we are now in the sixth year since the inquiry was established (in November 2009); most of the delays have taken place under the Coalition Government led by David Cameron. The reason currently being given for the delay, by inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot, is that witnesses need an opportunity to respond to any criticisms of them that have been made.
This blog wishes to point out that Mr Cameron himself is also partly responsible for delays in this matter. The Guardianreported in November 2013: “The Cabinet Office is resisting requests from the Iraq inquiry… for ‘more than 130 records of conversations’ between Tony Blair, his successor, Gordon Brown, and then-US President George W Bush to be made public. In a letter to David Cameron, published on the inquiry’s website, the committee’s chairman, Sir John Chilcot, disclosed that ’25 notes from Mr Blair to President Bush’ and ‘some 200 cabinet-level discussions’ were also being withheld.
“The standoff between the inquiry and Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, has been going on for five months and has meant that the [process] in which politicians and officials are warned that they will be criticised in the report, is on hold. As a result, a date for the final publication of the report has yet to be agreed, more than four years after the inquiry started. ”
That’s a delay directly attributable to David Cameron and his government. It would have been more accurate if he had said the inquiry’s report would have been ready years ago if Mr Cameron himself had not done everything he could to hinder it.
Back to today: Ed Miliband noted that Mr Cameron made no mention of the economy in his reply, and pointed out that people are £1,600 a year worse off since 2010. According to the BBC blog: “David Cameron says Labour has no apology for not launching the Iraq Inquiry earlier – before launching into a defence of the coalition’s economic record. He says Mr Miliband is wrong about everything.”
In fact he raised the alleged drop in unemployment and rise in wages recorded by the ONS (and debunked on this blog earlier today). His mention of tax reductions as a defence against the “£1,600 a year worse off” claim is ridiculous as it shows how lightly his government has taken its self-described reason for being – reducing the deficit. This is not going to happen under a government that doesn’t want to take taxes.
Cameron’s claim that there is no cost of living crisis because inflation is at 0.5 per cent is a silly ‘excluded middle’ false argument; just because the headline level of inflation is low, that does not mean people are not struggling to make ends meet – especially when they have to deal with measures brought in by Cameron’s government like the Bedroom Tax, that have nothing to do with inflation and everything to do with Tory neoliberal ideology.
Mr Miliband stood his ground: Cameron has raised taxes on ordinary families, raised VAT, cut tax credits. Wages are down; taxes are up – and a report by the Joseph Rowntree foundation has shown that half of all families where one person is in full-time work cannot make ends meet at the end of the month.
“You can work hard and play by the rules, but in Cameron’s Britain you still cannot pay the bills—that is the reality,” he said – and it’s strong stuff.
Cameron’s response was feeble. He claimed that more than 30 million people are now in work – but we know that this is partly due to the rise in the population, and most of the jobs are zero-hours, part-time or temporary, meaning that Mr Miliband is right; families are struggling to pay the bills. His repeated reference to the ONS statistics – which were discredited within minutes of having been published, is risible. Cameron was making an ‘argument by selective observation’ – what he was saying was factually accurate, but he was deliberately failing to put all the facts before us.
The claim that people in work are seeing their pay rise by four per cent seems to be an outright lie. Even the ONS could only support a rise of 1.8 per cent.
“If we had listened to [Mr Miliband], none of these things would have happened,” blustered Cameron. “If we had listened to Labour, it would be more borrowing, more spending, more debt: all the things that got us into a mess in the first place.” How does he know that? He doesn’t. It’s another false argument – an ad hominem (attacking Mr Miliband, rather than his argument), also an ‘appeal to widespread belief’, as many people still seem to believe that Labour will borrow more and create more debt (despite repeated evidence that Labour will do nothing of the sort) and that the economy is safer with the Conservatives (even though their own rampant borrowing has nearly doubled the National Debt), and a non sequitur – it doesn’t follow that, if the Tories had listened to Labour, none of the favourable outcomes he listed would have happened.
Mention of borrowing prompted Mr Miliband to point out that the Coalition Government has failed on the deficit – accurately. According to his original preductions, Chancellor George Osborne should have reduced the deficit to around £37 billion per year by now – instead it stands between £90 billion and £100 billion.
Mr Miliband’s claim that executive pay has increased by 21 per cent in the last year alone, meaning the recovery is only for a few at the top, is also accurate. Spread among the workforce as a whole and coupled with the small pay rises they have received, the average may be 1.8 per cent – but most people aren’t enjoying any sudden increase in prosperity. Are you?
Cameron’s response: “The right honourable Gentleman criticises me on the deficit—he is the man who could not even remember the deficit.” Another ad hominem, and another non sequitur. What does Mr Miliband’s lapse of memory in a speech from last year have to do with today’s statistics?
Mr Miliband’s last question was about David Cameron’s decision not to take part in televised election debates if the Green Party is excluded. If he is so confident about the economy, why is he “chickening out”?
Again, Cameron did not even answer the question. Instead he quoted Christine LaGarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, in support of his claim that the UK economy is improving. That discussion was over. Why did he have nothing to say about the TV debates? It’s a simple change of subject but, again, it’s no argument against what Mr Milband was saying.
So let’s tot up the Prime Minister’s score – did he win or lose? Let’s see: Iraq inquiry – lose; economy – lose; employment – lose; wages – lose; deficit – lose; TV debates – lose.
The moral of the story: You don’t have to win any argument if enough people are willing to say you did.
Less than a day after this blog said David Cameron was waiting for media coverage to make war in the Middle East palatable to the people again, an article appears urging him to make war in the Middle East – by Chris Huhne.
That’s right, Chris Huhne – a former Liberal Democrat politician who had to resign his position as Energy Secretary in Cameron’s Coalition cabinet after being convicted of perverting the course of justice by trying to pretend his former wife had been speeding, not himself.
Huhne had maintained his innocence right up to the beginning of the trial, when he changed his plea to admit guilt. Apparently the public is supposed to accept the advice of this weaselly creature, writing in The Guardian.
That’s right, The Guardian – if ever a newspaper should know better than to publish warmongering propaganda, it’s The Guardian, which tries to be the voice of reason in an ever-feverish British press. Admittedly, this is an opinion piece in the paper’s ‘Comment is free’ column. Nevertheless, it is ill-advised and editor Alan Rusbridger should have thought twice before playing into David Cameron’s hands in this way.
The article itself reads like a response to yesterday’s Vox Political piece, which stated that Cameron, stung by his defeat over Syria, was waiting for public opinion to be turned back on-side by media support for British military intervention in Iraq.
And what’s the title of the Huhne piece? ‘David Cameron must get over his Syria humiliation and act on Iraq’. How swiftly the prophecies of Yr Obdt Srvt fulfil themselves these days… No crystal ball required, either.
Huhne, whose Parliamentary voting record shows he strongly supported an investigation into the last Iraq war, seems to have undergone a complete reversal of opinion since Cameron lost that famous vote on Syria, almost a year ago. Perhaps he’s had a “Road to Damascus” moment, to use a Biblical reference.
“Britain has so far done little except tip food parcels out of military transport; the last week has been notable for dither and delay,” he writes. “There have been no British air strikes… Such is the shadow of the government’s parliamentary defeat on the Syrian intervention.”
He argues that Cameron must try to represent “both strands” that identify Tories: “the Whig imperialists who believe in muscular intervention in good international causes; and the Tory nationalists who want nothing if it does not serve narrowly defined British interests.
“It is a debate that has raged throughout Tory history, most famously pitting Winston Churchill against Neville Chamberlain on appeasement.”
Hold on that thought; so now Huhne is comparing IS, still a relatively low concern to anybody outside its own backyard, with the German Nazis of the 1930s and the huge threat to lives and freedom that they posed?
That’s a step too far, too quickly. Huhne should have thought about what he was saying. Trying to connect IS with the greatest enemy this country has ever faced is a ridiculous step too far, utterly disproportionate and clearly manipulative. And nobody has any interest in appeasing Islamic State.
He is calling on us to make an emotional decision based on a grossly misjudged comparison.
The irony is that he didn’t need to do it. The arguments speak for themselves. His claim that “regional powers joining to meet their responsibilities” could solve the IS question is reasonable. This blog stated yesterday that an international alliance could surround IS and choke it to death, ending its threat forever.
But, ultimately, that is not what Huhne is demanding. He wants Cameron to rush in, do another quick-fix, and set up the pieces for another conflict – possibly bloodier – further down the line. This is odd, because there are no military suppliers among Huhne’s business interests.
The bottom line is that nobody should support military action on the basis of what is written here.
It would be a crime for British troops to go back to Iraq on such a pretext – especially when urged to do so by this petty criminal.
Government-approved sex industry: A “gentleman’s” club – possibly as Conservative MPs understand them. Indeed, some sitting members may have posed for this very portrait. Picture: As attributed.
We seem to be returning to the days when our so-called betters dictated to us that the mere sight of a lady’s ankle was enough to inflame the blood and led to lewd, lecherous and scandalous behaviour – before the hypocritical old nobs headed off to the “gentlemen’s” club for an appointment with ‘Lady Lola’ or some similarly-named professional whose main talent was wrapping her own ankles around her ears.
Now we can see that, even while the government cracks down on internet pornography, it is actively promoting live sex work (in the flesh, as it were) by advertising jobs in the sex industry on its Universal Jobmatch website. Jobseekers can be sanctioned if they fail to use this site, so it seems likely there is a high chance they will be exposed to this sort of thing.
So it seems the government wants to force porn addicts away from indulging their obsession in the comfort of their own home and into “very professional and discreet” clubs. Could there possibly be a money incentive in this?
To make these clubs enticing, the government’s jobsearch site is advertising for female “table top” dancers who need a “good sense of rhythm”.
Cameron’s stated aim is to protect children but there is nothing to stop people under 18 from applying for the jobs. It is even possible that Job Centre Plus staff may try to force teenagers into them, with the threat of benefit sanctions if they do not acquiesce.
Cameron’s claim is that internet porn features “vile images that pollute minds and cause crime”. It’s most likely a fair comment (this writer can’t claim to have been polluted in that way).
But suppose he’s right; statistically speaking, it’s undoubtedly possible that some of the people who look at online porn may go on to commit crimes – possibly sex crimes.
Suppose these people, unable to look at their filth online, instead attend one of the clubs advertising for “very well groomed” table top dancers. They’re likely to have a frustrating night, with real, naked bodies only inches away from them for as long as they can stand it, and no (legal) outlet for the urges this may create in them.
The club closes; they get turned out onto the street, possibly on their own, possibly with friends. What are these potentially-criminal porn addicts likely to do if they see a lone woman, possibly a dancer from the club, with nobody nearby to help her if she gets into trouble?
Chequebook justice: Your unelected government wants to ensure that nobody can challenge its policies and decisions – by putting justice within the reach of only the wealthy.
David Cameron and Chris Grayling have been messing with the justice system again. This time, according to The Telegraph, they are planning to make it “tougher” for judicial reviews to be brought to court, to stop the process being “abused” by pressure groups and campaigners.
There’s a lot of Telegraph-speak in that first paragraph, as the Tory-supporting newspaper was working desperately to make governmental perversion of justice acceptable. What this actually means is that Cameron wants to make it impossible for organisations that are capable of mounting legal opposition to unreasonable Conservative/Coalition policies ever to do so.
The only people able to seek judicial reviews of government policy would be individuals who are directly affected – and the government is hoping that these mostly poor people would be unable to afford the cost, thanks to changes in Legal Aid that mean it could not be claimed for welfare or employment cases.
You see how this works? With those changes to Legal Aid and the possibility of wholesale privatisation of the entire court system, where justice was once open to everyone, it will soon be a privilege available only to the wealthiest in the UK.
To Cameron, and his crony Grayling, justice isn’t for you. In fact, it won’t be for anyone. The UK will be about money and power, just as Michael Meacher stated in his recent blog article.
So, for example: The ‘Poundland’ case, which The Guardian reported was to be heard in the Supreme Court yesterday (Monday). The original judicial review was launched in the names of Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson, who were both directly affected – but were both unemployed and penniless, and therefore could not afford to take the case to court on their own. Their case was brought with the aid of Public Interest Lawyers – who would most likely be barred from taking part, being considered a pressure group with no direct interest in the matter.
The original case resulted in the government taking the unusual – and highly suspect (in legal terms) – step of passing an emergency retroactive law to legalise its employment schemes, after the tribunal ruled that all of the Coalition’s schemes were acting illegally and opened the government up to a potential £130 million worth of claims for wrongfully-withheld benefits.
PIL has now started a second judicial review – on the retrospective law – claiming it undermines its clients’ right to justice and violates article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Under the new procedures this, too, would be inadmissible.
On the same lines, the judicial review that ruled (in May) that the test used to decide whether people are fit for work actively discriminates against the mentally ill, brought by the Black Triangle Campaign with the charities MIND and Rethink Mental Illness, would also be inadmissible.
So we have examples in which it is clearly in the interests of justice for new laws to be challenged – but which would be blocked outright under Cameron and Grayling’s plan.
According to The Telegraph, “Ministers plan to change the test for applying for a review so that only people with a direct link to policies or decision can challenge it, rather than anyone with a ‘sufficient interest.’
“The concerns echo those of the Prime Minister who previously said the judicial review process was slowing the country’s economic growth as well.”
In fairness, the paper adds: “There are fears that changing the judicial review process could lead to government decisions going unchecked, and charities have also raised concerns about not being able to use the process to challenge decisions and ensure the government is meeting its obligations.”
Meanwhile, Unison has been given leave to launch a judicial review of the introduction of fees for workers seeking employment tribunals.
The BBC reported that people wanting to bring tribunals must now pay a fee for the first time since they were created in the 1960s. It will cost £160 to lodge a claim for matters such as unpaid invoices, with a further charge of £230 if it goes ahead.
More serious claims, such as for unfair dismissal, would cost £250 to lodge, and a further £950 if the case goes ahead.
The plan here is clearly to make it impossible for an unfairly-sacked worker to take a firm to judicial review; how many poorly-paid working class people (and remember, wages have fallen by nine per cent since the credit crunch) have twelve hundred quid knocking around in their back pockets?
“The introduction of punitive fees for taking a claim to an employment tribunal would give the green light to unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over already basic workers’ rights,” Unison general secretary Dave Prentis told the BBC.
“We believe that these fees are unfair and should be dropped.”
The judicial review will take place in October. Considering Lord Judge’s recent change of heart over privatisation of the courts, it’s a safe bet that by then the government will have ‘persuaded’ any judges hearing the case to support the new charges.
As Mr Meacher wrote: David Cameron’s instincts are “that there is no such thing as the rule of law, and that the only things that ultimately matter are power, fear and money”.
Do not approach: Another Conservative goes feral. Pensioners – guard your assets!
There seems to be an increasing willingness among politicians to give high regard to disgraced ex-colleagues.
Only last weekend, Nick Clegg praised Chris Huhne, who faces sentencing today after being convicted of perverting the course of justice regarding speeding points on his driving licence.
Now Liam Fox has weighed into the debate on future Conservative Party policy. Dr Fox had to resign after being asked why a man who was not a part of the government had attended more than half of his official engagements including trips abroad, at the public expense.
He wants to freeze public spending for the next five years – that’s well into the next Parliament, no matter who wins.
He wants to spend the money this will allegedly save on tax cuts, notably capital gains tax – in other words, another nice little earner for the very, very rich. Odious, aren’t they?
Like Vince Cable of the Liberal Democrats, he wants departmental budgets that are currently ring-fenced to lose that protection – including the NHS, schools and international development.
The NHS is already the subject of controversy over its spending because the government has claimed budgets have increased, while the UK Statistics Authority stated categorically that they have dropped.
Most schools have been under-funded by Michael Gove, in favour of his ridiculously expensive ‘free schools’ project. Under Dr Fox’s plans, unless your child is privately-educated or has been cherry-picked to go to one of these new institutions, their education would suffer and their chances in life would be hugely reduced.
International development is hugely controversial as well. At a time when the UK is struggling to pay for itself, critics say, the country should not be giving cash away to foreign nations.
And he wants to end protection for universal benefits – such as the pensioners’ winter fuel allowance.
Pensioners: This Tory wants to take away the extra money you get to heat your home during the winter, and the Liberal Democrat Vince Cable wants to means-test or tax the pension for which you have spent your entire working life paying. Do you really want to vote either party back into power to do these things to you?
Fox is a leading member of the Tory right-wing, and this is clear from his demands. But his own past actions make his current intervention laughable. He wants to cut public spending by – according to his own calculations – £345 billion over five years, yet he himself is an expenses cheat who has overspent taxpayers’ money on himself and his friends.
In 2009 it was reported that he had claimed £19,000 on expenses for his mobile phone bill over the previous four years. He said he was looking for a cheaper tariff.
He overclaimed £22,476 in mortgage interest payments, which he was forced to pay back in 2010. Fox said he had decided to remortgage his second home to pay for redecorations, and claim the higher interest repayments on his expenses because this represented value for money – he could have charged the taxpayer for his decorating bill directly. This was not true, according to the judge dealing with the case.
A study of Parliamentary records in the Daily Telegraph showed that he was receiving rental income from his London home while simultaneously claiming rental income from the taxpayer to live at another residence.
And then there’s the big one, for which he lost his job: Fox’s relationship with Adam Werrity, who had lived rent-free in Fox’s flat, had accompanied Fox on 40 of his 70 official engagements, attended meetings with foreign dignitaries and had used official-looking business cards which stated his was an “advisor” to Fox.
Fox resigned in advance of publication of an official inquiry’s report into the matter.
Surrender, at last: Chris Huhne has finally given up the battle to cover up his criminal behaviour – but how many more MPs are getting away with it?
I have absolutely no sympathy for Chris Huhne, who must quit the House of Commons after admitting he perverted the course of justice to dodge a speeding penalty.
After two years spent denying that he had offloaded the speeding fine onto his former wife, Huhne changed his plea to ‘guilty’ on the very day his case was to go to court.
That indicates, to me, that he knew he was guilty from the get-go, but was determined to hang on to whatever political influence he had until the bitter end – which came yesterday. (Monday)
Considering he was once a candidate to be leader of the Liberal Democrats, this influence was considerable – and it is therefore even more regrettable that he was not prepared to make the proper choice at the appropriate time.
His actions prove that even those who reach the greatest heights of political office are capable of lowering themselves to the utmost depths of debasement in the name of continued power.
Bear it in mind that he had been trying to have the case thrown out of court for abuse of process, and it was only after this attempt failed that he finally threw in the towel and changed his plea. He didn’t go willingly, even though he knew he was a criminal.
A criminal. Holding one of the highest offices in the land. Guilty of perverting the course of justice.
That, in itself, is deeply disturbing. This is a Parliamentarian who not only committed a crime but also tried to cover it up for as long as humanly possible.
How many other members of the Coalition government have similar skeletons in their closets, that they want to keep out of the public arena? How many members of Parliament of any political persuasion, for that matter?
The only ray of light in this whole dismal affair, in my opinion, is that Huhne’s guilt does not concern decisions he took as Energy Secretary.
But then, Gideon George Osborne used taxpayers’ money to make a huge profit on the Cheshire farmhouse for which – along with two pieces of land which had no connection with his duties as an MP – he claimed Parliamentary expenses.
And Liam Fox resigned as Defence Secretary after Adam Werrity, who was Best Man at his wedding, turned up at 57 per cent of his ministerial engagements, claiming to be his ‘advisor’. Dr Fox said there was no wrong-doing but, if this was the case, why did he leave?
And Andrew Lansley took £21,000 from Care UK’s boss, before becoming Health Secretary and implementing changes to the NHS which, I’m sure, have brought lucrative contracts to that company.
So that’s four cabinet members whose behaviour is questionable, and we haven’t even discussed David Cameron – the Prime Minister – and his familiarity with the world of tax avoidance yet!
They were all members of the government that, according to the Coalition Agreement, “believes that we need to throw open the doors of public bodies, to enable the public to hold politicians and public bodies to account”.
You’ll note that it has yet to enact a significant part of the Conservative Manifesto 2010, that would “introduce a power of ‘recall’ to allow electors to kick out MPs, a power that will be triggered by proven serious wrongdoing”.
If they won’t clean up their house willingly, we have to do it for them.
That’s why I introduced my e-petition to the government’s website, calling for preventative measures to ensure members of Parliament cannot be tempted into corruption – the ‘Clean The House’ petition.
It’s doing quite well, too. But it could do better.
If you believe that politics needs to be free of corruption – and that it needs to be seen to be free of it – please sign the petition if you haven’t already.
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