Revenge Best Served Cold – Again.

Revenge Best Served Cold – Again.

Revenge Best Served Cold – Again.

“Yes, they’ve had their revenge….but police have lost our trust”.

So opines Andrew Mitchell, M.P for Sutton Coldfield.  The former Tory Cabinet minister, who had his five minutes of ‘fame’ over the ‘plebgate’ affair in 2012, is provided with a page in the Mail on Sunday Christmas Eve edition to exact his own revenge.

Leaving aside the irony of a disgraced politician lecturing the public on trust, his sour comments lack the deep dive into the integrity of all concerned.  And the principle that integrity shapes our trust.

Trust

The history of Damian Green / Bob Quick is well-documented.  It involved one Christopher Galley, a civil servant who passed sensitive information,  from the office of Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, to the Conservatives.  He was subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct.

The Cabinet Office called in Scotland Yard to investigate and Damian Green was implicated for “aiding, abetting, counselling, or procuring misconduct in public office.”

A judge granted a search warrant for Green’s home and constituency office. Police later searched the House of Commons office after permission from the Sergeant of Arms, who had notified, then speaker, Michael Martin.

Green’s lawyers argued that the material seized in the search, including that discovered on his computer, was covered by Parliamentary Privilege.

A sorry tale, if ever there was.  And, one in which Andrew Mitchell apparently sides with Parliamentary Privilege over integrity.  Some might argue that P.P demands a higher standard of ethics than normal.  Not to be used as a convenient cover-up for allegations of misconduct.  A judge was minded to grant a search warrant for police to search Green’s home and constituency office.  Are politicians above a law that might allow police to search a House of Commons office?  It’s not as though they didn’t first seek permission.

Back to Andrew Mitchell’s article.

“These officers (Bob Quick and Neil Lewis) have sought to blacken the name of a serving politician by suggesting he had viewed entirely legal pornography on his (office) computer, something we are told is indulged in by 80% of our fellow citizens.”

Well, count me out of that 80%, but I guess it takes all sorts to make a world.  Makes me wonder though which four M.P’s,  of the current 22-strong Cabinet, aren’t watching it.

Mitchell subsequently argues that the entire case has little to do with Damien Green and that it is about the rights of every citizen in this country.

He hypothesizes a scenario where a young man in Brixton is stopped by Police and the contents of his phone are subsequently downloaded.  Every citizen has to believe they enjoy a right to confidentiality where there has been no crime, he suggests.

There.  Right there.  The very point at which Mitchell attempts to move the conversation away from skulduggery, obfuscation and dereliction of duty to the safer ground of a right to confidentiality.

Let’s back-track a little, here.

We have a public servant, in a privileged position.  Police find ‘legal’ porn on his computer.  Not at his home.  Not at his constituency office.  But on the relatively secure computer in his House of Commons office.

My first question would be whether Damien Green was aware of the images on his office computer?

Let’s say, for conjecture, that he wasn’t aware.  What might be his next step?

Mine would be to have asked for an internal enquiry to determine how they got there.  In this day and age, it’s not difficult to determine a source, or, who was logged in at the time.

Transparency is often the foil to unfounded allegations.  Instead the public had to wait nearly a decade before the story resurfaces.


“Damien Green baffled by pornography found on his office computer”  was a headline we didn’t read in 2008.  Open, honest and transparent?  It didn’t happen.

It wasn’t just at a political level that the story became shrouded in mist.

The two officers in question wondered why the evidence had not been acted upon.  A serving police officer, subject to the very same allegation, would have been dismissed for gross misconduct.

In any public service, there are levels of accountability.  In this case, it falls to Damian Green’s superior – since the Director of Public Prosecution had advised police the images were not illegal.

David Cameron was Conservative party leader during that time.

Might we reasonably ask of him what conversations took place between him and Green, concerning allegations of legal pornography being found on Green’s work place computer?

Was it not in the public interest to know why a serving M.P. had his computer security breached, or had used it to store legal images unrelated to his work?

Andrew Mitchell admits a friendship with Damien Green and one can only respect his support for a friend.

Regardless of whether the images were ‘legal’ or not, the right to privacy that so motivates the political elite would be better served by more, not less scrutiny.

Those with nothing to hide will not mind.

“The police lost our trust” is Mitchell’s headline.

I, for one, am appreciative of those two retired officers unearthing a decomposing ‘corpse’.

Trust is gained over a period of time and requires congruence in both words and actions.  Neither Green, Mitchell or others come out of this well.

If Green had not been subject to other more recent allegations of sexual impropriety, would Bob Quick have exposed the whole sorry saga that he has kept hidden for nearly a decade?

We will never know.

Plebgate, pornography, parliamentary privilege, police, politicians.  There’s a few hashtags to file under ‘P’.

Revenge, as Mitchell alludes, may come soon.  Or later as in his case.

His page of acetic, ill-considered, verbiage has that faint taste of sour grapes.

Regardless, the actions of one or two individuals, police or politicians and regardless of their ‘crimes’, do not characterise a sector.

Those that seek to implicate others in that way might first look in the mirror.

Best wishes for an exciting and more open, transparent 2018.

 

Chris.

 

 

 

 

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