Sunday, December 17, 2006

Goldsmith's Precedent is Deeply Worrying

On 'Bury Bad News' Thursday last week I wrote THIS brief post about the decision by Lord Goldsmith to discontinue the inquiry into alleged corruption within BAe. I've just been browsing through ConservativeHome and have come across THIS excellent piece by Tim Montgomerie who shares my view on this disgraceful decision. The precedents it sets are truly appalling. Effectively it gives the government the right to ignore the rule of law whenever it wishes using the pretext of it 'being in the national interest'. Anyone would think we lived in a benign dictatorship.

THIS comment on Danny Finkelstein's blog sums it up...

"The rule of law having been dismissed, and the public interest having been equated with the Government's interests (for which Blair takes "full reponsibility"), the Attorney General can now step in to halt the cash for honours enquiry. Not in the public interest, you see. While we're at it, why not arrest DC Yates for conduct prejudicial to national security?"

27 comments:

Jess The Dog said...

The precedent is indeed deeply worrying. I suspect that any charges even against Levy alone may not get to court, if it is likely he will plead not guilty.

It is possible that the investigation will be halted on the premise that either (or both) Bliar and Levy are pivotal in any Middle Eastern resolution, crucial to national security.

If this does occur, I trust the police will leak whatever they have, and that there will be a clamour for judicial review or private prosecution. Failing that, it will be clear we are living in a dictatorship ruled by decree. There are plenty of historical examples of what to do under these circumstances and, although the Romanian excesses appeal to me(!) I would suggest the Ukrainian approach as more appropriate.

Jess The Dog (formerly posting as Iain Not Dale)

tom_r said...

Couldn't agree more. What kind of message does this send out? Our businessmen and women, politicians, ministers and diplomats and god knows who else can do whatever the hell they want, so long as it's done when they're dealing with countries that our government wants to coddle up next to.

I mean, what's a few dodgy deals and human rights abuses between friends, eh?

Makes me sick to the stomach.

Chris P said...

There is absolutely NO equivalence between Goldsmith giving up on this SFO/BAe thing and Finklestein's risible suggestion that loans for honours will be shelved with the same excuse.

Almost as bad as that Lord Fayed or whatever his name is and his Di Die Diddle Di thing.

Toodle pip!

Anonymous said...

Like it or not, this is the way some nations do their business. It is easy to take the moral high ground but that will not win contracts or prevent job losses.

nadders said...

Its clear from the nulab spin over the weekend is that they really don't see that anything they have done is wrong.
They truly believe that they alone shoudl be our rulers and everything they decide is right because they know best

Sad, deluded, power crazy twats.

Lets hope the electorate gets all this and does vote accordingly whenever they can

As a side note, it will be interesting on what grounds they argue that Mugagbe cannot come to Europe in 2007 as most of the tricks he uses they use too (PS "anon" nulab bloggers I do exclude starvation - as far as we know anyway)

Johnny Norfolk said...

Can you imagine if this was done by a Tory government. It would be all over the BBC.

As it is a Labour government, what do we hear from the BBC, nothing.

Blairs Paid Ego Parrot said...

Medical records are being placed on computer that will be accessible to 'medical professionals' nationwide.Judging by the treatment of individuals who make the slightest complaint about the government.I think it highly likely that such person's medical problems would become more widely known in direct relation to the force of prosecution of their complaint.

verity said...

It is indeed deeply worrying. Blair and his henchmen are running this country like a Latin American dictatorship of yore. The degradation of the British government under Blair is equalled only by the degradation of the fabric of British civil society under Blair.

I hope the Tories stay on this case, and stay on it and stay on it. I know it is difficult to keep a hard edge of fury up when fighting one's way through enervating sticky, treacly waffle, but they cannot let this go. This makes Jaques Chiraq and his gang of rogues look non-self-serving and respectable. It makes Chavez look like a soft option.

If they kill the cash for honours case citing "national security", I too, Jess The Dog, hope the police leak every last detail.

On the other hand, I would not underestimate how angry Michael Levy must be. He's a far cleverer man than Blair. Whether he is vengeful or not, we don't know yet, but if he is, he can slice 'n' dice Blair, citing private conversations, and make his life not worth living. As I said earlier, though, he should not take any unaccompanied walks in the countryside.

I, too, have a soft-spot for the Rumanian solution. It's swift, very cheap and adds to the gaiety of the nation.

KRS ONE said...

This is the lowest low I've seen from the government. The efforts of some Labour backbenchers to justify it is sickening.

Why are the Tories supporting this?

For jobs? Let the Saudis buy whatever jets they want from France or Russia. If they want to buy second-rate equipment because it has cashback, that's their problem.

For the "war on terror"? Saudia Arabia bans jews from entering the country. How can such a racist, anti-semite nation be an ally of ours? I know a few Saudis on London and they're likeable people but the government is very high-handed.

We still have six more months of Blair as PM. What will he wreck next?

Anonymous said...

It seems ages ago, that I mentioned on Comment is Free, about Lord Justice Woolf, and his lecture about human rights. At one stage, he referred to Hitler, although democratically elected, he lost the moral authority to be deemed the democratic leader of his people when he showed such contempt for the rule of law. Where does this put Tony Blair?

Anonymous said...

You are right, you are right, you are right.

Of course you are right.

But there's one small glimmer. Just one. It may be conspiracy theory, but if this is treated the way that it should be ... and even more so if the (lily-livered) Attorney General scuppers the honours inquiry ... then that is Curtains For Gordon.

And wouldn't that suit Tony.

Hope, ah hope!

Richard Dale said...

So what do you think of the opinion of the lawyer of my acquaintance who thinks that this decision was the right one?

As I said on the previous mention of this story is involved in the case, so knows the relevant laws and loses business by its cancellation. His opinion was that evidence suggested the events were too early to have been covered by a law only made in 2001. While the events might have been morally suspect, if they were not illegal then it is a waste of resources to investigate, and weakens the rule of law when those supposed to be implimenting it try to apply itinnappropriately.

Neither I nor this lawyer are regularly supporters of Blair, in fact quite the opposite. However consistency requires that I bring the same consideration to my opinions even when that brings me to agree with someone I dislike, and on balance from what I know I do not see this as a bad decision.

permanent expat said...

'Daily Referendum' is, unfortunately, correct. This is the way business is done....everywhere to a greater or lesser extent and what should rile us is total lack of secrecy/security in the BAe/Saudi case which, had it not come to light, would be totally waveless. If similar indignation were applied to the CAP & much else that involves the bandits running the EU, you would be talking REAL money & REAL S**T.
The Saudis are definitely NOT our friends but don't kid yourselves that 'Europe' is any better.

ghost of john trenchard said...

its a dictatorship in all but name Iain. Just stand back and imagine George Bush doing that in America - the media fallout would be immense. So immense it would be a Watergate Part Two.

Meanwhile, what do our MSM do about it? Oh , its just another report, another day, nothing to worry about... ho hum...

As for dangerous precendent - of course it is. Vladimir Putin can now point to us changing the rules and , quite rightly, tell us to get lost if ever we criticise anything thats going on in Russia.

And not just Russia - insert your own country here... quite frankly, it has simply demolished ANY standing we have had in the world.

Casual Observer said...

If you want to do business with countries awash with Oil and/or UN money or almost any former Soviet Union country, you had better build enough into your prices to pay the bribes. That's how it's done, how it's always been done and how it will continue to be done. If you don't like this, look for a 'straight' country to sell billions of dollars worth of arms to, but don't hold your breath while you do it...

Remember that if your principles start to cost you money, change your principles or stop moaning about it.

Vlad the Impala said...

Is Tony trying to finish the UK as a place to do business? Undermining the rule of law is the best way to guarantee that ultimately London loses position to the many European competitors anxious to take its business. It also guarantees the SEC will, despite Ed Ballsups claims to the contrary, seek to expand its remit in London once NASDAQ takes over the LSE because of concerns over UK judicial and enforcement standards.

Graham E said...

So a dodgy deal was done with the Saudi's that, no doubt, protected British jobs. Pretty insignificant when compared to the dodgy deal Blairthe liar did with Bush that is costing British lives.

Voyager said...

The Law is political........always was. The Judges are political, imbued with their own personal agendas and given licence to impose them without constraint.

It is self-delusional to think Law is independent of Politics when lawyers sit in all three branches of government and glide between the branches.

Sir David Calvert-Smith QC former DPP until 2003 and now a High Court Judge; Barbara Mills (sister-in-law of David Mills of Berlusconi fame) DPP then Inland Revenue Adjudicator


The whole system is political

Chuck Unsworth said...

Iain,

'Benign' is certainly not the word.

It is 'vindictive', 'incompetent', 'dishonest'. Probably in that order..

javelin said...

http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2006580482,00.html

THE loans-for-gongs probe took a new twist last night as cops launched an inquiry into an alleged top-level cover-up.

Until yesterday, the nine-month investigation was centred on £14million in secret loans made to Labour by rich backers later offered peerages.

But Scotland Yard is now investigating claims key Tony Blair aides tried to obstruct cops. It is alleged documents and e-mails that could be vital evidence have been withheld, and some have vanished.

A prosecution insider said: “There is more than a suspicion that evidence has not been handed over, people have colluded and the police are not being helped.” Prosecutors and police have discussed if it amounts to perverting the course of justice, which carries a maximum life sentence.

Meanwhile, Labour’s donors have disputed Tony Blair’s evidence to cops that gongs being investigated were given “expressly” for party service.

Anonymous said...

Even if Goldsmith kiboshes the cash-for-honours CPS prosecutions he cannot stop a private prosecution.

Man in a shed said...

Yes - all this is carefully choreographed and timed. The shame belongs to the MSM who get lead up the garden path by all this.

bt said...

The 'rule of law' depends very much on what the laws are and this bunch make them up as they go along, then slide them through Halitosis Hall on the nod or by invoking regulatory powers. And all of it seems to be part of an obsession with control, limiting the freedom (of movement and of expression) and the anonymity of the subjects of this realm while at the same time uncoupling the link between govermental and quasi-governmental actions and ministers (and others) being held to account.

Those with a memory for detail may recall the sneering words of that creep Mandelson after the '97 election, "it will be impossible to vote tory ever again". Not you'll note laughable, unlikely, unnecessary or unthinkable - but impossible. That was the true voice of NuLab - fanatical, obsessive, and determined to destroy anything or anybody that opposed them.
The executive rules, OK?
And it's the executive that makes the rules, OK?

What do we have to counter these overwheening authoritarian ambitions? Not much.
In a few short years the Civil Service and the senior ranks of the police have been politicised, the Commons made an irrelevence, the MSM mostly either silent, apologist or more concerned with populist crap than with holding these people to account.

Ask yourself - how many voices of protest would now be heard if the internet hadn't exploded into life during the reign of this despicable bunch? Damn few.

Sad to say, we need a written constitution for our own safety. And for our own safety it musn't be decided by the political class.

Meanwhile Hubris and Nemesis seem to be squabbling over who has precedence in Downing St.
Trouble is, they only turn up once the damage is done.

End of Monday morning rant.

Rob Gordon said...

Blair did the right thing for once. The fact Iain dale and Tim Montgomerie think he did not helps explain why Dale got slaughtered in Norfolk and Montgomerie help IDS get dumped.

Dropping this stupid investigation was in our national interest and will safeguard 50,000 jobs. Enough siad

niconoclast said...

There is a lot of swallowing camels and straining at gnats here. We deal with corrupt countries every day. Africa kleptocacies. The EU a byword for corruption...

And we have it closer to home in the form of crippling taxation for business -defacto bribe system if ever there was one. Wake up and smell the hypocrisy guys.

verity said...

bt - What a magnificent rant!

mark williams said...

There are so many points in this post that it is hard to know where to start, but:

It is worrying that Lord Goldsmith may not act independently, but that was a worry before the BAe announcement.

We have laws against bribery because we think it is a "bad" thing, but in the case of Saudi Arabia, it is the Royal Family that we are bribing, not a government clerk or junior minister in an impoverished country. Saudi Arabia is different. Unlike, by way of example, Sri Lanka, a few hundred million added to the bill for some fighter planes is not going to undermine the economy. It may be positively mediaeval to our eyes, but the world does not always operate the way that we do.

Our monarch has a Civil List, theirs has a stake in every big deal. Theirs probably make more money, but complaining about it makes one sound like the Bishop of Worcester. It really shouldn't be a matter for the British justice system, but the SFO took up the case because the law, is drafted to address the general case.

Blair was right to stop the SFO investigation (as were the various Tories who agreed with him). They probably appreciated how legislation is drafted with one set of facts in mind, perhaps short-sightedly, but is in many cases inappropriate, leading to further amendments. The tax avoidance industry has lived off poor drafting for many years.

This isn't a question of overruling the rule of law, merely a question of recognising that while the SFO may think they are doing their job by chasing bank accounts in Switzerland, the reality is that they are enforcing laws that are not necessarily appropriate to the situation.