Sunday, 13 January 2008

Accidental Criminals

Peter Hain MP has joined the ranks of Labour politicians who broke the law but "didn't mean it, guv", and I can see why - I often overlook the odd hundred grand in my bank account and I'm sure you do too.

That's how we can be sure that Wendy Alexander never did anything wrong - in spite of the latest revelations that she and her team knew she was breaking the law and invented a cover story to try to save her.

We await the ponderous opinion of the Electoral Commission. In the meantime, the police have said that they will not begin their investigation until the Electoral Commission has completed theirs.

A swift consideration of the facts with my unbiased and completely unjaundiced eye leads me to some fascinating conclusions:

1. Wendy Alexander and her team broke the law and have admitted as much.
2. They acted in concert throughout, so all are equally at fault.
3. It is claimed that the criminal acts were not intentional - making them accidental criminals.
4. They sought to cover up a crime and mislead investigators. That would be attempting to pervert the course of justice, wouldn't it?

Having discoursed with some fine legal minds over the past few days, I'm drawn to ask some other questions -

1. Can the constabulary decide to defer an investigation and wait upon another body's deliberations before they begin? It is the duty of a police officer to investigate crime and bring the criminals to justice "with all due speed". I appreciate that the police are in a difficult position, electoral law not being something which they have to deal with in the normal course of their duties, their understandable reluctance to enter the political sphere, and a desire to avoid cutting across another investigation. Having had the crime reported to them, though, do they have a right to wait before investigating?

2. Surely the Electoral Commission should have held off on its own investigation until the police investigation had been completed? It has no powers to prosecute and cannot conduct criminal investigations. By continuing to fool around with the evidence that could be needed by the police for a criminal investigation it may be hampering that investigation, evidence could be corrupted or destroyed, witnesses will be reheating old evidence by the time the police are asking questions, and the Electoral Commission has no power to seize or compel evidence in the way the police do (computers to check the truth about emails, for example).

3. What other walk of life has a buffer like the Electoral Commission that would protect them from a police investigation? There have been crimes committed and the police should be investigating. Does the involvement of the Commission, then, amount to obstructing the police in the course of their duties.

4. Given that the Electoral Commission have made a mess of election guidance in Scotland in the past, are they really the organisation to be investigating anything? Doubly so given the atrocious record of the Electoral Commission in court cases.

5. Is it fair to drag the investigation out in this way? Surely the accused have the right to their day in court "with all due speed"?

6. Those who were conspiring to pervert the course of justice - the Electoral Commission has no power to bring them to book, surely it should get out of the way and let the police do their job? Bizarrely, during a conversation about that I discovered that that was the crime that Maxine Carr was convicted of.

7. When can we put this all away and get on with politics?


Anonymous said...

If she says she will be exonerated of INTENTIONAL wrong doing does this mean she will put her hands up and admit that she is guilty of UNINTENTIONAL wrong doing?

Calum Cashley said...

Well, judging by her performance today, I think she'll spread the blame to anyone she can see but she'll never take the blame herself if she can avoid it.

In my humble opinion, of course.