Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Would a 'safe house' have been a good idea?

A lot of bloggers have carried a video of an unhappy Jim Devine discussing his expenses claims, and trying to explain both what happened and why he didn't do anything wrong.

Talking to the media might not have been the wisest thing Jim could have done, because it might now be difficult for him to have a 'fair trial' before a Jury - if his case proceeds to Crown Court. It's likely that a high proportion of the population has a preconceived opinion of his alleged crimes, and now they've also had the opportunity to see his 'defence' outlined in advance - either on the television or via the blogosphere. No doubt his solicitors will know the best thing to do next.

Separately ... but linked, sort of ... in a report about the Damian Green business, the BBC says
It is unprecedented for an MP to be arrested and his office searched by police in connection with a leak inquiry. Mr Green was suspected of committing a common law offence under an obscure and little-used piece of legislation.
Some believe the police breached parliamentary rules put in place after Charles I sent soldiers to arrest MPs in 1642.
Maybe the then Speaker, Michael Martin, and his Serjeant-at-Arms Jill Pay weren't aware of this ancient Parliamentary rule that's a bit older than the 1689 Bill of Rights Mr Morley, Mr Devine and Mr Chaytor are relying on, or maybe they knew of different levels of "misconduct in a public office", meaning that some sorts of "misconduct" are worse than others.

But, thankfully, Mr Martin did something about it
The Speaker appointed a committee of seven senior MPs to investigate the issue and ruled that, in future, no MP's office could be searched without a warrant.
Luckily it looks as if the Police are being more respectful of our MPs these days, because none of the those currently under investigation and facing charges of 'misconduct in a public office' relating to their expenses have been arrested, they haven't had to suffer the indignity of donating their DNA in case they might be real criminals (either now or at some time in the future) and nor have they been given accommodation in a Home Office safe house to stop them talking to the media.

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