Thursday, 8 March 2012
Who'll finger who
After the hacks the cops are under scrutiny in the Leveson Inquiry. Yesterday was the turn of Robert Quick, formerly Britain's top counter-terrorism officer.
What he had to say gives an interesting insight into the way our politicians operate. In his evidence he says that his bosses in Scotland Yard caved in and withdrew their support for the investigation of a Tory front-bench spokesman who had received leaks which endangered national security.
It all stemmed from a leak inquiry in 2008. It centered around Damian Green a Tory shadow minister. The allegation was that the MP had not just a passive recipient of leaks but according to the civil servant at the centre of the case ‘Mr Green was seeking dirt or damage on the Labour government, and other material that would be useful to him.’
Information that the authorities thought posed a problem to national security.
Green was arrested. This caused outrage amongst the Conservative party and their mates in the Conservative press at the time.
The arrest was condemned by David Cameron, the then Leader of the Opposition and Boris Johnson the mayor of London. This resulted, according to Quick's evidence, in the acting commissioner withdrawing his support of the investigation. The Crown Prosecution Service eventually decided not to prosecute.
Now there have been many Police Inquiries into many sensitive political issues in the past and also into politicians. Some in Wales.
There was an inquiry into Peter Hain’s late declaration of donations in his failed bid to become Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. There was no charge.
When Mike German was Deputy Minister in the Welsh Assembly there was a police fraud investigation into the WJEC’s European Unit which in the period under investigation was headed by Mike German. After an investigation there were no charges forthcoming. Mike German was restored as minister in the then coalition government.
After critical reports into the running of AWEMA, the police have now embarked on an investigation into the now defunct organisation.
Quick as a flash Assembly opposition politicians tried to make political capital and embarrass the Welsh Government by alleging a close link between some key members of AWEMA and the Labour Party.
Politicians, when there are allegations of wrong doing need, to be investigated fairly but thoroughly. Undue influence must not be bought on to the police and the prosecution authorities to go easy on certain investigations because there is a political dimension. Yesterday’s evidence to Leveson hints that policemen can be brow beaten by politicians.
But that was the past, what of the future. As we've seen police have done their duty and have looked into matters that need looking into. There is no certainty that in future that this will be the case. Why? Because each Police Authority will be headed by an elected Police Commissioner.
And who will stand for these posts, party politicians. Will such people take a neutral stand on matters that are potentially embarrassing to their own parties. The history of politics in Wales would suggest not.