The Priviliged Three and the Noble Lord Hanningfield
IN THE BUSINESS of Parliamentary Expenses it has been revealed that England’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Kier Starmer, has decided to press forward with charges on Morley, Devine and Chaytor from the Commons, and Hanningfield from the House of Lords, with investigations still ongoing in the case of Uddin (also from the Upper House).
Mr Starmer will, however, have to overcome the ancient doctrine of parliamentary privilege after the three Labour MPs announced they would use it to fight the charges.
A joint statement from the three (who, it is believed are using the Labour Party’s solicitors for the case) indicated that they thought the issue was one for the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards rather than the police and the courts as it would be for ordinary people. They were, they said, extremely disappointed that the DPP had decided to instigate proceedings against them. They pointed out that the Parliamentary Commissioner's job was to enforce the rules.
Of course they are disappointed it hasn’t been left in the hands of the Parliamentary Commissioner. He would have let them off and told them to apologise to the House.
Although it is an ancient doctrine, parliamentary privilege has had a huge role in thwarting recent attempts by the police to investigate alleged wrongdoing by MPs and peers, including the expenses claims of the Tory MP Derek Conway who started the whole expenses saga, and the Cash for Peerages saga. Mr Starmer said: “Lawyers representing those who have been charged have raised with us the question of parliamentary privilege. We have considered that question and concluded that the applicability and extent of any parliamentary privilege claimed should be tested in court.”
You can’t help wonder what world and what century these people are living in.
Quite clearly the DPP wouldn’t have gone forward with such high profile cases unless he could be very sure of his facts. But these three men seem to feel that they are in the same position as the Queen, who cannot be charged with an offence because she is the embodiment of the law.
Of course all three of these low lifes are standing down at the next election... (yes, they are still on the payroll; we are paying them as I write, at £65,000 pa, and they will be entitled to a grant at the end of parliament) so we can’t even punish them at the ballot box.
Hanningfield was suspended from the Parliamentary Conservative Party today and resigned his position as a frontbench business spokesman in the House of Lords. He, to his credit, appears (so far) not to think himself above the law, although he denies any wrong doing. Perhaps if the case is tested in the courts and found for the MPs, Hanningfield’s case will be dismissed anyway.
I hope that Mrs Harman’s famed Court of Public Opinion will be making it very clear to these MPs that we don’t think that they are above the law, and that we want them to stand trial in one of the same kinds of court that all other criminals have to tolerate.
In my opinion they should not be granted bail. They are certainly not to be trusted.
If you are convinced of your innocence and if you have faith in the English justice system (and why wouldn’t you; you who have been sitting for years in the parliament that controls it), then why would you be unhappy about facing the same form of justice that you have foist on the rest of that nation?