Parliamentary Ethics – Ms Elizabeth Filkin had it right.
May 14, 2009Posted by on
Never has HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) favourite phrase, “all claims must be supported by invoices”, been turned on its progenitors to such devastating effect. So says Simon Jenkins in the The Guardian article, This mother of all expenses cock-ups is the stuff of banana republics. He reminds us that there is a substantial bureaucracy devoted to political ethics, with MPs now pleading for it to show vigour in their defence – forgetting that a previous commissioner, Elizabeth Filkin, left in disgust. These bodies are armed with peashooters and are anyway subject t o the “will of parliament”, which regards itself as free to reject all advice.
In conclusion, Simon Jenkins says that , he cannot see what the Telegraph has done wrong. It presumably paid for material that had been stolen and which it has published. It thus offends the rule against profiting from crime. But a more glaring public interest defence cannot be imagined. Publication was the only way to reveal a systematic fraud on the public accounts, whose perpetrators had already shown they were determined to use the courts to suppress it. Those who chant the obituary of the “mainstream media” might care to cite any electronic organisation able to put together such an investigation. Like the Guardian’s recent disclosure of corporate tax avoidance, this work requires staff and resources. When the BBC tried to reveal the truth about the Iraq war dossiers, its cowering chairman and director general were driven by a mere Downing Street press officer into resignation.
Crude, unfair, bolshie, whatever, the old-fashioned newspaper is still desperately needed to keep democracy on its toes. God forbid that it should ever cease.