[hat-tip: Tim Worstall]
Mr Hoon [Minister for Europe], a supporter of closer European integration, argued that if EC legislation were in the public interest and it was in Britain’s longer term interests to vote in favour “the Government will support the measure even where it had doubts about the legal base”.
In what the [European Scrutiny] committee’s top adviser, Sir Edward Osmotherly, described as a “surprisingly frank” letter, Mr Hoon revealed that the Government did not let doubts about a legal basis stand in the way of a proposal if it was expedient on other grounds to back the measure.
M’lud, I did rob the bank but I believe it was expedient for my bank account to do so.
Lord Falconer has warned colleagues not to get involved in public discussion about the Metropolitan Police’s probe into the cash-for-honours allegations.
- the BBC
In last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Menzies Campbell, asked Tony Blair when the Government would publish its submissions to the OECD so that the public could judge for itself the Government’s decision to drop the investigation.
They can already judge for themselves because we have made it clear the reasons why my advice—certainly—was that the investigation would do enormous damage to our relationship with Saudi Arabia.
I said that because I believed then, and believe now, that it would do enormous damage to our co-operation on terrorism, and to issues to do with security and the broader middle east—quite apart from the thousands of jobs that would have been lost as a result of the loss of that contract, although that was not the reason why the decision was taken.
I believe that that was right then, and I believe that it is right now. Sometimes, in government, I have to give such advice and take responsibility for acting in the interests of the country as a whole.
The Government have to put those views forward. I put them forward then; I believed them to be right then and I believe them to be right now.
Do you think we have broken the Convention? Blair says you can judge for yourself.
The pertinent part of the Convention is “Article 5 – Enforcement”:
Investigation and prosecution of the bribery of a foreign public official shall be subject to the applicable rules and principles of each Party. They shall not be influenced by considerations of national economic interest, the potential effect upon relations with another State or the identity of the natural or legal persons involved. [my emphasis]
I don’t want to influence your judgement but,
The [OECD] Working Group has serious concerns as to whether the decision was consistent with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and will discuss further the issue in March 2007, in the context of the United Kingdom written report on its implementation of recommendations set out in the 2005 Phase 2 examination report on its enforcement and application in practice of the OECD Convention.
I must add that it concerns me when I read something along the lines of, “It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against [something as ill-defined as] the wider public interest”.
Surely it is fundamentally in the “public interest” to “maintain the rule of law“?
See also a previous post.
That inalienable civil liberty — to be judged by ordinary citizens — granted by Magna Carta in 1215 has served ever since as the cornerstone for criminal justice among common law countries.
Yet since 2003 Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Lord Chancellor, and Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General, have ferociously sought to abolish the right to jury trials in serious fraud cases in England.
To save money and guarantee better justice — that is, more certainty of convictions — they propose that the Lord Chief Justice would be empowered to dispense with juries in individual fraud trials.
So far, four times, their attempts have been stymied by Parliament.
Round five of the attempt to abolish juries hearing serious fraud trials is under way. Next Thursday, despite a small revolt by Labour MPs, the Fraud (Trials without a Jury) Bill will be approved by the House of Commons and pass to the House of Lords. …
To justify their continued zeal, Labour’s law officers have scrabbled to quote “modernisation” and “streamlining” as the justification for their cause. …
Trials of terrorists, drug dealers and health and safety crimes are often longer and more complicated than fraud trials. To be certain of convictions, the Government would eventually hope to also abolish juries in those trials.