Sunday 30 November 2008

Jacqui Smith... Police independence is paramount (except when it isn't)

Apart from her obvious evasion over the issue of who knew what, something has been bothering about the Home Secretary's assertion in her interview with Andrew Marr this morning.

For days know, Ms Smith & Gordon Brown have spitting out the line that Police independence is paramount, as if the police were not under the control of the Home Office. Only if this is true (or if the Police are truly out of control) can Labour escape the charge that they have facilitated the arrest of a member of the opposition in a direct assault upon centuries of constitutional privilege.

Ms Smith was asked on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme if she would say sorry - but said it would be wrong for her to intervene in a police investigation. Had she intervened it would have been "Stalinist" as she believed in the principle of police being independent even when things get "tricky".

All very plausible. "Police independence" sounds like a good idea.

Until you consider that it was the same Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary - who prevented the SFO (who last time I checked were a part of the Police) from investigating corruption allegations in relation to Saudi Arabian arms contracts.

The head of an influential parliamentary arms committee today said he was "very concerned" at the government's refusal to cooperate with the US criminal investigation into allegations of corruption against BAE Systems.

More than two months after the US justice department formally requested assistance in its investigation of Britain's biggest arms company, the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, has failed to pass on the request to the Serious Fraud Office.

Ms Smith's go-ahead is required before the SFO can cooperate.

So there you have it - Police independence is paramount. Except when it isn't.

1 comment:

Old Holborn said...

Fantastic. I'm giving it a wider audience