.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Oh dear!

It seems that the culture of trying to crucify anybody in public life with any sort of allegation continues unabated. The BBC programme "Dragon's Eye" tried this first with Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Group Leader, Mike German. They spun a web of unsubstantiated, spurious and politically motivated allegations on the basis that if enough mud was flung then some of it would stick. They were proved wrong on every count and Mike was exonerated. We are still awaiting the apology.

Now that same programme has conducted an investigation into the employment of spouses by thirteen AMs and their declaration of interest. There is nothing wrong with an AM or an MP employing a spouse providing that the employee is the best person for the job and that they do a fair day's work for a fair day's wage. This has not stopped mud being thrown at Iain Duncan Smith nor has it stopped the Welsh media indulging in a bit of guilt by association.

Almost by accident they stumbled on the fact that four of these AMs had not registered the interests of their spouse as they are required to do by law. This is in fact, a criminal matter and can attract a fine of up to £5,000. Again, by accident, there is one AM involved from each party - Plaid Cymru's Jocelyn Davies, Labour's Anne Jones, the Tory's Mark Isherwood and the Welsh Liberal Democrat's Eleanor Burnham. The four have now been referred to the Police for investigation.

Although what they have done is technically an offence, I am not convinced that there is anything other than oversight involved. It seems to me that nobody can gain from non-declaration and, knowing the individuals concerned, there is in my opinion no likelihood of deliberate wrong-doing. Under natural justice all four should get off with a caution and that should be an end to it. I doubt if "Dragon's Eye" will see it that way. After all it would not be such a good story.

By coincidence I spent the day with one of the four AMs, Mark Isherwood, on a series of Social Justice Committee visits around North Wales. We concluded the day at the headquarters of North Wales Police in the company of the Chief Constable, Richard Brunstone. He gave us a compelling overview of his opinions on drugs policy, of which more later. However, as I left the HQ I can confirm that Mark Isherwood left also and that at no stage was he arrested or put in irons.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?