Monday, December 01, 2008

Cheating is still bad, even when it's not done by the government

This is by PDF, absolutely not DK, usual disclaimers apply

When I first read about Damian Green's arrest, I felt a bit concerned about what the flaming fuck the government was up to [*]. While locking up the Sarah Tisdalls and Clive Pontings has been standard practice forever, the leak recipients aren't supposed to be part of the deal. At least, as long as they grass out the leakers (hello, Peter Preston; how's 'not being in jail' working out for you? Shame Ms Tisdall can't say the same, eh? And no, that's not entirely fair).

But now the details have come out about what was actually going on in this case, it turns out that Mr Green was controlling a spy in the civil service, who was deliberately, regularly, stealing confidential information and passing it to Mr Green for political advantage.

That isn't 'civil servant spots badness going on and blows whistle to sympathetic ear', that's 'completely unacceptable conspiracy for which people should, if not go to jail, certainly be fired'. And anyone who thinks that the government are the ones in the wrong here should be shot in the eyes for partisan idiocy.

I hope this was a solo act by Mr Green. Because if Mr Cameron and the wider party organisation were involved, then it becomes a violation of the political neutrality of the Civil Service. Which is about a thousand times more important, in terms of guarding our freedoms, as whether people who commit crimes should be arrested (answer: yes, they should. Even though they're nice, posh and Tory. See also: speed cameras. And if it shouldn't be a crime, we should rise up to raise the speed limit / impose freedom of information, not just break it and be grumpy when we get caught...)

Yes, all government-collated information that doesn't directly identify individuals or compromise national security should be freely available in the public domain. That's true, and anyone who opposes it is ridiculous. But no matter how fervently we believe it, it's not the law. And the rule of law is what matters - and if anyone's broken the rule of law in this case, it's not the government.

Executive summary for the hard-of-thinking: if stuff is illegal, then people who do it should be arrested, even if they're people who you like. If people who you don't think should be arrested are arrested as a result, you should campaign against the stuff being illegal, not against those particular people being arrested; and you certainly shouldn't invent ridiculous lies about the constitution to justify the illegal actions of the people you like.

[*] technically, this is a lie: I was drunk and laughed my arse off, just as I did when Lord Levy was collared. Mr Green is, after all, a deeply illiberal, anti-immigration, pro-state-imposed-religious-schooling, pro-Iraq-war, anti-drug-legalising, anti-gay gentleman who therefore clearly has no great personal concerns about liberty. However, when I sobered up the next morning, my hangover was exacerbated by concerns over neo-Stalinist tactics.

UPDATE by DK: it seems that Dr Richard North broadly agrees with PDF...

45 comments:

Kay Tie said...

All of your allegations are civil issues, not criminal. They can be dealt with by dismissal, breach of contract lawsuits, and Parliamentary disciplinary processes.

PDF said...

Hmm. I'm fairly sure that [ANALOGY ALERT] if I were a consultant [THE CIVIL SERVICE] working for a company [THE GOVERNMENT], and I passed on non-publicly-available information that I'd found in the course of my job to the company's rivals [THE OPPOSITION], I'd be liable for prosecution.

I probably wouldn't actually be prosecuted, because everyone would be too embarrassed about the whole thing (fired & no reference, possibly a cash settlement between firms), but I'd be legally in line for some chokey and I'd thoroughly deserve it if anyone pushed it.

Alan Dean said...

Can't say that I agree with the analysis. Indeed the usual reference case is Churchill in the 1930's who could similarly have been accused of 'controlling a spy' (except inside the Ministry of War).

The point is that Parliament is sovereign and, by extension, parliamentarians have privilege in order to carry out their job as representatives of the people.

It's a choice of that (the settled practice of the English Parliament since the Glorious Revolution) or we have to carry out a fundamental rewrite of our uncodified constitution to restrain what Lord Hailsham called the "Elective Dictatorship" (an idea that does actually have merit).

PDF said...

Bugger, my edit of comment #2 slightly missed the point - the company's rivals [THE OPPOSITION] would be legally and morally in line for prosecution.

I don't understand the point about parliamentary privilege *at all* - until this week, I'd not seen a definition of parliamentary privilege which included "the right to run spies in the civil service for political advantage", which makes me think it's something of a post-hoc justification by Green's supporters...

Anonymous said...

Sorry, PDF, I can't hear quite make out what you're saying. Maybe if you removed Broon's cock from your mouth I could hear you - and why not pull Mandelson's cock out of your arse while you're at it, you fucking shill.

mongoose said...

Complete drivel. From the first word to the last word. With drivel in between. Good grief.

insomniac said...

You state

"But now the details have come out about what was actually going on in this case, it turns out that Mr Green was controlling a spy in the civil service, who was deliberately, regularly, stealing confidential information and passing it to Mr Green for political advantage".

It doesn't "turn out" to be anything of the sort. How the hell can an MP be "controlling a spy" when the "spy" is under no compulsion and can freely tell him to bog off any time he feels like it? The information was being improperly withheld from the public; there were no national security implications. There is a vast difference between spying on behalf of an enemy of this country and passing embarrassing information to an Opposition MP. Or has this reeking midden of a government decreed that all those who oppose it are enemies of the state?

The proper way to deal with this would have been an internal enquiry and a tightening of information security procedures within the office concerned (which, frankly, all government departments would benefit from). The fact that unauthorised disclosures had taken place does not justify the wholly disproportionate response. There would at least be a semblance of justification if the same actions had already been taken regarding the endless leaks pushing the Government's agenda, but, oddly enough, neither the departments concerned nor the police seemed remotely bothered.

PDF said...

How the hell can an MP be "controlling a spy" when the "spy" is under no compulsion and can freely tell him to bog off any time he feels like it?

I'd suggest not applying for a job in counterespionage, if I were you (clue: 'controlling a spy' does not mean what you think it means).

styx said...

PDF, there must be all sorts of obscure crimes for which you and many of the rest of us could legitimately be arrested and, probably, charged. Fortunately, the police have not as yet selected us for special attention, because we have not yet sufficiently annoyed the people they answer to.

But if and when they do, I hope you will remember to be happy about it.

Paul said...

"Sources close to the investigation confirmed that they were examining information suggesting that Mr Green encouraged the official, Christopher Galley, 26, to leak documents and may have set him specific tasks."

Presumably you extract that entire idea from this statement, itself a leak of evidence in an ongoing investigation, almost certainly from an area that is desperate to justify its own behaviour (be it the met or the government).

It would be interesting to hypothesise what this information actually is. Unless Damian Green is completely anally retentive, he's hardly likely to have kept minutes of meetings with his spy, so what actually is this ? Someone's opinion ?

What it actually means, I'd hazard an intelligent guess, is something like the following, interpreted by a desperate source to sound as bad as possible.

They've really got fuck all, which is why they use 'information suggesting that' and other weasel words.

(1) that he has a lot of information from a friendly source.
(2) he maybe thanked the individual saying stuff like, 'this is really useful' - this would be classified, if you are desperate to CYA, as 'encouraging'.
(3) he asked for more of the same 'he may have set him specific tasks'

Let's Brownify this.

Do you really think that Brown, when in receipt of his many leaks, told the official who leaked 'fuck off I don't want any more you shouldn't do this' ? Or that he didn't mention the sort of stuff he might like ? So why couldn't you just rewrite the first sentence and insert Brown instead of Green ?

As an example of spin from Plod, I wonder if it's just a coincidence that they used the word "Grooming" ; something normally associated with paedophiles ?

Anonymous said...

Where on earth did you find this one from DK ?

Is he 12 years old ? He's definitely got a lower mental age than the average libertard, who seems to be around 15 or 16 ( regardless of actual chronological age )

Bet you diamonds the cocky little twat is middle class and works in a " service industry " - i.e. fiddling with computers or sitting on his arse behind a desk all day.

Frankie said...

Only 10 comments so far on this constitutional issue, but 122 on the revelation that the Scottish smoking ban has actually resulted in more heart attacks?

Very interesting...

The Long Road said...

"anti-immigration, pro-state-imposed-religious-schooling, pro-Iraq-war, anti-drug-legalising, anti-gay"

...ticks all of my voting boxes so far...

Call me Infidel said...

PDF you should take the advice of 01:35 you really are a first class twat. Kay Tie summed it up in the first comment it is a civil matter and should have been dealt with as such. Now fuck off and die.

DocBud said...

"who was deliberately, regularly, stealing confidential information and passing it to Mr Green for political advantage." Political advantage or the public good?

"And the rule of law is what matters" I don't feel compelled to obey bad laws, especially where such laws have been specifically created to prevent public protest or the peoples' right to hold their elected leaders to account. Such laws run contrary to fundamental democratic principles (i.e. they work for us, not we for them) and, I suggest, people should feel free to break such laws where they believe the public good is being offended against by the state's abuse of power.

JuliaM said...

"...becomes a violation of the political neutrality of the Civil Service. "

'Becomes'...?

Dear boy, I think you'll find Tony Blair was first out of the starting gate there. Not Damian Green...

Submariner said...

PDF

You say: 'But now the details have come out about what was actually going on in this case, it turns out that... blah blah blah'. No it doesn't matey. All that turns out is that a copper suggested that to him. No details have come out about what was actually going on, only details of what a policeman thought might make someone say something self-incriminating.

Please type out 100 times: "Not every suggestion made by a policeman during an intimidatory interrogation is necessarily true".

Then broaden your education by looking up a few terms like "due process", and "innocent until proven guilty".

Obnoxio The Clown said...

I'm fairly sure that [ANALOGY ALERT] if I were a consultant [THE CIVIL SERVICE] working for a company [THE GOVERNMENT], and I passed on non-publicly-available information that I'd found in the course of my job to the company's rivals [THE OPPOSITION], I'd be liable for prosecution.

But if the company was breaking the law, then the release of such information is in the public interest, which shoves your analogy (hem! hem!) up an orifice [THE ARSEHOLE].

Neal Asher said...

Oh do fuck off, PDF. This is the government that gave us the freedom of information bullshit, which basically means freedom of information shites like Brown shirt and Jacqui boots find convenient. This was a heavy-handed attempt to silence those who embarrass them - just a further step towards totalitarianism from 'spin the truth out of it'.

Letters From A Tory said...

It's disgusting how the BBC have described Green as 'grooming' this civil servant mole, as if he's some kind of paedophile.

The story in the papers might have changed but seeing as there doesn't appear to be enough evidence to charge Green then this is clearly just the police trying to justify their disgraceful behaviour.

Jiks said...

Very weak argueument PDF.

The opposition have a moral duty to keep us informed of government lies about important issues ... and in any case the entire government strategy depends on calculated leaks.

Where are your calls to arrest Brown/the entire spin team/the treasury/Peston/etc?

As others have said the use of "grooming" for an implicit paedo link is not doubt carefully contrived. Its a variant on the holocaust/climate change isn't real link by use of the word denial.

Interesting article on the Green arrest fallout here BTW:

http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/themole,,jacqui-smith-out-of-her-depth-as-constitutional-row-escalates,59440

mongoose said...

So, did that avalanche get the message over? The point here is not the Rule of Law. (Laugh? I almost wept.) The point is that this is the government of the day using its full weight - its paramilitary police, its anti-terror legislation, its headlock on the BBC, to silence dissent through aggression and intimidation. They have turned now away from aged hecklers from their own ranks and turned their gaze to Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, whose job it is BTW to oppose. The State you see has more resources than the Opposition or the people. When they misuse these resources the abuse is a greater temptation next time. This is not some thin end of a wedge; this is driving a stake through the heart of the democratic process.

The Mother of Parliaments is instantly undermined - armed police walzting through the corridors waved on by the Speaker of the House - this sort of thing happens in Malaysia or Zimbabwe or China or Korea or Indonesia. It doesn't and shouldn't happen in the UK. Martin and Smith must both resign. This day; do it know. Martin should thereafter retire to the library with a pistol. He has disgraced his office.

Anonymous said...

Look at the BBC "Have your say" section on his arrest:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/7758166.stm

Look at that, the ONLY have your say section on the BBC website that doesn't actually let you have your say...because the page is blank....and there's no comment form.

Are they trying their hardest to look biased?

Anonymous said...

Yes and how many deaths will it take till he knows, that too many people have died?

Anonymous said...

DK.

Why do you let this twat post on your site? He's a complete arse without a clue, it does you and your site no favours...

PDF. What Damien Green has done appears to be no different from what Gordon Brown has done 20 years ago. Did you read Fraser Nelson's piece listing all the leaks Brown put out? The sheer number shows quite clearly that Brown was 'controlling a spy' just as much as Green. If you did read that then you're being partisan and obtuse. If you didn't, go look it up and if you still think the same way then I'm sorry it's you who should be shot in the face, and with something substantially more powerful than Gordon's cock.

Z.

PDF said...

Note that the point about this being constitutionally Terribly Terribly Evil is ignorant bullshit, according to the chap who knows the most about the UK constitution:

But one of Britain's leading constitutional experts, Vernon Bogdanor, professor of government at the University of Oxford, told the programme: "This does seem to me something of a storm in a teacup.

"The important principle is that MPs, apart from when they are speaking in the chamber and dealing with constituents' correspondence, are as subject to the law as the rest of us.

"If the police decide not to take action against an MP which they would against an ordinary citizen then that would be discriminatory.

Oh, and:

Bet you diamonds the cocky little twat is middle class and works in a " service industry " - i.e. fiddling with computers or sitting on his arse behind a desk all day.

Well, yeah. Given that pretty much all value in the UK is generated by middle class people working in service industries, you might be more fucking grateful for all the tax I pay based on my desk-arse-sitting.

"anti-immigration, pro-state-imposed-religious-schooling, pro-Iraq-war, anti-drug-legalising, anti-gay" ...ticks all of my voting boxes so far...

What the fuck are you doing on a libertarian site, exactly?

But if the company was breaking the law, then the release of such information is in the public interest, which shoves your analogy (hem! hem!) up an orifice [THE ARSEHOLE].

Presumably you're talking about the 'employing illegal immigrants' bit. Since this isn't a strict liability offence, and the documents were along the lines of 'oh bollocks, we have a problem, how can we sort it' rather than 'yay, we're so clever for employing illegal immigrants', the analogy holds.

The opposition have a moral duty to keep us informed of government lies about important issue

Of which none of these were (either lies, or important).

PDF said...

Z -

I think you mean Daniel Finkelstein, not Fraser Nelson. Here, for them wot's interested.

The point is - receiving leaked info isn't dodgy; setting up someone who's an activist in your party to send you everything confidential that comes across their desk is dodgy. Brown's leaks are all from different departments, suggesting that he was merely someone perceived as good to send leaks to - not someone running a specific mole.

And yes, innocent-til-proven-guilty applies - but it's clear that if what the police are claiming is true, then Green has committed a crime. Was the evidence they had strong enough to justify their arrest? No idea; and if it wasn't, then they shouldn't have done it and people should be fired. But if it was, then they should.

the hobbs end martian said...

Green was arrested 'on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office', if he had brought up the leaked info in parliament instead of passing it onto the MSM Green could have claimed parliamentary privilege, almost certainly avoiding arrest.

So technically Green failed to avoid breaking the law.

Should MPs be above arrest - No, of course not. But this affair stinks of politics and selective policing.

If an MP can be arrested on a technicality like this then they should all be arrested immediately for 'misconduct in a public office', that is to say - Treason.

Except that technically Treason is no longer a crime...

PDF said...

if he had brought up the leaked info in parliament instead of passing it onto the MSM Green could have claimed parliamentary privilege, almost certainly avoiding arrest.

No. If he's guilty of inciting Galley to commit misconduct in a public office, then it doesn't matter that he is covered by parliamentary privilege when he reveals the information that he's obtained by inciting Galley to commit misconduct.

(to see why, imagine if Green had tortured Galley to get the information. He'd still be guilty of the torturing, even if he revealed the information thereby gained under parliamentary privilege.)

"Except that technically Treason is no longer a crime..."

No, the Treason Act 1351 is still in force.

I missed Styx's point earlier, but it's worth repeating:

"PDF, there must be all sorts of obscure crimes for which you and many of the rest of us could legitimately be arrested and, probably, charged"

Absolutely agreed - but there shouldn't be. If something is non-harmful, laws against it should be repealed; if something is harmful, laws against it should be enforced.

But having laws on the books that aren't universally enforced devalues the system and inevitably leads to selective enforcement against People We Don't Like (whether it's selective by individual police officers, at force level, or by the CPS).

Anonymous said...

Thus spake PDF, one of the leading legal and constitutional authorities of the age. Doubtless students and scholars of law all across this benighted land will be rushing to synthesise PDF's latest ruling into their corpus of legal theory....

....or this post could just be baseless anonymous drivel from someone who, in the most literal sense possible, does no know what the fuck he's talking about.

Remember, PDF: just because you say that something is so, that doesn't make it so. M'kay?

PDF said...

Well, that's the problem with anonymous blogging, innit? But Professor Bogdanor *is* one of the leading legal and constitutional authorities of the age, and his view is similar to mine.

ChrisM said...

" And the rule of law is what matters - and if anyone's broken the rule of law in this case, it's not the government."

Maybe, but the law should also be applied consistently. Either everyone who falls foul of a law should be punished, or no one should. Otherwise you do not have rule of law, but cynical use of the law to punish those you don't like. For example apparently it is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British king or queen's image upside-down. (And if it isn't, just insert a similarly arhaic law that DOES exist and is never enforced). For now, the stupidity or otherwise of such a law is beside the point. What is to the point is people are not prosecuted for this. If someone ever were prosecuted for applying a stamp to a letter upside down, I think it resonable to assume that this was done for cynical reasons.

Alan Dean said...

Does this mean that PDF wants to see Treasury officials / Ministers prosecuted for leaking the VAT changes prior to the PBR? Or, for that matter, any other time that the government uses leaks?

Arguably, when the government leaks it is even more egregious to the rule of law.

Perhaps Inspector Plod should visit No.11 on his way back from Damian Green's Commons offices?

woman on a raft said...

setting up someone who's an activist in your party to send you everything confidential that comes across their desk is dodgy.

Not necessarily. It is going by the nod that there is some kind of competiton going on. There isn't. The party structure is an over-lay on parliamentary democracy. In fact, all 646 of them are employed on exactly the same basis as MPs in Her Majesty's Government. It's just that a cabal of them are invited by the old dear to form the executive.

All that has happened is that Damian, a drone in customer service, has come by some info from a temp working in the Personnel Department, and now the Head of HR is after both their skins because Damien took the info to the Daily Rag instead of coming to her where she could whitewash it.

It isn't at all clear that it is anything to do with the police if Damien finds out something internally. In fact, that's part of his job description. If he makes it public, that's also part of his job description because he's supposed to be keeping the Executive honest.

Now, there are limits. If, for example, the Finance Director wants to buy some companies at a knock-down price and happens to know they are in deep-doodoo, if he then calls the Daily Rag in and says to Fleet Scribbler "Look, don't say where you got this, but they are all crap" in the full expectation that the markets will open the next day and take Fleet's word as gospel and dump those stocks, then both the Finance Director AND Fleet are in trouble because they have been playing market manipulation.

Not that such a thing would happen.

2345 said...

Nulabor overstepped the mark and has earned public recognition and labelling 'Zanu labor'. It's now in 'reverse spin' smoke and mirror damage limitation.

Jiks said...

What we have here from PDF is simply an attempt to muddy the waters frankly.

We all know why Green was arrested, he was arrested, as even the Sun understands: "Damian Green’s “crime” was to make Home Secretary Jacqui Smith look even more foolish than she is by exposing the chaos in her department over illegal immigration – surely a matter of national interest."

If we saw howls of protest from PDF/Draper/et al every time over the last few weeks/decades ZNL have leaked stuff in their interests, which often have been clearly detrimental to those of the nation, then this arguement might have some credability.

I'm not sure how ZNL will twist this next, continuing to smear Green obviously but perhaps an extention of diplomatic immuninity for government officials maybe?

Who knows...

Anonymous said...

I used to pop by to your site for a bit of intelligent comment. Clearly, I'm wasting my time.

dirty dingus said...

I've got a certain sympathy for the "Leakers get fucked when they are caught" argument. But the government (over)reaction is also very telling. As I explain at my blog they've been seen to do four things that help to blow up the otherwise possibly reasonable case they had against the Leaker and possible Damien Green

Mike Power said...

What a steaming pile of poop! Standards DK old boy, standards.

And as for "the political neutrality of the Civil Service" - I almost wet myself!

nightjack said...

Well done PDF. You get the prize for contrarian out of the box thinking for this week. If you believe it all hard enough it might be true.

IanQT said...

PDF: Is it just me or is your blog not working?

When I go there, I get the following enigmatic message:

Parse error: syntax error, unexpected '?' in /home/u2/stalinism/html/index.php on line 5

Anonymous said...

PDF. Of course no MP should be above the law.

So when they commit expenses fraud, lie about donations, employ their families, deceive Parliament and pretend they live in one house to claim higher rate rebates on another they should all be dragged away (no matter the colour of their rosette) kicking and screaming to the big house.

I am also a pretty large subscriber to the ropes and lamp-post train of thought that is becoming quite the internet meme these days.

But when they decide that part of their job is to expose incompetence, failure to observe the law of the land and shine a torch on the tacky debasement of the civil service that has been probably the biggest feature of this sitting government, then I am on their side.

If we accept that we cede the will of the people to our Parliamentarians, as per Milliband's bullshit, then I think we should support their moves to let us know what is really going on.

We need more Damien Green's right now, not less.

Concerned Citizen said...

PDF is a fake who purports to hold libertarian views but is in fact a cutout trying to insinuate himself into the fledgling libertarian blogsphere for the benefit of his sponsor(s) (one of more of; a think tank or media enterprise closely aligned with the views/interests/funds of the EU or New Labour, some other bureaucrat/autocratic group with an interest in [amateurish] online subterfuge/propaganda).

You have been warned (you too DK).

Don't take my word for it, let the man argue his own case. Read his material (here and elsewhere) and ask yourself ... Cui Bono.

the hobbs end martian said...

This has the sticky fingerprints of politics all over it and the dispatch note reads 'selective policing - best before xmas shopping season 08'.

Meanwhile the real news is; the economy is holed below the water-line, the trillion+ pound patch having no discernable effect. A number of retailers are toking on their last xmas before keeling over. Another major global bank is expected to go FUBAR opening a big, 590 Trillion Dollar can of Whoopass.

The BBC? - Gordon Brown loses favourite pen, in other jacket pocket all along...

OBTW - Why is government like a baby?


They are both machines designed to convert money into shit.

Parliament is not sovereign, we are. said...

Admiralty law rules but only as long as we don't know.
Ver wondered why the Dock is known as the dock or why children have birth certificates.

Do you own your house, car children, or have you surrendered these rights and becoem merely the registered keeper in contract to use them according to the Owners ( Your Govt ) wishes.
http://www.tpuc.org/node/285