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There are two scandals in the news this week. The BAE Systems £208m out of court settlement and the three MP’s and one lord, Elliot Morley, David Chaytor, Jim Devine and Lord Hanningfield who are trying to use Parliamentary Privilege to avoid a criminal case.

In the first situation, the £208m ‘fine’ paid by BAE seems a massive penalty. But when one considers they count their income at over £1,000m and cash flow in the thousands of millions, it pales into a rather less significant consequence. And it has avoided an open court which may have uncovered further wrongdoing; I think they got off lightly.

As for the MP’s and lord, to break the rules sufficiently for prosecutors to believe a crime may have been committed and then try to use Parliamentary Privilege to avoid open court questions, I’ll make this point. If your extravagant expense claims are truly mistakes, you have nothing to fear from a criminal prosecution, for you will surely be found not guilty. Or does ‘nothing to fear if you’ve done nothing wrong’ only apply to us lesser mortals, who often have only Legal Aid, which MP’s seem intent on removing, to call to our defence.

These politicians should remember that Parliamentary Privilege was enshrined in law to prevent the monarch from interfering in the proceedings of Parliament, and prevented an MP from being impeached for proceedings or speeches made in Parliament. While I don’t claim a full knowledge or understanding of the Privilege, it seems to me it was not designed to protect politicians from prosecution for criminal activity, inside or outside of Parliament.


Written by Smiling Carcass

06/02/2010 at 12:57 PM

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