Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Criminal stupidity

So Boris has stated what looks pretty obvious: there’s not going to be a prosecution of Damian Green over this affair.  I could have told you that – not only has no MP ever been arraigned on a “misconduct in public office” offence, but no-one has ever been successfully convicted of “conspiracy to procure misconduct in public office”.

Heaps of sound and fury have been unleashed over this case – much of it corresponding to Shakespeare’s original quotation.  Yet much of it has ignored one particularly salient point; even if it were wrong for a civil servant to leak non-OSA material, it’s almost certainly not a crime.  That’s why the police tried to use the ‘catch-all’ offence of misconduct in public office.  If Galley did not commit a crime, Green cannot have done.  There is one circumstance in which it is a crime to procure or encourage non-criminal behaviour, but it ain’t this one (suicide, if you’re interested).

Provided that there was no Official Secrets Act angle to this case – and there has been no evidence put forward by anyone that there was – there was no justification in the Home Office inviting the police to inquire into the leaks.  They were a purely internal disciplinary matter.  What is mind-boggling about this is the apparent absence of thought that went into this:

Civil Servant: We’d like you to investigate a series of leaks coming from the Home Office
Policeman: What crime do you suspect has been committed here?
Civil Servant: We’re not sure.  There doesn’t seem to be an Official Secrets Act angle.  Can you think of any?
Policeman: Well, we could try and get him on ‘doing something wrong while being a civil servant’.  There’s never been an equivalent prosecution, but hey it’s worth a try!

Civil Servant: OK, what could possibly go wrong – oh, and be sure not to tell anyone in Government what you’re doing – la la la, we can’t hear you!

And one further thing, on criticising the fact that Boris Johnson had spoken to Damian Green since the latter’s release,

Former chairman of the Authority, Len Duvall, told Sky News it was "astonishing and inappropriate" for Mr Johnson to be speaking to a "potential criminal suspect".

A ‘potential criminal suspect’ eh?  Given the rather wide latitude that the police appear to have given to the technicalities of the criminal law in the particular case, that would seem to suggest that Boris shouldn’t talk to any politician in any party.  So Len Duvall should probably just fuck off and mind his own business.  I hate that weasel word ‘inappropriate’ anyway.  And what’s this I see?  Not just a tiresome little fuck, but a tiresome Labour little fuck.  Well well well.  I blame Boris Johnson for politicising the police.

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