Friday, 20 September 2013

'Plebgate': The political class protect their own

YESTERDAY, a former Home Secretary Jack Straw got stuck in and criticised the police investigation into the case of Andrew Mitchell, who was alleged to have used the term 'pleb' while addressing the police in an altercation in Downing Street a year ago.  Mr. Straw complained of 'inordinate and unjustified delays' and has written  to the present home secretary, Theresa May, exactly one year after Andrew Mitchell, whom he describes as a personal friend, found himself at the centre of allegations that ultimately led to his resignation as Tory chief whip. 

Straw's letter comes shortly after the former director of public prosecutions, Lord Macdonald, said it was outrageous that Scotland Yard had yet to publish its conclusions about the  the 45-second incident in Downing Street on the 19th, September.

Jack Straw has said:  'No one, whatever their position, should have to suffer the toll which all this has taken on Andrew and his family. It's high time these delays were brought to an end.'  And he urged the Home Secretary to seek answers to a number of questions, urging Theresa May to find out what was causing the delays in the investigation, when it was expected to finish and how the initial police account was provided to the Sun newspaper.
The row took off last year after Mitchell was accused of launching a foul-mouthed rant at officers guarding Downing Street who refused to allow him to cycle through the main gates. Pressure intensified after the Daily Telegraph published a police log of the incident, which claimed he called officers 'plebs' and swore at them repeatedly for making him walk through a side gate.  Mitchell insisted he did not use the words attributed to him, and later said he was the victim of a deliberate attempt to 'toxify' the Tories and ruin his career.

The trouble with all this it looks rather like the political class protecting one of their own. 

It was noticeable in the recent Dispatches program that when the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was investigating the now disgraced Rochdale MP, Cyril Smith, that Cyril, then no longer a member of the Labour Party, called upon his friends in the Labour Party Eileen and Jack Kershaw to approach the then Rochdale Labour MP, Jack McCann, to intervene in the DPP investigation into Cyril's conduct with young boys and to get it stopped.  Eileen Kershaw told Dispatches 'I don't know what he (Jack McCann) said but the case was dropped', in that case the file came back from the DPP's office marked 'NFA' (NO FURTHER ACTION) on the 19th, March 1970.  We now know that that was an opportunity missed.

The Mitchell affair is far less serious than the Smith scandal, but it shows how the political class can gang up across party lines and seek to protect themselves.

The current printed issue of NORTHERN VOICES No.14, is now available for sale - see below. This issue N.V.14 has an in-depth and exclusive report by John Walker, a former editor of the Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP) on the full history of Cyril Smith's antics with young lads. RAP was the first publication to go public on this in May 1979. You can obtain a copy by writing or contacting the people whose details are below:
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques made payable to 'Northern Voices' should be sent c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.

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