Alison's musings

Friday, March 17, 2006


For an intelligent man, The Commissioner of the Metropolis, Ian Blair is making a real hash of his job but seems to have survived, yet again. But for how long? He has joined the ever bourgeoning ranks of troublesome officials that the other Tony has been pressed to support- ‘Yet again, we heard:-‘No 10 has complete confidence in ’XXX ‘ !! The previous week it was Tessa Jowell and No 10 support list has become a sick joke that further demeans the office of Prime Minister and the integrity of Government. It’s lost the same credibility as that other famous phrase- ‘I’m a straight sort of guy’! Despite ministerial coolness for their cerebral PC Commissioner as revealed so starkly by the ‘Today’ programme, plus the AG’s fury at being bugged, Ian is off the hook. Well, for the time being! Why? An intriguing question. Not for me. I know how convoluted communications and interception affairs legislation is! I won a bugging case against another chief constable in Strasbourg in 1997 that demanded a change in the law – called RIPA in 1998. So, one chief constable taps my phones and is criticised by the Court of Human Rights. He survived too and now enjoys a huge NHS salary as chair of a Health Trust, having been knighted despite the disgrace of tapping the phones of a member of his staff- me; as the Assistant Chief Constable in Merseyside. The bugging was designed to help him defend himself against my sexual discrimination action I started in 1990 with the help of the EOC and Home Office admitted knowledge and connivance when my lawyers got to work. So, why is it OK for one chief officer to tape, why not another I wonder? Why has Lord Goldsmith’s ‘anger and disappointment’ at becoming a victim of yet another police ‘bugging’ by the UK’s top cop suddenly evaporated and the apology accepted? Perhaps he recalled presiding over a House of Lords debate on 13th November 2003 on concerns on communications issues. Their lordships criticised Home Office for taking over two years to produce legislation that would clarify who can do what in the tapping/bugging field. Concern was raised in the same debate that citizens had minimal protection from over zealous bugging and communications abuse! It seems that the AG was hoist by his own petard and he had no protection from the upstart Ian Blair simply because UK communications legislation is still ‘rubbery’ and weasel worded? Had he recalled the previous Commissioner’s warning to take witnesses whenever dealing with David Blunkett? An amazing assertion by the former Commissioner and valuable insight into relationships and issues of integrity between senior people paid to protect us. Taping the IPPC was sneaky and altogether more sinister and cannot be justified so easily. However this unravels, this debacle shows that the Government and the Commissioner are no longer friends. This will surely prove disastrous for policing arrangements in the Metropolis if not across the wider sphere of law enforcement. This Government has been drinking in the ‘last chance’ saloon over its badly flawed integrity and judgement, it could hardly berate the other Blair for following his master’s lead. One nil to the Top Cop as HM Gov. could only sit on their hands and trundle out, yet again that immortal phrase- ‘No 10 as complete confidence’—But for how long? Ian Blair is doubtless doomed and will go the same way as all those others that have had No 10’s complete confidence? He must take comfort from the fact that the other phone tapping chief is still in high public office and doubtless, some well paid cosy Quango will be found for Ian Blair too! Alison Halford. Ex. AM Labour member for Delyn.