Friday, January 30, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Ethics, it’s been said, becomes an issue only when things become dangerous; hence, with the coming recession, an ethical revival in British politics should be treated now as a matter of urgent priority.
To clean the stables and make it such that, in future, only the best men and women are eligible to represent us is, of course, a Herculean task – but not a task that a strong-willed political leader, and a good sweeping broom, would be unable to achieve.
“AUGEAS: But it makes a difference whether we muck out just a bit or whether we have a radical muck-out. If we muck out just a bit, after a year, the muck will stand as high as it stands now or even higher, considering the amount of it we produce. Therefore we have to muck out radically.” (Friedrich Dürenmatt, The Augean Stables)
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
In a letter dated 17 December 2008 (see HERE), Mr Hoon made known his opposition towards a possible re-hearing of the Gaul Formal Inquiry.
In his elaborate message, the Transport Secretary sought to suggest that the evidence and analysis we had provided over the last three years was not of a quality and quantity that would undermine his confidence in the execution of the 2004 RFI. Consequently, with his confidence intact, Mr Hoon considered himself free from any obligation to have the results of the Gaul RFI re-examined.
Back in 2003, if I remember correctly, Mr Hoon didn’t used to be so demanding, and needed a lot less evidence to be able to claim, against the best experts’ advice, that two trailers found in Iraq were ‘mobile weapons laboratories’. That was a different kettle of fish, of course, but Mr Hoon’s variable stance towards evidence standards, somehow, undermines his credibility as trier of fact.
What intrigued us even more, however, was that, this time, Mr Hoon would reveal neither the source nor the substance of the technical advice that had underpinned his decision, offering us no other option than to take him at his word and rest assured that the hint of political embarrassment or scandal was not a factor in his weighty deliberations, deflecting him from his pursuit of the public good.
Sadly, what follows from the Transport Secretary’s position is that, whenever the results of a government-led public inquiry are contested, no matter how compelling the evidence adduced, it is solely up to the government to decide whether or not those results should be re-examined, and it is totally in the government’s power to cloak their decision-making from public view and independent scrutiny.
I wonder, on a large scale, what the consequences of this trend are going to be.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
 The Derbyshire Re-opened Formal Investigation bears many similarities with the Gaul Re-opened Formal Investigation – not the least of which is the fact that both investigations were presided over by judges who were acknowledged experts in the field of maritime commercial litigation.