Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Did you pack your bags yourself, Sir?

Our previous post revealed that, according to the Department for Transport, the only advice received by Mr Jim Fitzpatrick, the Transport Minister, in response to our complaint about the Gaul RFI, was the draft of his letter to the Shadow Transport Minister, as jotted down by some unnamed DfT officials.
Forgetting the candid Mr Fitzpatrick for a moment, we turn our attention again towards Mr Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Transport, for it is Mr Hoon himself who is obliged under the provisions of the 1995 Merchant Shipping Act to order a re-hearing of the Gaul RFI, if it “appears” to him that there are “grounds for suspecting that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred”.

In his recent statement (see HERE) the Secretary of State for Transport asserted that there were “no grounds for suspecting that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred” during the Gaul RFI, although - as his own Department currently maintains - the grounds put forward by us have never been properly examined.
In fact, Mr Hoon made sure that no adequate technical counsel was obtained, lest the ‘grounds for suspecting a miscarriage of justice’ would become too ‘apparent’ to him, obliging him to re-open the case. (That is assuming he didn’t know the truth already.)
His contrived ignorance of the matter may also be seen as a precautionary measure taken with a view to escaping future liability: if ever brought to account, Mr Hoon must have reckoned, he would be able to claim lack of knowledge about the technical basis of our arguments.

Thus, like the drug courier who refrains from looking in his suitcase, Mr Hoon has avoided asking for expert advice, shielding his eyes from any unwanted knowledge.
As a lawyer, however, Mr Hoon can be no ingénue in such legal matters and should be aware that this is not how things work in the normal world. Courts are known to have decreed many times in the past that the ignorance-pleading smuggler should have known, and they may likewise, one day, decide that Mr Hoon should have asked.

(Related POST)

No comments: