Carry on up the cover-up
Monday 4th March 2013, 3:26PM GMT.
IF COMMENTS on yesterday’s Sunday phone-in are any guide to the mood within the Policy Council, ministers are very pleased indeed with having faced down the public backlash to the now only partially secret settlement over the dodgy warrant used to raid AFR Advocates.
For that, however, they have to thank the current police chief/head of law enforcement for having had the common sense to release that which was patently not covered by the terms of the confidentiality and thereby take the heat out of the affair.
But despite his intervention – which has stopped the Home Department political board from making bigger chumps of themselves over insisting on a total gag – the row will continue. Or at least it should.
There are unanswered questions about the raid and there are certainly questions about the handling of the aftermath of the settlement.
Scrutiny has indicated that it is considering looking into the matter. It should.
Was the confidentiality arrangement requested to save face or taxpayers’ money? There is little evidence of the latter. And as importantly, some of the subsequent government statements simply do not stand up to scrutiny.
The chief minister has objected to this being described as a cover-up, but what has happened certainly fits the description of an attempt to prevent people discovering the truth about a serious mistake.
And the reason provided by the Crown Officers to justify withholding the cost of UK legal advice – which showed that theirs was wrong and increased the cost and time spent fighting the AFR action – was disingenuous and misleading.
It was also just plain wrong, as the disclosures by the police chief in Saturday’s Guernsey Press demonstrated.
Speaking on the BBC phone-in yesterday, the Housing minister raised the issue of taxpayer and elector trust and, whatever the panel’s view, this has dented it.
Not necessarily because of the AFR settlement itself but because of the largely unbelievable comments made in the aftermath to try to stop financial details from emerging.
As is now clear, it is not the size of the settlement that is the issue. But the ham-fisted attempt at a cover-up most certainly is.
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