Channel 4 tonight will broadcast Dispatches – a tale of corruption, mendacity, greed, deception , absurdity and sheer idiocy.
Stephen Byers has referred himself to the watchdog – possibly in the hope that he will be exonerated in full and be recommended for a peerage so that he can join other arch criminals who have, in their time, made a mockery of the peerage and the House of Lords ….. but he may have to watch that he isn’t referred to the CPS or fall victim to a private prosecution. I am not a criminal lawyer – but my old mate, the Fat Bigot, was a very successful member of the Criminal Bar and he writes with great clarity on this issue… “When in a cesspit…stop digging” – it is worth a read. Guido Fawkes was asking ‘loafing lawyers’ to decide how many criminal offences Byers may have committed already… the Fat Bigot has a view on this. Do read his post… I will give you a hint with this extract…
In order to earn fees at all the former ministers would have to satisfy potential clients that they should be engaged. At meetings held to discuss the prospect of their being engaged they made representations about having assisted others to achieve favourable results that could not have been achieved without their intervention. Now they accept that those representations were lies. In other words they were seeking to gain work by telling lies. That used to be “attempting to obtain a pecuniary advantage by deception” under the Theft Act 1968, it might now be worded differently and feature in a Fraud Act but the substance of the offence has not changed. They are in exactly the same position as Mr Hardup who tells lies about his circumstances in order to obtain a job or to obtain benefits he is not entitled to receive.
Perhaps I am missing something, but it seems to me that either they were telling the truth about their previous lobbying successes (in which case they were admitting to past corruption in order to gain fees for engaging in future corruption) or they were telling lies (in which case they were committing a criminal fraud in order to gain fees for engaging in future corruption). What is so peculiar about it is that their corrupt activities are not necessarily criminal offences, whereas telling lies to obtain money most certainly is a criminal offence. They just made their position worse.