Richard Littlejohn was never going to shy away from another easy column this week going over MPs expenses in light of David Law’s suspension and ‘elf ‘n’ safety’ over the guy that got sacked for a serious breach of safety regulations by South West Trains.
Firstly, let’s turn to the judges comments on Laws’ suspension:
The standards commissioner accepted Mr Laws’ motivation was to keep his homosexuality secret, but said that nonetheless, his conduct “was not above reproach” and he had given “a false impression” of his relationship with his landlord.
“I have no evidence that Mr Laws made his claims with the intention of benefiting himself or his partner in conscious breach of the rules. But the sums of money involved were substantial… Some of them continued over a number of years.”
He said Mr Laws clearly recognised there was “potential conflict between the public interest and his private interest” and “his desire for secrecy led him to act in a way which was not compatible with the standards expected of an MP”…
The commissioner accepted that Mr Laws’ claims would have been “considerably more” if he had stuck to the rules, and he agreed that there was no loss to the taxpayer from the breaches.
OK, so his motivation was simply to keep his relationship private, there had been no loss to the taxpayer – and he had under-claimed what could have been claimed under the rules – but he was guilty nonetheless of breaching the rules. Fairly straightforward really, but Littlejohn misses such nuances:
He’s lucky not to have been banged up…
His excuse for not revealing details of his relationship with his landlord was that he was trying to keep his sexuality secret.
So that’s all right, then.
No, it isn’t ‘all right’ Richard, as the judge makes very clear in his comments (you can read some of them above), but it does mean that his case is very different to an MP claiming expenses under false pretences for simple greed. It was a bad decision, but not one motivated by clear criminal intent. Richard continues:
There have been attempts to conflate Laws’ wrongdoing into a row over ‘homophobia’. That was never going to fly. As I wrote at the time, this wasn’t about his sexuality, it was about stealing.
Who cares if he’s gay? There’s a lot of it about these days. Being homosexual no longer carries any stigma. In public life, it’s a badge of honour.
Who exactly has been bringing homophobia into this – apart from you, right now? If there have been attempts then please enlighten us with them – tell us who tried to do this, point out the articles and so forth. As for the ‘there’s a lot of it about these days’ comment, why? What possessed you to write that? And the mindless badge of honour comment, Richard, you really do have issues. Littlejohn concludes – demonstrating that he has either not bothered to read the judges comments or he has decided to completely ignore them in favour of his own self-assured verdict:
Laws was stupid and greedy, but he escaped prosecution because he’s one of the few Lib Dems with half a brain and a personal friend of Nick Clegg.
After missing the point in his main effort he moves onto the train guy and gives South West Trains both barrels for sacking him without a moment’s doubt that there might be slightly more to the story than what the media have been told by the sacked person:
Just another example of how safety ‘guidelines’ introduced with the best of intentions have been turned into a tyranny in brave new Britain…
The sacking of Mr Faletto is beyond disgusting. Whoever runs South West Trains should be thoroughly ashamed.
He should be reinstated immediately with a grovelling apology.
I know South West Trains have to maintain confidentiality, but I do hope at some point we hear their side of the story – and Richard, if they have already held a tribunal and turned down an appeal against the sacking I don’t think a few tired hacks are going to get him reinstated.