Mink and ermine and handcuffs

Sir Allan Stanford models the classic orange boiler suit.

The news that four UK politicians could face jail sentences of up to ten years if they are found guilty of fraud or false accounting in the wake of the expenses scandal is a good thing if we want to rebuild trust in politics. I am not a lawyer and so I would have absolutely no idea how legally compelling in a technical sense the evidence collected by the Crown Prosecution Service is. But given the various confessions of MPs and members of the House of Lords to date, natural justice would imply it is pretty good.

The Perp Walk, as I have said again and again and again has a cleansing effect. Yes I am dull and repetitive on this subject, but why would it not work here too? Unless the public believe that justice is blind and fair and reaches to the top of society in the same way it does to ordinary people, trust will not be rebuilt in the UK’s political institutions. And for the sake of politics, justice needs to be seen to be done here as well as just done.

And whilst I don’t believe in mob rule or a public lynching, I do think that the pendulum has swung too far the other way in the UK and in many other European countries and the tendency to let “time be a healer” and “allow things to blow over” or our belief that a “few bad apples” should not taint the whole system and therefore we should just “move on” inevitably leads to the disgraced individual being shunted quietly off to retirement (often with full pension or a board position) or even worse, allowed just to stand down at the next election. And as far as the public knows, no-one was guilty of anything and no-one received justice. And scepticism and cynicism and disenchantment sets in and what political system can prosper for very long in that atmosphere?

The idea that there is not enough evidence to prosecute an MP or member of the House of Lords over expenses is surely ridiculous. We must have a trial and ideally very soon. Maybe we should have a Perp Walk too but with a mink and ermine boiler suit in place of the traditional orange one?

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3 thoughts on “Mink and ermine and handcuffs

  1. Agree with most of this. I do very much think it is a case of a few bad apples and that’s actually why I think your ‘perp walk’ approach works. By highlighting and punishing the real offenders you create some clear distance between them and the those who haven’t been guilty of the same.


  2. Exactly. At the moment no-one has faced justice and so all are seen as guilty.


  3. When Sir Allan Stanford went on the lamb I pulled this little piece of PR schmooze from his corporate website before the law pulled it down:

    “At Stanford, we believe our point of difference, and ultimately our strength, is our heart. It is with the same commitment to a higher standard that we look to strengthen each and every community we serve.

    “The Stanford Foundation was established to focus and formalize all of Stanford’s community initiatives and sponsorships. Our goal is to seek out and develop unique sponsorships that enhance communities and improve lives, and at the same time, provide a marketing and public relations benefit to Stanford. This strategic philanthropy helps us achieve our business goals and do well by doing good.”

    You couldn’t make it up – and I didn’t!


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