Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Last Respects

A couple of weeks ago, in the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, London, in only slightly more time than it takes a Returning Officer to announce the results of an election count at a General Election, an election petition in the name of Samuel Stephen Hunter was withdrawn. Nobody was found guilty of anything but in Court No 12, in front of not one but two High Court Judges – Mr Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Jack presiding – the legal curtain was gently brought down on this insignificant, but rather squalid affair.

The end of this action itself warrants nothing more than the smallest of by-line in rich and colourful history of political corruption, the contaminated political earth from which it sprang does however warrant closer attention.

Very little is known and will probably be ever known about Samuel Stephen Hunter and why he brought this action; as he is a student of ‘limited means’ it is unlikely that his share of the legal costs incurred – a figure running into tens of thousands of pounds - will ever be recovered and whole episode might constitute Mr Hunter’s entire claim to fame as he sinks back into well deserved obscurity, his job having been done in absentia.

It is a further curiousity that Salma Yacoub, the RESPECT candidate who challenged the sitting MP and who has now become a ubiquitous spokesperson for the Birmingham Central Mosque, very publicly supported the petition - indeed, it was reported that she and RESPECT were championing the cause, now seems to have no connection with the petition at all. (The link to the original Times story appears to have been erased from the RESPECT website, but remains in the Google cache) Indeed, she wasn't in court either. Perhaps, as predicted here, there were too many skeletons in their own closet or perhaps the petition was simply without foundation.

In the wider public world, Roger Duncan Godsiff (the Labour Party candidate), who was duly elected to serve the people of Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath at the last General Election, can continue with the job he was elected to do unhindered.

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