Saturday, September 26, 2009

I was driven to release the information - all the way to the bank

The story of MPs abusing the expenses system had to get out - I've no problem with seeing those who ripped off the taxpayer named and shamed, regardless of party, and I expect to see them removed by the party or the electorate.

However, I can't help but think that the story of the worker employed to redact the details from the receipts and claims isn't quite as clear an example of somebody wielding the sword of truth as he would like to make out.
The people who were working on redacting the MPs’ expenses were people who were proud to be British, and they were saddened by what they saw... Everyone in that room was of the same mind. This was our money and these were our employees, effectively, but no one could hold them to account... Pretty much everyone working in that room was being paid a pittance to do their job.

Which is why he then had the original data disc hawked around the media until someone was prepared to cough up for it. This servant of public interest held onto the information, keeping the cleansing sunshine away from the festering boil of data until £110,000 was forthcoming - although it is my understanding that a larger sum was originally sought.
Meanwhile the MPs were being well paid and claiming a fortune on their expenses, yet what have they done for us in the last 10 years? That was why I leaked the information: because the British public deserves better.
And here is the kicker. This public servant is bothered about the Labour government - why else would he make the statement about the past ten years? He knew that this information was going to prove most damaging to the government of the day, regardless of the colour of the politics of the offending MPs. And, incidentally, if the story is true, then enough information has been given out to ensure that the source can be identified - and that person isn't protected by legislation on whistle-blowing either.

I'm disappointed that our parliamentary system has been dragged through the mud, but the MPs have only themselves to blame for it - although I do think the Telegraph has made a few mountains out some relatively puny molehills on a few occasions. This information should have been released and those involved deserve everything they get, but for the source to claim that this was solely about the public good and getting better kit for soldiers, when it seems that a key aim was milking the information for a large pile of cash and party political gain makes the leaker guilty of the same hypocritical cant as some of the MPs involved.

Nobody comes out of this looking good.

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