Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wrong again, Dave.

Dave 'Man of the People' Cameron has been spouting off that it is an outrage that three former MPs charged with fraud offences have been given legal aid. Michael 'Rentaquote' Gove is of the opinion that this is a slap in the face for every decent taxpayer in the country - ignoring the fact that if the men are convicted, they may well be ordered to pay back some of the costs of their defence.

I can understand why people are upset and I'm not going to make any attempt to justify their alleged offences - if convicted, they should face the full force of the law. But it is incumbent on someone who might be Prime Minister in a few weeks' time to understand the importance of what he is saying.

Is Cameron actually suggesting that apart from the means testing and the 'interests of justice' test applied to legal aid, there should now be a new test of popular outrage at the alleged offence? That's a very slippery path to start down. On the whole, I'd prefer to leave it to the proper authorities rather than a YouGov poll on how unpopular an alleged offence might be.

The court will decide their guilt or innocence - that's how we've built a legal system that works. It isn't up to politicians - of whatever political hue - to interfere with that process for the purposes of cheap political mileage. Cameron should know better, particularly following on from Chris Grayling's encouragement last week for those who want to break the law on equality.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said. It's a shame Brown saw fit to also get drawn into commenting on the situation. The best that can be said of it is that it would have been better PR for the three of them not to have applied for legal aid.

But the fact remains there is nothing disqualifying them from doing so, they chose to, and they were found to qualify for assistance.