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Day: May 12, 2011

“David Laws defrauds d system=mistake (7 days off work); benefit cheats defrauds d system=crime (prison).” Can I cry now?

Back off Labourites who are too stupid to look at the world through glasses made not of a rose tinted persuasion. The quote in the title is a tweet I saw retweeted this afternoon by another Labourite and my heart sank faster than when Jet from Gladiators told me see was a Middlesbrough fan (true story).

First of all ‘d system’ what is all that about? There is a thing called the English language and I personally don’t like to bastardise it too much in the written medium (although my broadcast style is different). It is not even like she was running out of characters (ooh she just tweeted me attacking Laws again – its like she’s physic that I’m blogging about her – that or she just did a twitter search for David Laws – either or) anyway as usual I’m digressing.

The fact of the matter is David Laws did something wrong. Yes. However what is also true is that the only person out of pocket in this situation is David Laws. The taxpayer paid him £56k which he was not entitled to – yet had he been open about his private life he would have been entitled to around £90k over the same period. This my friends (and dissenters) is what they call a fact. Now using my world class mathematical abilities I can work out that 90 is a higher number than 56. Therefore he claimed less (I’ll put that in bold and italics to really underline my point) than what he was in fact entitled to.

We are all entitled to a private life. I think we can all agree on that – can’t we?. He decided for whatever reason that he wanted to keep his personal life private and that in turn has led to this mess. Was he foolish? Without a shadow of a doubt? Did he do wrong? Yes he did. Was he immoral or do this for financial gain? No he did not.

David Laws is a good man. I’ve never met him but everyone with whom I speak who has says the same. The people of Yeovil have rallied around him and if there was an election tomorrow then I genuinely believe that despite the culling of Lib Dems that Laws would be returned to serve that constituency again.

The sooner Laws can return to front line politics the better – not solely for the Lib Dems – but also for the people of this country. I have little doubt that Laws is one of the very smartest men in parliament and having him out of the cabinet is a disservice to the nation at large. He can recover from this mistake and he will. My main bone on contention is with certain tribalists that want him hung drawn and quartered. If we were going to send people to jail for taking too little money then we’d all have a real problem on our hands.

Some good further reading on this comes from Caron’s Musings and Nick Thornsby amongst others.

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The Sun and Daily Mirror face criminal contempt court battles over Jo Yeates murder case coverage

In no surprise to anyone with a working brain – both The Sun and the Daily Mirror face contempt of court cases over their coverage of the arrest of landlord Chris Jefferies in the Jo Yeates murder case. The 25 year-old was found dead by dog walkers on Christmas Day last year in a case that would dominate the news landscape for quite a while.

A news case involving a suspicious death on Christmas Day *and* of a pretty white young female is always going to rank highly on the ‘news-o-meter’.

Anyway a few days after her body being discovered the landlord of her property was arrested and several newspapers had decided clearly he was guilty. All sorts was being written about him, mostly conjecture and some pupils at the school where he used to teach said he was a bit weird. Thus clearly painting the picture of a man who could go out and murder someone. Only problem was there was no evidence against him and he in fact was not guilty. Fellow resident in that block of apartments Vincent Tabac has already admitted manslaughter but denied murder – the trial is set for later this year.

Chris Jefferies is already undertaking legal action against The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Star. He has also decided to sue the police for arresting him – this has less of a chance of succeeding but the newspapers all have serious cases to answers and may very well be forking out huge sums of money to the former art teacher over their articles surrounding him at the time of his arrest.

However it is The Sun and Daily Mirror who said the more serious legal issues with contempt hearings that could land the editors and newspapers with serious problems.

Sometimes the media – certainly the written media – are too keen to jump on a bandwagon and not be honest and true with their journalism. The popular feeling was that he was weird and therefore guilty – so a public pillorying was more than justified.

I just hope that the newspapers take a long hard look at themselves and realise what they have done. The media just never jeopardise a trial and should always wait until the facts come out in open court. Making a decision based jointly on being populist and sales when it comes to criminal proceeding is both immoral and against the law. I suppose that sums up some sections of our gutter press at the moment.

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