Belfast Telegraph

Ex-policemen blabbing about ministers... now that is the real scandal

It is not the job of the police to concern themselves with people's personal moral conduct where no crime has even been suspected

By Chris Moncrieff

At last, someone has jumped to the defence of First Secretary Damian Green over allegations - which he fiercely denies - that he had pornographic images on his office computer.

Two retired police officers, who should have known better, have said they found these images in profusion during an unrelated inquiry some years ago.

Now, I am glad to say, these two have been slapped down by Sir Peter Fahy, former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, and others of equal standing.

They have been told firmly that police rules about confidentiality extend into retirement and that, anyway, it is not the job of the police to concern itself with people's morality, especially when nothing illegal has occurred, even if these disputed allegations are true.

It is a pity nothing can apparently be done about these ex-officers, in a case which seemed to be turning into a witchhunt against a senior politician.

In any event, it will be a matter for the Prime Minister, once the current inquiry is completed, over what, if any, action requires to be taken.

What a splendid Christmas present for would-be shoplifters. Nottinghamshire Police have announced that in a bid to save money, they will not be investigating cases of shoplifting.

This follows the announcement by Bedfordshire Police that they would not be investigating such cases when the amount stolen was worth less than £100.

I fully understand that police forces are strapped for cash, but surely there are better ways of economising than giving the green light to petty criminals?

There are, surely, areas of police administration which could be eliminated without affecting what the police are supposed to do: catch criminals.

Shoplifting may be seen as a minor crime, but it occurs on a massive scale and is part of the reason prices in supermarkets are being kept higher than they'd otherwise need be (and it's still costing the supermarkets millions of pounds).

I do hope these two forces - and any others which may be thinking along similar lines - would review the situation.

There needs to be a sharp crackdown on shoplifters with stiff penalties available to the courts.

To give them an open goal like this is little short of madness.

Is the Labour Party about to abandon its proud boast as "the broad church" of British politics?

The expression is to indicate that the party would accept anyone to the left of centre, whether a hardline Left-winger, like John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, or ultra-moderates (if that is not a contradiction in terms), like Frank Field.

Now, Momentum, a hardline band of activists, seems hell-bent on deselecting Labour MPs and councillors who are not Left-wing enough for their tastes.

Some 30 years ago, "legitimate" Labour destroyed Militant, who were adopting the same tactic. But Momentum seem much more deeply embedded and nothing is being done about it.

Now, moderates are warning traditional Labour values could die a slow death, unless ruthless action is taken, but they fear nothing will be done with Jeremy Corbyn at the helm.

Lord Hattersley, Labour's former deputy leader, is among those who have expressed anxiety about Labour's future in the face of this threat.

The party is riding high at the moment, well ahead of the Tories in the polls. They don't want to lose all that by allowing dogma to take over.

Brexit supporters now suspect the hard-headed men of Brussels are not only trying to bully Britain over the decision to quit the EU, but in doing so are deliberately putting the frighteners on any other member state which is tempted to follow suit.

Now, with the "divorce bill" possibly on the verge of being settled - although I would not risk my life savings on that claim - the next problem appears: the sticky question of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

And, although the EU just might cast a blind eye to the free movement of people to and fro across the border, the same could not apply to goods and services, with the UK outside the single market and the customs union.

Brussels have implied the entire negotiations could be in jeopardy if a way cannot be found to get Dublin to agree with whatever the UK proposes.

But does this really have to be such a difficult problem, as some anti-Brexiteers are claiming?

Surely a "bespoke" arrangement could be formulated to deal with this particular problem? Even Remainer Tony Blair has suggested that.

It is ironic that, all those years ago, the UK had to fight like tigresses to get into the old Common Market (remember General de Gaulle's, "Non, non, non"?) and now we are having to fight even harder to get out.

What terrifies Brussels more than anything else is that the UK's lead might encourage other member states that they would like to break loose, too.

Belfast Telegraph


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