Breaking News - 18th May: "Wife says she took penalty points for husband." Is it just me, or is anyone else unimpressed at the ex-Mrs Huhne's announcement that she will testify in court that she did not commit the speeding offence in 2003? She may well have done so, she may well have taped the minister making some kind of admission to it. But if so, then he did not put pressure on a parliamentary aide, or abuse his position in some way, but approached his wife - who probably knew if would be her driving him around if he were banned - and they both agreed to the deception. In which case, I expect to hear any day now of Vicky Pryce's arrest for conspiring to pervert the course of justice, as a co-suspect with her ex-husband. As the officer taking her statement of confession, that would give me the greatest satisfaction as she signed on the dotted line.
I'm no fan of Chris Huhne. In fact, I wouldn't know him if he came into Blandmore Police Station to report that his car had been stolen and someone else had been speeding in it without paying the congestion charge.
But I must say I am squarely on Mr Huhne's side when I read that Essex Police are considering investigating a claim that he asked someone else to take a speeding fine for him in 2003. It appears that a "complaint" by a Labour MP has prompted this, despite the fact that Chris Huhne was banned from driving in 2003 as a result of "totting up", and therefore any such attempt by him to avoid said ban can be concluded a wholesome failure.
The last couple of weeks have seen a few police investigations dredged up from the slurry to be pored over under public scrutiny. The Met are now going to try and find Madeleine McCann, and the CPS is considering - yet again - whether to prosecute PC Simon Harwood.
It's not that I want MPs to get away with perverting the course of justice, nor any officer to evade his comeuppance if he has abused his authority. And anyone who doesn't want to find Maddie must have a heart of stone. But I do question whether the police or Criminal Justice System should really function on the basis that if someone makes enough song and dance about something, it should immediately take centre stage and suck in a load of resources.
To my knowledge, David Cameron has not asked the police to launch a massive review into the disappearance of ten-year-old Iasmine Rostas, who went missing from her home in Barking in 2009. She is just one of dozens of children who have never been found and are suspected to have come to harm. Very few of them are blond, blue-eyed and the offspring of doctors, but they are all vulnerable young kids who have met uncertain fates. Why should poor Madeleine be any different? (Unless you count the political coup that would be achieved should she be found as a result.)
It is also a tenet of British justice that the system should be, above all, fair to those it seeks to try. I have seen case after case dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service because of factors such as:
- The suspect was kept on bail for an extended period, because of police indecision or slow forensic examinations.
- It was intimated to the suspect that he was eligible for a caution, but following admissions he was charged.
- The case had been discontinued previously.
In many of these cases the suspect is almost certainly guilty, but the police must be held to account for slow or unfair processes: in other words, it's not right to mess people around. Yet PC Simon Harwood still remains unclear about whether he will be prosecuted, despite the most public of decisions by the CPS that the case had been dropped. In the world of ordinary people, and that of career criminals, once that decision is made the only thing that can reverse it is fresh evidence that was not available before nor known about.
On occasion, vigorous campaigning by activists can bring to light an injustice or controversy that rightly deserves scrutiny. Vigorous campaigning by jilted spouses or- dare I say it- grief-stricken relatives- is no basis for a police investigation. Let alone a random complaint by an MP trying to oust a political rival.
The police and CJS in this country could not be subjected to more scrutiny. They should trust in that scrutiny and stick to their guns when their processes are challenged. With the greatest of respect, Essex Police need to tell MP Simon Danczuk, "Thanks for taking an interest, now sod off."
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.
In fact, if that phrase was used more often, up and down the country, when MPs and local Councillors decide to intervene in investigations that have nothing to do with them, we might achieve 20% budget cuts without any other action at all.