Friday, 5 December 2008

Footloose and fancy free...

Translation of "Traed yn Rhydd" by Vaughan Roderick

The Crown Prosecution Service's decision not to to take legal steps against Peter Hain will be a relief for the former Secretary. I think it's fair to summarise the decision thus: "there was a crime - but nobody was responsible for it" - i.e. the campaign's financial arrangements were a mess or to use Gordon Brown's word, they were "incompetent". From reading the decision it's also obvious that Peter himself was cleared quite early on in the process - the possible responsibility of some of his campaign's organisers can explain the length of the investigation.

I wasn't able to say this before but I'm absolutely certain that the CPS has come to the right decision in Peter's case. I have a reason for believing this. Only days before the story about the contributions to his campaign broke I was at a dinner with Peter where we were discussing a similar squabble. He laughed heartily when somebody suggested he would have to glance at his own accounts. Either Peter is one of the best actors I have ever seen or he didn't have a clue that there was the slightest possibility of a problem.

Adding to Peter's torment over the last months, of course, was the fact that this wasn't the first time he had been unjustly accused. If you're not familiar with one of strangest stories in our political history, the details are here.

The next question is whether Mr Hain will be returning to the cabinet. I reckon that it's quite likely. If the Secretary of State for Wales post continues (and that's likely) it would be easy enough for Paul Murphy to make way. Nevertheless, it's unlikely, I would say, that such an event would happen before a more extensive reshuffle. Peter's advantage over Paul is that he can multitask and would be able to occupy another post as well as being Secretary of State for Wales. His reappointment depends therefore on the timing of further changes to the government.

Update: I had forgotten that Peter was also facing an investigation by the House of Commons' Standards Commissioner. That also affects the timing of any reappointment.

Translation by Dewi Dau


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