Dominic Grieve comments on Hain and Green

Dominic Grieve by TIM

 

I am not sure Lord Hain was “arrogant”, but he certainly demonstrates that the law of Parliamentary privilege as it now stands allows parliamentarians to subvert the independence of the Judiciary which must be against the spirit of our democracy even if it is legal. When we judge other countries across Europe and into Eastern Europe particularly, we set great store on the independence of the legal process. This sends a message that, with all the best intentions, we do not really share the same standards that we expect of others.

It would be a different matter, I think, (and this must be the purpose of the original law of Parliamentary privilege) if Lord Hain felt compelled to name Sir Philip Green in a debate, let’s say, on the effectiveness and justice of Non Disclosure Agreements, but that debate was taken up outside the House by Vince Cable.

If someone like the loathsome Tommy Robinson/ aka Stephen Yaxon Lennon can be held in contempt of court for rather less sensational revelations, it seems madness that Lord Hains’ pronouncement is acceptable. The problem is not only Parliamentary privilege but the self-righteousness implicit in claiming that there is a public interest in “knowing”. Lord Hain’s actions, therefore, would seem to pretty well exonerate Robinson who is contesting the original sentence, and whose own case was adjourned only a few days’ ago because it was considered too complex. Gaoling Robinson back in May, the Judge had said, ‚ÄúPeople have to understand that if they breach court orders, there will be very real consequences”. Clearly not, if they are standing in the House of Lords.

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As the Philip Green story unfolds on the News

Peter Hain was able to “out” Sir Philip Green because of a 1689 bill that established “Parliamentary Privilege” granting freedom of speech and a right that whoever speaks in the house “may not be impeached or questioned” by a Court. This, then, overturns the various injunctions that Sir Philip had laboured to put in place.

We may , of course, feel that Sir Philip should not have been allowed to “buy” even a temporary injunction. This is a form of privacy afforded the wealthy alone. And certainly the BBC should reflect on their own treatment of celebrities like Cliff Richard… but the law should be blind and should be allowed to get on with its business.

The evident joy in the newsroom should, however, be tempered by a reflection that, frankly, the British media has aided and abetted the sort of bullying behaviour that is alleged and that has been going on all over the place for years.

peter hain and philip green by TIM