Sunday, May 07, 2006

Equal under the law?

SCOTLAND YARD has been dragged into the John Prescott affair after receiving a formal complaint alleging the deputy prime minister broke the law by having sex with a secretary in his Whitehall office. The Metropolitan police says it will consider the complaint, which claims Prescott committed the offence of misconduct in a public office by carrying on his affair during working hours.

Earlier this year, two policemen were convicted in separate cases for similar offences after being found guilty of having sex with members of the public while on duty. Legal experts say the offence — which has previously carried a sentence of community service — applies to all public servants including councillors and government ministers. Read more...
If we are all equal under the law, it looks like big little John could be in a spot of bother. If he gets community service, do you think he'll have to wear one of those community payback T-shirts? Or was that just another pointless half-baked headline grabber which has since been abandoned?

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4 comments:

Enigma said...

Why is this sexual predator still around? Blair knows exactly what Prescott is all about. Why hasn't he been booted out? Don't you find it very strange?

Linda McDougall is quoted in the Times today speaking about her first meeting with Prescott:

“It was 1978, just after my husband had become an MP. I was 35. There was a memorial lecture for his predecessor, Anthony Crosland, and we were welcoming guests into our house. I opened the door to Prescott and showed him in. It was the first time I’d met him. As he came through the door, he pushed me quite forcefully against the wall and put his hand up my skirt."

What will it take to have this man removed?

Marcin said...

I rather doubt that Prescott or any of his partners have committed misconduct in a public office, for the simple reason that the crime is not defined as having sexual intercourse while holding an office under the Crown. The reason that Police officers were convicted is that having sex with prisoners or members of the public they have called on while in uniform is colourable because of the authority and power of the police to arrest people, cause trouble for them, and so on.

By contrast, I cannot see how simply having sex with another willing partner is an abuse of the position of a Minister of the Crown. Perhaps using his office to procure consent or "submission" (to use the old, pre Sexual Offences Act 2003 language) to sex by his office might well be misconduct, but then that would not criminalise Prescott's partners.

The leading case now appears to be Attorney General's Reference (No.3 of 2003) [2004] EWCA Crim 868, and on that basis, it is not clear that even if we assume that Prescott had used office to procure the sex, then that would be "misconduct to such a degree that it amounted to an abuse of the public's trust in the officer", because it doesn't relate to how he exercised his public duties and powers.

Mr T said...

You missed the main story of the day, which is Roger Knapman (UKIP) employing cheap Polish labour. His son's company specialises in bringing foreign labour to Britain. Oh the irony.

CuriousHamster said...

Enigma, my view is that he's not been booted out because Blair doesn't want to risk having to deal with a Labour deputy leadership election which might increase the pressure for Blair to go at the same time. Blair's decision, as always, is based on self-interest above all else.

Marcin, thanks for that. I guess it was wishful thinking on my part to assume the Times knew what they were talking about here.