Monday, December 22, 2008

Quick Now Knackered Of The Yard

The home secretary's favourite copper has been forced to make an unprecedented apology to the Tories, in a wake up call for the Met and the political police. Now the only question is how quick will Quick go?

A direct police attack on Her Majesty's Opposition had blown out of the water any pretence the Met is not a highly politicised arm of the current government.

Now assistant commissioner, Bob Quick, head of the counter-terror squad, has issued an "unreserved" apology to the Conservative Party after his outburst accusing the Tories of behaving in a "corrupt" way and mobilising the press against the Met.

Publicly the Tories have drawn a line under it, privately they must be seething.

Quick was clearly peeved with Mail on Sunday hacks sniffing around his wife's luxury car hire firm run from the family home but too quick to lay the blame. Absurd and churlish comments were to be expected. But to accuse Her Majesty's Opposition of behaving in a "corrupt" way was at best naive, at worse an inexcusable affront to democracy.

Only a fool would directly accuse the Tories of being in some way behind the Mail on Sunday expose without a shred of evidence. Mail journalists don't need Tory politicians to do their dirty work.

But the Conservatives are not a two bit political party that police can trample all over. They are officially Her Majesty's Opposition and, as such, parliament affords them rights and privileges.

Slowly the Met is having to wake up to the fact that the official Opposition has just as an important right and part to play in democracy as the government of the day.

But that of course is what is getting up the nose of the government and its pals at the Yard, which is no stranger to corruption claims against it. Accusing someone else of being corrupt is a bit rich coming from the Met.

To make matters worse, Quick's absurd and damaging outburst re-ignited the whole Damian Green affair which all key players now hoped will just go away. It called into question the political bias of Quick, a keen supporter of the home secretary's 42 day detention, who is also heading an inquiry into the alleged home office leaks which sparked off the Greengate scandal.

No politician wants Green's part in that affair to drag on for much longer. There's too much at stake for the government's credibility. Many are expecting any allegations against the MP to be dropped, leaving parliament and MPs to deal with the vexed questions of the unwarranted police raid on the sanctity of parliament.

The government's cosy relationship with the Met is so over the top it's almost laughable. But times when police could pander to politicians are changing and the Met should get used to it.

Mayor Johnson fired a warning shot over the bows, when Blair's poodle and namesake Sir Ian Blair was forced to quit as commissioner because he'd lost the confidence of the Conservative London mayor.

Top jobs in the Met will no longer be handed out as rewards and favours to faithful supporters who suck up to government and to keep them in line. The 'cash for peerages' scandal showed where that corruption can lead.

That, commander Quick, was corruption. What is starting to happen now is called democracy.

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