Monday, March 13, 2006

Sir Ian Blair: Out of Control?

I'm not a lawyer, but hasn't Sir Ian Blair broken the law by recording a conversation with the Attorney General? Apparently he has recorded many others too. Has the man learned nothing from the experience of Richard Nixon?! There was a piece in one of the papers yesterday pondering on the reason for Sir Ian Blair's uncharacteristic silence in recent weeks. This has certainly put paid to that. The fact that Sir Ian has now apologised to Lord Goldsmith is a side issue. The question this raises in my mind is this. If he is so dilatory about observing the law on recording phone conversations with government law officers, how concerned should the rest of us be about our own phone calls being taped? Such a cavlier disregard for the law and civil liberties is endemic in this government, but to see it displayed in such a blatant manner by the country's most senior police officer is worrying indeed. Is the man out of control?

However, there is another viewpoint, which a correspondent has just put to me. He doesn't find it at all surprising that a senior civil servant should wish to tape conversations with government ministers. After all, this government has a record of dumping (to put it politely) on civil servants from a great height, so why not get your ammunition lined up. So cynical, but perhaps accurate.

UPDATE: Tory MP Rob Wilson is calling for Sir Ian Blair to be sacked.

7 comments:

Jock Coats said...

Would you want to have a verbatim record of any discussions with the man who allegedly changed his mind so many times on the legality of war that he can no longer remember which was the correct or final opinion?

jafo said...

One can certainly understand the Commissioner wanting to have the Attorney General's opinion on tape. After all, the AG is a man of many opinions, if the PM doesn't like the first one, he has others which he might like - as per the legality of the Iraq War. No doubt the Commissioner felt having the opinion given to him at the time recorded might well be necessary in the future.

Bulldog said...

"Apparently he has recorded many others too"

There must have been some interesting conversations in the Home Office this morning then.

Is he now sackable?

Also, note how Nu-Labour, while so very keen on imposing the surveillance state on the rest of us, appear much less keen on having it applied to themselves. Interesting.

Brent Parris said...

If Sir Ian Blair is not sacked, presumably he could be impeached. If so, perhaps this is the best opportunity we have of resurrecting the practice. I would welcome your thoughts on this.

Steve said...

Iain, I'm not a lawyer either, but it took me about 2 minutes to check the websites for 4 national newspapers and I can report to you that two of them say (in virtually identical words, this happens to be from the Guardian rather than the Times - but would I be right in guessing they are your least favourite of the dailies? ;-)):

"Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, it is not illegal for individuals to tape conversations provided the recordings are for their own use.
Recording or monitoring are only prohibited where some of the contents of the communication are made available to a third party. If a person intends to make the conversation available to a third party, they must obtain the consent of the person being recorded."

So it isn't obvious that he broke the law (on balance it seems not), in which case your rather ranting passage (terms such as dilatory, cavalier disregard, blatant disregard all appeared) seems somewhat tendentious and a bit overcooked.

That doesn't mean it is somewhat unwise or ill-judged - but then I think we have seen a few indications that Sir Ian doesn't have the soundest judgement about such matters.

AJD said...

Maybe Sir Ian is aware he is a plonker and thought he was bound to be sacked at some point. That six figure salary has got to be replaced in some way... and writing a multi-million pound diary, with quotes from all the dodgy conversations.....

Then think of the libel cases that would be brought against him.... and at the critical moment, just before the final verdict to maximise the solicitors fees... a leak or two to the right tabloid (also netting a good few £k).... his enemies, those that sacked him, would be financially ruined, not to mention their careers....

If he wasn't such a plonker, it wouldn't have got to the press quite so soon, and he could have pulled it off... I guess he didn't factor in just how much of a plonker he is!

Anonymous said...

Ian Blair reads/his teams which must refer all to him/ e-mails post and listen phones up to Sweden. Recently some Dane is accused and arrested for trade with Uganda. Met Police arrested the Dane and said: it is about biological weapon. Denmark is highly developed but to buy any kind of weapon one must undergo too many controls. For any kind of trade with Uganda or any other country one should have at hand at least one full lorry, personal airplane for transport etc. In my opinion, British top Police became EU mafia which controls all areas that yield money. All this became EU issue: how to block British Police abuse of all possible.