An initial analysis of the Proctor Statement

On 25 August, Keith Harvey Proctor made his second statement about private and public allegations about his involvement in historical child sexual abuse. He spoke to refute what he believed were unfair disclosures by the police and the media. Although he has not been charged at this point, the police have questioned him twice, once at length.

He spoke to rebut and refute what he perceived as the attack on his character and the character of dead colleagues. The following is a partial, or tentative, analysis of his statement. I say partial or tentative as it is only based on a few hours of research and writing time. However, as it is a public statement about a public event of great public interest, I thought it worthy of study. After the safety of the community, justice is the government’s highest duty to its citizens. Moreover, justice or protection for the most vulnerable, in particular, children, is perhaps the highest obligation.

He has spoken to influence the public debate so his statement will be of interest to those who want to understand the way public statements influence the public debate. The analysis is not an attempt to determine Mr. Proctor’s guilt. He is presumed innocent. The essay is an attempt to understand his statement, what it means, and consider its potential effect on the public debate regarding this issue.

[Please note that the following material contains some very disturbing information about child abuse and readers who may be affected by the material are encouraged to avoid paragraphs 9-10.]




I am a private citizen. I have not held public office and I have not sought public office since May 1987. As such, I am entitled to be regarded as a private citizen. Since the General Election of 1987 I have sought a private life. I have been enjoying a full life, gainfully employed and personally happy.

What defines or determines whether someone is a public or private citizen? As a former MP, he is hardly an ordinary citizen. He may be a private citizen, but he is hardly an average or ordinary citizen. As someone active in politics and well connected politically, if not socially, the statement that he is a private citizen misses out important caveats and considerations. For example, he lives (lived) in a grace and favour cottage on the Belvoir Castle estate.[1]

This all came to an abrupt end on 4th March 2015. What now follows is a statement on my present predicament created by an unidentified person making totally untrue claims against my name.

The public domain can make extraordinary demands on a private citizen. In the UK this is particular noteworthy as the press are vociferous and vigorous in their pursuit of stories. One would not be overstating it by much to say that they patrol the public domain and viciously attack anyone they dislike or they find disagreeable. However, to enter the public domain, even at the hands of the media or the state, does not end one’s life as a private citizen. Unless one is incarcerated, one retains a private life as set by law and custom. It may be a life that is temporarily inconvenienced by the media, but it exists.

The claim that the allegations that have been made are untrue is only an assertion. This is Mr. Proctor’s view. If the allegations are taken to court, they can be tested. His statement that he is innocent is different from a claim that the allegations are false. He is innocent until proven guilty. However, we cannot know if the allegations are false until they are investigated and tested. As we will see below, the allegations are only what Mr. Proctor has reported. His statement about the allegations, how they were phrased and who they referred to, have not been verified.

At the same time, his claim that they are not untrue is not the same as saying they are false or baseless. His word choice does suggest that he chose the word for a purpose. An untrue statement is not the same as a false or baseless statement. Moreover, would we really expect someone to say, “The claims are true.”

Before going any further I wish to make it clear that the genuine victims of child sexual abuse have my fullest sympathy and support and I would expect the full weight of the law to be used against anyone, be he ‘ever so high, or ever so low’, committing such odious offences. Nobody and I repeat, nobody is above the law.

Mr. Proctor shows his sympathy if not empathy for the “genuine” victims of child sexual abuse, which suggests, as we will see later, is that there are false victims of child sexual abuse. Here the language is important. We see a subtle sign where he indicates that some victims of child sexual abuse are not genuine. One point to clarify though is the Monarch is above the law. The Queen is not subject to all laws. She cannot be sued and she only obeys the laws voluntarily. Parliament is not in a position to enforce the law and although she obeys the law, it is an important constitutional point that she is above the law. Thus, his claim that nobody is above the law is not accurate. It is a nice sentiment and belief, but it is not constitutionally correct in the UK.

  1. However, I attach equal weight to justice for innocent people wrongly accused of child sexual abuse, especially when it is done anonymously.

Mr. Proctor criticizes the decision to grant his accuser anonymity. Yet, he must realize that the anonymity exists for a particular reason in these cases and in this case in particular. In the UK, someone is innocent until proven guilty. The judicial system, which sustains that idea, requires the police to investigate allegations of criminal activity. They are required to gather evidence to determine whether someone is wrongly accused. The process can take time and it is not one that either the alleged perpetrator or the alleged victim would want to be rushed.

We also note for a second time Mr. Proctor’s language. He says that there should be “justice for innocent people wrongly accused”. Earlier he said there were “untrue claims” and now refers to those “wrongly accused”. Yet, we cannot determine whether he is wrongly accused until the evidence is gathered and tested to confirm or disconfirm the allegations. It would appear he would like us to accept his claims to innocence based on his word and not test them in court or against the standards of evidence. It would appear he would like to argue his case in the court of public opinion if not in the judicial court, which he refers to later.

This is what is happening to me and many high profile figures, many of whom are dead and cannot answer back.

Here we note a common theme that has appeared in commentary on the issue. The commentary is critical of claims about powerful paedophile predators. The commentators want to protect the dead who cannot defend themselves. Yet, what remains unanswered is why the dead, especially those with no living children, require a defence. It would appear that the commentators, especially those with a national newspaper platform, have decided that the dead are to be protected over the living.

Mr Proctor suggests his experience is the same as other high profile figures. However, he seems to overlook how many high profile figures have been convicted of child sexual abuse (Rolf Harris[2]) and (Max Clifford)[3] or suspected.[4] Further, he seems to overlook the deceased figures where the police dropped the investigation despite years of allegations, extensive evidence, and witnesses willing to give testimony (Peter Jaconelli,[5] Jimmy Savile,[6] and Cyril Smith[7])

This statement is necessarily lengthy and detailed and at times complicated. Please bear with me and at the end I will be prepared to answer your questions.

  1. On 18th June, 2015, at my request, I was interviewed by the Metropolitan Police Murder Squad “Operation Midland”. This interview lasted over 6 hours. At the very outset I had to help the Police with my full name which they appeared not to know. It may surprise you that it was over 3 and an half months after my home was searched for 15 hours and more than 7 months after the most serious allegations were made against me that I was interviewed. I went on to cooperate fully with the Police with their investigation.

What is unclear is why Mr. Proctor agreed to be interviewed voluntarily. This is not explained in his statement and is the first of many claims within his statement that give pause for thought or at least warrant further discussion.

We do not know if Mr. Proctor cooperated fully with the investigation. He has claimed it and the initial evidence he provides suggests that he has cooperated fully. However, we have only his statement about his cooperation.

  1. The allegations have been made by a person who the Police have dubbed with a pseudonym – “NICK”. He appears on television with a blacked out face and an actor’s voice. All of this is connected with alleged historical child sexual abuse in the 1970ies and 1980ies. “NICK” was interviewed by the Police in the presence of a reporter from Exaro – an odd internet news agency.

Mr Proctor refers to Exaro, describes it as “odd”, but does not elaborate or explain why it is “odd” or what makes it “odd”. His claim that “Nick” was interviewed with an Exaro reporter present have ben refuted by Exaro.

  1. As a Member of Parliament I always spoke in favour of the police. I believe in law and order and I believe in equipping the police to do their job and , with my track record, it will come as a surprise that I have grave and growing concerns about the Police generally and more specifically “Operation Midland”.

Here we see a second statement that is curious. Mr. Proctor supported the police, law, and order without ever bothering to consider whether they are corrupt or even competent. He blindly followed them and supported. Yet, when he is subject to their power, he finds them questionable and objectionable. Even though thousands of people have claimed and complained about police behaviour for the past 50 year, he only takes an interest when it relates to him. His statement reminds of the old joke. A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged and a liberal is a conservative that has spent a night in the cells.

I have decided to share these concerns with you. I believe I am not speaking just for myself today. I hope I am not being presumptuous when I say I feel I am speaking for those who have no voice whatsoever including the dead to whom I referred moments ago.

Here is the third curious statement, and one that becomes strange when considered against later claims. The powerful people he seeks to defend are not defenceless. On the contrary, the voices that defend the dead have been vociferous in their defence. They are not on the fringe of the public domain. Politicians and media commentators who have a global platform have defended the dead. Far from being left defenceless, the dead have been protected and championed by the establishment. We can see a national columnist from the Telegraph defending Brittan and Heath. Although other papers have defended the dead politicians, the Telegraph has been the paper leading the defence.[8]

  1. Two days before my interview with the Police, my Solicitors – Sakhi Solicitors of Leicester – were sent a “disclosure” document. It set out the matters the Police wished to discuss with me. It was the first time I had known of what I had been accused. On the day of my interview I was not arrested, nor placed on Police bail, I was told I could leave the Police Station at any time and that it was a voluntary interview. I and my Solicitors had previously been told I was not a suspect.

Mr. Proctor does not provide a copy of the “disclosure” document, although he does appear to quote from it, we do not know its exact contents or any caveats it may contain. We cannot yet judge what the police wanted to know. We do know that Mr. Proctor was able to afford legal counsel so he is not as disadvantaged as he would make it seem.

  1. At the end of the interview I was given no information as to how much longer the Police investigation would take to bring the matter to a conclusion. I think you will understand I cannot allow this matter to rest.

Here is the fourth curious statement. Who is told when an investigation is going to end? Why does Mr. Proctor believe that he, a person of interest, would be told when an investigation would end? It is as if Mr. Proctor, a life long defender of the police, never bothered to find out how they worked or what they did. This is even more puzzling given his arrest and conviction for sexual offences. He had been in custody previously so should be aware of the police process.

  1. So you can gauge how angry I am and in an attempt to stop the “drip, drip, drip” of allegations by the police into the media , I now wish to share with you in detail the uncorroborated and untrue allegations that have been made against me by “NICK”.

Mr. Proctor appears less concerned with policing than with the way the police handle the media. In light of his experience, he may support the Leveson Inquiry and its sequel. His case reminds us of the ongoing relationship between the media, the police and politicians. His concern about the public domain shows that the constant drip of allegations into the media has corrosive power. Yet, the public seem to accept the media’s power until it is directed at them. Unlike others, though, Mr. Proctor has taken the opportunity to present his side of the case.

Anyone of a delicate or a nervous disposition should leave the room now.

  1. The following is taken from the Police disclosure document given to my Solicitors two days before my first interview with the Police under the headings “Circumstances”, “Homicides” and “Sexual abuse”.

Mr. Proctor is only quoting from part of the statement. If the document were provided in total he would have explained that it was. As we only have a part, we are unable to assess the full document.


“ Circumstances

The victim in this investigation is identified under the pseudonym “Nick”. He made allegations to the Metropolitan Police Service in late 2014. Due to the nature of the offences alleged, “Nick” is entitled to have his identity withheld.

The police have explained to Mr. Proctor why “Nick”’s identity has been withheld. He continues to argue that such an entitlement is unwarranted or unnecessary without explaining why.

“Nick” stated he was the victim of systematic and serious sexual abuse by a group of adult males over a period between 1975 and 1984. The abuse was often carried out whilst in company with other boys whom were also abused by the group.

These dates provide the context for the statement and the abuse. It also narrows down, or brings into focus the time frame for Nick’s experiences.

“Nick” provided names of several individuals involved in these acts including Mr HARVEY PROCTOR. He states MR PROCTOR abused him on a number of occasions which included sexual assault, buggery and torturous assault. He also states MR PROCTOR was present when he was assaulted by other adult males. Furthermore, “Nick” states he witnessed the murder of three young boys on separate occasions. He states MR PROCTOR was directly responsible for two of the allegations and implicated in the third.

Here we have an important issue to resolve the relationship between abuse, torture, and murder. Even if one or more are ruled out, the underlying issue of sexual abuse remains. We have to guard against assuming that if one part is false or disproven that all parts are disproven or false.

The dates and locations relevant to MR PROCTOR are as follows:-


The issue of homicide in child abuse cases often attracts disbelief. Many people find that such claims are likely far fetched if not simply incredible. Sadly, though, the reality is otherwise. Child sexual abuse by paedophiles can, and does, escalate into murder.[9]

1980 – at a residential house in central London. “Nick” was driven by car to an address in the Pimlico/Belgravia area where a second boy (the victim) was also collected in the same vehicle. Both boys, aged approximately 12-years-old, were driven to another similar central London address. MR PROCTOR was present with another male. Both boys were led to the back of the house. MR PROCTOR then stripped the victim, and tied him to a table. He then produced a large kitchen knife and stabbed the child through the arm and other parts of the body over a period of 40 minutes. A short time later MR PROCTOR untied the victim and anally raped him on the table. The other male stripped “Nick” and anally raped him over the table. MR PROCTOR then strangled the victim with his hands until the boy’s body went limp. Both males then left the room. Later, MR PROCTOR returned and led “Nick” out of the house and into a waiting car.

Here is a second important point. If a child was killed, then there would be a missing person or a potential murder report. Here is a detail that can be checked and researched. We do not know if there is a child murder from that time in that rea. IF the body was disposed at sea or by other means, then we would not now. If there is a missing child report from that time. However, we do know from other confirmed police trials that children have been trafficked in and out of the UK for such activity.[10]

1981-82 – at a residential address in central London. “Nick” was collected from Kingston train station and taken to a “party” at a residential address. The witness was among four young boys. Several men were present including MR PROCTOR. One of the men told the boys one of them would die that night and they had to choose who. When the boys wouldn’t decide, the men selected one of the boys (the victim). Each of the four boys including “Nick” were taken to separate rooms for “private time”. When they all returned to the same room, Nick was anally raped by MR PROCTOR and another male as “punishment”. The other males also anally raped the remaining boys. MR PROCTOR and two other males then began beating the chosen victim by punching and kicking. The attack continued until the boy collapsed on the floor and stopped moving. All of the men left the room. The remaining boys attempted to revive the victim but he was not breathing. They were left for some time before being taken out of the house and returned to their homes.

Here is a further detail that can be researched and confirmed or disproven. If a child was murdered in this period, then a missing child report, an unidentified body, or an unsolved murder would be relevant evidence to consider. However, the same caveats or constraints, as mentioned above, would need to be considered.

Between May and July 1979 – in a street in Coombe Hill, Kingston. Nick was walking in this area with another boy (the victim) when he heard the sound of a car engine revving. A dark-coloured car drove into the victim knocking him down. “Nick” could see the boy covered in blood and his leg bent backwards. A car pulled up and “Nick” was grabbed and placed in the car. He felt a sharp pain in his arm and next remembered being dropped off at home. He was warned not to have friends in future. “Nick” never saw the other boy again. “Nick” does not identify MR PROCTOR as being directly involved in this allegation. However, he states MR PROCTOR was part of the group responsible for the systematic sexual abuse he suffered. Furthermore, he believes the group were responsible for the homicide.

Here is a further detail that can be researched to either confirm or disprove. Was there an accident or a patient admitted to hospital for these injuries or this incident.

Sexual Abuse

1978-1984 – Dolphin Square, Pimlico. “Nick” was at the venue and with at least one other young boy. MR PROCTOR was present with other males.MR PROCTOR told “Nick” to pick up a wooden baton and hit the other boy. When “Nick” refused he was punished by MR PROCTOR and the other males. He was held down and felt pain in his feet. He fell unconscious. When he awoke he was raped by several males including MR PROCTOR.

We have been given a location where Mr. Proctor and Nick appeared to intersect. We are aware that Dolphin Square is a place where abuse is confirmed to have occurred. In a later interview, Mr. Proctor confirms that he has attended Dolphin Square in the company of a general and a secretary. It places him in the location. However, that does not discount the possibility that he was there at other times for a different, less benign, purpose.

1978-1981 – Carlton Club, central London, “Nick” was driven to the Carlton Club and dropped off outside. MR PROCTOR opened the door. Inside the premises were several other males. “Nick” was sexually assaulted by another male (not by MR PROCTOR on this occasion ).

What could be confirmed is whether young males were ever seen present at Carlton Club at this time or at any other time.

1978-1981 – swimming pool in central London. “Nick” was taken to numerous ‘pool parties’ where he and other boys were made to undress, and perform sexual acts on one another. He and other boys were then anally raped and sexually abused by several men including MR PROCTOR.

The swimming pool is not identified so we cannot know if the location or the context can be proven or disproven.

1981-1982 – Large town house in London. “Nick” was taken to the venue on numerous occasions where MR PROCTOR and one other male were present. He was forced to perform oral sex on MR PROCTOR who also put his hands around “Nick’’’s throat to prevent him breathing. On another occasion at the same location, MR PROCTOR sexually assaulted “Nick” before producing a pen-knife and threatening to cut “Nick’’’s genitals.MR PROCTOR was prevented from doing so by the other male present.

1979-1984 – residential address in central London.”Nick” was taken to the venue. MR PROCTOR was present with one other male. MR PROCTOR forced “Nick” to perform oral sex on him before beating him with punches.

1978-1984 – numerous locations including Carlton Club,Dolphin Square and a central London townhouse. “Nick” described attending several ‘Christmas parties’ where other boys were present together with numerous males including MR PROCTOR. “Nick” was given whiskey to drink before being forced to perform oral sex on several men including MR PROCTOR.

MR PROCTOR will be interviewed about the matters described above and given the opportunity to provide an account.”

  1. I denied all and each of the allegations in turn and in detail and categorised them as false and untrue and, in whole, an heinous calumny. They amount to just about the worst allegations anyone can make against another person including, as they do, multiple murder of children, their torture, grievous bodily harm, rape and sexual child abuse.

Mr. Proctor provides a robust and categorical denial of the charges. He does not provide the details for his denials or explain how they are wrong. For example, being able to demonstrate he was out of the country at the time of one or more of the alleged incidents. However, we have to accept that people are innocent until proven guilty.

  1. I am completely innocent of all these allegations.
  2. I am an homosexual. I am not a murderer. I am not a paedophile or pederast. Let me be frank, I pleaded guilty to four charges of gross indecency in 1987 relating to the then age of consent for homosexual activity. Those offences are no longer offences as the age of consent has dropped from 21 to 18 to 16. What I am being accused of now is a million miles away from that consensual activity.

Here we face a difficult point within any situation where someone wishes to defend their reputation or defend themselves against charges. We would be surprised if someone were to admit that they were guilty. In any case, we have to take his statement as true until proven otherwise or evidence suggests that the claim has to be tested in court.

  1. At the start of the interview, I was told that although the interview would be recorded by the Police both for vision and sound, I would not receive a copy of the tapes. I asked to record the interview for sound myself but my request was refused. During the interview, to ensure that “Nick” had not identified the wrong person, I asked if I could see photographs purporting to be me which had been shown to him. My request was refused. At the end of the interview I was asked if I knew my 8 alleged co conspirators whose homes it was alleged I had visited. I believe I have a good recollection and the list comprised a number of people I knew, some who I had heard of but not met and some I did not know. None of the allegations were alleged to have taken place at my home and I have not visited the homes of any of the “gang”.

Here is another point that can be verified or disconfirmed. Either he has or has not visited any of these homes.

  1. The list included the names of the late Leon Brittan and the late Edward Heath.
  2. If it was not so serious, it would be laughable.
  3. Edward Heath sacked me from the Conservative Party’s parliamentary candidates’ list in 1974. Mrs Thatcher restored me to the list 18 months later. Edward Heath despised me and he disliked my views particularly on limiting immigration from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan and my opposition to our entry into and continued membership of what is now know as the E.U. ; I opposed his corporate statist views on the Economy. I despised him too… He had sacked the late Enoch Powell, my political “hero” from the Shadow Cabinet when I was Chairman of the University of York Conservative Association. I regarded Enoch as an intellectual giant in comparison with Heath.
  4. The same Edward Heath, not surprisingly, would never speak to me in the House of Commons but would snort at me as he passed me by in a Commons corridor. The feeling was entirely mutual.
  5. Now I am accused of doing some of these dreadful things in his London house as well; a house to which I was never invited and to which Heath would never have invited me and to which I would have declined his invitation.

Here we face a difficulty. Earlier, Mr. Proctor claimed he had to defend his dead colleagues. If he hated Heath with such a passion, why would he now defend him after death? If he held no loyalty to him at all, why speak up on his behalf?

  1. The same Edward Heath’s home with CCTV, housekeeper, private secretary, chauffeur, police and private detectives – all the trappings of a former Prime Minister – in the security conscious days of the IRA’s assault on London.

We know that public officials often have private lives that appear to escape scrutiny. We also know that security officers and personal employees will display a loyalty to their employer or patron at the law’s expense. We know that John F Kennedy had extramarital affairs despite having Secret Service protection. In the UK, we know that security forces intervened to thwart the potential expose of Cyril Smith. The security services also seemed unable or unwilling to confront powerful people over allegations of child sexual behaviour. We know that Lord Armstrong justified his failure to confront Leon Brittan over the allegations of child sexual abuse as it would be “bad for the government”.[11] He put the party loyalty before the safety of a child. Thus, it seems strange to insist that people who depended on Heath for their livelihood would risk everything on the possibility of raising a concern, a concern that would be unlikely to be believed? Even in the United States we know of Jerry Sandusky escaped punishment *when he was caught in the shower with a child*.[12] Mr Proctor’s claim seems questionable at best and extremely naïve, if not disingenuous, at worst. It is eminently possible for Mr. Heath to act as alleged. The allegation, therefore, has to be investigated before it can be disconfirmed.

  1. It is so farfetched as to be unbelievable. It is unbelievable because it is not true. My situation has transformed from Kafka- esque bewilderment to black farce incredulity.

The claims do not seem far-fetched from what we already know. We know from other investigations, such as those reported by Nick Davies, that child sexual abuse could culminate in murder. We do know that various senior public officials have had repeated allegations made about them. Cyril Smith, for example, was not charged with crimes even though the evidence presented to the police indicated that he should be charged. We know that Peter Morrison escaped serious charges as the police reduced the charges against him.

  1. I have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. I appeal to any witness who truthfully can place me at any of the former homes of Edward Heath or Leon Brittan at any time to come forward now. I appeal to any witness who can truthfully say I committed any of these horrible crimes to come forward now.

Mr Proctor makes a robust defence by pointing to the central difficulty of a single accuser. If no one else can corroborate the charges or come forward as a witness to the events, then the case against him does not appear as strong.

  1. The “gang” is also alleged to have included Lord Janner ( a former Labour M.P.), Lord Bramall (Former Chief of the General Staff) , the late Maurice Oldfield (Former Head of Secret Intelligence Service – MI6), the late Sir Michael Hanley ( Director General of the Internal Security Service – MI5), General Sir Hugh Beach (Master-General of the Ordnance) and a man named – Ray Beech. I did not move in such circles. As an ex Secondary Modern School boy from Yorkshire, I was not a part of the Establishment. I had no interest being part of it. I cannot believe that these other 8 people conspired to do these monstrous things. I certainly did not.

Mr. Proctor uses the term “gang” to describe the organised activity. However, we do not know if the policed that term or whether it is accurate to describe it in that way. People may be organised in their activities without being a gang. The term gang suggests something criminal in a way that “set” or “group” does not. However, what is important is that Mr. Proctor has released a list of names, which the police have not released. However, the issue that Mr. Proctor raises, The Establishment, is curious. He immediately makes the argument that these men were (are) part of the establishment. He does not clarify whether the police described them in that way or whether this is his view of these men. Moreover, he does not explain what makes them part of the “Establishment”.

What is also curious is that Mr. Proctor elides Lord Janner upcoming trial. We know that at least one of the people within the “gang” is facing a court trial and two others (Heath and Brittan) have had allegations made against them previously (Brittan) and recently (Heath).

  1. Yesterday I was interviewed again by the Metropolitan Police Murder Squad for 1 hour 40 minutes. It was a voluntary interview. I was free to go at any time. I was not arrested. I am not on bail. Unhelpfully, the second disclosure document was given to me some 20 minutes after yesterday’s  interview was supposed to have started rather than last Friday as had been promised.  My Solicitors were told by the Police it was ready but had to be signed off by superior officers on Friday.  The Metropolitan Police are either inefficient or doing it by design. Whatever else, it is  inept and an unjust way to treat anyone.

Mr. Proctor expresses his displeasure at the way that his interview was organised. It would appear he believes that the police are inefficient as they are not as organised as he would like. As someone who professed a deep belief in the police, he seems ignorant of how policing works or how a modern bureaucracy works. It would appear he expects the police to be able to manage their interviews, despite their contingent nature and political context, in the way that a GP or the DWP organise their appointments. What he does not consider is how the police treat other people and that he has likely received better treatment than most people whom the police interview.

A further concern is Mr. Proctor’s attitude given the seriousness of the allegations and his alleged potential involvement in or knowledge of horrific events including murder. He appears to believe that he should be treated differently. He does not state it directly but his statement makes the implicit point.

   During yesterday’s interview,  I was shown a photograph of “Nick” aged about 12. I did not recognise him. I was shown computer generated e fit images of 2 of the alleged murder victims created by “Nick”.  They looked remarkably similar  to each other but one with blonde hair and one dark brown. I did not recognise either image. I was asked if I knew Jimmy Saville. I told them I did not. “Nick” alleges – surprise surprise – that Saville attended the sex “parties”. I was asked if I knew a number of people including Leslie Goddard and Peter Heyman. I did not these two. I was asked if I knew well, a doctor – unnamed. Apparently “Nick” alleges the doctor was a friend of mine and allegedly he turned up to repair the damage done to the boys when they were abused at these “parties”.

Here we have a further point to consider. The mention of a doctor suggests another line of enquiry if doctors were made available or were willing to provide care for the children who had been abused. If the claim is true, it reinforces the argument for law requiring abuse being reported. Further it raises the concern that a medical professional is willing to support and enable the abuse of children.

What we do have, though, are clear denials by Mr. Proctor of specific details such as the identity of alleged victims as well as someone who is alleged to have enabled the abuse. Both of these lines of enquiry can be explored as the other e-fit picture either suggests another witness or another victim. In either case, they are a line to be explored.

I could not help there . I was asked if I could recognise images of the pen knife mentioned earlier. It was suggested it was Edward Heath who persuaded me not to castrate “Nick” with it.

Here we have a further point that is uncertain or unclear. Mr. Proctor has indicated, “it was suggested it was Edward Heath”. He does not clarify how it was suggested. We do not have a way to verify the statement or what it means. It would appear, from what he has said that Edward Heath was present at the party and intervened to protect “Nick” from Mr. Proctor. What is not clear is how that was conveyed or what that meant.

I was obviously so persuaded by Mr Heath’s intervention that I placed the pen knife in “Nick’s” pocket ready for him to present it to the Metropolitan police over 30 years later as “evidence”. I could not identify the knife. I have never had a pen knife.

The pen knife does provide another reference point. It suggests a tangible item that could be researched or investigated. It is another point that might intersects with any of the participants or locations.

I was asked if I visited Elm Guest House in Rocks Lane, Barnes. I wondered when that elephant in the room would be mentioned by the Metropolitan police. I am sorry to have to disappoint the fantasists on the internet but I did not visit Elm Guest House. I was unaware of its existence.  The so called “guest list” which makes its appearance on the net must be a fake.

Mr. Proctor provides a clear rebuttal of a reference to Elm Guest House. Several points emerge from this reference. First, it would have been odd if the police had not referred to Elm Guest House as it has been mentioned in other accounts and many of the same people involved with Nick appear to have visited or attended Elm Guest House. Second, as Mr. Proctor acknowledges his name appears to have been mentioned on a “guest list”. Third, Mr. Proctor confirms his awareness of “fantasists on the internet”. Such awareness is also a point of interest. Just as someone may allege crimes based on what they have read so too can someone cloud or confuse an investigation based on what they have read.

  1. During my first interview I was told that the Police were investigating to seek out the truth. I reminded them on a number of occasions that their Head of “Operation Midland”, Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald had said on television some months ago “ I believe what “NICK” is saying as credible and true “. This statement is constantly used and manipulated by Exaro and other Media to justify their position.

Here we begin to see Mr. Proctor’s concern with the way the investigation has been managed. However, he seems to ignore the way investigations are conducted. There are two related, but separate issues to consider. The first is the method by which the police investigate. The second is how they manage the media or publicity around the investigation. On the first point, the police are entitled to say whether the allegations provide credible so that they can continue to investigate. The police are experienced so will be able to determine relatively quickly whether the witness and their claims are credible based on either internal consistency of their story, the evidence they have provided, or both. So far, Mr. Proctor’s has not provided anything, aside from his displeasure and disbelief in the claims, to undermine or refute the claims. Thus, we are at the point where the different versions of events and evidence have to be tested.

The second issue is the way the police have handled the publicity associated with the investigation. Here there is an ongoing, and ultimately unresolvable, debate. The police have to provide enough information to reassure the public about the investigation, as what has been alleged is of great importance, and to maintain a balance to protect the investigation’s integrity. When the police make a statement, they cannot control how the media use it. What we do not have, interestingly, is Mr. Proctor’s concerns about the Fake Sheik or the way the press have handled other cases. He is concerned with the way his case has been handled as it has not handled in the way he would like it to be handled.

  1. This remark is very prejudicial to the police inquiry and its outcome.

Mr. Proctor is entitled to his view. What we face though is the following issue. If the police investigate without mentioning that they believe that, the witness is credible then their behaviour would implicitly make the same point as their public statement. Why would the police investigate if the witness were not credible? Unless Mr. Proctor wishes to suggest that the police undertake frivolous investigations or should not interview witnesses who allege crimes that involve people in the public domain or formerly in the public domain. What he has not demonstrated or even suggested is how the police statement is prejudicial.

It is not justice and breaches my United Kingdom and Human Rights.

Mr. Proctor has not explained which UK or Human Rights it has breached. Although he is certain they have been breached, he does not explain which ones or how they have been breached. As he has taken legal advice, taken some time, and thought in preparing this statement, one would have expected him to explain or sustain this claim.

This whole catalogue of events has wrecked my life, lost me my job and demolished 28 years of my rehabilitation since 1987.

Here Mr. Proctor shows us the human cost of the allegations. The way crimes are investigated and the publicity that surrounds them places a heavy burden on all that are involved. Any contact with the criminal justice system, even a minor one, leaves a mark on a person. What is particularly problematic are the delays and uncertainty with the process for both a victim and an alleged perpetrator. However, the criminal justice system cannot alter the way in which society reacts to those involved in such cases. The issue is beyond what the police can control or even influence.

  1. The Police involved in “Operation Midland” are in a cleft stick of their own making. They are in a quandary. Support the “victim” however ludicrous his allegations or own up that they got it disastrously wrong but risk the charge of a cover up. What do I think should happen now?

Here Mr. Proctor continues is assertion that the allegations are ludicrous. It leaves unanswered and unasked why they should be dismissed. If they are not to be investigated surely society can ask why the police should take his word that they are without merit and therefore ludicrous. We would expect the police to investigate such claims especially if they have a credible witness who provides a consistent story and describes plausible incidents that are to be investigated. Should investigations be dropped when people find them inconvenient without gathering evidence or testing claims? How else can claims be dismissed if they are not tested?

A second concern is that if the police find that the case is without merit that they will be charged with a cover up. Mr. Proctor alleges only one possible outcome. When the police abandon an investigation, the case can be reviewed and investigated again if there is evidence to suggest it should not have been dropped. When an investigation is dropped a cover up is not always alleged or even a direct consequence. It is curious that Mr. Proctor proposes this dichotomy. His dichotomy shapes the discussion in much the same way that someone says, “My cause is just and if you oppose it you are against justice.”


I should be arrested, charged and prosecuted for murder and these awful crimes immediately so I can start the process of ridiculing these preposterous allegations in open court

Mr. Proctor recommendation appears brave and determined yet it seems empty of meaning. At this stage, he is not a suspect. If he were a suspect, the police would have treated him as one. As it stands, he has been interviewed to test the allegations. At this stage, how can he, or anyone, be clear that an arrest is required? If the police are to do their job, they have to complete their investigation. It would appear that Mr. Proctor has made this claim for his purposes. One of which may be to put pressure on the police. Another purpose may be to prepare his own potential defence should be involved in a future trial. However, only Mr. Proctor knows why he has made this claim.


“NICK” should be stripped of his anonymity and prosecuted for wasting police time and money, making the most foul of false allegations and seeking to pervert the course of justice. Those who have aided and abetted him should also be prosecuted. “NICK” should be medically examined to ensure he is of sound mind.

What is not clear is why this has to be the other alternative. Mr. Proctor seems intent on exposing “Nick’s” identity. He also seems to be certain that all the allegations, not simply those involving himself, are without merit. He seems to have ignored the possibility that “Nick” could be mistaken about his identity or his full involvement yet certain, or certain enough, to warrant the other claims being investigated. Further, he seems certain that anyone who has helped “Nick” should be persecuted.

  1. Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald should resign from his position as Head of “Operation Midland”. He should resign or be sacked. But as the Metropolitan Police is a bureaucratic “organisation” I suggest, to save face, he is slid sideways to be placed in control of Metropolitan London parking, traffic, jay walking or crime prevention. He too should be medically examined to ensure he is of sound mind.

Here Mr. Proctor seems to revert to the standard response when someone is dissatisfied with the state or with a bureaucracy. “Someone ought to be sacked.” His claim suggests that people are “slid sideways” if they cannot be sacked if they make a mistake or fail in their duty. However, his displeasure at Detective Superintendent McDonald seems misplaced. We cannot know if Detective Superintendent McDonald has mishandled the case until we know more about the case and the investigation continues. It would appear that the only criteria for removing Detective Superintendent McDonald is that Mr. Proctor is dissatisfied with his handling and blames him for the secondary events that have engulfed his life.

What is curious is that Mr. Proctor believes that both “Nick” and Detective Superintendent McDonald should be psychologically assessed. Again, we do not have criteria except that the claims or allegations appear unreasonable to Mr. Proctor. One could suggest that he has made these claims as a way to change the balance in the public domain. A less generous view would be to suggest that he has done this purposefully to prejudice the investigation by making it appear that either “Nick” or Detective Superintendent McDonald will skew their statements or the investigation to respond to his claims.

  1. An investigation should be launched into “Operation Midland” and its costs. Detectives’ expense claims should be analysed and a full audit carried out by independent auditors.

Here we have another standard refrain when someone is dissatisfied with a bureaucrat or a police officer. Their expenses should be checked. The implied meaning is that if it is not a waste of money, it is likely that the officers, or bureaucrats, are doing it to enrich themselves.

  1. Those Labour Members of Parliament who have misused parliamentary privilege and their special position on these matters should apologise. They have behaved disgracefully, especially attacking dead parliamentarians who cannot defend themselves and others and they should make amends. They are welcome to sue me for libel. In particular, Mr Tom Watson, M.P. should state, outside the protection of the House of Commons, the names of ex Ministers and ex M.P.s who he feels are part of the so called alleged Westminster rent boy ring.

Here some further issues need to be addressed. First, Mr. Proctor seems certain that Tom Watson brought the issue to Parliament’s, and the public’s, attention for political gain.[13] Yet, the record is clear that Mr. Watson had cross party support for his claims. Further, he never publicly named Mr. Proctor. It seems that Mr. Proctor’s view is closely related to Dominic Lawson’s claims in the Sunday Times mentioned in footnote 7. The allegations are an attack on the Thatcher and Mr. Watson and other Labour Parliamentarians, have done it for political purposes. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the inquiry and Tom Waton’s PMQ question are not about “rent-boys”. The inquiry is about a predatory paedophiles operating within Westminster with access to if not protection from senior politicians. To refer to “rent-boys” (a legal activity)[14] with a criminal activity based on an abuse of power that destroys children, seems a curious choice of phrase.

  1. Lady Goddard’s Inquiry should examine “Operation Midland’s” methods to sift genuine historical child sexual abuse from the spurious.

Here Mr. Proctor seems to confuse the remit of Lady Goddard’s Inquiry as including the power to investigate police investigations. The normal approach would be to file a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

  1. “Operation Midland” should be wound up by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner who should also apologise at the earliest opportunity. On the 6thAugust 2015, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe shed crocodile tears criticising the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Wiltshire Police for naming Edward Heath as a suspect. He said it was not “fair” and his own force would not do such a thing. This is very disingenuous. When his Police officers were searching my Home and before they had left, the Press were ringing me asking for comment. I was identified. They had told “Nick” of the search who passed on the information to his press friends. The Metropolitan police have also told the press that they were investigating Heath, Brittan, and others.

Mr. Proctor seems to confuse a couple of issues. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe criticism was more a contrast with how the MPS would have handled it.[15] Second, that information about the search was leaked does not mean that it was known or sanctioned by Sir Bernard. Third, he does not explain how he knew that “Nick” had been told and how he knew that “Nick” had passed it on to others.

Sir Bernard should resign for the sin of hypocrisy. If he does not, it will not be long before he establishes “Operation Plantagenet” to determine Richard III’s involvement in the murder of the Princes in the Tower of London.

If everyone had to resign from hypocrisy there would be no one left to govern or police Britain. However, the statement does reflect Mr. Proctor’s emotional response to what he perceives to be an injustice by the MPS.

  1. Superintendent Sean Memory of Wiltshire Police should explain why he made a statement about Edward Heath in front of his former home in Salisbury and who advised him to select that venue. He should also resign.

Here we find the curious case of Edward Heath’s defence returning. Mr Proctor has explained that he hated Edward Heath. Yet, this is the third time that he has defended him and questioned the way he has been treated. What is curious is why Mr. Proctor hated him while he was alive yet wants to defend him so vigorously and so publicly when he is dead. No one else is as mentioned as frequently as Mr. Heath despite Mr. Proctor claiming he hated him. Only “Nick” is mentioned more frequently.”

  1. Leon Brittan was driven to his death by police action. They already knew for 6 months before his death, on the advice of the DPP, that he would not face prosecution for the alleged rape of a young woman. But they did not tell him. They just hoped he would die without having to tell him. The Superintendent in charge of his investigation should resign.

Here Mr. Proctor makes a bold claim concerning Mr Brittan. We have been told that Mr. Brittan died from cancer, which he had been battling for years. How Mr. Proctor knows that he was “driven to his death” is unclear. Especially as Mr. Proctor said, he was not in the Establishment and did not mix with Mr. Brittan socially or politically.

  1. The Police should stop referring automatically to people who make statements of alleged Historic child sexual abuse as “victims”. They should refer to them as “complainants” from the French “to lament” which would be more appropriate. Parliament should pass laws to better balance the right to anonymity of “victims” and the “accused”. Parliament should reinstate in law the English tradition of “innocence before being found guilty” which has been trashed in recent months by certain sections of the Police, the DPP, MPs, Magistrates and the Courts themselves.

Curiously, no one has said he was guilty or that he had been charged. The issue is not what the police are doing. Instead, it is the way society, in particular the media, deal with these issues. With social media the public domain has changed irrevocably. Institutions, and individuals, find it difficult to protect and contain information especially information that has a high public interest.

  1. I have not just come here with a complaint. I have come with the intention of showing my face in public as an innocent man. I have come to raise my voice as an aggrieved subject now deeply concerned about the administration of Justice. What has become increasingly clear about Police investigations into historical child sexual abuse is that it has been bungled in years gone by and is being bungled again NOW. The moment has come to ask ourselves if the Police are up to the task of investigating the apparent complexities of such an enquiry ? These allegations merit the most detailed and intellectually rigorous application.

Aside from doing it better, Mr. Proctor does not offer a way to improve the investigation process. He only knows that it does not work as it has involved him. Moreover, he is certain that it is bungled now because it has asked him questions. We have to remember that he has only been interviewed, once at his own request, which does not suggest the investigation is flawed nor does it suggest that it could be improved by his suggested approach that he be arrested.

  1. What is clear from the last few years of police activity driven by the media, fearful of the power of the internet and the odd M.P. here and there is that the overhaul of the Police service up and down the country is now urgently required. We need “Super cops” who have been University educated and drawn from the professions. Such people could be of semi retirement status with a background in the supervision of complex, criminal investigations. These people could be drawn from the law, accountancy and insolvency practices. Former Justices of the Peace could chair some of these investigations. Adequate incentives should be provided to recruit them.

Mr. Proctor’s claim that the Police have only recently begun to fear the press seems to overlook the whole point of Leveson. The insidious relationship between the police and the media started long before the Internet. Social media has revealed it. It has made explicit what was only implicit. However, what has not changed and the press have not influenced are the fundamentals of a police investigations. The basic approach will always require claims to be investigated and people to be questioned to determine the validity and truth of such claims.

As for his claims about reorganising the police and creating “super cops”, they appear to reflect someone who is simply out of touch with current police reforms or the government’s approach to policing.[16]

  1. I speak for myself and, as a former Tory M.P. with an impeccable record in defending the Police, I have now come to believe that that blind trust in them was totally misplaced. What has happened to me could happen to anyone. It could happen to you.

Mr. Proctor’s statement seems almost innocent in its earnestness. “It could happen to you”. Where has Mr. Proctor been for the past 30 years? It seems as if he has been living in an isolated world where there is never a concern with an abuse of authority or the way the police, and the government, conduct themselves. If he police were doing such a good job and the public had confidence in their work, then the government would not need to have a radical packages of reforms with *integrity* as a key concern?

  1. In summary, the paranoid Police have pursued an homosexual witch hunt on this issue egged on by a motley crew of certain sections of the media and press and a number of Labour Members of Parliament and a ragbag of internet fantasists.

The concern with a homosexual witch hunt seems to refer to a historical era that is now closed. It is rapidly becoming a memory rather than a reality. The police are uninterested in his sexuality as they are interested in the allegations of child sexual abuse and murder.

There are questions to ask about what kind of Police Force do we have in Britain today. How can it be right for the Police to act in  consort with the press with routine  tip offs of House raids, impending arrests and the like.

Mr. Proctor apparently has never heard of Rupert Murdoch or the way that the News International, or even all of Fleet Street, does their work. He seems unaware of the Leveson Inquiry as well since that as the topic it covered.

Anonymity is given to anyone prepared to make untruthful accusations of child sexual abuse whilst the alleged accused are routinely fingered publicly without any credible evidence first being found. This is not justice. It is an abuse of power and authority.

Here we find a curious parallel. Child sexual abuse is an abuse of power. Mr. Proctor is claiming an abuse of power. He claims he is a victim and is being victimised by “alleged” victims. Why he believes an investigation is an abuse of power is not clear. More to the point, given that he requested one of the police interviews, it seems strange that he would categorize a heretofore-voluntary process as “an abuse of power.” He has not been arrested; he has not been detained. Yet, the investigation of allegations is an abuse of power.

  1. In conclusion, I wish to thank my Solicitors Mr Raza Sakhi and Mr Nabeel Gatrad and my family and friends for their support without which I would not have been able to survive this onslaught on my character and on my life.

Mr. Proctor closes with a heartfelt statement about the effect the investigation has had on him and his family.

I am prepared to take questions.



Issues to consider from the statement

Several issues emerge from this statement that need to be considered.

First, Mr. Proctor has offered no tangible evidence, except for his assertions, that disprove or undermine the allegations. He contests them, which is his right, and he asserts his innocence.

Second, he seems intent on speeding up the investigation and forcing it to a decision point. One might expect an innocent person, especially one who believes in law and order, to have faith in the judicial system to work its course and deliver the right outcome. Further, we would expect someone with previous experience of the criminal justice system to know that the process takes time.

Third, the statement is a long way of saying “I am innocent of all these charges.” Mr. Proctor has made a special effort to bring the allegations into the public domain and the names of the other people with whom the police have an interest. Although he does refer to why he has done this, it seems insufficient to explain the possible effect this will have on the public domain and the way it may influence the rest of the police investigation as well as any future court case should one emerge.

Fourth, Mr. Proctor has made an effort to personalize the issue and focus on the character of the police and the anonymous witness. He has attacked their integrity and suggested that they may be corrupt in that the expenses may be manipulated. Most importantly, he has asked that both the anonymous witness and the lead officer have their mental capacity checked. For an innocent man, he seem intent on taking issue with the police and the process and making his views as public as possible with the widest impact. He has explained this by the effect it has had on his character and his life. However, he has not addressed whether there are any other motives to his decisions.

Fifth, Mr. Proctor’s statement contains a number of points that require further investigation by the police. He has referred to possible points of intersection and further lines of enquiry.

How does this affect the public debate?

Mr. Proctor’s statements raise the troubling spectre of Lord McAlpine. He was wrongly accused of being a paedophile on Twitter. We have to be careful not to assume Mr Proctor’s guilt. He has been questioned because an alleged victim named him. His case raises the increasing threat of trial by social media. What underpins this threat is the unresolved problem of the relationship between the police and the media.

A second issue to consider is whether Mr. Proctor’s strategy will be one that others will emulate. Many individuals face trial by public opinion. They will issue public statements to defend when they are brought into public view in these circumstances. What is unusual is his focus. He has described the police lines of enquiry, which is unusual. He has attacked the integrity of: the officers, the witness, and the investigation. In such a strategy, there is an implicit, if not explicit, attempt to influence, if not direct, public opinion and the public mind on the matter. By contrast, one only need to note the success by which Rebekah Brooks managed the public domain through short speeches. She relied on the court to protect her from questions. If anyone had questioned her too closely, they risked prejudicing the then pending trial. Mr. Proctor has not been charged and a trial is not looming, the same concern exists. In this way, we see that the freedom of speech or even the freedom of press is less expansive than we imagine. Moreover, it also shows the gap between those who are able to command the media’s attention, and by extension, the public’s attention and those who are at the mercy of the the media’s attention.

Whatever the outcome of the investigation and any subsequent trial, if one occurs, Mr. Proctor has been given an ample opportunity to declare his innocence.









[8] For reasons only known to the Telegraph, its editor and proprietor, it has referred to witch hunts at each stage of the case. On the issue of mandatory reporting of child abuse was raised, the Telegraph cautioned against a “witch hunt”. See for example, See also and The powerful have been protected by their friends and supporters, see the defence of Leon Brittan described by David Hencke’s article on Dominic Lawson’s defence Here is Lawson’s article Here is Dan Hodges’ defence


[10] and

[11] See Lord Armstrong’s statement here: He added: ‘At the present stage… the risks of political embarrassment to the government is rather greater than the security danger.’

[12] Jerry Sandusky was eventually arrested, tried, and convicted for sexually abusing children. However, the incident in the shower did not immediately trigger his suspension or arrest. (It occurred in 2001, he was not arrested until 2011.) His status within the Penn State football programme and the standing of the Penn State football programme within the University and within the community protected him. Surely an ex-PM would garner the same if not more protection. For an overview of the case consider:

[13] Mr. Watson’s statement does not name anyone.



[16] and

Posted in Uncategorized

Public inquiries and the silence of a decent interval

English: French undercover law enforcement veh...

English: French undercover law enforcement vehicle, photographed in Monaco Nederlands: Anoniem dienstvoertuig van de Franse overheid, gefotografeerd in Monaco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Silence is the ultimate weapon of power –Charles de Gaulle

In the UK today, there are many different public inquiries under way. Some have only finished recently while others are still to report. A full list of inquiries, inquests and royal commissions are found at this link.[1] The three most high profile reviews are the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, which is looking at the police corruption and Daniel Morgan’s murder, the Goddard Inquiry, which is the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and the Pitchford Inquiry, which is the Independent Public Inquiry into Under Cover Policing.

The reviews are an important part of the UK justice system, yet they reveal the way justice is either denied or rendered nugatory. Reviews only occur after a long struggle where other methods have failed to deliver a just outcome. As the cases are already several years old, it is harder to hold individuals to account. The organisation assures the public and the inquiry that lessons have been learned and things have changed. In the end of many reviews, no one is held to account. However, the public review process has a deeper problem: the decent interval. The decent interval refers to a phrase, often ascribed to Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger that describes their endgame strategy in Vietnam. They wanted a decent interval between America’s withdrawal from South Vietnam and its defeat. In this way, South Vietnam’s eventual collapse would not appear to be America’s fault and Nixon would avoid or reduce any political criticisms for it. In terms of public inquiries, the same principle would appear to exist. The public inquiries demonstrate this in two related ways. First, a decent interval passes before the inquiry takes place. Second, the reviews take several years to complete, so the organisation can clean house. However, the Pitchford Inquiry faces the problem of the decent interval differently in three particular ways.

The decent interval and the death of due process

First, the decent interval means the normal due process is unable to deliver justice. The government and the organisation are unable to resolve the issue. The due process failure provides a decent interval. The organisation can prepare for it. As the review usually occurs after extensive legal or political struggles, the issues are already known. At the same time, the review can be scheduled at time convenient for the organisation. To be sure, this is the nature of politics. The delay and timing show the organisation power over the individual. The disparity is reinforced by the political regime. The laws and procedures encourage and sustain the disparity.[2] The Pitchford Review is about events that happened nearly 10 years ago and relate to undercover operations dating back to 1968.

If you delay something long enough, the complainant will die.

Second, the decent interval allows the review to extend to the point it is no longer viable. All organisations rely on the same bureaucratic technique. They grind down the applicant by a variety of techniques. The most widely used is delays. All complaints have a half-life. After a month, most people give up. After 3 months, 90% of the remaining group have given up. Within a year, 99% of those have given up. With an investigation, most people will give up at the first response. They try to get on with their lives. They resign themselves to the outcome and try to find something positive from the negative experience.[3] Although the idea of a complaint half-life is simply an illustration of the problem, it does occur in other areas. Consider the way the Cabinet Office delays FOIA requests with impunity.[4] In some cases, the public inquiry is needed because the delay in resolving the original issue satisfactorily. Police reviews in particular, seem to either peter out into recriminations and allegations or they simply act as a pause before the cycle of scandal and reform starts again.[5] The Daniel Morgan case exemplifies this issue. The family have suffered through five investigations, two failed trials, and a review of the investigations.[6] They have waited over 28 years and still no justice. Even though the police have admitted that corruption thwarted the investigation, neither the family nor the Crown is near the end.

The decent interval and public reviews as public entertainment

The reviews start to become a bureaucratic game that is played within the Crown for the public’s benefit. On the surface, it is almost funny. The various parties are like characters in the Thick of It or Game of Thrones. Unlike the television show, the victims and their loved ones are left without justice. Everyone congratulates themselves about the performance and the overall “satisfaction” encouraged by the politicians and the press helps to dampen and quiet the voices of those left dissatisfied. They are told they “expected too much”, this is “the best result they could obtain” given the constraints, and “there are other priorities”. When the next scandal emerges, the cycle starts again for the next family and the next victim. They are placed under surveillance as the Police and the Crown need to do reputation damage control. They will believe the victims just want money. At some point, someone has to realize that if you actually police with integrity, especially at the senior officer level, they would need less reputation damage control.

A decent interval gives you time to organize your affairs

The decent interval means the underlying policing reality remains unchanged. In part because the decent interval is a way to allow the “bad apples” to leave quietly, resign, or be transferred to other work or be fired. Once they are removed, the organisation can congratulate itself on having “cleaned up” so that it can say that it has done something. Yet, nothing really changes as the culture does not change. Operation Alice (Plebgate) revealed the practices or culture within the police.[7] The organisation has yet to confront its organisational culture. Where it does create the necessity for change, it is usually used for ulterior motives. The Daniel Morgan review and the Pitchford Review will both allow the police to remove officers and change some practices that they could not change without such necessity. However, that shows organisational culture’s weakness, as they cannot reform themselves. Alternatively, they can defer or delay the action plan the review requires. The review found X but we are going to ignore it or do Y as that is what we really want to do and it is just like X except easier for us as we have already done it.

Technology does more than most undercover officers ever could.

Third, the decent interval refers to the topic of undercover policing. Technology has reduced the need for undercover police if it has not rendered them impossible to employ[8]. If we consider how much information the police can obtain through overt means or by technologically aided observations[9], we see how little there is that cannot be done.[10] By the time the review is completed, the technology will have moved on even further.[11] With technology the police can find more about a group and its participants than most undercover officers can. As soon as the police know your name, they can find your car registration; they can track you through CCTV with facial recognition and track your telephone through GPS systems. None of these requires a warrant. They can and are done as a matter of course. They can also map your known associates through similar records to map your network in real time if necessary.

Undercover policing is a small part of a wider culture that is indifferent to citizens

If you drive on a motorway, for example, your registration details are logged and your movements, and as long as you remain on the ANPR system your whereabouts are known. If you move off the motorway system, then your phone can be tracked and traced. Even without a warrant, many online systems allow you to track and trace a person. A small amount of subterfuge could easily obtain access to those systems. The review comes at a time when undercover police are less likely to be used and if they are used, it is in a different way than what the review will consider.[12] Here the decent interval helps the police. In effect, the review is looking at knife crime even as the threat is gun crime. The review will ask the wrong questions to know what is happening now or what is planned, but will be asking the right questions for the past.

Through listening devices and remote sensors, the police can track and trace conversations.[13] They can use direct surveillance and passive surveillance to keep track of the groups that might be a public order threat.[14] At the same time, they can use informants within the groups. With the technological revolution, the police would mainly need an undercover officer in the group if they wanted to shape its behaviour directly. At that point, they stop being about policing and they start being about politics. If an undercover police officer encourages a group to act illegally, then they have stopped being a police officer and they have become a political actor. In a worst-case scenario, they have become an agent provocateur. At what point do they stop being a law enforcement body and become a secret police agency designed to disrupt, punish, and eliminate political opponents? Does such behaviour require political activists to take on counter measures that force them to appear as “extremists”? In other words, does a moderate have to become a radical simply to remain a moderate when the regime has become increasingly, albeit secretly, oppressive and repressive?[15]

The decent interval will only remind us what has not changed

The Pitchford Review will serve its purpose. In three years’ time, or whenever it reports, we will hear about the “lessons learned” and the “missed opportunities”. The Police will promise to learn lessons and ensure it does not happen again as the “rogue officers” have left the force. Even as it reports on the historical incidents, the digital surveillance capabilities make it meaningless[16]. For the government, they will have their headlines and the report becomes the official story, the official history.[17] However, the fundamental relationship between the individual and the state remains unresolved. To the extent it is resolved, the balance rests overwhelmingly with the state and individual has limited ability for oversight or control. What will remain unchanged is that the Crown will continue to use the Police to enforce order and undermine political opponents. The police’s political activity will continue. Their behaviour reminds us that the Crown rests on coercion and not consent. The method it uses betrays its illegitimacy as it can only control its political opponents by intimidation, coercion, blackmail[18] and subterfuge. It does not exist by consent and it remains in place by coercion. The decent interval will serve its purpose. The Crown and the Police remain unreformed and invulnerable to challenge and the Pitchford Inquiry will not change it.


[2] Consider the proposal to charge individuals to lodge an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal.

[3]We can see this at work with freedom of information requests. There, the public authority has 20 working days to respond from the day after the request is received. If the public authority refuses the request as vexatious on day 20, the applicant has to appeal. The appeal could take any where from 20-40 days, some organisations like the Home Office, automatically state the internal review will take 40 days. IF the review finds the exemption was incorrect, they can then provide other exemptions to the information. The process starts again and it is another 60 days before a response is made. Even then, if the public authority refuses at the internal review stage, the applicant has to appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office. The process can stretch to 6 months or more from the time of the first request to the case getting to the ICO where there is usually a final response. The organisation could insist on its refusal, even at the ICO stage, and that would require a further hearing before the Upper Tier Tribunal. In time, it could be a year from the time of the first request before the applicant can expect a response to the first request. If the applicant were to make a subsequent request, after being refused initially as vexatious (even if the refusal is not upheld) they can be declared vexatious for having demonstrated a persistent pattern of behaviour.

[4] See Martin Rosenbaum’s experience with the Cabinet Office BBC article

[5] See Tim Newburn Literature review Police integrity and corruption




[9] If we consider how easily the police were able to locate and track Michael McIntyre, it raises questions of what else they are tracking in the name of “policing priorities” The behaviour wou appear to contravene the surveillance code of practice.

[10] The police, using FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) which does not require a warrant or RIPA to use, was able to identify a flat that was “glowing” with heat that suggested it was growing drugs.   To be sure people can take counter measures, yet they are already on the defensive. See also operation.

[11] We only need to consider that the technology to see through walls, without worrying about heat signatures already exists and is in use. The UK police are already receiving advertisements for drones with the capacity to see through walls. See for example

The Metropolitan Police Service and the government are funding research in to this technology.

[12] The terms of reference do not look at the current use or the future planned use of under cover police. The review will provide recommendations on how undercover policing should be used, but that is not the same as looking at its current and future use as well as its capabilities.

[13] Listening devices have become smaller and everyday objects are now designed with listening devices inside. Even the need for physical surveillance is reduced so that even if groups wanted to be secure, as this article suggests,, their efforts have to be so intense, consistent, and persistent, that only very few could sustain it.

[14] What is left unresolved is who determines when a political group becomes a public order threat. Is this a political decision or a police decision? Is the criteria mainly guided by the threat or use of force? Or is it guided by other factors that might undermine the regime? For example, a professor who teaches that republics are good and monarchies are bad might be consider a threat to the regime. Would they be targeted as a possible public order threat? The issue is not idle nor is it speculative. We have to remember that Socrates was killed as he threatened the Athenian regime and many of his students or followers were tyrants, became tyrants, or otherwise presented additional threats to the regime in a more immediate way than Socrates.

[15] Consider this publicly available manual for counter surveillance systems, techniques, and practices.

[16] As mentioned above, the technological ability to put individuals under surveillance, without the need for judicial or legal oversight expands. Consider the current research on t-wave or millimetre wave imagining.

[17] We need to recall the power of the official story is that it is broadcast widely and shapes the public opinion about the topic. The Hillsborough tragedy is the paradigm of the flawed “official story”. The police and press colluded to lie about the event and spent the next 30 years fighting vociferously to resist any attempt to question, challenge, or change the official story. The shameful, dishonourable, and immoral behaviour by the press, police, and politicians is the required context for the Pitchford review as it captures the political and organisational ethos that informs the decision to create the undercover unit.

[18] The term blackmail is not used lightly. The former chief whip admitted to blackmail as the work they did to extract MPs from difficulty, such as a scandal involving “little boys” would be used later when they wanted to control the person for life. The control would exist not just for the term in office, it exists for life.

“Michael Cockrell’s ‘Westminster’s Secret Service’ featured an interview with Tim Fortescue who was a senior Whip, in the Heath administration 1971-1973 – and so almost a decade before the period of greatest relevance to our review. He was prepared to say in an interview broadcast on national television:

“For anyone with any sense, who was in trouble, would come to the whips and tell them the truth, and say now, I’m in a jam, can you help? It might be debt, it might be… a scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal in which, erm er, a member seemed likely to be mixed up in, they’d come and ask if we could help and if we could, we did. And we would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points… and if I mean, that sounds a pretty, pretty nasty reason, but it’s one of the reasons because if we could get a chap out of trouble then, he will do as we ask forever more.” [Emphasis added] (Paragraph 10)

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When the whitewash of a cover up unravels: why archives matter

English: Richard Nixon boarding Army One upon ...

English: Richard Nixon boarding Army One upon his departure from the White House after resigning the office of President of the United States following the Watergate Scandal in 1974. 日本語: ホワイトハウスを去るリチャード・ニクソン (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What people most remember about Watergate, aside from President Nixon decision to resign the presidency, are the investigations and hearings that lead to his resignation. The film All the President’s Men, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, was a huge success and it made investigative reporting a household term.[1] What is often forgotten, though, are the various efforts to cover up and stop the investigations. Watergate was not a single scandal, but a series of interconnected scandals and for each the White House took a variety of counter measures to thwart the various political and media investigations. At one point, the President claimed to have investigated the issue and dismissed the allegations.[2] Later, the White House would claim that the media were making “wild accusations” about the Watergate issues. After he tried, and failed, to stop the investigation using the CIA to stop the investigation[3], he offered a compromise that would limit who could hear the tapes. All of these attempts to stop and control the investigation failed. Nixon failed in his attempt, as he could not control the investigations. If he were to control or thwart an investigation, he would have had to control the terms of reference and who investigates. So what does this have to do with the Home Office, Leon Brittan and the archives?

The Dickens Dossier and the missing files

The United Kingdom faces its own Watergate with the apparent cover by the government of politically powerful paedophiles. In October 2012, Tom Watson made stunning claims to Parliament about a powerful paedophile ring at the heart of Westminster. Many people were incredulous. They could not believe that such behaviour occurred and if it had occurred, it was investigated. However, his claims forced the Government to act.[4] Even though the focus was on the infamous Dickens Dossier, there were a number of interconnected claims. As the Dossier had the highest profile, it is alleged to have named powerful paedophile predators who were working in government, it has been the focus of the most attention. In 1983, Geoffrey Dickens had sent the dossier to Leon Brittan as Home Secretary.[5] Yet, nothing appeared to happen. With Leon Brittan as a potential suspect because of other evidence, the public feared a Home office cover up.

The government’s initial response: a narrow focus on specific issues.

In February 2013, Tom Watson asked that the Home Office review its files.[6] The permanent secretary to the Home Office Mark Sedwill commissioned an independent review to look at what information had been received by the Home Office from 1979 to 1999.[7] We do not know who wrote the terms of reference, but we do know they were only focused on 1979 to 1999. The review duly reported, yet failed to dispel concerns about what had happened to the files. It raised further concerns. In particular, the permanent secretary revealed more problems with records management at the hearing before the Home Affairs Committee.[8] In response to these issues, David Cameron asked the permanent secretary to the Home Office to investigate the claims.

Cameron said he understood the concerns that had been raised. “That’s why I’ve asked the permanent secretary at the Home Office [Mark Sedwill] to do everything he can to find answers to all of these questions and to make sure we can reassure people about these events.[9]

An independent review into independent reviews.

The Home Office commissioned an independent review by Peter Wanless (CEO of NSPCC) and Richard Whittam QC. They were given a short timescale (less than 8 weeks) and narrow terms of reference (look at the previous reviews and their methodology). The authors did not contribute to the terms of reference. Like the initial reviews, we do not know who wrote the terms of reference.[10] However, we do know that the government needed to respond quickly to limit the potential damage from flawed initial investigation and reassure the public. With less than 8 months from an election, they needed a review that would provide a quick, clear, reliable answer. When the report was provided on 11 November 2014, the government declared that nothing had been found. Although Theresa May was less effusive in her endorsement, she did not contradict the official narrative.

“The official Wanless review into whether there has been a cover-up of the Home Office’s handling of child abuse allegations in the 1980s has returned a verdict of “not proven”, the home secretary, Theresa May, has told MPs.” [11]

The public, victims, and survivors were less impressed. Even the review authors were keen to explain that they had a very short time to work, barely eight weeks, and they were not consulted on the terms of reference. There was fear that the report would be seen as a whitewash. Despite some mild criticism, the report was seen to be valid.[12] The government and the public appeared to turn their attention to the still unfolding Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. The official story was that while there were problems with the records, there had been no “smoking gun”. The “wild accusations” had not been proven. There had been no historical cover up and there had been no whitewash of the cover up. Then something happened.

All decisions leave bureaucratic echoes in the archives.

In January 2015, an independent researcher visiting the National Archives made an important discovery. He found a file for Margaret Thatcher that contained allegations about Leon Brittan and others. The official story presented by the Wanless Review was now in doubt. The Home Office and the Cabinet Office had to review their files. They found more information. On 22 July 2015, the story broke. Newspapers reported that more files, beyond the initial one found by the researcher, had been found with allegations against senior political figures including Leon Brittan.[13]

What had happened in the previous reviews?

When the independent researcher found the file, the Home Office and the Cabinet Office claims to Wanless and Whittam crumbled. They had lied to Wanless and Whittam. Their good names and their status as decent, honourable, men had been used as a political shield by the Home Office, the Cabinet Office and their masters. The Home Office (1 May 2015) and the Cabinet Office (5 May 2015) wrote to the Wanless and Whittam. They explained that they had found more records. The Home Office finally confirmed the existence of a large amount of unstructured files. They explained that they had not provided the authors with all the material. Even though they knew of the material since 2013, when the first independent review was prepared, they did not mention the unstructured files. At the time of their review, the senior civil servants assured the authors that everything had been found.

When British bureaucrats are mad as hell: they express “disappointment”

The authors issued a supplement to their review on 3 June 2015.[14] Although they did not change the report’s conclusion, the terms of reference were drawn narrowly, they explained in an understated way they were disappointed. They were disappointed in the searches and the unreliability of senior officer statements.

“That said, it is essential that the public have confidence in the searches that were undertaken, not least because we had to rely on the efficiency and integrity of those who sought material on our behalf. The emergence of these papers only after our Review had completed is not helpful in that regard.”

In their own understated way, the authors explained that senior civil servants lied to them. The senior civil servants omitted to tell them of the other files. The authors had been misled by those assurances. They were never told of the unstructured files. There are sins of commission and there are sins of omission. In this case, the UK civil servants committed a sin of omission. The Cabinet Office knew about the files and withheld them from the investigators.

We are concerned and disappointed that the Cabinet Office was aware of the separate Cabinet Office store of assorted and unstructured papers yet informed us that the searches covered all records and files held.

The civil servant behaviour is disappointing. Although they will point to the narrow terms of reference, they failed the spirit of their role. They ensured the information remained hidden. However disappointing the behaviour, it should not be surprising. The behaviour appears common among senior civil servants. The senior civil servant who upholds the Nolan Principles and the Ministerial Code that governs the civil service regularly flouts the rules.[15]

If this is their best effort to help, what happens when they want to stop something?

The permanent secretary to the Home Office failed to do what David Cameron had asked. He had failed to “do everything he can to find answers to all of these questions and to make sure we can reassure people about these events.” What David Cameron promised was not delivered. If we are generous, we would think that the civil servants, with their narrow terms of reference, hollowed out David Cameron’s promise. If we were less generous, we would think that David Cameron did not intend to deliver on his promise to reassure the public and the civil servants acted to protect him. In either case, the reviews were flawed and failed to reassure the public. What is clear, though, is that the civil servants knew about the store of records and were concerned about it long before Wanless and Whittam started their review. Even though the Cabinet Office knew about the unstructured files in 2013, as they explained in their letter to Wanless, they did not mention it to the authors.

We have been .aware for some time that this is an unsatisfactory position. In 2013, we sought approval from the Lord Chancellor for retention of these papers, under the Public Records Act, so that they could be property reviewed and prepared for transfer and public release as appropriate. In 2014 the Lord Chancellor, advised by his Council on National Records and Archives…[16]

The National Archives role is important. At this stage, though the Cabinet Office knew there were files the authors had not seen. The authors had asked about this possibility. The civil servants reassured them that nothing of consequence existed off the system.

[T]hough we did seek assurance from very senior officials at the Home Office in the early 1980s as to what papers might have been held off system and were told very few (Review 6.9].

Where were the National Archives?

What remains unexplained is why the National Archives were not involved. Even though the National Archives were aware of the unstructured files in 2013, they were not consulted nor included in the Wanless Review. Even though the Home Office knew about files with the National Archives, they did not direct the authors to visit them.

[W]e have conducted some additional searches that were the subject of these enquiries. These searches have, identified some unregistered Home Office papers held at The National Archives. We would not have expected these papers to have been discovered·as part of the searches that you commissioned, because their file titles do not include any of the search· terms you agreed and they are unregistered papers so they did not appear on our record management system. You will recall that the searches we conducted on your behalf were limited to registered file titles only (rather than file contents) and that file titles are often imperfect.

The search terms and the approach to searching the records were done without the National Archives. Despite a massive historical records management problem, neither the government nor the authors of the review consulted the government’s records management experts.

Why did the Home Office exclude the National Archives?

If the permanent secretary intended to “do everything he can to find answers” as he was instructed, he would have involved the National Archives. They are the UK government’s archives and records management experts. If you have a records management problem, you consult a records management expert.[17] Yet, they were not consulted. Why? Perhaps, the Home Office did not want to find out everything it held. A wider review at the time would have revealed further problems. In particular, as we now know, that Edward Heath was involved in meetings [with paedophile rights campaigners from the PIE group] [Update see below **]. If the review had looked more widely, then it might have turned up this information. Perhaps, the Home Office did not want to include the National Archives as that would have revealed too much. We do know that the terms of reference did not include them and they were not included in the searches.

Who wrote the terms of reference for the reviews?

The terms of reference tell us about what the report will and will not cover. Their content reveals their intent. If the author wants to avoid a topic or only cover a specific topic, the terms of reference will be written accordingly. In all three reviews, the two initial reviews and the follow up review, the terms of reference were written to avoid some topics and focus on others. In all cases, the reviews avoided any reference to the National Archives. Even though the National Archives had been consulted in 2013 about the unstructured files, they were not consulted in the terms of reference and they were not included in the searches. With the recent revelations about Edward Heath, we need to ask why. The recent revelations show there is more information within the archives than is currently known. [18]

More questions that need to be asked

We can see the initial reviews did not cover the period when Heath was in office. Why? They only looked at Home Office funding for PIE. Why did they not look at who was involved with it inside the government? They did not look at what figures were involved in the PIE nor did they look earlier than 1974. Why? Will the permanent secretary to the Home Office explain who wrote the terms of reference and why they did not involve the National Archives? Why there is such a gap between what David Cameron promised and what the civil servants delivered. What remains unexplained is how the Home Office and the National Archives overlooked the document that the researcher found. All documents are reviewed before they are sent to the Archives. When records arrive at the National Archives, they are assessed, reviewed, and catalogued before they are made available to researchers. Why were they overlooked?

Does the civil service lack the integrity to act with honesty?

The debacle with the review the narrowly drawn terms of reference, and the sins of omission, explains why the victims and survivors have little faith in the government. When the civil service to act without honesty and integrity even when directed by the PM, who is left to trust? Even when required to disclose the information, they made every effort to resist. The terms of reference they wrote would *never* fulfil the PM’s promise. If the civil servants are willing to mislead a QC and the CEO of the NSPCC, what chance do the victims and survivors have?

The episode reveals a suspect civil service ethos. The Nolan Principles that are supposed to guide all public officials, including the Civil Service, appear as hollow pious wishes. The Principles insist on openness, accountability, and integrity yet, they were not displayed in this episode. What has the civil service gained by its sins of omission? They have sacrificed their integrity, their honour, and the public trust. In return, they have satisfied their political masters. They have sacrificed their personal integrity. In return, they have protected the reputation of dead men. Are the secrets they protect more important than their duty, their integrity, and the public trust? Is it that the civil service cannot work without the secrets it keeps that allow it to blackmail the privileged and the powerful?[19] What type of person aspires to behave this way? Are there any honourable or decent civil servants left?

Time is running out for the government to act with decency and integrity.

For the sake of the Goddard Inquiry we can only hope, the government and the civil servants will act with honesty and integrity. If they cannot be expected to act with honesty and integrity, do they only exist to protect the powerful and privileged. Is the British Civil Service a shield of incompetence and dishonesty to protect the wicked? We have to believe there are men and women who will do what is right, act with integrity, punish the wicked and protect the weak. If they cannot do this, then we have to wonder whether the civil service can recover from its Watergate.

**The original phrasing was incorrect. The updated sentence is based on the following quotation from the Mirror online news site.

“A dossier of files compiled by former Labour minister Baroness Castle showed Heath was present at Westminster meetings ­with paedophile rights campaigners from the PIE group.

Heath is said to have attended at least a quarter of the 30 or so monthly or bi-weekly meetings.”

[1] The media’s role is often over emphasized as the FBI and the House and Senate investigations were especially effective.

[2] “On August 29 [1972], at a news conference, President Nixon stated Dean had conducted a thorough investigation of the matter, when in fact Dean had not conducted any investigation at all.”



[5] “Dickens, a longstanding campaigner against child abuse, passed the dossier of allegations to Brittan in 1983. Brittan has said he passed it on to his officials and raised concerns about some of the allegations with the director of public prosecutions.”





[10] The second review, in response to a question by Tom Watson MP in January 2014 looked at what funding the Pedophile Information Exchange (PIE) received from the Home Office.


[12] I was critical of the review and explained why in this article. What remains unexplained to this day is why the National Archives, the country’s records management experts, were not involved in the review.



[15] Christopher Wood article in BBC and


[17] What is curious about the whole case is that the records would have ended up with the National Archives in any case. They knew the National Archives was aware of the document and cleared to be involved in it.


[19] As Wanless and Cottam explained, the behaviour of civil servants and elected officials could encourage this view. “Michael Cockrell’s ‘Westminster’s Secret Service’ featured an interview with Tim Fortescue who was a senior Whip, in the Heath administration 1971-1973 – and so almost a decade before the period of greatest relevance to our review. He was prepared to say in an interview broadcast on national television:

“For anyone with any sense, who was in trouble, would come to the whips and tell them the truth, and say now, I’m in a jam, can you help? It might be debt, it might be… a scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal in which, erm er, a member seemed likely to be mixed up in, they’d come and ask if we could help and if we could, we did. And we would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points… and if I mean, that sounds a pretty, pretty nasty reason, but it’s one of the reasons because if we could get a chap out of trouble then, he will do as we ask forever more.” [Emphasis added] See also

Posted in corruption, justice, public opinion | Tagged , , , , , , ,

The Goddard Inquiry is worse than Watergate

Photo from Senate Watergate hearings.

Photo from Senate Watergate hearings. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Goddard Inquiry is similar to the Watergate crisis, but worse. Even though they have different origins, they deal with the same issue. They are both about politically corrupt acts by those in power. In particular, they are based on the lies the politically powerful told the public. In Nixon’s case, he lied about his knowledge of, and complicity in, the cover up.[1] In the UK, we see similar behaviour. From the Home Office that cannot find files, to a civil servant in charge of probity who destroys records and flouts the Freedom of Information Act, we see a regime that appears institutionally incapable of dealing with politically powerful predators. What is common to both is that they are both about an abuse of power and an abuse of trust.[2] However, four things make the Goddard Inquiry worse than Watergate: scale, scope, duration and consequences.

Scale. In Watergate, though the rot was limited to the President and his immediate circle with various ripples of corrupt behaviour. In the UK, the Goddard Inquiry has revealed the whole public sector is complicit. All parts of the Crown are complicit. We have reports of Cabinet Ministers, MPs, Police, Judges, Civil Servants, and Intelligence Officers who are complicit. Moreover, unlike Watergate, this goes to all levels from Central Government to local government. No public authority that is immune.

Scope The deeper issue, though, is that Watergate while part of many smaller related scandals was a single event that was the culminating point. By contrast, the Goddard Inquiry has already indicated the institutional abuse was not limited to a single period or a single region.

Duration. The institutional abuse was going on for decades and was known by the Crown from decades. We know this because there have been prosecutions and there have been people charged and sent to prison. The difference, though, is the Crown has been immune. It simply refused to address the claims and allegations. Moreover, it failed to address the consistent and overt abuse of power by the privileged and powerful. The predators were able to avoid prosecution for always-unknown reasons. (no one ever seems to explain why the police always turned away or why they were never prosecuted) has never been held to account nor has it ever given an account of why it failed to act. Why did the Crown decide that it was in the public interest to protect paedophile predators and not investigate them? How can the UK public accept a government that puts its interests before the law and before the safety of vulnerable children? Why is it more important for the powerful to be allowed to rape children than to bring them to account for what they did when it was known?


Like Watergate, the Goddard Inquiry will have consequences for the United Kingdom. How each country responds, though, reflects their different political ethos, the difference in their regime, and the difference in what the public expect. We will see this in three areas. The first is trust, the second is leadership, the third is transparency and accountability.


After Watergate in the United States, people stopped trusting the government. From the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War revelations, we can see a dramatic drop in public trust in the government. The graph, copyright of the PEW foundation, shows the decline over 50 years.

The same would occur in the UK except with little or no effect. The public will lose confidence in the government and most importantly in the Crown. The government may rely upon the English cultural reaction of resignation and equanimity in the face of such horrors as institutional abuse over decades. However, trust will decline. For most, it will simply be something they always suspected and so it comes as no great surprise. They are resigned to the fact that the powerful will prey upon the weak and the institutions will fail to protect them. Only those who expected otherwise will be outraged and even among that minority most will soon be distracted by the next issue. However, there is an important difference between Goddard Inquiry and Watergate in terms of leadership.


Once Watergate’s scale became known and the President’s complicity clear, he had to resign. The same is unlikely in the UK. No one will resign over the revelations. In the UK, the closest equivalent to the President is the Queen. The Queen will not abdicate over this scandal. Even if it depended on what she knew, when she knew, and what she did about that knowledge, it is very unlikely that she will abdicate. Even though it and other scandals that involve her government, her ministers, and those who have sworn allegiance to her, she will not abdicate. In fact, even though the United Kingdom faces a political crisis that affects all parts of the government at all levels, no one will take responsibility. At least Nixon had the decency to resign.

Nixon had to resign as he was, amongst other things, involved in public statements designed to thwart the investigation. Barbara Jordan, citing the Constitutional Convention in which the articles for impeachment were developed, explained how the betrayal of the public trust is central to the abuse of power.

The President has engaged in a series of public statements and actions designed to thwart the lawful investigation by government prosecutors. Moreover, the President has made public announcements and assertions bearing on the Watergate case, which the evidence will show he knew to be false. These assertions, false assertions, impeachable, those who misbehave. Those who “behave amiss or betray the public trust.”

We can consider that those who failed to provide the relevant documents to the Wanless Review betrayed the public trust. They ensured that at a crucial time the Government could claim that nothing had been found.[3] The Government was able to deny the allegations of a cover up. They betrayed the public trust. At least Nixon had the decency to resign and to apologise.[4]


After Watergate, the US recognized the problems with government that behaved in secret. Other revelations showed the country the dangers from a government that hides from the public and that it allowed an abuse of power to flourish. As Earl Warren Supreme Court Justice noted in response to Watergate revelations,

When secrecy surrounds government and the activities of public servants, corruption has a breeding place. Secrecy prevents the citizenry from inspecting its government through the news media.…

It would be difficult to name a more efficient ally of corruption than secrecy. Corruption is never flaunted to the world. …If anything is to be learned from our present difficulties, compendiously known as: Watergate, it is that we must open our public affairs to public scrutiny on every level of government.[5]

Immediately after Watergate, the country reacted by seeking more openness, accountability, and oversight of their government. Shortly after Nixon’s resignation, the House and Senate held elections and the Republicans, Nixon’s party, lost significant numbers of seats. The new legislature passed bills to reform campaign finance, amend the Freedom of Information Act, and require financial disclosure by key government officials.[6] Even though, the secrecy battle continues and remains problematic, it is easier to fight because of the efforts that were made in Watergate’s aftermath. In one sense, the investigative journalism was born.[7] The difference, though, was whether one chased scandal for circulation or whether one pursued stories to reveal corruption and protect the public interest.

In the United States, the political fabric changed with open meeting laws now part of many states constitutions. The public demanded openness and accountability and the governments both state and federal responded by passing laws to ensure they existed.

In the years immediately following Watergate, however, the states with open meeting laws rushed to expand them and those without hastily enacted their own. 17 Today, open meeting laws have become so important to the appearance of open government that over half the states make some mention of open government in their constitutions.

17 Id. § 1.1, at 3–4. Chief Justice Warren famously remarked: “If anything is to be learned from our present difficulties, compendiously known as Watergate, it is that we must open our public affairs to public scrutiny on every level of government.” Earl Warren, Governmental Secrecy: Corruption’s Ally, 60 A.B.A. J. 550, 550 (1974).[8]

In the UK, we find that the government is now taking steps to reduce its accountability by reforming the FOIA. The government believes that if it is more transparent, that is it publishes more information, it will be more accountable. The government ignores that FOIA is about what the individual wants to know from the government not what the government decides they should know. In effect, the government’s initial response to the scandal is to curtail the public’s ability to hold it to account.[9] Is this the way an honourable government or decent civil servants act? In the sense of accountability, we can begin to see the framework for excuses and defences to any demands for reform.

At the same time, though, the United States constitution provided a standard to judge the President. As the United Kingdom has no written constitution and the Queen is the source of all laws, there exists no written standard to judge the Crown and the government. Where the Crown is judged is by the courts, which owe allegiance to the Queen, or Parliament, which owe allegiance to the Queen. The difference is clear. As Barbara Jordan pointed out in citing James Madison.

James Madison again at the Constitutional Convention: “A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.” The Constitution charges the President with the task of taking care that the laws be faithfully executed, and yet the President has counseled his aides to commit perjury, willfully disregard the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, conceal surreptitious entry, attempt to compromise a federal judge, while publicly displaying his cooperation with the processes of criminal justice. “A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.”

In the UK, the Crown’s will is absolute, which means that it can never be accused of subverting its own laws as Parliament can change its laws to suit its will. It is accountable to no one.


Despite the same type of political crisis in which the powerful abused their power and behaved corruptly, the Goddard Inquiry and Watergate are different. Although the Goddard Inquiry still has to run its course, we can only be hopeful that the consequences will be as wide ranging as they were after Watergate. However, as set out above, the chances of that are low. In so many reviews, we find, like the 7/7 attacks review that no one was to blame and lessons would be learned. In relation to the Goddard Inquiry, we already see this strategy. No one was to blame for the failure to tell the Wanless Inquiry of the lost documents that related to Leon Brittan.[10] It would appear, that in the UK government and Crown no one is to blame or responsible.[11] When the Crown and the Government are only accountable to themselves, who would hold them to account?

[1] Watergate is actually a series of scandals that culminated with the President resigning. Barbara Jordan describes the President’s complicity in this speech.

[2] Few people will be aware that before Watergate Richard Nixon was considered by many as a trustworthy person who embodied integrity and could be trusted. Even though he had his detractors, the public was favourably disposed to him before the Watergate scandals. (insert link)

[3] Then some files were found (Although Teresa May initially said that they believed that the files were duplicates that Wanless and Whittam had already seen it ( and Wanless and Whittam had to issue a supplement to their report.

[4] It is noteworthy that the Anglican Church has apologised for its role in child abuse as has the Catholic Church.

[5] Governmental Secrecy: Corruption’s Ally Earl Warren American Bar Association Journal, Vol. 60, No. 5 (May, 1974), pp. 550-552 American Bar Association


[7] See Watergate’s Legacy and the Press: the Investigative Impulse By Jon Marshall

[8] See also Case Western Reserve Law Review Vol. 61:2 Notes Open Meetings and Closed Mouths: Elected Officials Free Speech Rights after Garcetti v Ceballos 549- 600


[10] What is disappointing is that neither Wanless nor Whittam appeared to request or seek help from the National Archives on this review. Even though the review was on historical records, and including experts from the National Archives may have helped them to understand the need to look for “unstructured” records, they do not appear to have solicited their help. One must never underestimate a bureaucracy’s ability to keep its secrets even as it appears to cooperate.

[11] This approach seems to be the Crown’s default approach.

Posted in corruption, Government, justice, philosophy, privacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Can’t you take a joke?” Charlie Hebdo, tolerance, and why the joke is on the West

"Free Speech Doesn't Mean Careless Talk&q...

“Free Speech Doesn’t Mean Careless Talk” – NARA – 513606 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Freedom of speech and the freedom of the press are considered important for a free society. Both of these freedoms support the common opinion that binds a society together.[1] The freedom to philosophize is the source for these freedoms. Yet, unlike the freedom to philosophize, a purely private activity, the community limits the freedom of speech and freedom of press, which are exercised publicly. Even if a government allows speech, the community may restrict it. Even though no society practices universal toleration, most do practice a form of toleration. Unlike the ancient world, today the government protects speech and rarely restrains speech. Such a view, though, is only a modern idea, as the ancient societies did not practice toleration.

When Athens killed Socrates they set the limit to philosophy as speech

When Athens put Socrates to death, for speaking publicly and freely on matters that challenged the community’s common opinion, they set philosophy’s public limit. In response, philosophy made a concerted effort to convince communities that it was not a threat. Philosophy’s success in this project can be measured by the extent to which communities allow free speech and a free press. Governments only limit speech that threatens public safety narrowly understood, and more widely to ensure the survival of the regime. The change came from Thomas Hobbes who planted the idea of freedom of speech within the modern nation state. He argued that the sovereign would respect and protect private beliefs and control of public speech would be limited to what was required to ensure the public peace was maintained in the commonwealth.[2] The modern state will tolerate speech to the extent that it does not challenge the regime or the public peace. Yet, the claim to free speech raises the question. If you speak in accord with the regime or the community, are you practicing free speech? In the case of Socrates and Athens, the community was forced to choose between Socrates and the Athenian regime. The regime defended itself by putting him to death.[3] The same argument applies to the Charlie Hebdo incident. The society will tolerate and protect satirists so long as they do not threaten the society.

What you claim as tolerance, I have to experience as repressive tolerance

The French society is considered a tolerant society that practices a form of liberal democratic toleration. However, that tolerance was far from universal. What the French society displayed before the Charlie Hebdo incident could be called repressive toleration. Herbert Marcuse described this as the point at which a society, to defend itself, demonstrates the limit of its toleration.[4] The tolerance is repressive in that the public, or groups, are required to tolerate the status quo as legitimate.[5] If they disagree with it, they must tolerate it as the basis for membership in that society even if they work to change it. Even if the society or the government are not choosing a side, the status quo is defended. As the status quo, Charlie Hebdo’s satire was less a defence of free speech than a defence of the orthodox or community view on France’s relationship with Muslims. Here, the Muslims experienced repressive tolerance, as they had to accept the orthodoxy that tolerated and defended Charlie Hebdo.

Tolerance finds its limit at the point where free speech begins.

Thought has to exist beyond what the society will tolerate publicly or it cannot be considered free. Consequently, philosophy has to be a private activity. Charlie Hebdo expressed publicly the community’s view–the orthodoxy.[6] In such a society, though, the orthodoxy appears repressive. Other heterodox groups, such as extremist anti-Muslim groups are not tolerated. Perhaps this is why the Islamic gunmen did not target them. They know these groups hate them and do not seek their acceptance. Yet, this shows that French society’s promise to tolerate their views is limited. They know that the government bans, controls and disapproves of extreme anti-Muslim behaviour. In this effort, French society appears to fulfil its liberal promise of tolerance. The hate groups do not act with the official approval or tolerance. However, in a basic sense, though the hate groups attempt to exercise a freedom of speech as they confront the orthodoxy with heterodox view. In this effort, the liberal democratic state appears consistent. It suppresses extremist speech to protect the public good. Yet, the orthodoxy, which promises to suppress anti-Muslim groups stops short. The society still practices intolerance and encourages a repressive tolerance. To the Muslims who want tolerance for their beliefs concerning the Prophet, the apparent tolerance of the Charlie Hebdo blasphemy appears as racist and bigoted. “Hey, don’t be insulted it is only a bit of fun. We know how this will have an effect on you, but, hey, it’s only a bit of satire. Can’t you take a joke?” In this, the liberal democratic state’s tolerance of Muslim concerns stops at satire, an orthodox behaviour. If the speech conforms to the orthodoxy, it will be tolerated.

What is a society without restraint?

For most people, the Charlie Hebdo incident has been understood as a heinous attack by gunmen intent on killing those who had profaned the Prophet. The incident has been described as an attack on free speech. The writers and artists died in defence of free speech. They published controversial cartoons despite the requests and threats of Muslims to stop. As French citizens, they claimed they had the right to blaspheme or satirise whomever and whatever they wanted. If someone could demand that they stop, then they argued freedom of speech would no longer exist. They would not surrender to censorship or practice restrain that would be self-censorship.

There is a good higher than satire or freedom of speech, which is in question.

The highest good for the satirist is the freedom of speech expressed as the freedom to satirise. Nothing is higher than that right as nothing can constrain it. Yet, that cannot be true as they live within a society that must exist for them to practice their freedom of speech. By contrast, the highest good for Muslims is Allah. Their society exists to serve him. At this level, the issue appears to be a clash between irreconcilable goods, which the state cannot resolve without a choice. As the orthodox position, though, the perceived clash between civilisations misses the deeper issues in this incident. It leaves unexplored the society that provides the context for the free speech and what the free speech seeks to achieve. What is the society that freedom of speech wants to achieve? If freedom of speech is to serve society, it is to help individuals and by extension the society discover what is best for the society. The speech has to be open to enquiry or it only serves to confirm society’s orthodoxy. When speech confirms society’s orthodoxy, it stops being free speech.

Even when commentators, like Gerry Trudeau and the PEN members, voice concerns about the way Muslims have been portrayed, they stay on the surface. They overlook the deeper issue. The Charlie Hebdo incident reveals the tensions in a liberal democratic society over free speech and the limit of tolerance. To explore this tension though, we have to understand the intrinsic limit to satire. We need to consider why the satirists chose their targets. In turn, we need to explore the context within which the satirists worked. Finally, we have to consider the wider question of what the highest good within the West if the highest good is freedom as demonstrated in the freedom of speech to satirise.

Section 1: Is there a limit to satire or speech?

Most people, especially in the United States, believe passionately that there is no limit to free speech. They claim that the First Amendment, which provides their right to free speech, is an absolute right. The common view is flawed in that there is a limit to speech in the United States in two important ways. First, it does not cover private speech within a company or an organisation. Second, there are limits to the speech as set by law. The second limit is consistent across other societies. All societies limit speech either on national security grounds, or with hate speech laws, or blasphemy laws. Even if law does not limit satire, it is limited by two further factors. First, it is limited what the satirist wants to cover based on their personal preferences. Second, it is limited by what society will tolerate. The satirist has a reason to satirize a person, object, or idea and that reason starts to reveal the limits to satire. The reason can be personal or it can reflect what the society will tolerate. However, it is a limit.

Is common decency self-censorship?

The counter argument is that what the satirist’s choice is not a limit or a prohibition. The issue is whether the satire is being prohibited by a threat or a command from someone else be it a country, a person, or an organisation. Yet satirist who would target the Prophet would also avoid some topics either by personal choice or by societal pressure. At a basic level, if they are professionals, they have to sell their product so they must find a market for it. They have to cater to what the market will tolerate. In each case, the satirist has a choice of the target or topic. The Charlie Hebdo writers, for example, have not satirized their own dead. They did not find that a topic worthy of satire. Immediately one might ask how or why they would want to satirise their dead colleagues. Alternatively, they could satirise society’s repugnance at child sexual abuse. When they refrain from satirizing such topics, it shows a limit. In this case, common decency directs that these topics be avoided. Common decency allows civilisation to exist. Others might say, “Well anyone else can satirise their dead that is the nature of free speech.” And they would be right. Yet, we look everywhere for such satire and it is missing. Again, someone can say, “No one stops such satire.” Again, they would be right. Yet, the issue is why is it not chosen as a topic? What we choose reflects who we are, it reflects our context, and it reflects our society. A satirist is shaped by their society in their choices. The Charlie Hebdo satire is there to attack Islam as it cannot refute it or rebut it. Instead, it uses the tactical advantages to undermine Islam before public opinion, a public opinion that is already sympathetic to the ridicule.

Second Two: The satire reflects the orthodoxy.

When satire occurs, it occurs within a political, cultural, or societal context. In France, the topics of satire are within, not outside, the wider political orthodoxy. Consequently, the Charlie Hebdo targets reflect what the orthodoxy will tolerate as a target. They have not taken a stand against society as they have endorsed the orthodoxy’s view. Their satire is less free speech than an echo of the orthodoxy.

No so much punching down as defending the orthodoxy as free speech

Some writers have argued that Charlie Hebdo acts from a relative position of power and acceptance. Charlie Hebdo is protected by the state. They can act in the knowledge that society protects them. Some have described the satire as “punching down”. Such a view, though, misses the point. It is not punching down; it is punching with the majority. The satirists act less as a social conscience against society’s inequalities and flaws and more as a societal court jester that indulges the majority.

Their claim to challenge powerful opinions or prejudices within France simply masks the orthodoxy they serve. When they attack the Catholic Church, Israel and politicians, they echo what the society believes. In their satire, they act as the societal shock troops to assimilate these groups into French society and remind them that they serve French society and liberal democracy. Charlie Hebdo is part of the French society and they are French citizens demonstrating their targets have to conform to French societal norms.

Can the West claim to be tolerant when Muslims are second-class citizens?

By contrast, Muslims face a daily challenge of cultural survival. Society discriminates against them despite claims to tolerate them. They are strangers in a strange land. One could say they live as second-class citizens on the margins of French society. The French will point to French Muslims who have made a success in France. In that, they would be right. The opportunity does exist for some to achieve. They are the exception, though, as acceptance comes from assimilation. They must demonstrate tolerance for all that France embodies. France, as a liberal democratic society does not tolerate so much as require assimilation for acceptance. They must renounce who they are and accept the liberal identity. Such a test is to accept the Charlie Hebdo satire.

Religion’s death rattle in the face of liberalism’s onslaught?

In the same way, attacks on Catholicism and Judaism are acceptable as they reflect and exist within French society’s laicism. French Catholicism, already hollowed out by modernity, is drained of any belief comparable in intensity or seriousness to Islam. Catholicism offers no meaningful alternative to the liberal state that challenges it existentially. By contrast, Islam resists the liberal state politically and intellectually. The orthodoxy says that religion is a private matter, which drains it of public meaning and importance. On this basis, religion is tolerated as it exists under liberal democracy’s supremacy in the public domain. Islam, by contrast, struggles with modernity both within itself and within the wider international system. The international system is a liberal democratic system that encourages liberal democratic tendencies[7]. Against this background, the Taliban and ISIS are not a new jihad. They are not a new call to Allah. They are not a new prophet come to bring peace. They are the death rattle of a religion. Islam fate is the same as Christianity and Judaism. It is to be consumed by liberalism.

Satire is tolerance or is tolerance a satire?

Satire against the weak is vicious, brutal, and unnecessary. The Muslims in France are weak. They are on the defensive. They are strangers in a strange land that is increasingly inhospitable. They want to find a way to live West’s promise on their own terms of tolerance. They find the promise empty. Tolerance is only an interregnum before they are assimilated. The West, though, wants to have it both ways. It wants to be tolerant and repress those it tolerates. In this behaviour, the West no longer knows what it means to tolerate or to assimilate. The modern state replaced religion with ideology as the test for citizenship. The change allows the state to control violence used to promote or defend beliefs. If you ascribe to liberalism, you will be tolerated. Today, though, the danger is removed which means that tolerance does not keep the peace as much as impose liberalism. The tolerance has become repressive tolerance.

Charlie Hebdo exemplifies this work. Satire ridicules and suppresses that which the liberal democratic state cannot refute. Here the Ancien Regime returns with full force. The French Revolution’s promise of the rights of man evaporates as politics reasserts itself. France no longer lives to that promise. France does not believe in the rights of man. It believes in the rights of Westerners who ascribe to liberal democracy.

Third section: what kind of society does satire seek to achieve?

Liberalism and tolerance succeeded in large part because they provided an alternative argument about the best way to live. Tolerance emerged as those who wanted to promote liberalism demanded it. In turn, they promised toleration and for centuries liberalism delivered on its promise. However, as the dominant ideology, it cannot deliver the same promise. Liberalism, at its heart, is intolerant and illiberal. We see this illiberalism in Charlie Hebdo and the demands for privacy against state surveillance. Liberalism, which champions the individual over the community, finds it difficult to reconcile its principles to the increased demands from the individual. Liberalism finds it difficult to resist arguments that provide an alternative to it as the best way to live. To tolerate constraint, such as a request not to publish images of Allah, would threaten liberalism’s identity as it strikes at liberalism’s source in individual’s freedom of speech. Liberalism overcomes this by an illiberal institution, the sovereign state that would control the public domain and regulate public speech. So long as the group or idea assimilates to the dominant ideology, liberalism, the sovereign state will tolerate its entry and speech. In a sense, this is the trade-off necessary to make the nation state a success.

Another way to understand this is to consider that Liberalism became a religion. As a religion, Liberalism is jealous of any other gods that might contest the citizen’s loyalty. In this case, Allah draws people away from liberalism. Muslims, and privacy advocates, have rekindled questions the Hobbesian nation state was supposed to have answered—loyalty, legitimacy and obligation. Here we see the challenge as liberal society no longer contains a clearly agreed touchstone that creates loyalty, legitimacy or obligation. The individual, enhanced by technology, demands the state wither away so they can be free of its arbitrary constraints. The state resists this disintegration by its promise and ability to deliver individual benefits. Yet, if we are loyal only because of the sovereign state’s ability to deliver individual benefits, we lack a viable alternative to Islam’s demands on the best way to live. Islam presents the same challenge at the ideological level as it presents a rival basis for loyalty, obligation and obedience.

Do we have a good life if that life is what the majority tells us?

The issue is more than majority rule or totalitarian democracy. Instead, it is to ask what animates the West and calls for the loyalty, which was the basis for tolerance. It would appear that the West is uncertain of what society it wants to be. If we raise freedom of speech and thought to sacred objects, we confront the question of what end does such freedom serve? The Muslims have an answer to that question, as does the individual who seeks privacy to indulge their hedonism. Western Liberalism no longer provides an answer. One can argue that it is not for liberalism to provide an answer to the best way to live. Yet, if it is not for liberalism to provide that answer, what does provide that answer?

The individual vs the state an eternal debate or has technology solved it.

Even if we do not accept that liberalism has to answer that question or can simply reject what Islam has to offer, the question remains. What kind of society do we want? The highest good for the individual, as obtained through freedom of thought and freedom of speech, may not be the highest goal for a society. The tension always exists. The problem is that the increased illusion of free speech has led to a greater censorship of the public domain and greater intolerance. The state becomes a tool to be captured to enforce the intolerance and support the freedom of speech that is free to the extent it echoes the majority’s intolerance as it expresses the societal orthodoxy. The state and society become intolerant to defend freedom of speech but only to the extent the speech expresses the orthodoxy’s view. The difference, though, is that the public police public speech more severely and completely than the state. Thus, those who speak in the public domain reflect the orthodoxy and not a heterodox view.

Freedom of thought as long as you agree with us.

We can see the strength of that orthodoxy when those who question Charlie Hebdo are accused of agreeing with the attackers or blaming the victim. Commentators quickly defend the orthodoxy and attack dissent. When the orthodox writers claim, “Well, at least we are allowing you to write that and we are not killing you”, they overlook the inequality within the society. Their power to suppress heterodox views through a variety of non-violent means backed by the power of the state undermines the claim to freedom of thought. Just as Muslims do not tolerate attacks on the Prophet, the orthodoxy does not tolerate attacks on free speech. Yet the attack, through satire on Islam, suggests that France no longer has the power to tolerate challenges to its orthodoxy. Satire does not rebut the challenge. The West can no longer rebut the challenge or explain freedom’s purpose. Freedom to satire serves except to attack the orthodoxy’s targets. Philosophers act as society’s court jesters playing the fools through word games and solipsistic public posturing. If freedom of speech and the freedom to satire simply promote the orthodoxy, can the West claim to be a society that tolerates freedom of thought? Perhaps the joke is on the West except it is excused by fact that it neither understands the joke nor understands why it is laughing.

[1] Just as all societies rest upon a common opinion so to do governments. See the Federalist Paper 49.

[2] Hobbes Leviathan Book 18 In the midst of chapter 18, Hobbes lists 12 rights of the sovereign. The central right is Right 6: The sovereign is to judge what is necessary for the peace, which can include public opinion. (accessed 12 March 2014)

[3] “Socratic philosophy is a rebellion against the Sparta in Athens. The Athenians’ willingness to endure Socrates’ embarrassing cross- examinations demonstrated an openness to this enterprise. His execution revealed the limits of their remarkable indulgence. In the end, they proved unable to condone what they regarded as corruption of future citizens, since Socrates was diverting the primary allegiance of gifted youth from Athens to his philosophy (cf. Gorgias, 481 DI-C3, 513C7-DI, 526D5-527A4).” Harry Neumann SOCRATES AND THE TRAGEDY OF ATHENS Social Research, Vol. 35, No. 3 (AUTUMN 1968), pp. 426-444

[4] See Repressive Tolerance

“And such universal tolerance is possible only when no real or alleged enemy requires in the national interest the education and training of people in military violence and destruction. As long as these conditions do not prevail, the conditions of tolerance are ‘loaded’: they are determined and defined by the institutionalized inequality (which is certainly compatible with constitutional equality), i.e., by the class structure of society. In such a society, tolerance is de facto limited on the dual ground of legalized violence or suppression (police, armed forces, guards of all sorts) and of the privileged position held by the predominant interests and their ‘connections’.

These background limitations of tolerance are normally prior to the explicit and judicial limitations as defined by the courts, custom, governments, etc. (for example, ‘clear and present danger’, threat to national security, heresy). Within the framework of such a social structure, tolerance can be safely practiced and proclaimed. It is of two kinds: (i) the passive toleration of entrenched and established attitudes and ideas even if their damaging effect on man and nature is evident, and (2) the active, official tolerance granted to the Right as well as to the Left, to movements of aggression as well as to movements of peace, to the party of hate as well as to that of humanity I call this non-partisan tolerance ‘abstract’ or ‘pure’ inasmuch as it refrains from taking sides–but in doing so it actually protects the already established machinery of discrimination.”

[5] We can also reverse this to indicate what the powerful can censor. The state may outlaw certain speech and society may impose sanctions on those who speak out contrary to what society wants. This is described in Thucydides. For the censorship which their power permits the oligarchs to impose corroborates the Athenian contention that all strive to rule wherever they can or that “might makes right” (V, 105; cf. II, 22.1 IV, 22). Harry Neumann SOCRATES AND THE TRAGEDY OF ATHENS Social Research, Vol. 35, No. 3 (AUTUMN 1968), pp. 426-444 (page 429)

[6] In 2011 Nicolas Sarkozy declared that multiculturalism had failed.


[7] See Liberal Democratic Tendencies

Posted in censorship, philosophy, privacy | Tagged , , , , , ,

Why is the Goddard Inquiry a threat to the Crown?

Mobbing the Tories by American Patriots in 177...

Mobbing the Tories by American Patriots in 1775-76; the Tory is about to be tarred and feathered (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The inquiry threatens the UK regime’s very fabric. What the recent Cabinet Office documents indicate is that the powerful pedophile predators were known.[1] The Crown knew about them. The police had files on them. The Home Office and the Cabinet Office had files on the allegations. In itself, this is not surprising given they have a responsibility for law enforcement within the UK. [2] Most of the names mentioned were already known or publicly suspected. Three things in particular make the inquiry a threat to the UK regime.

The government and its defenders need to prove their integrity.

First, the revelations and the inquiry undermine all official pronouncements by powerful figures that they and their cohort are beyond reproach. The defense based on authority and status has suddenly crumbled.[3] The files that confirmed what victims and survivors had claimed about the powerful predators. Those who had defended the reputation now face a reckoning. Were they deceived about the past or did they know? Either way, the claims of other powerful defenders is now in doubt. The integrity of any public person or any public statement must be taken with a grain of salt. There can be no more arguments from authority where a powerful political figure bullies the public into submission with claims of unimpeachable rectitude and integrity.[4] Not only is individual integrity in doubt, the integrity of the regime is in doubt. The best parallel to this is the Watergate crisis. In that crisis, the government lied to the American people and tried to cover it up. The President was shown to be dishonest. The arcana imperii were revealed[5] and people stopped trusting the government.[6] In response, government sought to reassure the public through open meetings laws, FOIA amendments to make it stronger, and more stringent financial reporting. As an aside the UK is in the midst of review to *restrict* the FOIA. Yes, that is correct, in the midst of a crisis of confidence that involves claims of a large scale cover up, the government has embarked on a review of FOIA to *reduce* its effectiveness.

The UK is founded in force and coercion not consent and reason.

Second, the regime is based on coercion not consent.[7] Such a regime, while it has a democratic veneer, is only in place from force of arms. No election or constitution created the Crown. Its legitimacy comes from the force of arms. Even though the coercion is now implicit rather than explicit, it is ever present.  The implicit nature of that coercion is seen in the Oaths of Office. Through the Oaths of Office, the Crown has a monopoly of force. All the Crown’s major elements, not including the civil servants, swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen. The Army’s oath is the most extreme. They swear to protect the Monarch, not the state or the people, against all enemies.[8] In such an oath, the People might be a threat. If the people were to attempt to change the regime by force, the Army is duty bound to the Queen not to the people. Even in a situation where the Crown’s behavior is egregiously immoral and inhuman, the Army are bound to her not to a constitution or a higher law. Without consent, the regime has to rely on its force. If the institutions of force, the police and the military refuse to enforce the political order, the regime collapses.

The Crown only exists to promote the public good. How is protecting predators a public good?

Third, the Crown has broken its covenant with the people. The Crown is only accepted as long as it acts for the public good. In fact, its powers only exist for the public good.[9] The regime relies on an implicit social contract that the Crown protects the people. At a basic level, the Crown protects them from foreign enemies. At a more advanced level, it is to protect them from powerful predators, such as criminals, who prey on the people. The Crown through the force of arms and the laws will suppress criminals and the powerful who would prey on people. In other words, the Crown keeps the peace and ensures justice. Yet, the bargain or the contract only works if the Crown does not prey on the people. If the people, aware that the Crown knew about the powerful predators, continue to obey it? Should they obey it? What will sustain the Crown once people realize its complicity in these crimes?

No regime is stable that allows the powerful to prey on the weak and the vulnerable

History has shown that a regime will remain stable so long as the poor and weak are not exploited. The weak will not revolt or challenge the rulers if they are protected and free of abuse.[10] The regime, though, has to restrain the predatory few within the privileged. In this task, the Crown failed. It knew about and the predatory few. It did not bring them to justice. We now know that the government knew and the Crown failed to keep its bargain.[11]

The Crown exists to protect the people. When it fails to protect them why keep it?

At its root, the CSA Inquiry reveals a constitutional crisis. The regime, the Crown, has failed to protect its people. The Crown knew about the abuse and did not stop it. The same Crown, the same regime, is in power today. Unless it reforms itself, it cannot claim to have any moral legitimacy in the public’s eyes. How can anyone working for the government justify this behavior? How can any one look at a police officer or a government official knowing that the regime they work for allowed this to happen and did nothing about it for more than 30 years? What is truly frightening is that these are only the ones they have been willing to disclose. What about the other issues?

Who would obey a regime that relies on force and allows the powerful to prey on the people?

Who would obey such a regime or believe what it has to say? Over the next five years, the disclosures are going to get worse not better. The inquiry will show the public just how corrupt it is and nothing will change that fate. What happens as a result will determine the regime’s fate. You can have the soldiers, the courts, the judges, the police and the politicians, but that does not make your rule legitimate or honourable, which is what the Goddard Inquiry has begun to reveal.


[1] See for example this article that reveals the Home Office had the files and

[2] For an analysis of their search efforts see and more generally

[3] See for example Dominic Lawson’s stout defense of Leon Brittan  before the revelations of 22 July 2015

[4] One is reminded of Lord Scarman writing is almost bullying tones about anyone who would dare impugn the integrity of the senior Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers. Writing in 1981 he said

“The direction and policies of the Metropolitan Police are not racist. I totally and unequivocally reject the attack made upon the integrity and impartiality of the senior direction of the force. The criticisms lie elsewhere – in errors of judgment, in a lack of imagination and flexibility, but not in deliberate bias or prejudice”. (Para 4.62, p 64).

Found in the MacPhereson Report  Paragraph 6.8 concerning the allegation that the MPS was a racist force. Events proved Lord Scarman’s statement to be false and suggested he was either completely unaware of the police corruption, which is strange given the numerous scandals, even at that time, or he was making the statement to protect the establishment from criticism.

[5] The child abuse is some of the UK’s arcana imperii

[6] The chart shows how trust in US government declined steadily from 1968 and accelerated after Nixon’s resignation. The graph, copyright of the PEW foundation, shows the decline over 50 years.

[7] See Xenophon’s Memorabilia. Book I 2.41-46. If a regime rules without consent, it is tyrannical. The UK citizens have not consented to have the Queen as their ruler and they must accept the next ruler, as they have no choice in the matter. The people may change the party in power, but they can change neither the government nor the regime.

[8]  .“I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown and Dignity against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, and of the generals and officers set over me.”

[9] “The reason is constitutionally fundamental: the Crown’s powers exist not for its own benefit but for the public good”. See the Lecture by Stephen Sedley The Royal Prerogative Then and Now.

See also

  1. The claim that the Crown may do anything an individual may do logically involves a claim that Ministers have an unfettered discretion in doing such things. But, as Sir William Wade once pointed out (in a passage subsequently approved by the Appellate Committee106),

“The powers of public authorities are…essentially different from those of private persons… a public authority [must act] reasonably and in good faith and upon lawful and relevant grounds of public interest. Unfettered discretion is wholly inappropriate to a public authority, which possesses powers solely in order that it may use them for the public good”.

[10] Aristotle Politics 1297b “For the poor are willing to remain tranquil even when they have no share in the prerogatives, provided no one acts arrogantly towards them nor deprives them of any of their property. Yet this is not easy; for it does not always turn out that those sharing in the governing body are the refined sort.” Politics Carnes Lord Translation University of Chicago Press


Posted in censorship, privacy, public sector, republicanism, statesmanship | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Police Surveillance: Are the Goddard Inquiry Survivor Groups a target?

English: A photo of a traditional "blue l...

English: A photo of a traditional “blue lamp” as located outside most English police stations. This one is outside the Covent Garden Police Station of the Metropolitan Police in London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since 1968, the Police have used undercover tactics to infiltrate groups that posed what they considered a public order threat. Along the way, though, something went wrong. They began to put victims’ families under surveillance and infiltrate victim support groups.[1] The police behaviour follows a trend that raises questions about their role and legitimacy today.

Where is the political oversight for undercover policing of victims’ families?

Although many of these cases are alleged, with some still being investigated, there are IPCC investigation reports and news reports that confirm some of them occurred. Even though neither the reports nor the outcomes are in the public domain, their existence raises questions about the police activity. In particular, they raise questions about the way in which they decided the surveillance was necessary. The Stephen Lawrence Independent Review (Aka Ellison Report) showed the police officers failed to reveal their role during trials, which suggests those convicted may have unsafe verdicts.[2] Moreover, it appears that the undercover police work on victims was a police decision. They were only accountable to themselves. No political oversight of their activity existed. The Home Office have the political oversight for the police[3], yet they were unaware of this work.[4] In light of these disclosures; surveillance of victims, lack of political oversight, and betrayal of due process, the police legitimacy is in question. Although the Metropolitan Police Service have tried to provide a bright and positive image, in recent news programmes such as The Met: Policing London[5], the reality is stark and scary. The police appear to be a law unto themselves, able to pursue anyone with impunity and without independent legal or political oversight.

Why are victims under surveillance is this the behaviour of honourable men?

The first question that emerges is why are victims under surveillance? At first glance, the answer might appear normal. They could be complicit in the crime or they could plan or instigate potential civil unrest. Often time the victims’ families want revenge or they may be part of an ongoing feud. For example, when a gang member kills a rival gang member there is likely to be a retaliatory attack or murder. The police have a public order responsibility to pre-empt and prevent these attacks to maintain public order. In this regard, such surveillance might appear normal. The police have a duty to protect the public and maintain the public order. However, who decides when a victim is a potential threat? What is the criteria for such a decision?

Are the police becoming a paramilitary force to impose order or do they enforce the law?

These questions remain unanswered. The police behaviour raises the issue of their role in society. It is time for a fundamental review of that role. Is the MPS a paramilitary force with responsibility for national security or if it is a law enforcement agency? In the former, a different set of laws apply than in the latter. Espionage is about national security and in that situation, the public safety as the fate of the society, not simply public order, is the higher law. Only when a society faces an existential threat, a threat to its survival, does public safety become the highest law. These situations are rare and exist as an exception to the normal state, which is a healthy political society at peace. By contrast, law enforcement is simply that, it enforces the law. It is not above the law because it only ensures the normal situation of lawful behaviour is sustained. Once the police engage in political espionage, and undercover policing that breaks the law and subverts due process of the law, is espionage, then they stop being law enforcement. The Crown cannot have its cake and eat it too. It cannot claim it rules by law and subvert the law. Otherwise, something else is higher than the rule of law.

Are the police an unelected political actor shaping our public lives?

When they undertake political espionage, or surveillance to gather political intelligence, the police become a political actor. As such, the immediate question has to be answered. Who has authorised that activity? Beyond the issue of who authorises surveillance, which is now covered by RIPA, is the larger question of who has directed the surveillance? Where is the political oversight of that decision? If democratically accountable ministers have not made the decision, then democracy is under threat. In effect, the police act arbitrarily and according to their operational need. The democratically elected Ministers relinquish their responsibility and the police can act as they wish. Such an approach may appear best for operational purposes, yet it undermines democracy and allows arbitrary unelected officials to decide on the targets of domestic political espionage. The police priorities determine the political priorities. It is a system open to abuse, an abuse of power, which undermines democratic legitimacy. Do we want a society where police can abuse their power with impunity and rationalise it as necessary for “public order” or “policing priorities”?

Where is the political oversight?

If the politicians direct this political intelligence gathering, where is the evidence? Where have they been accountable for it? If they don’t make that decision, who does? Is the UK political system one in which the police are a political tool for the government in power? If the police are not acting on political instruction, where is the democratic oversight and accountability? Is Parliament now an empty house where prerogative power rules without legal or political oversight? The end justifies the means only if the end is legitimate. What it appears from this historical trend and the recent reports is that the MPS and other police forces put victims under surveillance. They appear to rationalise it after the fact, as we are never told the criteria or reason for surveillance. Nor has anyone explained how victims could be a public order threat.

Are the Press part of the Police intelligence gathering system?

What is even more troubling is that the press seemed ready and willing to aid the police in their surveillance work. We know from the News International and News Corp employee, the Fake Sheik would work with the MPS to arrest people he had ensnared. We also know from the Milly Dowler case that the News of the World reporters claimed they were helping the police with their enquiries when they telephoned people about Milly Dowler. When the press become part of the intelligence gathering operation, do they cease to be journalists and become police informants? Do journalists continue that role even today with an unspoken agreement? When you talk to the press, are you really talking to the police, as they will betray you as their source if they deem it necessary?

Are the police institutionally corrupt?

In all these cases, there appears to be a corrupt activity.[6] In a corrupt state, violence or the threat of violence pervades all relationships and the public discourse is used to rationalise such violence. Instead of a debate to decide whether to act and to act appropriately, what we find in a corrupt state is its acts are rationalised afterwards. The public debate is used to rationalise the often violent behaviour. Such behaviour would never be approved yet is rationalised afterwards as reputation management and damage control. When we look at the police behaviour through a political filter, we see a pattern of behaviour that should disturb any citizen in a decent society. The police appear to put victims and other parties under surveillance to protect their interests, to provide political intelligence, and then justify it as a public order issue afterwards. Is this the sign of a decent society; a legitimate police force; a government accountable to the public?

The past is prologue: troubling questions for the Goddard Inquiry

With the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse[7] (aka Goddard Inquiry) underway, a new question emerges. Have they placed the victims and survivors groups under surveillance as a potential public order threat? Have they infiltrated these groups with undercover officers? Has the MPS considered infiltrating these groups to investigate their threat to public safety? The historical trend suggest that this is a strong possibility. If we follow the historical logic the MPS appear to have used, it would indicate the victims and survivors are a potential threat to the regime and would need to be infiltrated and placed under surveillance.

The abuse of power occurs when it is unaccountable

Perhaps if the MPS explained these issues, and the senior officer decision process behind them, we would have more confidence in the police. If we had someone explain the reasons why victims’ families were under surveillance and where those reasons were tested we would be able to say we have police with integrity. Integrity exists when you are accountable for your behaviour and decisions. Integrity does not exist when you live by a code that might makes right and power excuses all behaviour. Without accountability the police become bullies with badges where policing becomes violence rationalised as necessary for public safety. All of this done without any oversight by politicians, who themselves have been under surveillance, or the public who are kept ignorant and fearful.[8]

We have a choice, justice or the strong rule the weak.

We have to believe that the police act ethically and support the democratic rights we hold dear. For the most part, this is true and the expected police behaviour is the displayed police behaviour. However, if they believe themselves immune to such expected behaviour, they are protected while citizens suffer surveillance, then it suggests we have a corrupt police force. Worse, it suggests we have a corrupt political system where the strong rule the weak so long as the public are not aware of it.

Is that what recent events have shown to be the relationship between the politics and policing in the UK? Is it time for a change?



[2]    See also the case of Mark Kennedy who as an undercover officer infiltrated environmentalist activist group and the trials against the group members collapsed. See also Bob Lambert’s interview  For the background to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, it is important to consider the Macphereson report 

What is interesting to note is the following quotation from the Scarman Report into the Brixton Disorders.

6.8 In policing terms Lord Scarman also rejected the allegation that the MPS was a racist force. He said:-

“The direction and policies of the Metropolitan Police are not racist. I totally and unequivocally reject the attack made upon the integrity and impartiality of the senior direction of the force. The criticisms lie elsewhere – in errors of judgment, in a lack of imagination and flexibility, but not in deliberate bias or prejudice”. (Para 4.62, p 64).

The quotation is deeply ironic, in the context of this post, given what we now know about the undercover policing activity which was occurring from 1968 onward. Can we still say, in hindsight, that the senior direction of the force was as impartial and full of integrity as Scarman’s bold and decisive language would have us believe?


[4] “When funding ceased in 1989, no accountability was required until the SDS closed in 2008 and no significant evidence was identified of any links to the Home Office throughout this period. Outside of the annual reviews there is very little evidence to support any Home Office knowledge of the SDS and in particular no evidence was identified of any influence in operational activities.”

[5] it is curious, but not unexpected, to see a major UK news institution The BBC do a programme on a pillar of the establishment. However, this is not surprising. The overall focus is rather light on criticism and more on presenting a positive and reassuring message of hard working police. The episodes do not explore senior officer decision making on difficult cases such as Daniel Morgan Murder, Operation Tiberius or general Internal Affairs concerns. Instead, the show focused on frontline policing issues, which provide reassurance to the public, with only a minimal focus on midlevel decision making and no analysis of senior officer decisions.

[6] Corrupt means the normal or healthy society or organization has decayed. In this case, the police force was pursuing what it considered the public interest, which was its self-interest. In the latter operations against victims’ families, the police are acting in their self-interest in a way that undermines the public interest in a police force that acts with integrity and probity. Their organizational interest had been placed before the public interest and in conflict with the public interest. The organization is not corrupt for its pursuit of its own interests; it is that those interests were illegitimate. When that occurs, the police become corrupt.


[8] On the issue of elected politicians under surveillance see:

For more on the police surveillance capacity see For a report on the review of that unit in 2010 see

Posted in corruption, public opinion, republicanism, statesmanship, surveillance | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Child Sexual Abuse: A consequence of an imperial system?

The Rhodes Colossus: Caricature of Cecil John ...

The Rhodes Colossus: Caricature of Cecil John Rhodes, after he announced plans for a telegraph line and railroad from Cape Town to Cairo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The long awaited inquiry into historical child sexual abuse has started. The Goddard Inquiry (Hereafter the Inquiry) will examine the extent to which institutions and organizations in England and Wales failed to protect children from Child Sexual Abuse (hereafter CSA). After years of stories, investigations, and some convictions, the issue is finally being addressed. Although many events led up to the Inquiry, the attention from Tom Watson’s claim that a powerful paedophile ring had operated in Westminster was decisive.[1] In response, the government commissioned the Inquiry. It will investigate how public authorities failed to protect children from CSA. The approach appears thorough in what it covers. However, it is not complete. What the Inquiry lacks is work to place the public institutions and individuals, in particular the allegations of the powerful pedophile predators, into a wider social and political context. Without this context, it will fail.

Only a societal context lets us understand individual predators and institutional failures.

What the Inquiry has to do is place the abuse and the institutional failures into a historical context. The institutions acted within a wider political and societal context. The context will help us understand why they acted as they did. Without the wider context, the Inquiry will never be able to explain the institutional behavior. The institutional behavior is more than the desire to hide scandals. Instead, the institutional behavior relates to the individual behavior. The inquiry hinges on the relationship between the individual level (the victims and their abusers) and the institutional level (those which failed to protect the victims and confront the powerful). In some cases, the individual and the institutional level intersect. Abusers, enablers, and protectors often worked in institutions. How they operated and why organizations failed to deal with them is an important part of the inquiry. In some cases, individuals, through intent or incompetence, thwarted institutional attempts to investigate or punish CSA by powerful pedophile predators. Yet, these two levels only tell part of the story. Therefore, the wider story has to include the wider political context. In this case, it has to include the nature of the regime.

A regime founded on an abuse of power will perpetuate abuse.

The United Kingdom’s political regime, its imperial structure covered with a democratic veneer to maintain its authority, is the wider context. The Inquiry has to understand this context even if it will not explore it. Without this context, we cannot understand the institutional or individual behavior. The regime’s founding influences how it works.[2] In turn, the public authorities will have been shaped by the political culture that shaped their response to CSA. The public are right to be worried about the politically powerful who abused their power, position and privileges, to exploit children. To understand those powerful abusers as well as the public institutions, we have to look at the context. We have to understand that the regime gave them their power and status. We need to understand how it gave them power. At a basic level, it gave them honours and celebrated their public work.

What the abuser does to an individual, a regime does to a people. 

At its core, Child Sexual Abuse is an abuse of power.[3] The abuse comes from stark physical inequality between a man and a child.[4] The child does not and cannot consent to the violence he suffers. The man uses his power, either physical, emotional or economic to abuse the child. In many cases, the man uses his position, a power in itself, to gain access to vulnerable children. The vulnerable children, often wards of the state nominally under the Crown’s care, were in no position to resist and no one was likely to defend them. Even if someone wanted to defend them, or the child resisted, who would believe them against someone with power and position? The abuser’s status gave them power. From that power, they were able to exploit the children and bully those who might object. We see figures such as Jimmy Savile or Cyril Smith who appeared beyond the law[5] and received public honors or political office. The public honours and offices gave them status and power. In turn, t suggested that the system endorsed them. What child would say no to Jimmy and Cyril? What institution said no to them? The children and the organizations were conditioned by the regime to defer to their power, status and privileges.[6] However, we need to move beyond the individual level or the institutional level to the regime level.

The regime broadly understood is

“[T]he order, the form, which gives society its character. Regime is therefore a specific manner of life. Regime is the form of life as living together, the manner of living of society and in society, since this manner depends decisively on the predominance of human beings of a certain type, on the manifest domination of society by human beings of a certain type. Regime means, the whole, which we today are in the habit of viewing primarily in a fragmentized form: regime means simultaneously the form of life of a society, its style of life, its moral taste, form of society, form of state, form of government, spirit of laws.”

A regime founded in an abuse of power will nurture that character in its elites.

All imperial systems are founded in an abuse of power. From that founding, they perpetuate an inequality as they rule. They rule by power and not consent. They are above the law as they make the laws. In this behavior, they follow the ancient law that the strong rule the weak.[7] Over time, they may take on a democratic veneer to make the regime acceptable and provide a sense of popular legitimacy. However, despite these efforts, the ruled have no say in who rules them. At all times, the rulers benefit from the inherent inequality. As Thucydides said of Imperial Athens, the strong do as they will and the weak suffer what they must. When a political system is founded on coercion and not consent, it influences all political relationships. For example, we know that the United Kingdom relied on slavery and the wealth it created to sustain its empire. In effect, the British Empire in its early days was a slave empire.[8] Even if a democratic veneer may gradually soften that explicit rule, it remains implicit throughout the regime so long as the Monarchy remains. We can see this continuing influence in various institutions such as the military and the schools, which shape the character of citizens where a bully culture was common and encouraged to maintain discipline. Even with the common law as a potential constraint on power, the people had no organized ability to resist as the instruments of power, the police, military, and the Crown controlled courts. The institutions that wield political and military swear an oath to the Queen. They do not swear an oath to the State or to the Crown. They do not swear an oath to Parliament, the People, or a constitution. There is no popular sovereignty. At its root, the regime remains in place through force of arms not from popular consent expressed through a democratic process. For example, the Army takes an oath to obey the Queen and no one else. Their oath is the most explicit about obedience as they swear to defend her from all enemies and they will obey all of her orders.[9] The armed forces maintain her on the throne. She does not rule by consent nor is she elected.[10] However, the issue is not with the Queen as a person, it is with what she represents and creates—the regime.

The Monarchy shapes the Crown and the Crown shapes the regime. Although the Crown no longer relies as much on the Royal Household, as it did in the past, the Household still remains a powerful actor. Consider that if the 2015 election, or any election, had led to a hung parliament, one of the Queen’s courtiers, would play an active role in the process to form a new government.[11] In that indirect role, and many others, it sets the public tone to which the great and the good aspire. Even though the Monarchy’s direct power is much reduced, it wields extensive indirect power. The various parties and events create a social network that people, especially the powerful and preeminent, aspire to attend. In the same way, the honours system, despite its reforms, remains something that shape the regime. The powerful, protected and even the humble pursue these honours with great effort. Many will deform themselves to obtain one. Although nominally in reward for public service or service to the Crown and in turn the public, they serve another purpose. The honours reflect a system that inculcates people to seek the Monarchy’s approval. The powerful minority, the elite, that schools such as Eton and Oxford educate, pursue and receive these honours. These institutions are still shaped by the regime’s founding in an abuse of power. The views on slavery influenced popular education and this would, in turn, influence the way children were raised. Especially among the elite, who were shaped by the regime, it would encourage and normalize a bully culture where power came with privileges. Even the democratic veneer does not disguise this power nor does it displace or discourage those ambitious and talented few outside the Establishment from the effort to obtain them.[12] Athens ancient law’s truth can be seen in the behavior of those who once served the public quickly become Lords and Ladies keen to exercise their power and status. Moreover, the Leveson Inquiry revealed, the tabloid media culture reinforces the general bullying culture through their own behavior of “monstering”.[13] Where we would expect the media to resist the inequality and defend the public from such predators, the tabloid media enjoyed, in particular the News of the World, being a bully and punishing those they did not like.[14]

The Crown’s power and the political inequality it perpetuates show us regime’s nature. This nature provides the context for the institutional CSA and most importantly the politically powerful paedophiles. The CSA show us just how far the strong rule the weak. Even with a democratic veneer, the inequality remains. It is a permanent feature in UK culture as no one is the Queen’s equal. The inequality is sustained by the implicit, and sometimes, explicit threat of violence that sustains the regime. Until we understand the regime and the Crown’s role, we will not understand the institutional context.

When we look at the regime, though, we face the Inquiry’s most challenging question. How will the Inquiry examine the Royal Household?[15] Despite Parliament’s claims to supremacy and sovereignty[16], as well as the Lord Chancellor’s claim that the Rule of Law exists; the Monarchy reminds us who rules.

Where power begins, the laws stop and justice disappears. The Inquiry’s success will depend on its ability to bring the Royal Household within its scope and bring the regime into focus.


[1] Tom Watson raised the issue in parliament in 2013.  (accessed 12 April 2015) These concerns reflected issues that had been raised in the early 1980s and continued on to the Jimmy Savile case emerged.

[2] A regime founded in the belief in the divine right of kings   will inculcate a view of the relationship between rules and ruled is between superiors and inferiors. Moreover, the superiors will have divinely sanctioned rights against the inferiors. To understand this we only need to modify and paraphrase Thomas Jefferson’s famous statement on the issue. “The mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor [with] a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god.” On the issue of the divine right of kings in UK society consider its influence on the regime. “In the seventeenth century, the Stuart kings propagated the theory of the divine right of kings, claiming that the Sovereign was subject only to God and not to the law.”  In time this stark view was relinquished, however, the residual elements, the Royal Prerogative remains. The Prerogative exists simply because of the nature of the Royal Person.

[3] Child Sexual Abuse and Power Author(s): Stephen J. Rossetti Source: The Furrow, Vol. 46, No. 12 (Dec., 1995), pp. 684-688

[4] We have to remember that women can be abusers. In the cases brought to trial or made public the perpetrators have been mainly men and the women only played a smaller role, usually as enablers of or protectors of the male abusers.

[5] (accessed 6 April 2015) The Channel 4 programme claims that they have evidence to indicate that Special Branch had a file containing the evidence of Cyril Smith’s crimes even though he was never arrested or charged with them.


[6] See for example Cyril Smith’s bullying of the police over their investigation.

[7] According to the Ancient Athenians this was the law of nature. The strong rule the weak. (Melian Dialogue Thucydides 5.89 )

[8][8] On the history of the UK slave trade and the wealth it created see: and and

[9]“ I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors and that I will as in duty bound honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, her heirs and successors in person, crown and dignity against all enemies and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors and of the generals and officers set over me.”

[10] See Xenophon’s Memorabilia. Book I 2.41-46. If a regime rules without consent it is tyrannical. The UK citizens have not consented to have the Queen as their ruler and they must accept the next ruler as they have no choice, they have no consent in the matter.

[11] See also Even if the Queen wants to stay out of the politics, she has a constitutional role, a powerful role to shape the outcome. and Moreover, the more she must be kept out politics the more it suggests her power and her indirect role. To put it directly, the 1688 revolution is far from complete and Parliament is less supreme than it would like to believe.

[12] If you have talent the regime will co-opt you with honours and bestow other advantages. In these efforts, they defuse any potential resentment and harness talent and ambition. Aristotle noted this 2500 years ago when he explain how aristocracies stay in power.

1308a Further one should see that no only some aristocracies but even some oligarchies last, not because the regimes are stable, but because those occupying the offices treat well those outside the regime as well as those in the governing body —those who do not have a share, by not acting unjustly toward them and by bring into the regime those among them who have the mark of leaders, not acting unjustly toward the ambitious by depriving them of prerogatives or toward the many with regard to profit; and themselves and those who do have a share, by treating one another in a popular spirit.”


[14] One has to wonder whether the same external bullying was occurring within the company. Consider that its then editor, Andy Coulson, was named in a tribunal case in which the News of the World had to pay out nearly £800000.  “[A] tribunal ordered the News of the World to pay Driscoll, 41, £792,736 in compensation for being the victim of “a consistent pattern of bullying behaviour”   see also  If readers are interested, Mr. Coulson denies he is a bully. He claimed the Tribunal was unfair in its judgement. His witness statement can be read here:  The Tribunal judgement can be read here:   The salient paragraphs are paragraphs 106 and 116 and 130 and 141. What is particularly intriguing is that Mr. Coulson focuses on his emails and avoid discussing the culture of the management team he directed. In particular, on that issue, readers will want to read paragraphs 190.3-190.9.  As to the more subtle aspects of bullying which this incident suggests, consider this analysis For an insight into the News of the World culture, the Tribunal provides an insight with reference to the way the company responded to the claimant’s mental illness.  On this issue see paragraphs 198.1-198.4. Suffice to say the Tribunal did not find they were either sympathetic or understanding. In particular, even after the claimant’s claims were proven true which was the basis for the second disciplinary warning, they refused to accept it. (198.2)

[15] The initial oversight of the Royal Household appears to have been addressed.

[16] See Lord Neuberger speech. He explains that Parliament, which is part of the Crown, makes the laws so it is only accountable to itself not the people to whom it does not owe its allegiance. As Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury explains Parliament is only bound by its will nothing else because of its prerogative powers. (accessed 22 March 2015) See paragraphs 19-31.

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Can the Goddard Inquiry succeed when civil servants hide the secrets?

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, also known as the Goddard Inquiry, has started in the UK.[1] This long overdue Inquiry will

“investigate whether public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales.”

For the Inquiry to succeed it has to examine the records held by public authorities that contain reference to child sexual abuse and allegations of child sexual abuse. To make sure records were available; the Home Secretary issued a moratorium on records destruction.[2] The Inquiry’s chair wrote to all public authorities to advise them about what they needed to keep and what they could destroy.

The 21st century version of arcana imperii is alive and well in the UK civil service

What the Inquiry confronts, though, is the problem of arcana imperii.[3] In all imperial systems, and the UK remains an imperial system ruled by a monarchy, arcana imperii refers to the secret knowledge that is used to gain and wield power. In ancient Rome, where Tacitus coined the term, those who were in power held it by force of arms and the access and use of hidden knowledge. The hidden knowledge was called tacenda, which means knowledge that was not to be mentioned or made public. These are things better left unsaid, implied, or inferred. In brief, knowledge about child sexual abuse would be tacenda. When it is used to wield power or influence, it becomes arcana imperii.[4]

Arbitrary power exercised by unaccountable civil servants

We know that James I used such information and understood the term to describe his rule. The King has access to secret or hidden knowledge that enables him to rule.[5] The UK civil servants continue the tradition today. They know the hidden information by which the Crown rules. Today civil servants like the “Director-General, Propriety and Ethics Team” exercise this power. They have a special role in the decision to award honours. They keep few records and do most of their work by telephone or in person. Even when there are emails, they are deleted from the system so that they cannot be requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Even though the emails and documents are public records, they destroy them to keep them from the public. They flout the laws about public records either to retain it or to allow access to it.

The Goddard Inquiry will stumble on the historical behaviour of civil servants who hid the secrets

If the Goddard Inquiry is going to fail and the victims of child sexual abuse, it will be because of the culture and ethos that encourages the behavior by civil servants like the “Director-General, Propriety and Ethics Team”.  What will surprise you, though, is that this post is responsible for the highest standards of propriety in government and civil service.

“The purpose of the role is to ensure the highest standards of propriety, integrity and governance within government.”[6]

According to the BBC article, they regularly and routinely violate the standards. All public officials are to follow the Nolan Principles. These principles are the standard by which all public officials are to be judged.[7] What we find is the central principle, principle four, is Accountability.

“Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.”

Is such behavior accountable? No. It also contravenes another principle, the fifth principle, Openness.

“Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.”

Is such behaviour open? No. When a public official destroys records, flouts the FOI law, and refuses to account for their actions, they demonstrate neither Accountability nor Openness. Why is the person responsible for the highest standards, the one who flouts them the most? They violates the standards and the laws consistently. They are unaccountable to anyone but themselves. They insult the public, pervert the law, and betray the democratic trust. Who would condone such unethical behavior? Apparently, that is how the UK government works.

Move along, there is nothing to see here

On the surface, this article and their behavior may appear a small matter, a spat between a reporter and a civil servant. It is just another government official, like Michael Gove, who does not want to be accountable. They flout a law that annoys them and they ignore the Nolan Principles. We can see the common refrain, especially from the media, “Really, we need to focus on the bad stuff like murders, terrorists and other criminals and stop harassing powerful civil servant who have no time for such petty things as FOIA or the Nolan Principles.” Perhaps, in a previous age we might have.

What happened to Civil Service integrity? The shadow that haunts the Goddard Inquiry.

With the Goddard Inquiry, we should expect that such behavior would be condemned and stopped. Can the UK continue to have a civil service with the ethos this behavior reveals and the morality of such decisions? We see the same behavior in Rotherham Council. If such behavior continues, it will undermine the Goddard Inquiry. The Inquiry requires records are kept, decisions recorded, and public officials be accountable. In particular, the Inquiry has asked for any information held by public authorities about honours.

g. Any material relating to the determination of the award of Honours to persons who are now demonstrated to have had a sexual interest in children or are suspected of having had such an interest.

The Inquiry has written to the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood to ask for such information.[8] Except they are unlikely to find very much. The “Director-General, Propriety and Ethics Team” who makes the decisions on honours deletes and destroys the records. They will have erased the public memory. Neither they nor the person involved can be held to account. By their own hand, they have ensured the victims of the historical sexual abuse will be denied evidence. They will be denied justice.

As Chris Cook writes

“We also know, via the Freedom of Information Act, that she kept no log of why, how or when she destroys documents (contrary to that guidance)”

In the 21st century, we can see the Arcana Imperii at work. We now can see the way in which hidden knowledge is used to wield power behind the scenes, influence people, thwart the public will, and flout the law. The UK public has to ask, “What kind of regime allows someone to breach public standards so consistently, so blatantly, and so often?” We would expect such behavior in regimes like Stalin’s Russia, or Mao’s China or even Hitler’s Germany, but not in the UK. Yet, here we see the same imperial behavior continues. We see a regime that tolerates and promotes behavior to avoid accountability. They are not accountable to the law or the public.[9]

A regime that puts secrets before the truth puts privilege and power before the weak and vulnerable

What we find is a regime in which secrecy comes before accountability, where the Crown comes before the children, lies before truth[10], and power decides what is right. A decent person would recoil from such behavior. Perhaps, we find a regime that attracts person of a moral character who embraces such behaviour and flourishes. What we need to know is whether civil servants will be required to testify before the Goddard Inquiry for their past behaviour? If not, why not? Does the rule of law stop at the Cabinet Office’s doorstep?




[4] ARCANUS IN TACITUS Author(s): Herbert W. Benario Rheinisches Museum für Philologie, Neue Folge, 106. Bd., 4. H. (1963), pp. 356-362 J.D. Sauerländers Verlag

P360 “Here we have one of the keys to power, the ability – and the need – to conceal what is necessary from the general eye. The value of arcana is exclusively political here; what is referred to must be tacenda.”

Tacenda means things not to be mentioned or made public—things better left unsaid; tacit means “unspoken, silent” or “implied, inferred.”  (accessed 7 April 2015)

[5] For more on the term and its use, see Ernst H. Kantowicz, Mysteries of State: An Absolutist Concept and Its Late Mediaeval Origins The Harvard Theological Review Vol. 48, No. 1 (Jan., 1955), pp. 65-91




[9] Contrast this behavior with J. William Leonard who worked to ensure public officials were accountable and refused to allow records that described illegal behavior such as torture to be classified to hide them. Perhaps UK civil servants could demonstrate such integrity in the face of power. For more detail on J. William Leonard’s work and how a bureaucrat with integrity can hold a government to account see especially pages 1204-1209.

[10] “When I first requested a copy of this email back in 2011, the Cabinet Office insisted that it did not exist. The advice had only been given over the telephone, I was told. It was only in the course of a legal case (involving me, when I was a reporter at the Financial Times) in 2012 that the Department for Education revealed that it existed and it had kept a copy. The DfE revealed that the Cabinet Office had told an untruth.”

Posted in censorship, corruption, FOIA, Government | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Oaths that define a political regime

English: Dutch Students had to sign an agreeme...

English: Dutch Students had to sign an agreement that would prove their loyalty to Nazi Germany. Nederlands: Studenten moesten beloven dat ze zich zouden ‘onthouden van iedere tegen het Duitse Rijk enzovoort gerichte handeling’. Deze belofte moest schriftelijk worden gedaan, door een ‘loyaliteitsverklaring’ te tekenen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All regimes have loyalty oaths for citizens and those who work for the regime. These oaths are important political symbols as they explain what the regime holds most dear. They explain clearly the basis for obedience. Such obedience is beyond simply obeying the law of the land, which is considered the basic political obligation for anyone within that community even if they are a stranger. Therefore, it would reveal much about the regime if we know what these oaths contain and compare them to oaths in other regimes. Two such regimes are the UK regime and the Nazi regime. Winston Churchill described the British Monarchy as a benign kingdom that faced the sinister Nazi tyranny of darkness. A tyrant ruled Nazi Germany, a perverted form of kingship with a defective title to rule, in contrast to the legitimate king with a valid title, who ruled the British Empire.

Title to rule or title to tyranny?

Today, the Nazi regime is a distant memory and the word tyranny is reduced to a political term that describes any regime liberal democrats dislike. Yet, tyranny, as an idea that defines a king without a valid title to rule, remains. A valid title to rule is important to encourage obedience, obligation, and loyalty. These symbols are what a regime uses to remind people of their common identity. Even public events become symbols to remind the people of their duty. The basic public symbol is a loyalty oath. The oaths set their speakers apart from the average person. It demonstrates they have a different, higher, relationship with the ruler. However, in this relationship, the oath creates an inequality within the regime between the average citizen and those bound by the oath. The oath takers become the ruler’s agent through the institutions and practices they serve.

The two regimes, the UK and Nazi Germany are different in many ways. What connects, though, is their oaths. We begin with the Nazi Germany oaths and compare them the UK oaths to understand how each sets out what they expect of the oath taker. Through the comparison, we see how tyranny and kingship relate to the rule of law and a constitutional order. Moreover, they also help us to understand how the oath, by creating a systemic inequality, can encourage political or institutional corruption. The oath takers privilege their personal relationship with the ruler over their civic loyalty to the common good.

Oaths from Nazi Germany

We start at the top as it sets the tone for the regime. Hitler saw himself as independent of the regime. He stood above it as the source of its legitimacy. He demonstrated this by not swearing an oath to the constitution, the highest law of the land. (All the oaths are taken from Franz Neumann’s book Behemoth: The structure and Practice of National Socialism London Victor Gollancz 1942, P.74)

Hitler was independent of all other institutions, so that he has not had to (and did not) swear the constitutional oath to parliament, as required by Article 42 of the constitution.

What this suggests, as was confirmed by the war, was that Hitler as the Fuhrer saw himself as the source of the law. His will determined the law and the nation’s fate. Heidegger explained this in his lectures and speeches.

In the UK, a written constitution that rules over all does not exist. The Queen does not swear an oath to the law or to the constitution. As the source of the law, she is above the law.[1] Her Coronation Oath, by which she demonstrates she has assumed the throne, does not contain a promise to be ruled by the law. She does claim, perhaps for appearances, to respect the laws and voluntarily obeys them.

Archbishop. Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon, and of your Possessions and the other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?

Queen. I solemnly promise so to do.

Archbishop. Will you to your power cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all your judgements?

Queen. I Will.

A king is considered valid if they rule over willing subjects according to the laws. Yet, this definition raises two immediate issues. First, how do we know if the subjects are willing if they have not consent to the monarch? Can a person consent to a monarch? Moreover, is such consent tacit at best given that all the organs of power, the army, police, judges, and MPs swear an oath to the Monarch? The idea that a monarch rules according to the laws raises the question of the source of the laws and who makes them. The people do not make the laws, which would be the basis of a democratic system, as the Crown’s representatives make them. Parliament is part of the Crown and the Crown rules the people. The people do not rule the Crown. A democracy where the people rule and are ruled in turn does not exist. No one rules the Queen or the Crown.

Military Oaths

The military defend the Queen from all enemies. They do not swear an oath to Parliament or to the Law. We can see similarities between the military oaths.

The Nazi oath for military

“On the day of Hindenburg’s death every member of the army had to take the following oath

“I swear this holy oath to God: that I shall give unconditional obedience to Adolph Hitler, Leader of the Reich and the people, supreme commander of the army, and that as a brave soldier, I shall be ready to risk my life at any time for this oath.”

The UK army swears the following oath to the Queen.

“I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown and Dignity against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, and of the generals and officers set over me.”[2]

The Navy do not swear an oath, as they are the Queen’s own. They exist by the Queen’s prerogative and therefore do not need to swear an oath of allegiance.[3]

Both oaths require the soldiers to swear obedience before God. The Nazi regime explicitly indicates they must risk their life for the oath, which requires unquestioned obedience to Adolph Hitler. The same personal loyalty occurs in the UK oath. There the soldiers will defend the Queen from all enemies. The Queen need but indicate the enemies and the oath indicates that they are to defend her from it. Officers and generals who will give the soldiers orders require the same oath. Parliament has no role in this process. Parliament gives no orders and commands no obedience. The law is not mentioned in either oath.

Political Oaths

Cabinet Ministers, which we can consider similar to MPs, swore the following oath.

Cabinet members have to swear as follows: “I swear that I shall be faithful and obedient to Adolph Hitler, the Leader of the German Reich and people, that I shall give my strength to the welfare of the German people, obey the laws, and conscientiously fulfil my duties, so help me God. (Statute of 16 October 1934)

The UK MPs swear an oath to the Queen. If they do not wish to swear an oath, they can make an attestation. The text of these is as follows.

“I…swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.”

The text of the affirmation is: – “I…do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors according to law”.

Under Hitler, the politicians agreed to obey the law and to obey Hitler. By contrast, the UK politicians agree to allegiance to the Queen according to the law. They do not make an explicit statement to obey the law. As mentioned above, there is an important difference between ruling or living according to the law and being ruled by and obeying the law.

The third area, the civil service shares some similarity to the police and judicial oaths within the UK.

The civil service oath

The German civil service had an oath of obedience. A similar oath does not appear to exist in the UK so the nearest equivalent is either the Police oath or the judicial oath. The Judiciary swears two oaths. The first is allegiance to the Queen. The second is the judicial oath.

Here is the German civil service oath.

“I swear that I shall be true and obedient to Adolph Hitler, the Leader of the German Reich and the people, that I shall obey the laws and fulfil my official duties conscientiously, so help me God”. (Section 4 of the Civil Service Act 26 January 1937.)

Even though the Queen is now limited by the law and by parliament, as prerogative power has slowly been scaled back and checked by the rule of law, it remains above or beyond the law. Moreover, prerogative power still exists. The government uses it as the Queen does not use it personally. Unlike the German system, the UK system does not invest power in one person. Instead, we see that the power has been diffused across the Monarchy, Parliament, House of Lords and the Church. In an important sense, this diffused power structure was what the UK relied on to resist Hitler’s assault. At the same time, it also showed the structural weakness to the Nazi system relying on the Fuhrer’s will and allowing no basis for succession.

The UK police oath and the judges’ oath are worth comparing.

Form of Declaration

’I………………..of……………… solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly serve the Queen in the office of constable, with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people; and that I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offences against people and property; and that while I continue to hold the said office I will, to the best of my skill and knowledge, discharge all the duties thereof faithfully according to law.’”[4]

Oath of allegiance for judges

“I, _________ , do swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors, according to law.”

Judicial oath

“I, _________ , do swear by Almighty God that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth the Second in the office of ________ , and I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.”

What do the Oaths tell us?

Both sets of oath swear allegiance to one person. The oath range from extreme, the military, to mild, civil servants. The UK oaths focus on allegiance while the Nazi oaths relied on obedience. Only the Nazi Civil Servants oath swears to obey the laws. In such a system, where the Fuhrer’s will makes the laws, one has to wonder if that holds any hope that the rule of law, which would restrain the Fuhrer’s will or the UK’s prerogative powers, would exist.

What is clear, though, is that the validity of the rule is in question for both. What the UK does have is the weight of tradition and the culture of obedience. Hitler tried to emulate such a culture in a perverted way. In the UK, power is diffused and continues to diffuse. The people, though, do not have a role in that process nor have they a role in the government. To the extent that power is diffused across the Crown, the UK looks less like the German system. Hitler was clearly a tyrant in his desire to central power in his person. However, the UK monarchy, as do all monarchies, has tyranny as a shadow as power seeks a focus. The Monarch may not be as active as it was in the 16th century but the prerogative can find a willing recipient in the Prime Minister. An imperial system without an active monarchy will encourage the emergency of a replacement focus for the power.

How can oaths encourage corrupt practices?

The oath creates an inequality within regime. There are those who take an oath and are the Crown’s servant and there is everyone else. Unlike the rule of law, where everyone is equal before the law, the oath of allegiance creates a space beyond the law. The person puts their allegiance to the Queen first and by extension the Crown. In the UK the Crown, through the Monarch, rules. The people are not sovereign and they do not rule. They are ruled. The oaths distinguish clearly between those groups. How this becomes a corrupt practice is in the following way.

When a Crown agent, such as a police officer or a soldier violates the law, they are held to account by the Crown. The people, through their institutions, do not hold them to account. One Crown servant, the Judge holds another Crown servant, the soldier or police officer to account. Although they are supposed to act in the public interest, the courts will be influenced by a view that the public interest coincides with the Crown’s interest. This does not mean that the Crown always wins, far from it, instead it means the system has an inherent bias when the Crown is challenged through the courts. The Crown creates the laws that set the public interest’s limits. We can consider three cases to illustrate this point. The first case is the problem of deaths in custody, the second is justice for serving soldiers and the third is prerogative power.


Since 1969, no police officer has ever been convicted of a death in custody.[5] From 1998-2010 333 people died in police custody and no one was convicted of their death.[6] 1990-2014, in all forms of custody, 1515 people have died in custody. Despite trials, no one has ever been convicted of causing those deaths despite enough evidence to bring many cases to trial. The record suggests that the Crown does not hold itself to account very well. The issue reflects police power, the physical power over a vulnerable person, (is there anyone more vulnerable than a person in restraints?) that leads to a death. However, when someone dies it is not always through an act, it can occur from a failure to act. In both cases, though, the Crown fails in its duty of care to the most vulnerable.

The oath sets the police apart from the public. They inhabit an office that is firstly loyal to the Queen. Through their status and exclusivity, they bond with other post holders. Their oath identifies them and reinforces the distance between someone inside the force and outside of it. As such, the loyalty that the oath encourages can lead the officer to place their institutional loyalty before the public.


The second issue relates to the cases where serving soldiers receive less severe sentences. In this situation, the Crown’s interest in the soldiers exceeds the public interest in justice for the victims. Although they have received a sentence, they escape a more severe sentence because of their status as Crown servants. To be sure, in all situations, the Crown will consider a person’s character and societal role when they judge them; yet, these perpetrators are set apart by their status as Crown Servants.[7] To the extent that they receive a preferential service, they stand apart and the public take a back seat.

Prerogative power.

The Crown, through its servants, can exercise prerogative power beyond the rule of law. The Queen commands the military. Although she goes to war under the advice of ministers, that prerogative right is not subject to the rule of law. However, this example is the most extreme. What we find is that Ministers exercise the prerogative power on a regular basis on less serious issues. Their position as a Crown Servant, not as a democratically elected official, provides their position to exercise prerogative power. Consider the way in which another Crown Servant, the Queen’s Private Secretary, exercises prerogative power in the case of a hung parliament.


Nazi Germany was clearly a tyranny. The UK Monarchs have done much to create a legitimate title to rule and to rule according to the laws. They sustain their rule when they protect the public, maintain the public peace, ensure the public prosperity and protect the vulnerable from those with a predatory nature. However, the prerogative powers and the Queen’s status sustain the system; Parliament and a Supreme Court have yet to replace the Monarchy. The prerogative system remains vulnerable to abuse. Even if we want to believe the Crown has less prerogative power than previously, the oaths and their institutional context remain to remind us.

Some might say that the oaths are unimportant and a relic of a bygone age. If the oaths were unimportant, why do we have them? If we do have them, they must mean something. If they mean nothing and are considered a relic, why does Parliament refuse to seat anyone who will not take the oath? Would the military, the SAS, the SBS, and the Royal Marines consider such oaths meaningless and empty words? Do these men and women consider loyalty an empty word? If they do, we should pause a moment and consider that without the oath, the difference between a soldier and a mercenary begins to disappear. Yet, we are reminded that there are ways to obtain political loyalty and obligation beyond oaths. A system based on consent is possible. The question is whether the UK is ready to change its constitutional system from an imperial one based on loyalty and obedience oaths to one based on consent and the rule of law.




[2]  (accessed 31 December 2014)

[3] (accessed 31 December 2014)

[4] section 83 Attestation of Constables



[7] and

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