19/10/2011 Newsnight


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The outcome of the confrontation isn't in doubt, soon the police and


bailiffs will have evicted the 80- odd families living illegally on


green belt land in Dale Farm in Essex. The United Nations claims


this amounts to state bullying of a minority. Is it? What alternative


is there when people refuse to obey the law? One of the UN committee on


the elimination of racism, believes we are being willfully blind to an


injustice. Newsnight reveals the story of an


undercover policeman who was then arrested and gave false evidence in


court. It is a perversion of the legal process. I think it's


institutionalised police corruption of the legal process for this to


happen. As we go on air, it has emerged that our story has delayed


an HMIC report into another undercover cop case, which was due


tomorrow. What does the former Director of


Public Prosecutions think of that? For the first time in British


history, you can vote in a referendum, a referendum to shape


the lives of your children. It has been the best part of four decades,


and many Conservatives think it is long past the time that people in


Britain had the chance to say what they think of membership of the


European Union. Why doesn't their own party leader? Has the Fox


episode brought lasting taint of scandal to - Liam Fox episode


brought lasting taint of scandal to the Government. This week of all


weeks, my advice to the Prime Minister, is show a bit of humility.


I think we should have a little bit of humility from the people who


gave us cabs for hire, passports For so-called travellers, they have


been extremely reluctant to travel any where It kicked off early this


morning after the legal process had been exhausted, and police and


bailiffs moved in. It has been the staple fare of the news channels


all day, as at an estimated cost to tax-payers of some �18 million, the


illegal settlement in Dale Farm in Essex is cleared. The confrontation


between them and the balaclavaed supporters, and the men and women


in high-visibility jackets, provide the scenes that the electronic


media love. We tried to look a little deeper.


Dawn, in a once quiet corner of the Essex countryside. Hundreds of riot


police moved in, as Dale Farm became a surreal battleground.


Rocks, barricades and taunts, where all the travellers and their


supporters had left to defend the largely illegal settlement. They


have lost a ten-year courtroom battle. The eviction operation is


budgeted to cost up to �17.5 million, enough money to have


provided many new traveller sites. The defendants' defiance showed as


a caravan went up in flames. They intend to fight yard by yard, over


a site that is still a legal minefield. Some constructions can


be knocked down, others can't. and 38 have full residential use,


the yellow sections have full residential use.


Inside the site, beyond police lines, there was an uneasy calm,


but travellers claimed legally held property had been damaged.


REPORTER: Why did they cross here? I don't know. We will have to ask


them. Many families were beginning for evictions to begin in earnest?


There is complete confusion with people here unsure how many more


nights they will be able to stay and where they will move on to.


There is also increasing uncertainty nationally over


Government policy towards gypsies and travellers. Dale Farm is a test


case, being closely watched by groups involved in similar


controversy up and down the country. By councils, by travellers and by


permanently settled residents. Gypsy activist Candy Sher din, is


worried what other councils will learn from what happened here,


where the council has worked so hard to remove the settlement.


Firstly, I can't provide for my community, if the council won't


provide the land or assist them in planning application, it sends the


message, why bother, and that it is acceptable just to ignore us. That


is appalling. The total number of gypsy caravans in England has risen


What gypsies and travellers fear is that major changes to the planning


rules, being proposed by the Government, would make it even


harder for them to find authorised sites to live on. The Government is


proposing to Regional targets. It is also bringing in a Localism Bill,


which would give voters increased powers to object to particular


developments. We know that the key obstacle against provision for gip


say traveller sites comes at the local level. Discrimination at the


local level, misconceptions at the local level, that gypsy sites will


lead to crime and dysfunction in the communities. That isn't, in the


majority of cases not true. With the regional spacial strategies


combined and others will lead to a huge shortage of gypsy sites in the


long-term. Current guidelines say that councils should address the


underprovision of authorised sites, and should recognise, protect a


facilitate the traditional travelling way of life. But the


coalition Government's consultation document on planning for


In Basildon Council says it is not against travellers, and will


continue to provide sites for them, if they show more flexibility.


There has to be a deal between travellers, local authorities and


communities. The onus is on the travellers to find land that is


suitable for development. Travellers in the past have gone


for green belt sites, which is obviously not suitable for


development, and very hard to get planning permission for. I really


think there is an opportunity for the travellers now to move on and


act within the law as well. But it won't be easy for travellers to


find more appropriate sites. When so many settled residents oppose


their presence. Dale Farm is being cleared in the interests of


creating a level legal playing field for all. As its defenders


prepare for another night of resistance, many here feel that the


evictions are just another blow to a community whose way of life is


being slowly, but steadily eroded. A little while ago I discussed some


of the issues raised with Anastasia Crickley, a member of the United


Nations committee on the Committee on the Elimination of Racial


Discrimination, and with John Baron MP for Basildon and Billericay. I


asked Miss Crickley what a planning application had to do with the


United Nations. The situation in Dale Farm was something considered


previously by the committee and brought to the attention of the


committee by a number of groups representing the residents there.


We are saying it is a matter that deserves consideration by a


committee which is looking at the possibilities of racism and


discrimination. John Baron? Basically it is a lot of tosh and


nonsense and mindless meddling by an organisation that should know


better. This is not about racial discrimination, this is about a


planning regulation that has been brong, contravened, it is about us


- broken, contravened, it is about us putting those planning


regulations right on behalf of the local majority. They talk about


human rights, but what they forget is we all have human rights,


including the law-abiding majority, and one of those is an expectation


that the law will be applied equitably and fairly, and there


should be no exceptions to that. Why should these people be treated


any differently to everyone else in in country? It is absolutely the


case that in every country, which is a party to the Convention on The


elimination of racism, that there is an impolicement acknowledgement


that there can be racism in that country. It is the case that you


don't achieve equality in any country, in any circumstances, by


pretending that everybody is automatically equal, and


automatically has equal access to the law or their rights. Otherwise.


You're absolutely right. You are barking up completely the


wrong tree, make this absolutely clear, this is not about racial


discrimination, this is about enforcing the law, which has been


broken by a group of people who knew they were breaking the law.


Our courts decided they were breaking the law and we are


enforcing that law. Can I suggest something useful for you to do, get


on to the travellers and tell them to call off their protestors using


violence against the police. This has involved arrests, throwing of


stones, iron bars and so forth, because the protestors are there at


the behest of the travellers, and courts have told them that site


should be cleared. That is something you could do on behalf of


the law-abiding majority and help minimise the violence at present


taking place there. First of all there seems to be an implicit


assumption that the law-abiding majority do not include travellers


or gypsies or include any of the traveller or gypsy community who


happens to be living in Dale Farm. That's a useful assumption to make


I don't think. Secondly, the circumstances in which people find


themselves is ones they must judge and they must make their own


decision about the best action to take at this time. Can I take you


will not do anything useful and ask them to stop the violence.


committee that is responsible for monitoring the implementation of


the UN Convention on The elimination of racism has said, we


have said there is a case for culturally appropriate


accommodation to be provided and identified and provided for the


people who are residents in Dale Farm. For the avoidance of any


doubt, what is culturally appropriate accommodation?


Culturally appropriate accommodation, is accommodation, as


I understand it, which has been looked at by other UN committees,


which allows for collective expression of culture. Look you


signed up to this report, can you please tell us what you meant by


talking about the provision of culturally appropriate


accommodation, what is it? What we invited and encouraged your


Government and your authorities to do is to look to the provision of


accommodation which meets the needs and requirements of the community


that are there. What do you mean? I'm aware that there have been,


what I mean is we do not consider provision of homeless families


accommodation to be culturally appropriate accommodation. Because


they are not homeless families? This whole situation has emerged


because of the reality that the Roma and travelling people that


live there, want to live in the way in which they have traditionally


lived. That is not the desire of all traveller people in the UK or


other parts of Europe, or other parts of the world. It is an


acknowledgement of their diversity on their difference. That is what


we are asking that your Government and yourself does. Can you help us,


why haven't you provided culturally appropriate accommodation? We have,


we have 110 authorised sites and pitches locally, many more than any


other local authorities. We have offered bricks and mortar, so


nobody needs to be homeless, but the travellers themselves have


refused that. We have also made the travellers aware of other vacant


authorised sites in other parts of the country, they have said they


don't want to travel. There is only so much we can do. At the end of


the day they have broken the law and that site will be cleared, we


hope, as peacefully as possible. Where are they tonight those


families who have left? We don't know for sure, they are not on the


side of the road, or in the Tesco car parks as they said they would


be. There are all sorts of reports, but they are not homeless, as far


as we know. The game is over, the problem is finished, once they are


somebody else's problem? It is not quite like that. We have said we


have obligations to meet, we have offered accommodation, that is


refused by travellers. We have made them aware of vacant authorised


sites elsewhere, that has been refused, we have provided more


sites than anywhere else. We are not trying to wash our hands of it,


this site needs to be cleared, because they have broken the law


and the law-abiding majority expect that site to be cleared, and it


will be cleared. Could I suggest to you that there are a number of


useful things that you and your colleagues might be able to


consider doing as well. Such as engaging in direct consultation


with the travellers and with the people who have been evicted to


make sure that their circumstances are not worsened over the next few


weeks. We have engaged for ten years, the time for talking is over.


I'm not talking about the rights and wrongs of the current situation,


I'm aware of the hardship it has caused for the travellers, and also


the extent it can exasperate further discrimination against


travellers. If I could call on the honourable member of Parliament and


others watching the programme, I would call on them and the media to


ensure this does nothing to exasperate further the real


discrimination experienced by travellers and gypsies in the UK


and other countries in Europe. Thank you very much. So far this


year there have been no fewer than eight inquiries set up after the


discovery that undercover police have been used to infiltrate


political organisations. There may be a ninth soon, tonight Newsnight


has evidence of another operation where an undercover policeman gave


false evidence in court. He became an undercover activist on Reclaim


the Streets campaign. These latest revelations have delayed the report


into another undercover cop case due tomorrow.


Though this story has only just come to light, it can be traced


back to this demonstration in central London in August 1996.


Traffic was brought it a halt by protestors from a non-violent, pro-


cycling Campaign Group, called Reclaim the Streets. Prominent


among them was an activist called Jim Sutton. Jim was very practical,


he was the man with the van. He was super-practical, he was there right


at the centre of stuff. A splinter group of demonstrators left


Trafalgar Square and came here to St James's Park, to the


headquarters of London Underground, amongst them was John Jordan, an


activist, and Sutton sut, the undercover policeman. They went


into the building and up the stairsment their aim was to get to


the seventh floor and the chairman's office, to unfurl a


banner. Jim Sutton, the policeman, was playing a leading role. The


protestors were here in support of a tube drivers' strike. Jim Sutton


was an undercover cop, working with the Metropolitan Police unit,


charged with looking at protest movements. As part of the protest


group, John Jordan was one of the targets. We occupied the building,


we went up, some people got up to the chairman's office, including


Jim. Jim went out, put massive banner, which said "don't squeeze


the tube". He said the police arrived remarkably quickly, and


there were scuffles, as he went upstairs he picked up a policeman's


helmet on the ground. Lift doors opened, riot police out, arrest us


all, I had the policeman's helmet under my jumper. Clearly I wasn't


pregnant. I get arrested. Get to the police station and I'm charged


with assault of a police officer. Clearly something I didn't do.


activists, including Jim Sutton, were brought here to Charring Cross


police station in central London for questioning. They sought legal


advice, and a solicitor, from the birm, Bindmans, attended. We have


obtained copies of the custody records, it shows Jim Sutton was


using his fake name and cover as a cleaner, what police intelligence


experts call, his legend. His Jim Sutton and 12 other activists


were later charged with public order offences, the undercover cop


was entering the legal process. This didn't emerge until now. After


all the reporting earlier this year about undercover cop Mark Kennedy,


Jim Sutton's name appeared in the media, as another undercover


operative. The solicitor working on the Kennedy cases of curious.


looked at our records, our records confirmed one of them, Jim Sutton,


had been a client of our's. must have been amazed when you saw


that? I was shocked. I thought it couldn't be true. But it is true.


John Jordan, and the others, thought Jim Sutton was a fellow


defendant, when their cases all went to a criminal trial. He would


have given evidence under oath about who he was b what had


happened, and - about what had happened, and as serious, he


allowed himself to be put in a position where he was arrested,


charged and prosecuted, and potentially convicted of a criminal


offence. Just because the District Judge found him not guilty that he


wasn't convicted. He and his minders allowed him to be put in a


position where he could be found guilty of a criminal offence. If


that is a criminal offence committed by a serving undercover


police officer, giving evidence on oath, with the benefit of


privileged legal advice, he shouldn't have had, that is most


serious. Bindmans have asked for an


explanation from the Metropolitan Police, and the CPS, but are yet to


receive an answer. We asked a Lib Dem member of the Metropolitan


Police authority for her reaction tonight? It is almost beyond belief.


I'm coming to terms with the fact that it has happened, but it is


just, it beggers belief. How on earth can that happen? It make as


complete mockery of the judicial system. There are some very serious


questions that must be asked of the police, that is, who in the Met


authorised it, if anyone? If they authorised it, why did they


authorised it, and is that - authorise it, and why are they


working for the Met. That is what I will be asking at the meeting of


metropolitan police officers. John Jordan was found guilty, and


is wondering if that is safe? have jobs where I'm working with


students and to have assault of a police officer on your record was


difficult. I think it is a perversion of the legal process. I


think it is institutionalised police corruption and the legal


process for this to happen. At the very least they ought to have


explained up front what their acceptable limits are, so that the


public, politicians and judges, who might or should be regulating their


activity, could have a say and a view. They seem to have gone


freelance on this. The Metropolitan Police declined to


comment today on this specific case, but pointed us towards new


legislation from 2000 that should have made it impossible for


undercover police officers to give evidence in court under their false


identities. The question is now, how many cases went through before


this case. Further developments tonight, I


gather? Extraordinary development, 15 minutes ago, the HM Inspectorate


of Constabulary, due to launch a very important report tomorrow,


about the use of undercover officers and the protocol


surrounding that. They say in light of the revelations in the media


today, they are delaying the launch of the report, so they can consider


the relevance of this information, and the recommendations for


improvements in undercover policing. We will write to the Guardian and


Newsnight to find out additional information they have. The


Metropolitan Police have been changing their line on this, I


think it is fair to say, all day, at first it was a "no comment",


then it became a procedural amount of information about the use of


undercover officers. Just tonight in the last six minutes, they have


said that the Metropolitan Police Service acknowledges these are


serious matters, and is continuing to review the situation and taking


account of any additional information becoming available.


This story is moving very fast. former Director of Public


Prosecutions in England and Wales is here now to react to tonight's


story. What do you make of this latest disclosure about an


undercover policeman? Well they have crossed the line. You don't


send police officers into court to lie about who they are b their


identity b what their role is - about their identity, about what


their role is in investigations. You don't send them into


solicitors' offices and pretending to be party to legal conferences.


It is a serious issue and they have crossed the line. What does it do


to the convictions of anyone arrested and convicted in those


circumstances? It causes issues, if I was in the dock with an


undercover police officer and I had advised both defendants in the


trial, I would go to the Court of Appeal saying the conviction is


unsafe and it has to be overturned. I'm sure that is what will happen


were defence lawyers are confident this is the situation. Has to be


overturned because? Because you have a situation where a police


officer is posing as a defendant, is party to defence conferences


with his lawyers, the other defendant's lawyers, is party to


confidential information, may be passing it back to his handlers,


and going in to court as part of the defence team, telling lies.


knows what the defence likely to be? He knows the defence. He may be


reporting it back to the police, that may in all sorts of ways


affect the way the case is conducted. It is clearly, it seems


to me clearly the Court of Appeal with regard a conviction in those


circumstances as being potentially unsafe. Do you think this latest


revelation makes the case for yet another inquiry? The report that


was to be released tomorrow has been held back. I'm not at all


surprised by that. I think the authors of that report are going to


have to stand back, look at the evidence that you have produced and


the Guardian has produced, and see how that impacts on the research


they have done. This is a very serious development. This seems to


be part of pattern of behaviour of undercover police officers in


groups that are not particularly dangerous. We are not talking about


terrorists here. It is a bunch of cyclists? We are not talking about


terrorists, it is a cyclist Campaign Group. This is what is so


difficult to understand the police would have taken the risk of


putting people into these situations and into court, not


because they are combatting serious crime, but because people are


stopping the traffic. That seems to be, on the face of it, a monumental


misjudgment. Thank you. The British people


aren't going to be given the chance to vote on whether the country


should remain part of the European Union. At least they won't, if the


Prime Minister gets his way. He says such a vote would be a


distraction at a time when the EU needs to be dealing with issues


causing riots in Greece and threatening the whole European


project. But the deeper issue of whether


Britain should be in the EU at all is in the bloodstream of the Tory


Party, like some dormant, but potentially paralysing, virus.


This was David Cameron's response to a question on the vote on the


future of Britain in the European Union? I completely understand and


share the frustration that many have about the way the European


Union goes about its business, about the costs and butter oxcy.


But I have to say, I think the - bureaucracy. But I have to say the


key point here is to get on top of the budget, keep Britain out of the


bailout schemes, make sure the single market is working. As the


Conservative Party we are committed to the return of powers from


Brussels to Westminster, we are also committed as a Government, if


power passes from Brussels to, from Westminster to Brussels, there


would have to be a referendum. That promise is good for the whole of


this Parliament and beyond. But I don't support holding a referendum


come what may. That is not our policy and I will not be supporting


that motion. What is in this motion? I think never mind Dale


Farm, there is a stand-off going on at Westminster at the moment. An


act of rebellion against the Prime Minister a bit of hostility, it is


this motion at the core of it. This isn't a motion simply about


withdrawing from the EU. It is a backbench motion which is designed


to maximise Euro-sceptic report, by giving three potentially options in


the referendum. Those options would be, remaining a member of the


European Union on the current terms, leaving the European Union entirely,


or renegotiating the terms of membership to carry on a new


relationship with Europe. That is quite clever, because the centre of


gravity in the Conservative parliamentary party is in the last


point on renegotiation. Only about 30 MPs across the House want to


leave. That puts pressure on the Prime Minister. Officially 46


backbench MPs have signed up to the multioption motion on the


referendum, I'm told tonight as many as 80 Conservatives might be


prepared to rebel against the Government line by voting this down


when it is debated early next week. The reason the Government sees it


as a an act of rebellion, is because the option of - as an act


of rebellion is the option of complete withdrawal from the


European Union is there. Presumably Labour won't go along with this,


maybe they will, I don't know, the Liberal Democrats certainly won't?


The Liberal Democrats certainly don't. And the latest from Labour


is they will whip against it too. The Prime Minister is in a hole, he


doesn't necessarily want further splits and divisions on Europe.


This was supposed to be discussed next Thursday, it is brought


forward now to Monday, when the Prime Minister and the Foreign


Secretary can be present. The reason for that is partly the Prime


Minister's presence, which will communicate to waivers they


shouldn't mess with him if we want a career. William Hague is a famous


Euro-sceptic, but in the current circumstance in the mids of the


European crisis remotion isn't there. It is a backbench motion and


not binding, so there are calls for a free vote on it, and wipe out the


rebellion at one fell swoop. For the Prime Minister it may look like


an act of weaks in, at the moment it looks like - weakness, at the


moment they willth looks he will try to face them down. I'm joined


by my guests now. My guest was expelled from the


Conservative Party after arguments over European partners. Why do you


want to embarrass your leaders? don't, I want to make sure the


British people have a right to decide their future. People are


crying out for a referendum. This will undermine him? No, actually,


what needs to happen is the British people to express their views.


David Cameron has a very strong negotiating tour - tool when he


goes to Brussels to sort all this out. We were told was a market and


not a European Union, and that is not what we voted for and people


are fed up with it. It says a lot about the state of the Tory Party?


I think David Cameron is right. This is a Daily Express engineered


operation, I think he's right to say that it should not lead to


something - anything but a debate in the House of Commons. That is


what the 100,000 signatures get, but nothing else. If, on the other


hand, at some point in the next few years, during the lifetime of this


Government, there should be any fundamental change proposed between


the UK and the European Union, then there will be a referendum. That is


absolutely clear. I'm sure Andrew will agree, that is the right


approach. To have some sort of, as David Cameron said, willy nilly,


and I'm agreeing with him for once, referendum that would be wrong.


Suppose there is a three-line whip next week, would you defy it?


point is, we have three options, in, out or a new relationship. There is


thrae-line whip saying there is no referendum? I think the majority of


the population would like to see a new relationship with the European


Union based on trade and co- operation, not political union.


you prepared to defy the Prime Minister? We will all talk to


constituents this weekend and make a decision. Of course I'm prepared


to vote for a referendum, I said that today in the House of Commons.


Even if there is a three-line whip telling you not to? We don't know


the situation on Monday. Would you defy it? I'm sure Mr Cameron would


want to keep the party together. Would you defy a three-line whip?


would sooner a free vote. Would you defy it? I'm prepared to vote for a


referendum. Would you defy a three- line whip? If necessary, what is to


be done to obtain the referendum. You still haven't answered the


question? Yes, I would. That is what the British people deserve.


With the Prime Minister present in the chamber, you feel sufficiently


strongly to defy? We don't know the situation on Monday. But the mood


of the country and the parliamentary party, is to have a


referendum. I hope the Prime Minister will give us a free vote


on that. Edward McMillan-Scott, what does this tell us about the


state and the mood of the Tory Party now? And for years there has


been a problem in the Tory Party, it is what led to my moving out of


it. The increasing Euro-scepticism of the Tory Party has been marked


by all commentators. Andrwe Rosindell is part of that it's a


long standing right-winger, and adorns his dog in the Union Jack


and so on. Not a crime? Not at all. But it is part of a process that


has led the Conservative Party in the House of Commons, and in the


country at large, from being a broadly rational party on Europe to


one that is now becoming rather more extreme than it should be. I


think David Cameron's problem is, in Government, as Prime Minister,


and sharing power with the party, which has been broadly speaking


pro-European throughout his lifetime, not madly,. Has it


occurred to you why so many people in the Tory Party would want a


referendum is because the European Union has turned into something we


were never told it would be and it is a walking disaster? It is not


walking disaster. This weekend we have a European Summit about the


euro, the euro is in crisis, but it has created 14 million jobs and


kept inflation at 2% for ten years. It is not walking disaster. But


there are problems, systemic problems. We want reform, that is


what we should be doing. This noises off from the House of


Commons is not going to help in the crisis the European Union is in. We


want the European Union to work. David Cameron says he wants it too.


The mood of the country has changed dramatically. People want the


choice. People want to be part of Europe for trade and co-operation.


The Express does. They don't want to be part of political European,


they never wanted that. You are dancing to the UKIP tune. And the


Express tune? UKIP and the Express have worked together on this


campaign, as you know. As apologies go they tried to have it both ways,


Liam Fox conceded he had done wrong in blurring the distinctions


between professional responsibility and personal loyalties, and not


listening to the warnings he was given during it. He couldn't do


anything else after the nature of the findings against him. He did


point out the media hounding people close to him and throughout the


affair. His behaviour has cost him sis job.


The new stage version of the classic Yes Prime Minister, is a


reminder that the language of Westminster village can be


difficult to decipher. That might precipitate operational


uncertainties down the line. So that there would be a presumed


modicum of iron clad resipcosity that would be to everybody's


advantage. The corridors of power resound to rumour, who is in and


out, but Liam Fox's resignation has been eagerly followed by a much


wider audience. He made it clear today that the last few weeks have


been far from a laughing matter. I'm very sorry to my colleagues


here in the House and all those let down by the decisions I have made.


He said his resignation was without rancour, and it almost was. Last


week's media frenzy was not unprecedented, it happens. Where a


free press and politics collide. I believe, there was, some from


quarters, a personal vindictiveness, even hatred that should worry all


of us. The feeding frenzy could tfpblt the Parliamentary


Commissioner for Standards is to investigate Liam Fox, and the


Government is to publish a full list of ministers who have met his


unofficial advisor, Adam Werritty. The public's perception is the


politicians, not the media, are to blame. Outside the Westminster


bubble, the public perception is that this has impacted David


Cameron and the Conservatives, and it is, once again, raising the


issue of whether people can trust politicians. So I think that's


actually the key things that Cameron is going to have to now


address. In the House of Commons today, Ed Miliband tried to exploit


this? A piece of advice to the Prime Minister, this week of all


weeks, show a bit of humility. think we should have a bit of


humility from the people who gave us, cabs for hire, passports for


favours, mortgages for mates. Dodgy dossiers. This is a Prime


Minister and we see a pattern of activity with him. A pattern of


activity he doesn't ask the tough questions of those around him, and


when anything goes wrong, it is nothing to do with him. He may have


rattled David Cameron, but the leader of the opposition shouldn't


be too satisfied. At the moment Cameron has to deal with this issue


of trust in politicians widely, actually the whole of Westminster


is facing that. But Ed Miliband, currently, doesn't really hold the


confidence of the public that he will be any better. So who are the


real winners in the drama surrounding Liam Fox. Some seem to


regard the Civil Service as the real opposition, people don't like


sofa Government they like everything minuted and recorded,


today marked another shift in that direction. Or to put in Whitehall


speak, the senior echelons of the Civil Service decided to oversee


surveillance to people appointed to ministerial office by the Prime


Minister. Or something like that. Today the Government said they


accepted the recommendations of the Cabinet Secretary, which would


allow civil servants to keep a closer eye on their ministers.


should attend all meetings overseas. If ministers step out of line,


civil servants will report them to higher authorities? The permanent


secretary should take responsibility for-to-make sure


departmental procedures are followed and raising concerns with


ministers, advising the Cabinet Secretary, and ultimately the Prime


Minister, where such concerns are not resolved. A former Conservative


cabinet ministers, believes this place has too much power in the


face of unelected officials. I was a junior minister under Peter


Walker, who confronted this issue, and had ministerial meetings most


mornings without officials present. There was a degree of confrontation.


And the permanent secretary said to Peter, well, first, how will we


know what your ministers have decided if one of our people are


not there. Peter replied, and he said, I will tell you. That, they


didn't like. They fought again and he eventually turned and said I


will do a deal with you. If I let you have one of my officials in my


ministerial meetings, you will let me have one of my ministers in your


official meetings. Game, set and match. The Cabinet Secretary hasn't


responded to that kind of criticism. I asked the next best thing, Sir


Humphrey BaAppleton? I will give you a serious answer to be


considered in its context. Certain proadvisors have to be considered,


postu lated, designated and specified, a number of


considerations have to be conceded sometimes.


Is that a yes or a no? Don't you think that yes, and no, are rather


broad and unspecific in their applications Mr Watson?


With us now are Philip Collins, who writes for the Times and a former


speech write Forcione Tony Blair, and my other guests.


How big a deal do you think this Liam Fox scandal is? Well, not many


things in politics really matter all that much. This problem isn't


one of them. I think for most people they will celebrate the


resignation of Liam Fox quietly at home. But it matters in this sense.


That anyone who is inclined to think that politicians have all got


their noses face down in the trough, has got ample confirmation. It is a


tiny little world, politicians, lobbyists and advisors, it doesn't


look good, does it? I think that's right. The trauma that was the


expenses scandal has not been digested by the political world. I


think they are still really in denial about how angry the public


were about that, still are. They are not paying enough attention. A


story like this reconfirms people's worst beliefs. Do you think there


is a possibility of the whole sleaze thing coming back? Number


Ten were relaxed about the story, because they thought Liam Fox was


so distant in Westminster terms from David Cameron, this wouldn't


attach personally to Cameron or his Government. Clearly the Fox


situation was where no other minister has a friend following him


around the globe like Liam Fox did. You have MPs expenses and trust in


politics never being lower, combine that with the incredibly tight


economic standards, putting a squeeze on people's living


standards and an anti-politics mood out there. It will only take one or


two more cases like this for a real public backlash against it. That is


the danger for the coalition. dangerous for the Government f they


allow the idea to take hold that they play by different rules from


the rest of us, and they can carry on doing whatever they like. Liam


Fox's statement today exhibited the exact arrogance and detatchment


that got him into trouble in the first place. This if that attaches


to the Government they could be in trouble. It could snowball, if it


remains an incident in its own light that it is goodbye Liam Fox.


I thought that Ed Miliband led on PMQs, and David Cameron was


dismissive of him and effective. There was one moment when you saw a


tremor of fear pass through the front bench on the Tories, when Ed


Miliband said to David Cameron, by being different did you mean your


press officer would get arrested and your Defence Secretary had to


resign. You saw them all leaning back and going crikey, that is the


danger. On the Werritty story there are these strange echos of the


Coulson story, the peculiar idea that if you are loyal to your


friends, that is a higher good than being transparent and whiter than


white. Let's move on to the question about the relationship


between Government and Whitehall. Because Liam Fox went into the


Ministry of Defence, determined to sort out the Ministry of Defence,


and in fact t sorted him out? - it sorted him out? Or didn't. I think


he sorted himself out. He has lined up a whole series of culprits for


this and the one person he hasn't lined up is himself. The Civil


Service emerges from the whole thing stronger doesn't it? Ever so


slightly. The Government have slightly got themselves to blame


for this. The Brown Government did the same thing. When you denigrate


political advisors you leave yourself open to this kind of thing.


Special advisors are a special thing in Government, they do


something quite different from unelected officials. Saying we are


part of cleaning up politics and not having special advisors you


leave yourself open to this kind of thing. They are slightly more


powerful than they were, the civil servants, not especially so.


agree. This Cameron idea of limenting the number of SP -


limiting the number of SPADs. Special advisors? It has left Nick


Clegg unequipped in the Cabinet Office. And Liam Fox needed more


people around him. It is not transparent, at least if you have


enough political staff in each ministerial office, or Secretary of


State, rather, at least you noi who is doing what and everything has to


be transparent, and funding issues don't come into it as they have in


this story. Part of the problem for the Liberal Democrats is they


haven't had their own special advisors in Government. Every


department with a Tory Secretary of State. There was a story when one


minister called up 9 special advisor saying these stories keep


appearing and I don't know where they are coming from, and they came


from the advisor. It is a real mistake this, to try to limit the


number of special advisor, they do something important and necessary.


We should also point out that Adam Werritty was doing something not


necessary, which is running, essentially, a fanciful parallel


national security policy. There are still lots of questions to be


answered about this? Many, many. The Lyons Inquiry will be important.


That confusion and unanswered questions makes the issues we were


talking about earlier to do with public perceptions worse. The


confusion, it looks like such a mess. Fox was the opposite of pen


tent in the House today, I thought. I thought - pen tent in the House


today, I thought he did himself no favours. Not to be there for the


George Young response, and then to give your statement and be so


unapologetic. That went down bad with colleagues. There was not a


feeling among Tory MPs that he came and gave the speech they wanted.


They give the passive, the Ministerial Code has been breached,


rather than I broke it. All the people who supported him


vociferously last week, it puts them in a difficult position?


people who supported him last week were not natural Liam Fox allies,


they were people the leadership had asked to do a job. One of the


misapprehensions about Liam Fox is that there is a bunch of loyal


backbenchers rallying to him. After 2005 and his failure to win the


Tory leadership, Liam Fox has spent remarkably little time cultivating


backbenches, he doesn't go back to a ready-made group. On the whole


Europe question, Liam Fox is nowhere to be seen. It is not like


Tory backbenchers will be waiting to see which way he comes down on


the EU referendum question, one way or the other. He's not the force


people think he is on the backbenches. Gavin will be here


A cold one tonight. It means most of us will have a frosty start


tomorrow morning. Quite a few of us will have a sunny morning. However,


through the day, steadily it will cloud over with outbreaks of rain


for Northern Ireland. Most of Scotland by the afternoon. Some of


the rain dribbling into northern England. Dry and bright. Most of


the Midlands and the south-east having a fine day. After a cold


start, by the afternoon, with light winds in the sunshine, not feeling


too bad, temperatures 12-13. Clouding over some what for South-


West England and steadily through the day t will cloud over across


Wales as well. Eye vently some light rain dribble - eventually


light rain dribbling into the south west. By lunchtime it will be damp,


and the afternoon staying grey with further outbreaks of rain. The same


for the west of Scotland. Further east some sunshine but rain late in


the day. Friday promises further cloud and rain across Northern


Ireland, parts of Scotland, in the south most of England and Wales


will have a dry day on Friday, and you will notice the temperatures a


little bit higher with sunshine. So Friday it is a bit of a north-south


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