Baroness Jones: The police are in thrall to a corrupt government that regards itself above the law

'Instead of an independent criminal investigation, the police will be relying on the outcome of the report by the Cabinet Secretary to provide them with any ‘evidence’.

Boris Johnson

Jenny Jones is a Green Party member of the House of Lords

If the failure of the police to investigate the Christmas party at Downing Street was a one off then I probably wouldn’t have bothered writing to the Independent Office Police Complaints demanding they take action about the Met Police refusal to do anything.

However, we can all see the pattern of a police service in thrall to a corrupt government that regards itself above the law. What is less obvious is how the whole structure of standards, laws and regulations relies on everyone being honest, which kind of misses the point that people are breaking the rules because they are up to no good.

The police have not helped themselves with their public declarations that they don’t ‘retrospectively’ investigate Covid crimes, while prosecuting a party held in Ilford on that exact same date. Or their latest excuse that they can’t investigate because there isn’t sufficient evidence – if only we had some kind of public body whose job it was to find evidence.

Instead of an independent criminal investigation, the police will be relying on the outcome of the report by the Cabinet Secretary to provide them with any ‘evidence’. So that’s the police relying on a person, appointed by the Prime Minister, who works closely with the Prime Minister and who is covering a whole range of internal issues to make an assessment of any law breaking. The Met have effectively left the Cabinet Secretary to do their job for them, which is unfair on any civil servant.

My complaint is being treated with similar rigorous scrutiny. The first thing the IOPC do is refer it to the Met Police who take a long, serious look at themselves in the mirror and decide if there is anything worth investigating.

Cash for peerages is also not worth the Met investigating despite 13 out of 14 Conservative Party treasurers being made peers having donated over £2m each to the coffers.

Nor is the whole fast-track scheme for Covid contracts. This huge scandal has exposed the major holes in the self-regulatory system of Ministerial codes and Parliamentary standards. The National Audit Office couldn’t investigate properly because there were gaps in the information available and some of those relate to messages on Minister’s phones. The government defence is that if the Ministers had sent private messages that were relevant to the NAO investigation they would have shared them. Really?

There is no evidence to support this assumption that Ministers, or the Prime Minister, would act in an honest fashion, yet that is how the system works. It’s been left to journalists and the lawyers to lift the lid on a government cover up and expose the clear connections between Ministers and the Covid contracts going to personal friends, relatives and political donors.

When the Good Law Project took successful legal action to shed more light on this contract system, we then discovered that one of the Minister’s had inconveniently dropped and broken the phone with all the messages and it was beyond repair. Are we really expected to believe any of this?

Any police investigation into corruption could use the powers they have to recover messages and to work in conjunction with the National Audit Office and the Electoral Commission to follow the money. I’ve no doubt that it would be a worthwhile investigation that would bring to light the system that wastes and siphons off vast amounts of public money into private hands.

Corruption is one of the defining features of this government. It is endemic, but has all the vestiges of being authorised and regulated.

Does anyone really donate £52,000 to redecorate the Prime Minister’s flat out of the goodness of their heart? Perhaps, but most would do it to pay back a favour, or to earn a favour they can cash-out at a future date. It’s great that the Electoral Commission hasn’t been abolished and is still there to dish out fines for any back-handers, but I would prefer a permanent anti-corruption unit set up as far from New Scotland Yard as possible, to focus on the connection between politicians, contracts and public money. 

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