My statement was explicit about my non-relationship with Jeremy Corbyn (basically, I knew him somewhat in the 1990s but have not seen him since) while the journal failed to note that I had also stated clearly and unequivocally that I had no control or influence over editorial decision-making and that Exaro was strictly non-partisan. Maybe they thought I was lying ... if so, they should have at least had the decency to say so to my face.
The latest bit of hysteria includes an assault on the Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, another politician I rather admire, alongside Tom Watson, for his basic integrity and for reasons that have little to do with the child abuse investigation. Although I am now a Labour man again (as of a few weeks ago), I am not so shallow as suddenly to cease to admire someone if they are on the opposing side. For the record, I have never met Goldsmith.
The campaign that is going on week after week appears to have some purpose - ostensibly to restore the reputation of certain persons, in fact it increasingly looks as if it is designed to force the Metropolitan Police to close down or contain their child abuse investigation. The latest wheeze is to pressure the High Tory Command in Government not to reappoint the redoubtable Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (current Metropolitan Police Commissioner and a committed reformer). In an accompanying article, the Mail leads:
Scotland Yard chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe is under pressure to quit after the force admitted it refused to drop a baseless rape claim against former Home Secretary Leon Brittan over fears of a public backlash.You might like to note at this point that news has broken in the last day or so that the National Crime Agency had started an investigation into alleged corruption in the Stephen Lawrence case. This may seem wholly unconnected to the child abuse investigation but, as we shall see, allegations of police corruption are a material element in both sets of investigation. The State is becoming very active in dealing with aspects of policing that are troubling if only through active investigation without prejudice.
This may be part of a political struggle of immense importance to our country. Operation Midland is only one of many investigations across the country - if it is taken down, all the others are weakened. We might even add the suggestion of an investigation into complaints about police behaviour at Orgreave to the mix - as reported by Exaro - as a sign that reform is in the air. In this latter case, as others, the issue is community trust in the police which leads us on to the possible 'why' of all this.
Why might reformers want to be so active in their turning over of stones other than because it was the right thing to do? The 'ulterior strategic motive' is standard procedure in public life so why not here as well. I would suggest that it is because trust in the police, alleged police corruption and even links to organised crime have become a much more vital national security issue in recent years on two grounds: a) a public that does not trust the police will not come forward and provide vital intelligence on crime and, indeed, terrorism, and b) organised crime is no longer a national business contained within its limited remit and left to prey on those without a voice (like the kids in the care system).
Organised crime, for example, is now a multinational operation, accumulating capital at a ferocious rate, capable of suborning lower paid public servants at every level, involved in human and arms trafficking as well as more conventional crime, drugs and the sex trade, and even holding the potential to be an armed state within the State in extreme conditions. What happened in Northern Ireland could happen in British cities if the Police do not get a grip on things. And alliances between crime and terrorism are at the back of every security official's mind. The relatively new National Crime Agency exists to deal with this threat. Running any major investigation without infiltration by well-funded organised crime is now a key part of the reform agenda.
The point is not that there is any necessary connection between corruption allegations and organised crime and child abuse and turning a blind eye to the actions of our political police (there may or may not be) but only that all are examples of things that require thorough investigation and reform if our trust in the police is to be maintained. And, at times, these things may, indeed overlap and, if they do overlap, we need to know about it.
I retain considerable faith (perhaps stupidly in the eyes of some) in the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office to continue to do what is right - which is to investigate allegations without pressure from any party, including (though it undertakes no such pressure to my knowledge) Exaro News. If the current Commissioner is forced out (or rather his mandate is not renewed) by a politically-directed media campaign based on implicit political threats, questions must be raised about who runs Britain and whether the rest of us can feel safe in our beds if we cross those who do. This is not to say that we should not be concerned about 'excesses' by reformers (we should be) but only that the correction of any alleged excesses must not fall into the trap of damaging the reform process.
The corruption issue cross-connects to the child abuse investigation and this is shown in Duncan Campbell's piece which appeared in March 2015:
"Now [March 2015] the Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating 14 separate referrals of alleged corruption in the Met relating to child sex offences from the 1970s to the 2000s. Offers of immunity need to be made to any police officers still with information so that, finally, the jigsaw puzzle can be completed in all its dark and depressing detail."This gets to the heart of the matter - only half the probes into alleged child abuse cover ups (according to the Daily Mirror) result from claims by 'survivors' and non-police officers. It is not right to imply (as the BBC appears to have done) that the 'survivors' who have retracted or may be questionable are all the 'survivors' who 'matter' nor that an allegation or claim is false when it is merely unproven. The other half of probes apparently come from former serving police and security officers. This is devastating and perhaps scary to those who have a stake in keeping a lid on things. We can legitimately ask what sort of governance do we have that left an investigative journalist to uncover the disgust and rage of decent men at what they were (allegedly) asked to do. If they are not all fantasists, their lack of a voice in itself tells us something about a culture of 'cover up' and it is only fortuitous that a 'secret' forum in which concerns were expressed came to light.