Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 28 August 2014


Who and what can we trust in modern society? The sorry saga of the recent action against Sir Cliff Richard has been very much a tale of our times. The police and the BBC (and Sir Cliff) are all great British institutions. We should be able to trust them to conduct themselves with proprietary. At least two of them have not done so.

It is not right that when the police are about to arrest a celebrity or carry out a raid that they should tip off the media as clearly happened in this case.

It was not right that the BBC should then lead their evening news with dramatic aerial shots of five unmarked police cars arriving chez Cliff as though he has already been found guilty of some terrorist offence. I do not have any problem with historic crimes being investigated and prosecuted if the evidence is sufficient, but I do deprecate the police and BBC trashing a person's reputation in this sordid way.

If Cliff is found to be innocent from this one accusation and/or no charges are ever brought there should be resignations of senior police officers and BBC officials. Officials from both organisations have been summoned before the Home Affairs select committee shortly to explain themselves. I anticipate several red faces.

Of course the police had to investigate any accusations brought by a credible person, but they should have done so quietly and with integrity without broadcasting it all over the media. A truly shocking saga.

I represent an institution that has its own trust issues. The 2009 expenses scandal deeply damaged confidence in Parliament and the scars have not yet healed.  Although politics will always attract more than its fair share of chancers and risk-takers most people involved in it are genuinely trying to do the right thing and make a constructive difference and we need to ensure that we demonstrate this once again.

If we lose a sense of integrity in public life, every aspect of our conduct will simply be replaced by more and more regulation. Once this happens the only rule will be: what can I get away with?

We can do better than that. It is time for people in leadership in every sphere of society to recognise once again that there is a right and a wrong and we should strive to reflect that in every decision that is taken. Only then might old-fashioned trust be re-established.

posted by Gary @ 10:12