The Banks are Made of Marble

by Chris Bertram on October 18, 2011

Watching footage of the Occupy protests suddenly reminded me of Pete Seeger’s marvellous song (played at Jerry Cohen’s funeral btw). I thought it would be a nice thing to share.

Paying for political influence in the UK

by Chris Bertram on October 18, 2011

The Liam Fox/Adam Werritty scandal largely happened when I was away in the US, so I’m only now catching up on the details. These are, in brief, that Werritty, a close friend of Fox (the British Secretary-of-State for Defence, now resigned), paid by various shadowy backers and lobby-groups, accompanied him to a very large number of meetings, including ones involving foreign governments. Some of the details of the financial backing for Werrity and the background in the pro-American think-tank Atlantic Bridge are covered by the Guardian “here”: . Now there’s talk of “prosecuting Werrity for fraud”: for allegedly misrepresenting his status with Fox to lobbyists in order to get their cash. What I don’t understand is why nobody is pursuing the question of whether there’s been a breach of the Bribery Act. It looks to me _prima facie_ like there’s a case to answer.

Looking at the “statute”: :

It is clear that Werritty’s backers promised or gave “a financial or other advantage to another person [Werritty]” , intending “to induce a person [Fox] to perform improperly a relevant function or activity”. In which connection note (1.4) that “… it does not matter whether the person to whom the advantage is offered, promised or given is the same person as the person who is to perform, or has performed, the function or activity concerned.” So an offence can be committed where Werrity is paid to influence Fox. The case also seems to meet the “function or activity”: provisions, since Fox is “performing a function of a public nature” and “is expected to perform it in good faith”, is “is expected to perform it impartially” and “is in a position of trust by virtue of performing it” (though meeting any of those last three clauses would do).

So why aren’t Labour MPs demanding an investigation into whether there has been a breach of the Act?