Guido’s already covered the irony-come-hypocrisy of Labour appointing Harriet Harman – a woman who herself received multiple Fixed Penalty Notices as a minister – to lead the investigation into whether Boris misled the house. Christopher Hope reckons she might be a poor pick for natural justice reasons. The chair vacancy originally arose when Chris Bryant acknowledged that, given he’d already made a number of anti-Boris statements in the media and the committee’s findings would have been completely compromised:
“However, it is also important that the House be seen to proceed fairly without any imputation of unfairness and that the whole House have confidence in the Committee of Privilege’s proceedings.”
It’s now emerged his replacement, Harman, has not been neutral on the question up until this point either. She has tweeted her views relating to allegations around the PM’s truthfulness, with one saying “If PM and CX admit guilt, accepting that police right that they breached regs, then they are also admitting that they misled the House of Commons”. You wouldn’t favour your chances going to trial if the judge was on the record with such levels of preconceived bias…
Yesterday in the Commons, Andrew Murrison asked Michael Ellis whether he agreed “that those placed in a position of judgment over others must not have a previously stated position on the matter in question”. The Cabinet Office minister replied:
“It is, of course, an age-old principle of natural justice that no person should be a judge in their own court.
Where an individual has given a view on the guilt or innocence of any person, they ought not to then sit in judgment on that person. I know that point he is referring to, and I have no doubt that the right honourable lady will consider that.”
It seems to be yet another own goal by Labour, mind-made-up Harman’s appointment totally undermines the impartiality of the privileges committee investigation…