Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Public Enquiries

We seem to love Enquiries in this country; looking back, I can't think of a time when one wasn't in progress. We love exploring the past and pinning blame on people for past events, even if those concerned are long dead. The current furore about Jimmy Savile is perhaps typical. Whilst I have very great sympathy for all the victims of his abuse, exactly what is the point of the police enquiries? We are told that they have something like 250 lines of enquiry and have identified some 50 or so victims. Following up all those lines of enquiry is going to cost substantial sums of money, many millions no doubt, and unless there is any prospect of other co-conspirators being charged with aiding and abetting, just what is the point? But the police enquiries aren't the end of the matter, the NHS is setting up an enquiry (or three) as is the BBC, which will involve the expenditure of more public money. The end result will no doubt be statements from all the organisations concerned that "Lessons will be learnt".  However, in this particular case, I don't think any new lessons will be learnt, not because I believe that it could happen again, but because attitudes have changed significantly over the past twenty or so years and it would be far more difficult someone to start to do what Savile is alleged to have done without attracting wider attention.
Of course, we mustn't confuse this enquiry with the "Saville Enquiry", into Bloody Sunday, which dragged on for years at horrendous cost and never really produced anything that satisfied the public at large, the majority of people that I know, generally seem to take the view that soldiers under pressure, being fired at, will quite reasonably fire back and, as far as they are concerned, that is the end of the matter. Surely more would have been achieved by paying the victims' dependants a generous ex-gratia sum of money than paying all those lawyers to talk for years.
The first enquiry that I can recall reading about was the Lynsky Tribunal, which was about allegations of corruption in the government and civil service. Nothing Changes!  Since then, there seem to have been at least one or more public enquiries every year, ranging from the Ground Nut Scheme to the Hutton and Iraq enquiries.  But the thing about all these enquiries is that by the time they take place, most people had already made up their minds about what had happened and that this is unlikely to change regardless of the enquiry outcome. I'm still happy to believe that Dr Kelly was murdered, regardless of what Hutton said!
We need some new way of investigating these matters, some short and sharp way which carries out the investigation at a sensible cost and comes to a conclusion in months rather than years, preferably without the involvement of so many (expensive) legal experts.
In the meanwhile, I am calling for a full public enquiry into the murder of the Princes in the Tower as I believe that Richard III has been unfairly accused of involvement in their deaths.

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