Anorak News | Sharing Out Blame

Sharing Out Blame

by | 1st, November 2005

‘WHAT can you do in two weeks? The Israelis famously took just six days to win a war, the same time it took God to create the world. Lady Jane Grey was Queen for nine days. Minute man Jacques Chirac could father a nation. Imagine what can be achieved in a full 14 days and nights.

‘Is this really the way out, Tony?’ ‘It is for you…’

Such a question circles David Blunkett’s head today as the Times looks into his dealings with the company DNA Bioscience.

As the paper says, the Works and Pensions Secretary’s relationship with the company is causing him much grief.

While we can only wonder what he did in his two weeks at the firm, the paper says that in taking the job Blunkett was in breach of the ministerial code of conduct.

Before taking any business role, the code states that MPs must seek advice from the committee on business appointments. The Times says Blunkett was told in no fewer than three separate letters that he should consult the committee.

He did not have to follow the committee’s advice, just listen to what it had to say. Blunkett did neither.

Having already resigned his post as Home Secretary over the allegations that he fast-tracked a visa application for his married lover Kimberly Quinn, you’d think Blunkett would be ultra-careful in his future conduct.

But he has learnt from past mistakes – he’s become better at extricating himself from the mess.

The background to this story is that the same day as Blunkett became a director of the DNA Bioscience company, he bought 12 shares in the company for £15,000. As the Telegraph says on its front page, this shareholding will yield Blunkett a potential profit of between £45,000 and £285,000 if the company floats next year, as it’s expected to do.

Blunkett will not tell us what he was paid in his brief time as a director for the firm – although the company’s spokesman calls his advice “invaluable”.

But he will sell his shares. A spokesman for Blunkett says the shares will be sold for “no profit”. No shares. No profit. No problem. Blunkett’s in the clear.

Only, there is suspicion that there is more to this story. Chris Grayling, the Tory front-bencher, says Blunkett has shown a “monumental lack of judgement”. He says the decision to sell the shares “suggested that Mr Blunkett and the Government recognise that there is a case to answer”.

A case..? If so, what’s the crime? All we know is that, as the Times says, there are unanswered questions. Why did Blunkett take the job when he was tipped for a return to the Government? Why buy shares in a company that “stood to profit from any government contracts”? Why not sell the shares when Blunkett rejoined the Government? Why did he not consult the committee?

Why does Tony Blair give Blunkett his “full confidence”, as the Telegraph hears the Prime Minister say? Why does Tony Blair think Blunkett “should be allowed to get on with the job, which is very important”?

Why can’t people who make the rules and champion them not follow them..?’

Posted: 1st, November 2005 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink