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As Minister for the Civil Service, Tom Watson should be pursuing a charge of Malfeasance in Public Office against Damian McBride.

McBride was paid as a Civil Servant, but broke the Civil Service Code. He used Govt computers and the Govt Secure Intranet to send his slanderous emails - during Govt working time. It is not good enough that he has resigned - he should be prosecuted for his actions - which undoubtedly brought the Government into disrepute.

Jonathan. May I suggest that one of our Home Office team asks the question of Mr Watson as to why a person employed as a Civil Servant was engaged on full-time Party business and using goverment property to carry out this work?

Our party needs to get some lawyers on the case right away. I'm sure thay have.

We should not only be looking at whether there should be a prosecution (this would be excellent, as Brown would inevitably be questioned by the Police), but also at whether, when and how we can sue those involved.

Suing would be a good strategy as it would basically put on trial Labour's modus operandi for the last 12 years. It would also tie up Labour party personnel and resources and might even severely set back their internet operation in the run up to the election.

I suspect the real fireworks are yet to go off. Guido and Iain Dale have alreaady lit the slow burning fuse by putting in FOI requests for e-mails. Either the government obstructs publication of these e-mails (in which case they look evasive), or there's something that proves the link between the goings-on and Brown.

This is going to rumble on and on.

Whatever the truth of the matter I think we can rely on Tom Watson not to tell it. After all someone who could launch a coup against Blair on Brown's behalf and then travel hundreds of miles to visit Brown not to plot you understand but to briefly drop in some presents for Brown's child always tells the truth. Doesn't he?

I am reminded of the old but still existing common law offence of malicious libel, and while there may or may not yet be enough evidence for this at this stage, there may be a prima facie case of conspiracy to commit malicious libel - which should be enough to ask the boys from the Yard back into Downing Street.

My apologies if I am wrong on the common law point - I'm not in a law library at the moment - but a little further research has brought up the Libel Act 1843, Lord Campbell's Act, which creates some offences around malicious defamation. Criminal offences can be investigated by the police, and at the moment we may need the police to use their powers to see how wide the conspiracy goes. The main protaganists are unlikely to volunteer the information on their own.

They were mainly for Blasphemous comments Sam.

The problem is with this is that the two main protagonists did not publish these emails. For defamation to take place the remarks have to be made to a third party. Now in this case the emails were procured by means in which we don't know. If they were retrieved by hacking then the person(s) who did this can be subject to criminal proceedings.

Also the words used have to lower the reputation of the defamed in the opinion of right thinking members of society, mere words of abuse are not enough to bring an action (Dean v Byrne).

All very interesting and fun, but you have forgotten one thing. Like the media, the police work for the Labour party, not the public. Granted, Labour's Bob Quick and Ian Blair have gone now, but the half wit regime in charge of the met is still Labour leaning. They will not want to upset the government too much and only seem interested in arresting conservatives, regardless of how many Labour lords are corrupt.

A very simple question that David Cameron might wish to ask Brown during the next PMQ:
Who in No. 10 is in charge of official media?
And a supplemental: Who has ultimate responsibility for the conduct of all public-funded personnel within no. 10?

Advice to Nadine Dorries and anyone else:
Don't just sue the McBride of Frankenstein, sue Tramp Draper and Trash Gordon as well!

I am glad to see D.C. and W.H. having the high ground completely to themselves this weekend, the push for an apology is playing to the gallery. This government will be further damaged by this.

Thats weird I was thinking "the McBride of Frankenstein" before your post came up. I guess it wasn't new afterall!

One assumes McBride's superiors would either have made sure, as with most organisations, that he did not use company email inappropriately or knew what he was doing during work hours and since his direct employer was none other than G. Brown Esq., said employer has to be either ineffective or implicated. It is debatable which is worse.

Leaders do sometimes need to use a defence of plausible deniability but the irony in this situation is that even if Brown were truly unaware of what was going on, the public will never believe him. How apposite!

Tom Wateon denies knowing about the emails, yet he was on the CC list. Either he is lying, or he wasn't on the CC list as Guido and the papers claim, or he hasn't checked his emails since January!

As for malificious defamation, I can't see it myself, as much as I'd like to! The emails weren't made public by the authors so it is a personal matter, and those that did make them public did so labelling them as unfounded smears that they had exposed, so they were sold as works of fiction. At most McBride and Draper might be guilty of conspiracy to commit malicious defamation, but I know nothing of this and don't see it as likely; at the very least you'd have to prove serious intent beyond reasonable doubt, so it would be a case of our suspicions - however true - against their word.

David, That would be the point of a criminal investigation - gathering evidence. There could be enough here in the public domain to warrant reasonable suspicion of a conspiracy, and the cops can go and examine the full email traffic between McBride and Draper to see what proof there is, and who else is involved in any emails that we have not seen. With conspiracy it doesn't matter that they never got round to publishing the allegations, as the offence is contained in the act of planning, of which the emails are evidence.

This person was employed at public expense; but he was working for the benefit of the Labour party, not for the benefit of the public.

Public resources being misused for an illegitimate purpose, pursued by illegitimate methods - prima facie, a case of "misconduct in public office":


Also this Standard Note, quite recently prepared by the House of Commons Library:


which has a fascinating table on page 9, showing an increase in successful prosecutions in recent years.

I have to say that reaching for the law on this one is a mistake. We already saw how our support wobbled when we went a little overboard on the Damien Green issue.

The way ahead is to be professional, to rise above the filth (and to be seen clearly to be doing so) and to get on with the main job, which is picking apart the government's performance on the economy.

We don't want the public to forget about this idiotic smearing activity, or the clear evidence of the kind or revolting people that the PM chooses to surround himself with. But they have to know that it is the nation that we care about and are fighting for.

Really, what pressure?
Lot of blowhard piffle, off the specifics, legally unsupportable assertions and against a culture of say nothing.
Where is this pressure? Attack dogs???? Send in cats, perhaps they can tickle it out.

I want that lot to be hauled, effectively into a court of public opinion, because at the moment the truth is that that is the only court they can be hauled into if they stay shtum on specifics but blather about puerile pranking.

I haven't seen Hague at his business on this. Perhaps the only pressure will come at next PMQ, but so long away, so forgotten. Why could not the Guidos have held off? What pushed them to let fly now over a holiday period? Was the Red Rag about to go live, if so it seems to have been carefully discreet about going so?

I see muddy waters being stirred up because it did happen, but to a Labour Time Agenda to manage fallout. Premature ejaculation on the part of Guido? Coarse but maybe instructive in how to keep the powder dry to get maximum effect.

Red Rag was not being advertised pre launch, it indicates that in the emails, it was to open with one of these dodgy stories. The timing wasn't bad, this Easter weekend had a lot of people at home watching TV where there would've been a big media gap. Think about how much coverage there has been and how little on the economy for a change. Yes a PMQs would have been great directly afterwards, but maximum news coverage would be better. Most don't even watch PMQs. This weekend was the best timing for the story. It will continue into the week and most likely feature in PMQs and shows like Question Time/ Any Questions/ Any Answers. If we can build it up then we can have maximum effect. We now need proof or strong evidence a minister was involved, and lying. That is why an investigation would be good, the problem there is that it wouldn't happen. A Tory sleeper cell in Downing street would be great if we could get some more leaked emails or data. Brown couldn't get away with another Greengate type arrest.

A ministerial resignation on the cards?

Wouldn't copying the emails to a third party such as Tom Watson/Charlie Whelan count as publication? (I'm not a lawyer!)


Great minds ...........,



I believe so, and just sending them to Draper would also count as "publication".

As I understand, A can denigrate B in a private conversation or communication, and while that may offend or insult B it can't defame him as nobody else is aware of what A has alleged. It's only if A allows others to know his opinion of B that the possibility of defamation arises.

As I recall there was held to be a difference between sending somebody a sealed letter marked "private and personal", and sending them a postcard which could be read by the postman and others.

However while I'm disgusted that McBride has denigrated political opponents in this way, I'm even more disgusted that he's done it while being paid by, and using resources provided by, the taxpayer.

Which is why I think he should have to explain himself to a jury, who could decide whether his actions amounted to "misconduct in public office".

I've just been listening to Alan Johnson on the Today programme. He kept repeating that Brown could not be held responsible for what has happened.

Someone needs to remind these people of the link between responsibility and accountability. Brown's minions may be responsible for these e-mails. He should be held accountable for allowing the situation to develop in which they felt it acceptable to do so.

Sam Chapman....

This is not a criminal matter. It is possible there might be grounds for civil matter in Tort, however and as I said earlier in a post, mere words of abuse do not constitute defamation.

I agree that this whole incident is awful. However it makes for very boring politics in the future. The Tories can never again spin any story, neither can the Dims. Once you take the moral high ground you cannot back down from it. I am not saying this is a bad thing but I think it will be very boring. There will be so many shouts of hypocrisy if or should I say when the Tories do anything remotely similar...a very dangerous precedent is being set here.

"The Tories can never again spin any story, neither can the Dims."

Hello, joshuwahwah!

I think that's probably a good thing, don't you? It means that from now on parties should concentrate on policies and leave people's private lives out of the equation. Unless we start recruiting monks and nuns, everyone is going to have a "past" and perhaps the best thing to do is just accept that.

Hi Sally,

Happy Easter.

I think your correct Sally. Peoples private lives should be kept out of the public domain, unless that it is in the public interest. However I do like the antics of Punch and Judy politics. I remember David Cameron promising no more of it and then indulging in it more than ever.

The problem I see with this episode is that the first time anyone from the Tory party accuses anyone of doing anything there will be screams of hypocrisy and I don't think that is a good thing.

There is cause to be aggrieved when one is libelled, but which the cause to call for an apology from the Prime Minister. Does such a demand smack of ill judgement somewhere along the libelee's line.

It certainly does John B Pope.

Section 2 of the Defamation Act 1996 allows for an apology to make amendments.

"Hi Sally,

Happy Easter."

Thank you joshuwahwah and the same to you.

It's not Gordon's fault really, he is only doing as his masters tell him to :-


Who Does Gordon Work for

Come to think of it, who does DC work for.

HyperInflation here we come

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