Sunday, 30 May 2010

Laws in context

David Laws, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has resigned following newspaper revelations about his expenses claims. Many of his colleagues in political life have praised Mr Laws in the short time since he resigned, as this BBC news report shows.

Let us consider, say, a totally hypothetical employee (I emphasis "totally hypothetical" - I have never encountered any such case in my trade union role, and have no knowledge of any such case) who was discovered to have claimed £40 000 of expenses to which they may not have been entitled. Since the employer would probably consider this, if proven, to be an instance of gross misconduct for which a disciplinary penalty of dismissal without notice could apply, the said employee would in all probability be suspended from work (on full pay) while the matter was investigated. If, after due investigation by the employer and appropriate hearings and appeals under their disciplinary procedure, the allegation was upheld.... the employee would be dismissed without notice for gross misconduct, along with all the implications that that might have for their future employment prospects.

Mr Laws does appear to be recognising that his expenses claims were in some way wrong - see the BBC news report linked above - though we still have to await the outcome of his self-referral to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner. As might also be the case with our hypothetical employee, one can also recognise the existence of a "mitigating circumstance" in Mr Laws reason for making the expenses claim.

But, whilst it is quite right that his colleagues should recognise Mr Laws' strengths and positive qualities (though his integrity is surely now in question at least to a degree), and there might well be questions to be asked about the motivation of the newspaper in finding and publishing the story, I'm just asking: would our hypothetical employee be treated in the same way? Or would there be a more realistic assessment of his wrong doing by his peers?

3 comments:

Francis said...

Fair points, Joe. I note soembody from Gay News (I think) has suggested that all this business about him trying to keep his homsexuality a secret is just a smokescreen for the fact that he had his fingers in the till.

How he can say that he didn't think his landlord was his partner because they had separate social circles (because he was keeping him hidden?) when he had been sharing a bed with him for about ten years is just an insult to our intelligence.

Anonymous said...

zero says
Mr Laws could have bought his own house (being a millionaire I daresay he could afford to) and his friend could have rented a room from him.

Liberal Democrat Catholic said...

Francis - it is not known to what extent Lawes'S life was interconnected with his partner. We know that for the first 2 years that Lawes rented a room in his house that they were not partners. Indeed any kind of relationship did not develop until later. You say Lawes was sharing his bed for ten years but really that is only an assumption of your part. As previously said, Lawes was renting a room and we do not know the details of their relationship. To be fair, their connection to each other does not to me resemble any kind of commited relationship among any one i know.