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?