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Sunday, 17 February 2008

Lee Jasper - Misconduct in a Public Office?

Livingstone's move to suspend Lee Jasper - though he will continue to draw his £120,000 a year salary - is a smart one. However, the stakes are high for Jasper now that police are investigating and the CPS will be reviewing possible charges. If Jasper is charged before 1st May, the matter becomes sub judice and the press and the blogosphere must be silent. If Jasper isn't charged, or if the CPS decide before May that the chances of a conviction are too low to warrant charges being brought, Livingstone can claim that Jasper is 'innocent'. If Boris gets in, Jasper's chances of remaining in post after 1st May are pretty slim, so it's not a bad strategy. Livingstone is an astute political operator well able to give the impression of standing by his friends whilst furthering his own very selfish interests.

If Jasper escapes criminal charges, it doesn't mean that disciplinary action can't be taken by the GLA for any breaches of the authority's financial and probity regulations. If Livingstone is kicked out, Jasper will go too and this becomes irrelevant. If Livingstone wins, an internal disciplinary hearing can be arranged and Jasper vindicated. Smart.

The risk of course is that the CPS decides there are sufficient grounds to charge Jasper with an offence such as Misconduct in a Public Office, an indictable-only offence that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The CPS' guidelines for the offence are HERE. Either way, Jasper takes the risks, Livingstone gets the benefits.

Greater love hath no man than he lays down his friends for his political life, as they say.

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