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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Aitken, Sheridan ... and Hugh Orde

When it was becoming clear that Ian Blair's tenure as Met Commissioner had about the same prospects as Gaddafi, Britain's top cops, amongst them Hugh Orde, must have contemplated their chance at the post. Orde already had a black mark. earned from a squalid sex scandal in Northern Ireland, and he must have been concerned to ensure no more dirty secrets were exposed in the media. So when the Sunday World published allegations in 2007 that Orde had used PSNI funds to fly his son to New York, he followed the long tradition established by those such as Jonathan Aitken and Tommy Sheridan in not only denying it but using m'learned friends to bully the paper into submission. The Belfast Telegraph reported in October 2009 that Orde had won the largest libel payout ever recorded in Northern Ireland in an out-of-court settlement. 

Except, erm, it was true. Private Eye's online edition reports that a FOI request to the PSNI has confirmed that Orde's son did enjoy free flights at public expense. Sadly, because the libel case was settled out of court, without Orde putting his lies on record under oath, it seems he will escape the prison sentence earned by Aitken and Sheridan for much the same thing. The Sunday World, however, wants its money back - so expect a further high-profile civil case that will bring Orde's dirty washing out in public. 

How fortunate that Orde's position as head of the shadowy and secret ACPO is immune from FOI requests; we have absolutely no right to know just how much taxpayer's money this man  has squandered and is squandering flying himself and his family around the globe. He may be teflon-coated, but that's no reason he shouldn't now be stripped of his knighthood - readers who agree may like to write to Sir Gus O'Donnell, Chair of the Forfeiture Committee, Cabinet Office, 70 Whitehall, SW1A 2AS.    

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