Thursday, 9 April 2009

Bob-be-Quick's fundamental breach

I wrote last December about a police officer called Bob Quick. On that occasion he panicked and blurted out the truth, namely that he is biased against the Conservative Party. He remained in his job because hapless Jacqui, the so-called Home Secretary, is even more unfit for office than he is. Or so we thought.

Yesterday, Wednesday, a coordinated raid took part in the north of England and a number of suspected terrorists or terrorist supporters were arrested. It has now emerged that the raids were brought forward because Mr Quick disclosed a briefing paper about the suspects to the press. He did it in a particularly stupid and incompetent way, by holding the paper in his hand while stepping out of a car in Downing Street thereby allowing it to be photographed by the press. There is a fine example of one such press photograph in the BBC's report of the matter.

What wonderful irony. Last year he came up with a lunatic conspiracy theory that the Conservative Party was acting corruptly in association with some newspapers to obstruct a police investigation. Now he has obstructed a police investigation through his stupidity.

When I was in practice at the Bar I often had to read confidential papers on trains or in restaurants or hotel dining rooms. There was rarely anything in them of interest to anyone other than the parties to the case I was involved in, but the information contained in the documents belonged to those people and their interests had to be treated with respect. It was not a difficult exercise. If anyone was sitting next to me or opposite me on the train the papers would be held so that they could not read them. In a restaurant or hotel the arrival of the waiter would result in the file being closed for the duration and reopened only when any possible prying eyes had departed. It was done automatically because it was such an obvious and important part of my job. I could put it pompously and call it a matter of duty, technically that would be correct, but I prefer to look on it as a matter of not disclosing private information to people with no right to know about it.

To step out in front of press photographers displaying sensitive information about an anti-terrorism operation really is crassly incompetent. Had you or I been emailed such information by mistake and then disclosed it to the press we could rightly expect the law to come down on us pretty hard. Had a General or Admiral during wartime disclosed tactical secrets in this way we wouldn't expect him to retain his position for very long. So, can we expect Bob Quick to fall on his sword or be reassigned to count traffic bollards in Cornwall? Oh no. That is not how it works when you are one of the current government's favourites. And what a favourite he is. Hapless Jacqui referred to him by his first name when addressing the press, as I noted in December. No word of censure or criticism has come from the government this time round. Even the sweetly-pensioned has-been known as "Red" Ken Livingstone has spoken out in support of this clumsy dolt. Having lost his poodle Sir Ian Blair as Commissioner, Mr Livingstone couldn't bear the thought of another tame lackey departing the senior ranks of the constabulary.

Mr Livingstone is quoted as describing what Mr Quick did as "holding a piece of paper the wrong way", as though he had used the butter knife for the fish course during a Royal banquet. This was not a matter of paper etiquette, the man disclosed highly secret details of an ongoing delicate investigation. It was a fundamental breach of duty.

Let's go back to the General and Admiral I mentioned earlier. I can be pretty sure they wouldn't wait to be asked before tendering their resignations. They would do so as a matter of duty because they would put their duty above their personal interest. Then let's ask what would happen if a probationary Constable had been sent with this document to Downing Street because Mr Quick had left it in his office. How long would he remain on the public payroll if he stepped out of the cab brandishing it in exactly the way Mr Quick did? One only has to ask the question for the answer to be obvious. The moment his error was exposed he would be made an example of and sent packing without so much as a "thank you and good luck". Mr Quick and hapless Jacqui would be at the forefront of those decrying the irresponsibility of the probationer and warning of the need for eternal vigilance in the war on terror. And they would be right.

If, as I am happy to assume, Mr Quick is a highly experienced and highly skilled anti-terrorist police officer his departure from office would probably be a loss to public service, at least in the short term, although there are perfectly well established ways in which he could be consulted for a fee were his expertise needed.

I am troubled that this is yet another illustration of someone who holds high office in this country putting themselves above their duty. Their duty must always come first. Their personal pride, their ambition and their pension must always give precedence to their duty. Many think they are indispensable but history shows that not to be the case. American Presidents are limited to a maximum of ten years in office no matter how successful they have been (or think they have been). The world continues turning when they leave office even if they have more to give. Whether you are a police officer or a President there is always someone capable of taking over, indeed someone has to take over some day. Breach of a fundamental duty should always accelerate that day.

Well, well, it seems the power of my little blog is greater than I thought. Mr Quick has now resigned. Well done Bob, you got there at last.


gyges said...

There is a bias in your note: the bias is that he did not intend to leak and hence push the raid forward.

Dan said...

Apparently he's just resigned.

So, that's that then?

james c said...


You have hit the nail on the head-extraordinary incompetence and political patronage.

What are the odds that his replacemnt will be any better?

TheFatBigot said...

Welcome to my little world, Mr Gyges.

I'm not sure I understand your point. Would you care to elucidate?

Unknown said...

Minor pedantry
US Pres serve maximum two terms of four years.

TheFatBigot said...

Welcome to my world, Mr Alan, and thank you for falling into my little trap.

I was expecting someone to say a US Pres is limited to eight year, but not so, see the 22nd Amendment.

Someone who takes over office and serves not more than 2 years of his predecessor's term is entitled to stand for election twice, if he serves more than 2 years of his predecessor's term he can only stand for election once. So, he could serve two years having taken over the job and then win 2 elections and serve 8 further years in his own right; total 10 years.