Thursday, March 03, 2011

Nick Clegg and Gary McKinnon: Before and After

Ah yes, here is an article in the Daily Mail, (not a paper I habitually read but now and again it comes in useful for something, as here) written by none other than Nick Clegg on 4th August 2009. Clegg is writing about the planned extradition of Gary McKinnon by the then New Labour administration. McKinnon was due to be deported to the USA to face trial for computer hacking, despite the fact that he has Asperger Syndrome.

Here are a few choice quotes from Clegg’s article:
“It appals me that, so far at least, no one in government seems prepared to lift a finger to help him. You can be sure that if the situation was reversed, American politicians would be moving hell and high water to protect one of their citizens from such a gross injustice. It is an affront to British justice that no one in the Labour Party has the courage to do the same.”

“...this case is about more than legal technicalities and political treaties. It is about compassion, knowing the difference between right and wrong - and the sorry truth is that the Labour Party lost its moral compass long ago.”

“It would be fair and it would be right to try Mr McKinnon in Britain. But the clock is ticking. The Prime Minister just needs to pick up the phone to make this prosecution happen. I urge him to do so, before it is too late.”

Well, OK, that was Mr Clegg back in 2009. He obviously felt very strongly about the case. In fact, here he is with Janis Sharp, Gary McKinnon’s mother, at a demonstration calling for McKinnon to be tried in the UK (photo from the Free Gary McKinnon campaign site).

So, you’d assume that Nick Clegg would now be using his influence as deputy prime minister to influence the coalition on Gary McKinnon’s behalf. After all, he had called the previous administration’s attitude “an affront to British justice,” and talked about “compassion, knowing the difference between right and wrong” – strong words from a politician.

Unfortunately, and this may not exactly be a surprise, Nick won’t now meet with McKinnon’s mother even to discuss the case. Photos with her were fine before the election, but now he won’t even talk to her. But don’t worry, his parliamentary spokesman is on hand to clear things up:

"As these are live legal proceedings the Deputy Prime Minister has been advised that it would not be appropriate to meet Gary's mother and discuss the details of the case."

So it’s not allowed for you, Nick, to meet in private with the mother of someone you're on record as supporting to discuss a case that someone else, the Home Secretary, is dealing with? Yeah, right... Looks to me as though Clegg has abandoned both the "courage" and the "moral compass" he demanded of the previous government. Pathetic.

Janis Sharp says it for us all:

"I trusted Nick Clegg to the core - I really believed in him. The Lib Dems used my son's case pre-election and as far as I am concerned it was 100% commitment to him. How can we have any trust in politicians when they behave like this?”

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