Friday, 7 January 2011
Cheater Chaytor Goes Daaaaahn
So David Chaytor has been found guilty and sentenced to 18 months. So that's 9 months, less time spent on remand, less a bit because he is a decent chap of previously good character (heh, obviously not) and he pleaded guilty, so that will be about 10 minutes, then. In, no doubt, an 'open' prison. Hardly the twenty years banged up with Big Tony and the pot of Vaseline that we would have hoped for, but pleasing, nonetheless.
Let's not be too sympathetic here. He claimed more than £20,000 in expenses that he wasn't entitled to. He forged documents; he claimed for rent which had been paid to a family member (specifically against the rules) and covered it by altering his daughter's name; he printed invoices to indicate he had paid for services which he was not in fact charged for. None of this was accidental: it was premeditated thievery. Anyone caught doing this level of expenses cheating in the private sector would have been sacked immediately and in the slammer before you knew it.
He thought he was above the law, and the good news from today is that it is quite clear he was not. I never expected him to serve a serious sentence, and for the amount he dishonestly claimed 18 months seems about right. I was not sure he would have been convicted at all, seeing how Blair managed to massage the judicial process in all sorts of ways to keep him and his cronies squeaky clean. So today's news is good. He's been expelled from Labour, sent to prison, is a 'broken man' and has a career ruined. The sum he cheated is paltry, in the great scheme of things, but a dishonest man has been publicly shown to be a dishonest man, and shamed. A good day's work.
The BBC's take was predictable, of course. On the BBC News channel (why can't they just call it News24 like they used to?), the Chaytor story was the lead item. And after Chaytor's sins had been enumerated and the entrails inspected, who did they bring on but - Jonathan Aitken! Of course, a famous Tory who has also done time. Aitken was a one-off, and his conviction was 12 years ago, but the BBC deemed him a relevant commentator to bring on and muddy the waters.
For 'balance', I suppose.
I haven''t got the figures to hand, but the vast majority of the cheats were from the Labour Party. At a guess, I would say that, overall, there was one cheat from the other parties for every six from Labour. It seemed to be endemic to their political culture. And yet, to an alien watching the BBC from his green spaceship, it was pretty much 50/50, Labour and Tory, all in it together, no-one's to blame, best have a sherry and talk about the cricket, what?
Nice work, BBC. The day of your disestablishment comes closer.