Give the man a fair hearing

The vultures are already circling over David Steel, former leader of the Liberal Party.

Tuesday, 19th March 2019, 5:46 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th March 2019, 6:48 am

They are not exactly screeching, “Off with his head!”, but they are demanding that he be stripped of his peerage.

You could be forgiven for assuming (wrongly) that such people might have possessed more common sense and a feeling for normal justice than to demand punishment for a man while an inquiry into his conduct is still in progress. Steel has already been suspended from the Liberal Democrats while the inquiry continues. It relates to how much he knew about the behaviour of his long-time colleague Sir Cyril Smith’s now well-documented abusive behaviour towards young people in Rochdale.

There are still many unanswered questions about Smith’s behaviour. Why did Smith not sue when an underground newspaper in the town openly printed the accusations against him? And why did the police take no action at the time?

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Meanwhile, Steel has served the party well and faithfully for years, including overseeing the tricky link-up of the dying SDP with the Liberals in the 1980s. He has also been a highly valued servant to parliaments, both in Westminster and Edinburgh. Give the man a chance, please, and a fair hearing.

- Are we witnessing the greatest parliamentary betrayal ever inflicted on the British people? Forget all the complex Brexit motions and their even more complicated amendments, and the otiose language being used at Westminster, and consider instead the simple issue of the honour of parliamentarians - because it is now seriously in question.

Parliament ordered the referendum and vowed it would honour the result. To their great shame, many MPs are now betraying that pledge.

The allegations the Remainers are making now, and the questions they’re asking, should have been aired during the campaign. Furthermore, the suggestion that the referendum revealed a divided nation and should mean a second vote is just so much nonsense. All elections reveal that - and Winston Churchill, when asked what he considered a satisfactory majority, replied: “One vote.”