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Easter Weekend: Rights And Wrongs, Professional Standards

Well, what a weekend it has been!  I spent the Easter weekend at my parents’ doing the family thing.  Sans laptop (in service elsewhere) it was a rare time of not being connected.  That was one hell of a weekend to choose.

The first I knew about Damian McBride’s resignation was watching the BBC “news”.  I was stunned to see that it was the main story.  I am not easily driven to expletives but when I heard mention of these e-mails from Number 10 being private I had to go into the garden shed so that my incredulous reaction was kept out of earshot of my relatives.

Let’s be crystal clear on this.  I view any e-mail that someone sends using their employer’s e-mail system (so it goes out with the employer’s domain name on it) as property of the employer, not private and personal property.  This applies moreso to Parliament as it becomes a permanent record for Freedom Of Information Act purposes.

Adam Boulton’s view on this is reported here.  Here’s a snippet:

So this is a man directly responsible for getting the message out on behalf of Gordon Brown, who sends out these smear emails on government time, on a government computer

All who work in, for or with Parliament in any way, shape or form have a duty to be open, honest, transparent and acting beyond reproach, in accordance with published codes of conduct.

Just as in the failure of Jacqui Smith’s husband to adhere to a standard of professional conduct (expecting the taxpayer to pay for porn is a failure), so Mr McBride has also failed.  But there appears to be much more maliciousness in Mr McBride’s conduct.

Roger Helmer MEP offers his views on the McBride scandal which I agree with completely. Andrew Grice and Nigel Morris outline the baseless slurs and why Labour’s attack on the blogosphere has failed so utterly.  Today’s leader in The Independent is worth reading and includes this assessment:

Ultimately, the McBride affair does more than reflect badly on Mr Brown and his secretive, sectarian and cabal-ridden style of government. It further damages the public reputation of Parliament and of the British political class at a time when they can least afford it.

Douglas Carswell asks some direct questions of Tom Watson MP, an associate of Mr McBride.

Nadine Dorries, one of the intended victims of these baseless slurs, writes about her view of this “government”.

And then we have Gordon Brown’s denial of any knowledge of or involvement in this vile scheme.  Now that denial is about as good as my back foot cover drive.  Which is awful and has never come off, unless you count inside edges onto the stumps or edges to the keeper or slips as successful.

All those associated with this pathetic incident and its originator should be fired immediately.

In issues like this and Health & Safety, responsibility goes up.  Mr McBride was an advisor to Gordon Brown.  Ergo, if Mr Brown didn’t know about it, why not?  If Mr Brown did know about it then why didn’t he put his foot down and put a stop to this disgraceful scheme?

I have done a lot of policy work in relation to IT policies and procedures.  Any internet usage/communications/e-mail policy that claims to be good should have clauses like:

  • The standard of e-mail correspondence should be considered the same as if the content were going out on headed paper and personally signed by the sender.  E-mail correspondence should be considered the same as any other formal correspondence in that it is considered the property of the company.
  • Employees will not use corporate systems to publish or distribute anything defamatory about the company or its staff or content which could be otherwise embarrassing or bring adverse publicity to the company
    (naturally this does not relate to whistleblowing issues which are covered by whistleblower legislation)

It might well be common sense but sometimes that sense doesn’t seem to be all that common.  Obvious or not it needs to be clearly explained and reinforced.  When explaining a set of such policies for one group of people I said

Look at an e-mail, say this example here [pointed to screen].  There’s one simple question to ask yourself: “What if this gets out to the public?”  Letters can be leaked, e-mails much easier.

This isn’t a party political issue for me.  It’s about standards of conduct.  It’s about professional conduct by people whose salaries are paid by you and me – the taxpayer.  I wouldn’t spare criticism whichever party was in government.

Professional conduct, in my opinion, does not involve attempting to spread malicious lies about people, whether in person  or by e-mail.

Published ingovernmentPolitics