In search of a principle

You have to admire Keir Starmer, the unelected Director of Public Prosecutions.

Without so much as a word from his political masters, he’s intervened in the party conference season to make a significant change to prosecution and, in effect, sentencing policy, and captured the zeitgeist his political masters would wish by singling out benefit fraudsters as the problem most worthy of his attention.

So now, if you’re accused of the crime of benefit fraud, an unelected official has decided that his prosecutors should ignore the specific offences provided for under social security legislation, and trade up to general fraud legislation in pursuit of headlines and higher sentences.

Stop and think about that for a minute.

Parliament decided that there should be separate offences for those who dishonestly claim social security benefits. They had their reasons and their priorities. Those decisions were made democratically.

And now, in search of a headline, Keir Starmer has set aside those decisions. No explanation of the principles behind his decision, just a soundbite or three to justify the publicity.

Not a good day for democracy….

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