Sunday, 25 November 2007

Alistair Darling must explain his "lost data fiasco" statement discrepancies.

If you have read the news headlines this morning, you will have soon realised that this is going to be a VERY bad day for Gordon Brown and his cabinet. George Osborne wants to see Darling get up in parliament to explain the discrepancies between in his statement made last week and what we now know to be the truth. Was a junior HMRC desk jockey to blame for the CDs going walkabout, or is it as George Osborne says, that there are documents which suggest that senior officials were well aware of what happened? I know what my money would be on.

Also the time line for all this is a bit confusing to say the least. The CDs were posted on the 18th of October (with or without management approval?). On the 3rd of November, HMRC senior management are told the CDs are lost in the post. Now, here is where it gets a little puzzling, why did it take them until the 10th (eight days later) to inform Darling and hence the PM? And why did it take until the 14th of November (a further 5 days) for the government to call in the Met? The excuse given by Darling for this delay in calling in the police was that the HMRC were looking for the lost discs. I'm sorry but that does not wash. The HMRC had already been looking for the discs for eight days when Darling was given the bad news, it is quite obvious that HMRC management had failed to find the discs and were asking for help (or owning up). The police should have been called in immediately, and the only reason they were not, was to keep the loss quiet in the hope that the discs would be found.

The thing that is most alarming about this whole sorry affair, is the fact that we the public were not informed that our personal details were at large, until the government had known for a full 11 days. Now let me think - what was happening in British politics around about the time that Darling and Brown found out about the missing discs? Oh yes, Jacqui Smith was stood at the dispatch box to explain away what looked like a cover-up of the fact that she knew in July that up to 5,000 illegal immigrants had been cleared to work in the security industry. Could that be the reason why Gordon Brown decided to keep us in the dark (and our money at risk) for 11 days?

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