After it was revealed that the Metropolitan Police, far from investigating the clear evidence of cheating by the two Leave campaigns in the run-up to the 2016 EU Referendum, was sitting on the evidence and doing nothing, there was significant disquiet among politicians that 74 MPs, MEPs and peers have now written to the National Crime Agency and the Met asking for reassurances that they are now investigating.
Today, therefore, it was no surprise to see Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw telling “I’ve coordinated another letter from MPs & MEPs to @metpoliceuk & @NCA_UK about law breaking by the Leave campaign after reports they weren’t investigating them because of ‘political sensitivities’”. He was not the only one going public.
David Lammy, Labour’s representative for Tottenham, wanted everyone to know “Pleased to have signed this letter. Authorities cannot simply look the other way when handed ‘clear and substantial’ evidence of crimes against our democracy”. And then, totally unexpectedly, a flannelled fool hove into view bearing news.
Responding to Lammy’s Tweet, the odious Master Harry Cole, who still claims to be a real journalist, proclaimed “Police say they [are] waiting for political pressure to calm down before rushing to a decision on whether launch full investigation. So those wanting them to do so launch a fresh wave of political pressure. Doh”.
Strangely, no-one else seems to have been privy to this apparent briefing. But unless Master Cole has lapsed into the kind of mode he was in so often during his days as tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog - talking well, but lying badly - this intervention suggests two corollaries, neither of them happy ones.
One, the Bad Old Days™ of the Rozzers briefing Murdoch goons on that good old non-attributable basis may never have really gone away. And two, this carries a yet more disturbing message along the lines of “back off or the investigation gets it”.
Small wonder the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr responded “If this is true, it’s an even bigger scandal than what’s already been reported. Harry is Sun’s political corr & privy to briefings other press won’t get. Looking forward to reading your full report on this in tomorrow’s Sun, Harry. You’re not going to sit on it, right?”.
Actually, Master Cole is the Sun’s alleged “Westminster Correspondent”, until such time as he piles off to the Mail on Sunday. But the point is well made. And Green Party co-leader Sian Berry was following up: “Can @MrHarryCole clarify that police actually said the word 'pressure' to him? It would be incredibly concerning if they have been asked to delay prosecution of leave cheats rather than just self-censoring”. Quite.
Jolyon Maugham, meanwhile, had two observations to make. “Not sure it's appropriate for the Police to be using The Sun to tell civil society that unless it backs off the Police won't investigate criminality”. And as to “rushed”, “The Electoral Commission referred Leave EU's skullduggery to the Police over five months ago”. Got it in one.
Master Cole, will of course be letting us know the full story in tomorrow’s Sun. And if he doesn’t, rather a lot of people will want him and his editor to explain why.
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