Sunday, January 02, 2005

The European disease

In the Sunday Telegraph Mandrake column (which does not appear to be published on-line) is a story which seems to encapsulate modern Britain and which, more importantly, suggests that European public administration mores have spread over here.

The story itself relates to official in charge of building the plush UK parliamentary offices at Portcullis House. Mandrake author, Tim Walker picks up the story:

As the official overseeing the £250 million construction of Portcullis House, Andrew Makepeace landed the House of Commons in the High Court for breaching both UK and European law, It cost the taxpayers around £10 million when the case was lost and the House was forced to pay substantial compensation to a construction company that, the court rules, had been discriminated unlawfully in 1996.

The trial judge said that Makepeace was not only dishonest in the way he had handled this company’s tender on Portcullis House, but that he had then "falsified the reasons" for his action "to cover his tracks" by writing a letter which he "plainly knew did not set out the true reasons" for awarding the contract.

So what happened to Makepeace? Was he dismissed or demoted? Not in Blair’s Britain. He retained his job and his gold-plated pension.

And now this publicly disgraced official has been given the OBE in the New Year honours. He is described in the citation as the "Project sponsor, Parliamentary Estates Directorate, House of Commons".
Tim Walker challenges Makepeace to have the decency not to turn up at Buckingham Palace to accept the award but, as we so often say, don’t hold your breath.

If, of course, this had been an EU commission official, the Eurosceptic press would have been all over the case but, as it is, it only gets a mention on the back page of the Sunday Telegraph.

However, this is straight out of the book of European administration, where Eurostat officials go unpunished, despite "a vast enterprise of looting", where l’escroc Barrot gets made transport commissioner and the biggest thief of them all, Jacques Chirac, gets made president of France.

Giving Makepeace an award somehow rather confirms Blair's "European credentials". His lack of concern for accountability and probity in public life would certainly meet with the approval of his European colleagues and marks the spread of the "European disease" into the British administration.

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