I’m delighted to hear that Lord Hanningfield has been found guilty. And, what’s more, I look forward to his sentencing in three weeks' time. But like his colleagues (or should I say former colleagues) from the green benches who are enjoying a break from the rest of the world at Her Majesty’s pleasure, I have no doubt that his sentence simply won’t fit the crime.
I make no criticism of the judiciary. After all, judges are obliged to hand down sentences in accordance with the prevailing laws and guidelines. It’s the law and the guidelines that are the problem here.
Crime comes in many forms, from the incredibly serious to the relatively minor. But surely, in a democracy, crimes of personal gain perpetrated by individuals in public office who take advantage of that office to achieve that gain must be treated amongst the most serious. Those elected to serve the public are the custodians of a sacred trust. To breach that trust is nothing short of an assault on the democracy which they serve.
Lord Hanningfield deserves to go to jail. But he deserves to go to jail for a lot longer than he will. Personally, I’d throw away the key.