Rod Liddle

Breaking Laws

Breaking Laws
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Have to admit I’m increasingly at a loss over the reaction to the resignation of David Laws by people with whom I usually agree. Matthew Parris, Simon Hoggart, Hugo Rifkind and so on. I can accept that it is sad for Mr Laws, that he is an undoubtedly talented man and so on. Also – and I assume that personal sympathy must play a part in a couple of those cases – that he is a genuinely nice chap. I met him once and indeed he seemed very nice. But what I find puzzling is the apparent wish to excuse his actions on account of his sexuality, when his sexuality is really of no relevance whatsoever.

If he had wished to keep his relationship with his landlord a secret he had two entirely legitimate recourses; first, to claim nothing whatsoever for the room he rented, and then nobody would have been any the wiser. Or secondly to make it clear to the Fees Office, and the Fees Office alone, that he was renting a room from someone to whom he was “related” (which would be a semantic sleight of hand, a harmless white lie). But it is not good enough to argue retrospectively, when he had been found out, that the enormous sum of money he accrued for his partner was merely an accidental consequence of a wish to keep his relationship a secret. It beggars belief. The former cabinet ministers who survived even though they “flipped” homes may have behaved immorally, but they were at least within the rules. Mr Laws most certainly was not within the rules. And I am left wondering why we are supposed to have more sympathy for him than for those people we all cheerfully vilified – and many of whom lost their jobs – almost one year ago. Am I wrong about this?