Peter Hoskin

Does purdah apply only to bad news?

Does purdah apply only to bad news?
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The report into the police shooting of Charles de Menezes is now two months overdue. As the Standard reports today, it’s being sat on because of “political sensitivities” surrounding the race for London Mayor – i.e. it could damage Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair and, by extension, his great supporter Ken Livingstone. 

The Met claim this is fair practice – electoral “purdah” prevents public bodies from doing anything which could promote one candidate over another so close to election time. But that came into effect on 10 April. The obvious concern is that the Met had “political sensitivities” in mind before 10 April – and has kept the report back for months because of that. If that’s the case, then voters are being conned – and they should feel very angry indeed.

The timing of this couldn’t have been more ironic.  Only yesterday, Jacqui Smith was accused of breaking purdah by announcing the introduction of 300 extra terror police – a measure which could give an unfair boost to Livingstone’s campaign.  Does purdah only apply to bad news?