A Rock in a hard place: Patrick Rock, formerly a senior civil servant and policy advisor, who now faces allegations that he possessed indecent images of child abuse.
Patrick Rock, a former aide of David Cameron and protege of Margaret Thatcher, has been charged with three counts of making an indecent photograph of a child, and with possession of 59 indecent images of children – more than four months after he was arrested on suspicion of child pornography offences.
Crown Prosecution Service lawyers assessed the images as Level C, meaning they showed sexual activity between adults and children.
This is the man who, as deputy head of 10 Downing Street’s policy unit, had been working on policies that are allegedly intended to make it harder to find images of child abuse on the Internet.
He was arrested on February 13, only hours after resigning his position with the government. Coincidence?
Nothing was mentioned in the press at the time, but days later the Daily Mail started stirring up historical allegations against Labour’s Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt. Coincidence?
It seems suspicions were raised in the Labour Party, because shadow minister Jon Ashworth asked, in the public interest:
When were 10 Downing Street and David Cameron first made aware that Mr Rock may have been involved in an offence?
How much time passed until Mr Rock was questioned about the matter and the police alerted?
What contact have officials had with Mr Rock since his resignation?
What was Mr Rock’s level of security clearance?
And, most importantly:
Why were details of Mr Rock’s resignation not made public immediately?
Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood stonewalled: “Our … actions were driven by the overriding importance of not jeopardising either [the National Crime Agency’s] investigation or the possibility of a prosecution.”
He said: “We judged it was inappropriate to make an announcement while the NCA investigations were continuing.”
David Cameron has declined to comment on the latest development, saying it is a matter for the courts.
He’s changed his tune, hasn’t he?
When Andy Coulson was still facing charges in the phone hacking trial, Cameron couldn’t wait to get on television and make a statement, and never mind whether it was in contempt of court.
All in all, it seems we are facing yet another cover-up bid by this “most open government ever”.
Let us not forget that this happened in the same week that Iain Duncan Smith lost his legal appeal to keep problems with Universal Credit veiled in secrecy.
The DWP had insisted publication of the papers, warning of the dangers likely to be caused by Universal Credit, would have a “chilling effect” on the DWP’s working – a standard defence (see Andrew Lansley’s successful bid to prevent publication of the risk register, detailing problems with his calamitous Health and Social Care Act) that was thrown out by Judge Wikeley in a trice.
The DWP then argued that the order to publish was perverse – that the tribunal responsible had reached a decision which no reasonable tribunal would have reached. Judge Wikeley found that the challenge “does not get near clearing this high hurdle”.
Finally – and most desperately – the DWP tried to argue that the tribunal had not given due weight to the expertise of a DWP witness. Judge Wikeley had to point out that, by law, he cannot substitute his own view of the facts for that taken by the original tribunal.
The DWP was then sent away to consider whether to lodge another appeal.
That’s at least three attempts to hide facts from the public in a single week (it is arguable that Cameron spoke up about Coulson in order to cause a mistrial and prevent him from being convicted of two charges; he cannot say he was unaware of what he was doing, because he has already been rebuked by another judge, earlier this year, for commenting on the trial of Nigella Lawson’s former assistants. In addition, wasn’t it suspicious that Coulson’s defence team immediately leapt up to call for a mistrial ruling, based on the “maelstrom of commentary” Cameron stirred up?) from – as previously mentioned, this “most open government ever”.
There may be more that haven’t become public knowledge.
Does David Cameron really think the public will put their trust in him, with a record like that?