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Only little people pay the penalty

Recent decisions on the banks, police and health service cast a rancid light over the current nature of the British State. RBS was shamed by an enormous £390m fine for ‘widespread misconduct’ in rigging the Libor rate at least till November 2010, 2 years after it was bailed out by taxpayers. Regulators found that corrupt payments of over £100,000 were made to those involved in fixing, for their own profit-maximizing purposes, the rate used to set prices on £350 trillions of financial contracts across the world.

Who was held accountable? Not the chairman Sir Philip Hampton nor the chief executive Stephen Hester who was still awarded his 2010 £2m bonus. The fall guy was John Hourican, the head of the investment bank, though he had n0 direct involvement. Still he got a £750,000 payoff for taking the rap for his superiors. The real culprits, Hampton and Hester and the relevant traders have not been repimanded, let alone sacked or prosecuted or disqualified from practising in finance. And why no boardroom resignations?

The police have also just been found to have engaged in illicit undercover activity, including sexual liaisons, for the last 3 decades in order to spy on political and environmental activists. One police unit, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, had actually engaged in the ghoulish practice of stealing the identities of dead children. Though the Met has admitted they were acting outside police guidelines, no senior officer has been held responsible for allowing this to happen. Nor has the Home Office taken any action, apart from making the tame and feeble response that it “is working with the police to improve legal standards”.

And then there was the almighty scandal of the needless deaths of 400-1,200 people between 2005-9 at the Mid-Staffs Hospital. Despite 4 previous inquiries culminating in the near-2,000 page report by Robert Francis QC, all of them revealing appalling care, no doctor or nurse has been struck off either by the General Medical Council or the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Sir David Nicholson, then head of the Staffs Strategic Health Authority, is let off the hook, then promoted to be chief executive of the NHS in England.

The RCN is castigated as doing “little to uphold professional standards among nursing staff”, but the chief executive Peter Carter has neither been prosecuted nor resigned. Both the chief executive and chair of the hospital trust were found to be wholly unsuited to their job, yet neither resigned or were forced out.

So who was responsible? In In one of the most weasel-worded circumventions of any official report investigating a profound scandal, Francis concluded: “Individuals and indeed organsiations, acting in accordance with a culture, even a negative or unhealthy one, cannot always be held personally responsible”! That says it all. It was the culture what did it.

Those in power rarely, if ever, pay the price. That’s the role of the little people, as the New York heiress Leonora Helmsley said at her trial.

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