Not a trial by media

Alastair Paterson wrote passionately about the evils of “Trial by Media” and his own experiences of it. I am sure we all agree that neither the press nor the public should believe unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoing.

But the Bush/Thomas situation is different in many ways. The suspicion of Mr. Bush is not a consequence of anyone’s allegation. It is a consequence of Mr. Bush’s own letter to Mr. Thomas. It is a suspicion of serious crime, large scale corruption at the top of our government. And, if the transaction under which Mr. Bush demanded payment from Mr. Thomas was lawful, Mr. Bush could at any time over the last two years have put an end to the suspicion. All he had to do was explain the transaction to the police investigators and the public. Assuming that his explanation could be corroborated, it would put an end to public suspicion and the police investigation. It was obviously in Mr. Bush’s interests to do this – if the transaction was lawful.

The country’s interests would also have been served by Mr. Bush giving the explanation. The growing suspicion of corruption at the top of our government has been very damaging in all sorts of ways.

The big question that people have focused on is why Mr. Bush chose not to explain the transaction. If Alastair has an answer to that question, or can think of any possible answer, perhaps he could tell us. We can all think of one possibility: that the transaction was corrupt, as the letter suggests. Another possibility is that Mr. Bush and those around him went completely mad and decided to do as much damage as possible to themselves and the country. What else is there?

In the Compass article on Friday we read that Mr. Bush says it was because he “didn’t want to do anything to impede the investigation or to interfere in it”. Is anyone going to take that seriously? We shall see.

I do not regard the public pressure on Mr. Bush and his colleagues as the media putting him on trial. I see it as large sections of the public demanding an explanation, and warning that if Mr. Bush withholds the facts, the public must conclude that the facts are against him.

Now it seems that Mr. Bush and his colleagues may be responding to the pressure. No doubt they would like to defuse public anger. At present we only have Alan Markoff’s article. Presumably Mr. Bush will put his signature (not his facsimile signature) to a definitive and complete statement. Given the degree of suspicion that Mr. Bush has created about himself, it is important that there should be no room for any doubt about what Mr. Bush now says are the facts of the Thomas transaction.

Alastair’s Patterson’s message seemed to be that people should not discuss the Bush/Thomas affair and its significance. My message is the opposite. People should talk about it. This is a democracy. People should talk about all the subjects that affect the suitability of Mr. Bush to be Premier. And that certainly includes the question of whether the Bush/Thomas transaction was corrupt.

It is very important that the people of this country give the message loud and clear to all politicians, investors, and everyone else that corruption will not be tolerated here.

Antony Duckworth

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