9 January 2011
David Chaytor, guilty yes, but a fall guy
Every time a chink of light falls on the British establishment, be it Iraq or parliamentarians expenses, mendacity and corruption are revealed.
We can debate whether imprisoning David Chaytor at great public expense is necessary. Learning about his humiliation in Wandsworth prison as his anus is searched for contraband can indeed gratify the revenge lust, but much better would be to have him do several years of community service, so he would contribute something to society rather than becoming a further drain on it.
That said, it is clear to me that the man is a fall guy. He, and perhaps later a couple of others, are to be thrown to the lions in an attempt to prove that wrong-doing is being taken seriously when overall it is not.
We should be careful to avoid the situation in which savouring the humiliation of Chaytor, the petty cheat, serves to divert public attention away from those who have done far worse.