Thursday 21 May 2009

Is anyone in public life honest?

For the last two weeks, the Daily Telegraph has reported tales of the utmost greed perpetrated by supposedly honourable Members of Parliament. Last week, the London Evening Standard broke the story that the head teacher of Copland Community College in Wembley, Sir Alan Davies, had been suspended along with his deputy, Dr Richard Evans, who was the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate in Hendon in 2001 and 2005.

Yesterday’s edition of the Standard set out the shocking allegations in more detail. Sir Alan, who employed members of his family at the school, allegedly received unlawful bonuses and other payments of £631,500. Dr Evans allegedly received unlawful bonuses and other extra payments of £341,000.

And all the while, pupils were being taught in huts as the school around them was crumbling.

Not The Barnet Times supports teachers receiving bonuses if they excel at their jobs, but not at the expense of pupils’ education.

If the allegations against Sir Alan and Dr Evans are proven then, just like MPs who have been caught with their fingers in the till, they must be forced to repay the money in full.

The public will no doubt be wondering how effortlessly some people have been able to milk the system for their own benefit. The reason is due to the unhealthy and obsessive culture of secrecy which is so ingrained into every fibre of our public institutions, that effective scrutiny has become impossible.

In a country where the very idea of corruption by public officials was once deemed unthinkable, we have become a society where those in whom we trust are on the make and on the take. Only greater transparency and accountability will prevent future scandals. Sadly, we must rely on the very people who have abused the system to fix it.

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