Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Only in Britain

The core rule of the Westminster system is that "the Queen reigns, but Parliament rules". A corollary of this is that the monarch stays out of politics. They do not comment on policy, either publicly or privately. They do not lobby, they do not agitate, they stick to the corgis and entertaining the tabloids. The need to avoid a perception of improper influence trumps any right they have to a view.

So, when the Queen pressures the government on something, and on a criminal matter at that, you'd expect such a gross violation of core constitutional principles to be big news. but instead, the BBC has been forced to apologise for reporting on it:

The BBC has apologised for revealing the Queen raised concerns with the government about why radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri had not been arrested.

The apology comes after security correspondent Frank Gardner told BBC Radio 4 of a private conversation he had with the Queen some years ago.

The BBC said it and Gardner were sorry for the "breach of confidence", which both "deeply regret".

So, the Queen pushes for someone to be thrown in jail despite a judicial process saying they should remain at liberty - raising echoes of the worst abuses of her ancestors which saw one of them lose his head. And the BBC gets in trouble for reporting it.

Only in Britain does deference trump the constitution.