As part of its levelling up agenda the government is pushing through a new bill to extend the range of legal loopholes that will allow any of us to get away with breaking the law. Inspired by the conviction-avoidance mechanisms that have been used or advocated to save the prime minster’s skin in recent years, the bill is made possible only because the UK has left the EU and can now abandon all pretence of being a serious country with the rule of law at the heart of its democracy.
New bill to be rushed onto the statute books
The law embodies a new British legal construct, the ‘do what you like principle’. It draws heavily on the lie-deny, apologise-delay model that has worked so well for Boris Johnson. The Legal Observance Research Group, has successfully lobbied ministers for it to be enshrined in law as a cornerstone of the levelling-up agenda so that it can never be claimed again that there is one rule for ‘them’ and another rule for everybody else.
Known by its colloquial moniker in cabinet circles as ‘BJ’s legacy bill’, its formal title is the ‘special exemptions from legal accountability bill’.
The bill allows new, irrefutable legal arguments to be deployed including:
The double-denial legal override
This is a pre-emptive and post-emptive strategy allowed under the new bill. Accuseds can emphatically deny any offence took place and qualify that by saying if it turns out, by some inexplicable chance that the law deems an offence did take place, then it wasn’t really illegal because no rules and regulations were broken at the time.
This position cannot be true logically, but it will no longer treated as a lie or suggestion of guilt. The police will in future send you on your way as soon as you’ve asserted your rights to use double denial under the law.
The higher order of contribution absolution
We are all human and occasionally fail to keep to the high moral and legal standards to which we aspire. But we also spend most of time doing ‘really important things’ in other aspects of our lives. It’s only fair, surely, that we’re all granted a bit a slack for breaches of the law, given the more important things we’re trying hard to get credit for through exposure in broadcast and social media.
In future, we will be able to have our legal indiscretions dismissed by a court as ‘fluff’ due to this provision. Credit for this contribution goes to Jacob Rees-Mogg who mooted the idea.
Appointing a close relative or friend to conduct an enquiry
If you recognise you might have committed a crime and act quickly before the police have turned their attention to it, you’ll be ableto set up your own inquiry to be carried out by a friend or relative; anyone really who is close enough to know you well. You can then invoke the ‘inquiry underway’ provision to save the police the trouble of doing their own.
It’s a win-win. You get off the rap and the police direct their resources to essential things like stopping annoying behaviour at protests.
Inviting the police to make inquiries of their own about an unreported crime you might have committed
This will throw everyone off the scent. Especially the Met, who naturally assume that if you’re already carrying out an enquiry of your own (see above), then you must be certain you’re innocent and that it would be an unnecessary waste of their time to have to go through all that policing rigmarole to find out if any crimes have been committed.
If the police do elect to hold their inquiry, it might be useful for derailing or stalling your own inquiry if the outcome is looking a bit iffy.
The ‘not knowingly’ committing a crime defence, from the House of Commons playbook
The best way to explain this is by an everyday example. Suppose you’re unfortunate enough to find you’ve triggered a speed camera. You’ve every right to feel annoyed. You were late for a first fling with a new lover. Everyone else was driving like a convoy of disapproving prudes trying to stop you reaching you assignation and having a bit of fun.
You can rightly claim you were not knowingly speeding because the last thing you were looking at was the speedometer. Clearly, you had other things on your mind. So not knowingly doing 83 mph is a new way to avoid criminal proceedings, a fine and those ridiculous points on your licence
The retrospective unreasonableness disqualifier
The idea here is for a hindsight provision that will allow any accused to argue that on reflection the law they had broken was always unreasonable or inconsiderate towards the citizen, perhaps on humanitarian grounds or inconvenience, always prime concerns in Conservative lawmaking.
Another nod to Rees-Mogg here for this approach to protecting the prime minister after he broke infuriating covid regulations designed to prevent people from spreading covid and killing each other.
Promising to set the record straight
This is an assertion of honourable intent that the law will in future accept on face value. We all like to be treated as honourable citizens. The measure recognises that only an accused can know the true facts of their case so their version of the truth must be given primacy.
The accused needs only commit to a future revelation of the truth. It’s only fair they can select which version is then going to best serve their interests once the legal process has reached its misguided conclusions. It is not a guarantee of legal absolution but it buys time and increases the chances of getting off the hook.
The ‘saying you’re sorry’ protocol
It is to be a given in observing legal protocol that you will offer an expression of sorrow for any crime you don’t want to admit. You can then claim your sorrow can only be redeemed by your being allowed to continue your life without the law interrupting or distracting you from your higher calling. It’s a ‘moving on’ election for everyone, now with legal backing.
Let’s hear it for levelling up.