And the Richard Russell Plain-Speaking Award goes to…

1 10 2007

… Richard Russell!

On July 14 2006, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson (PMOS) delivered the definitive, bravura demonstration on how to deploy ‘the PMOS defence’.

The PMOS defence goes like this: ‘I’m not going to get into running commentary on [supply awkward issue in here]…’

So, for example, on July 14 2006, on the cash for honours investigation, the No10 website reported:

  • ‘…the PMOS would [not] give a running commentary on anything to do with a police investigation.’
  • … he was not going to give a running commentary on either enquiry.’
  • ‘… he was not going to give a running commentary.’
  • ‘… beyond that, we were not going to in any way give a running commentary.’
  • ‘… he was not giving a running commentary.’
  • ‘… taxpayers would rightly expect us to allow police investigations to go forward without giving a running commentary.’

Awesome. On July 14 2006, massive deployment of the PMOS defence left hacks in a state of shock and awe. Surely the only example of a successful surge policy in recent times.

The PMOS defence of not providing a running commentary is a thing of beauty. But not if you’re a PSNI commander in Derry and your officers have just been accused of heavy handedness. In which case you’re totally going to offer a running commentary on Sinn Fein rhetoric over the past decade.

Step forward Chief Inspector Richard Russell of Strand Road, Londonderry.

When SF MLA Martina Anderson accused the police of provoking violent rioting, the Chief Inspector failed to invoke the PMOS defence and instead he told the Belfast Telegraph North West edition:

“This was the fault of a drunken mob who went on the rampage. Martina Anderson can come and talk to me rather than indulge in old-fashioned Sinn Fein rhetoric from 10 years ago which is now totally out of date.”

And he wasn’t finished with Martina there. He added:

“We will be looking at all the factors that could have contributed to this incident and if Martina Anderson, or indeed anyone has information on those responsible for the violence, they should inform the PSNI.”

Just so. The Sunday Life covered the breaking news with a quote from Inspector John Burrows. Alas, in the absence of a SF attack on the PSNI, Inspector John was not able to supply a running commentary on SF rhetoric and could only discuss the extreme danger his officers faced in the early hours of the morning.

Are we seeing the PSNI step away from their anodyne Guinness Book of Records statistical defence to all matters policing? (Well, not completely while they publish bollocks like this. Anyone able to decipher the first five pages wins the Richard Russell Plain-Speaking Award Commemorative Mug. Oh yes.)

So the ‘PMOS defence’ has been rejected. The Guinness Book of Records defence has been rejected. Is ‘Fuck Off And Grow Up’ now the standard?

Senior police officer calls it likes he sees it. Well, I never. A new direction for the PSNI, or will the police press office just baton charge Richard for failing to quote the usual statistics? Alas, I suspect we’ll be inundated with reports of press office heavy handedness in the weeks ahead…

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