21 November 2012

How to undermine your own Law Officer

You might have thought that the Attorney General had made the position abundantly clear:
After Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, said on Tuesday that he could not get involved in the case of Sgt Danny Nightingale, No 10 said the Prime Minister had “sympathy” for the soldier.
Mr Grieve made his decision after Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, asked him to examine Sgt Nightingale’s case.
The soldier is currently serving an 18-month term in a military prison having pleaded guilty to possessing an automatic pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition without permission.
His lawyers are expected to lodge an appeal on Wednesday over his detention.
Mr Hammond asked Mr Grieve to consider reviewing the original decision to prosecute Sgt Nightingale over the weapons and ammunition. Within an hour of receiving the Defence Secretary’s request, Mr Grieve’s office made clear that the attorney believed he had no scope to intervene.
“It would be inappropriate for the Attorney General to review either the decision to prosecute or comment on the appropriateness of the sentence,” a spokesman said.  “That is a matter for the Court Martial Appeal Court, in due course.”
But No 10 cannot resist pandering to public opinion, thus putting not only the Attorney General in a difficult spot but also the Court Martial Appeal Court.

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