When assistant police commissioner Bob Quick arrived at 10 Downing street for a briefing about counter-terrorism last week he was photographed clutching papers which had details of imminent raids of suspected terrorists in North West England ahead of an Easter terror threat.
Because photographers have such amazing telephoto lenses on their cameras they were able to blow up the offending document and publish it, thus compromising the intergrity of the police operation and accelerating the need for the police raids which resulted in the arrest of 12 terror suspects. Expressing deep regret over this lapse in judgement Bob Quick was quick and resigned the following day.
But did he do the right thing? For sure, he was not clever. Such documents should be concealed from public view. But should he resign? Surely we should not sacrifice a competent police officer and looe his services at such a critical time? Moreover, am I alone in noting tabloid hypocrisy here? If newspapers had chosen NOT to blow up sensitive material and make it public then such information would not be in the public domain? Plus, the tabloid papers are also the ones who have exploited not only the initial incident but the subsequent resignation in order to sell papers.
We expect high standards of our politicians, and rightly so. But I don’t expect them to be perfect. When they make a mistake, if they are duly contrite, should they not continue in office (obviously, dependent on the offence)? And who made the media judge and jury over these things? Are they above reproach themselves?
Yes we could say “be sure your sins will find you out” (Leviticus 4:3) and leaders will be judged more severely (Romans 13; James 3:1). But perhaps we should also retort with Jesus’ word: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone…” (John 8:7).
For sure, judgement and justice are important in this day and age. But the self-superiority which we feel when one of our politicians disgraces themself is surely not good and an unhealthy sign of our own pride.