There seem to be different rules for politicians and for others. No one gets accused more often of lying, cheating, and corruption, than politicians. They can, it seems, get away with bending the truth whereas business leaders would not be able to get away with displaying the same (lack of) integrity.
This was glaringly obvious during the recent Brexit campaign. Politicians supporting the Leave campaign stated that the UK sends £350 million a week to Brussels as EU contributions, which could (if we left the EU) be spent on the NHS instead. This, and similar claims, created the impression that staying in the EU was too costly, and that the funds saved could be better spent in UK. Within hours of the Leave camp winning the vote, this statement has been shown to be untrue - not only is the figure of £350 million a week wrong, but so is the fact that it would be spent on the NHS. Politicians have been lining up to decry this claim – even Nigel Farage back tracked from it. Yet, having made these outrageous statements, none of these politicians is held to account, and the public does not seem surprised.
Contrast this to a professional advisor, who is expected to act with integrity. If a professional is found to have lied or cheated, he or she is open to sanctions by their professional body, and could be disciplined, with the prospect of not being able to continue to practice in their field.
Take this one step further and apply it to an expert witness. The expert must comply with the professional standards of his or her professional body, be it accountancy, engineering or medicine. The expert also has to comply with Civil Procedure Rules (In England & Wales), and related Practice Directions. These set out detailed rules and obligations with which the expert must comply. One of the main obligations is that of impartiality, in that the duty of the expert is to the Court and this duty transcends the duty to clients. The experts are open to public sanction by a Judge if they do not comply. It is therefore true that an expert is only as good as their last case.
Do we need stricter rules for politicians to hold them to account, or simply better politicians? Answers on the back of a politician’s promissory note please!