Matthew Norman: What's that you said in 1998, Jack?

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The Independent Online

He may not deserve a monopoly of our sympathy over Hillsborough, but find a crumb of pity for the heroic Jack Straw. The cause of the 23-year cover-up, Jack explains, was the culture of impunity instilled in the police by Mrs Thatcher. A very fair point, and you could weep from regret that Jack never had a chance to address this himself. When Labour came to power in 1997, he was sidelined far, far from any influence over policing, in the impotent sinecure of Home Secretary.

Yet, even then, his passion for justice led him to ask Lord Justice Stuart-Smith to review the case. In February 1998, Jack wrote to the Attorney General, John Morris, accepting his lordship's finding that there was no need for another inquiry, and no evidence of police wrongdoing. "It is important that… this report should draw a line under speculation about further investigations… I think the outcome would be a foregone conclusion, and I do not consider that such an investigation should be instigated."

This wasn't Jack's greatest triumph (that came as Foreign Secretary in 2000, when he rejected a Saddam refugee's asylum application with a jaunty: "We have faith in the integrity of the Iraqi judicial process..."). But it does reaffirm that modern politics has known no fiercer foe of nauseating, self-serving hypocrisy than dear old Jack Straw.

Friendly beak fights Rebekah's corner

Disturbing signs meanwhile, of lily-livered liberalism among the Oxfordshire magistrates. A friend reports dining with a beak whose faith in the presumption of innocence was trumped only by her disdain for those who disregard it. It's frightfully unfair how the beastly newspapers are treating poor Rebekah, rued one Caroline Brooks, mother of Charlie and a colleague of Ma Cameron's as an Oxon JP, when surely it's innocent until proven guilty? We hear ya, girlfriend, but try telling that to those rush-to-judgment red-top scumbags.