It's the way of the world we live in. The man leading the inquiry into bankers' bonuses turns out to have been the chairman of a bank – and to have received bonuses. The people running an investigation into why the House of Commons is composed of such a narrow section of the population – predominately white, male and middle class – just happen to be MPs.
We're really good at whitewash. So don't hold your breath for a real investigation into Jacqui Smith's expenses. And you won't be surprised to discover that the inquiry into the death of Mike Todd, the former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, has concluded that in spite of conducting at least five affairs with members of his staff he was not guilty of anything that would have a negative impact on his ability to do his job professionally.
This toothless exercise was chaired by a senior policeman, the head of the West Midlands force, with no legal powers to compel anyone to give evidence. Some witnesses who talked to the coroner refused to co-operate, while others spoke if no statements were taken and what they said remained "off the record". Others co-operated if what they said remained un-attributed and confidential. Fabulous! What a way to run an investigation into the suitability of one of Britain's top policeman to do his job.
At the time of his death of exposure on Snowdon, Mike Todd had taken over-the-counter medicine and drunk a considerable amount of alcohol. He was thoroughly confused. It emerged that between 1 March and 11 March last year, when Mr Todd's body was discovered, he'd sent 319 text messages, mainly to women. Records show that he averaged about 30 texts a day to female friends, although the inquiry concludes that there were "no areas of concern" that he was using his phone inappropriately or to the detriment of his ability to do his duties.
I don't know about you, but 30 texts a day to someone you may or may not be shagging is a hell of a lot of extraneous communication for someone who was certainly not a teenager. Leaving aside the fact that it has emerged that Todd had relationships (close personal associations as well as sexual liaisons) with 38 women over the six years he was Chief Constable, he also participated in normal family life with a wife and three children. Not surprisingly, many who spoke to the police inquiry team, concluded they knew little of Mike Todd the private individual.
At the time of his death Mr Todd was said to be concerned that his three-year affair with a local businesswoman, Angie Robinson, was about to become public knowledge. What was his state of mind? The inquiry was not given access to Todd's medical records, and comes to no conclusion. Some members of the Greater Manchester police force suggested Mr Todd had "failed to set an appropriate example or standard for others", but astonishingly, we are told, there are "no areas for concern'".
Mr Todd was "very conscious" of the media image of the organisation he worked for, which he sought to portray in public in a "positive way". But he was guilty of living a complex and duplicitous double or even triple life. Indeed, the main question that still remains unanswered after the Coroner's report and this investigation, is how on earth did the guy find the time?
If Mr Todd was such a jolly good policeman, how come he spent a substantial part of every day thinking about sex, or at least his close relationships with women who were not his wife? The report concludes that there are "no areas of concern" about his expenses, his use of hospitality, travel and acceptance of gifts. Really? So if you chat with women on your police mobile and have secret assignations, are we expected to believe that not a single gallon of police petrol was used?
I don't want to nitpick, but Mr Todd must have been a supreme time-management expert. The report concludes that if the police had discovered Mr Todd's complicated private life when he was vetted for his appointment, they might have raised concern that he could be vulnerable to blackmail or compromising situations. That is a massive understatement.
The gritty way to cope with major snow 'events'
Have you noticed how the weather experts have changed their terminology of late? Now they don't talk about blizzards, but "events". Storms are so last year – night after night these merchants of misery smile as they tell us to expect more "events". In North Yorkshire, we've had a major "event", with at least 20 inches of snow in my garden. The other night local news revealed that Harrogate Council only have enough salt and grit for a couple of days. I've taken to carrying a bucket and spade in the car and (under cover of darkness) filling up with grit from any pile I find by the side of the road. Digging the car out of the garage was one challenge, driving on ice another. To cheer myself up, I made a snowman and emailed the picture to a friend. Not to be outdone, he sent back this picture of Mrs and Mrs Snowman and family, on a disused garage forecourt in Chiswick. There may be controversy over the latest exhibition at Tate Britain, but we can be proud of our artistic endeavours with snow. Our snowmen are better than most public sculptures, and I hope someone is keeping a record of them all.
My new heroine... aged 79
How many times have you hung up after waiting on the phone for ages to speak to someone about your insurance policy or a mortgage? And there's always the fear that you've pressed the wrong button when told to choose an option, with the inevitable result you'll have be transferred and left in limbo.
Mrs Dorothy Green is my heroine this week. After her insurance company tried to reduce the value of her policy by half and kept her on hold for a total of three hours over several days, she decided to take direct action. The retired teacher, aged 79, travelled from her home in Peterborough to the York office of Norwich Union, where the boss refused to see her. When she returned a second time, the staff called the police and she was arrested.
After being released without charge, she spent the night in a hotel, and went and stood outside the office with a placard around her neck. Her husband, who was suffering from cancer, died the day after she returned home. Norwich Union have decided to honour their original settlement. Dorothy deserves a bouquet.Reuse content