Laws is guilty of poor judgement, not avarice

It is astonishing that David Laws has been suspended: other MPs motivated by financial gain escaped

I first met David Laws aged 28. He had been working in the City on a top salary and had given it all up to work for the Liberal Democrats for £14,000 per year as an economics researcher. He was a total joy to work with: fantastically bright, horribly challenging and fanatically shy. He was always a loyal friend and colleague. He left the City because, in the end, making money wasn't fulfilling enough; he hungered for a political career and he wanted to make a difference.

Nothing much has changed, except that now – because of a tragic error of judgement, for which he apologised a year ago, will apologise again in the House today and has already paid back £56,000 – he has been suspended.

The detail of the report is complex and requires understanding. It lacks the simplicity that trial by media often needs. But two fundamental principles remain true. As the British parliamentary commissioner for standards, John Lyon, says: "I have no reason to doubt that Mr Laws's primary motivation was to keep secret the sexuality that he had hidden."

Elsewhere, Matthew Parris in the Times today (£) writes: "I have no doubt that Mr Lyon will have concluded that it was a craving for privacy, not greed, that drove David Laws. I have no doubt because that is the truth."

However descriptions such as "venal", "moneygrubbing" and "greedy" were already being bandied about as killer facts in this showcase trial, even before the report was published. But again, as Commissioner Lyon says in the report: "I have no evidence that Mr. Laws made his claims with the intention of benefiting himself or his partner in conscious breach of the rules."

So it is astonishing, when so many of the other politicians were given a slap on the wrist when their motivation was more money, that David Laws will be suspended for a week, even though there is a clear conclusion that benefiting himself financially was never the plan. The tragic irony is that, had he walked into the relevant Commons Office and explained to some anonymous clerk to the House, having never told a friend or family member, that he was gay and living with someone, the advice to him would have resulted in him claiming more money, not less.

The report says: "I believe that it is right to recognise that Mr Laws's ACA claims were below the maxima provided by the allowance . . . and I recognise his evidence that, had he claimed for his Somerset property, and had he wished to do so, he could have claimed considerably more."

If he had allocated his constituency home as his second home he would have still been in the cabinet, having claimed £30,000 more.

The whole situation has been further compounded by him downloading the wrong form from the internet. Laws downloaded a "lodging agreement", which covers bedsits with no rights regarding eviction, rather than an "assured shorthold tenancy", leading to a different assessment of rent levels. Yet even the committee says: "We agree that in reality Mr Laws's living arrangements were more advantageous than the bare terms of the agreement."

As Laws had already made his millions, why didn't he just not claim if he wanted privacy that badly? Under the rules, to have claimed nothing at all would have also raised questions. It comes back to the issue of privacy. He worked for the party for £14,000 for three years, £25,000 for one year and then as a candidate fighting a constituency for no salary at all for two years. Of course he did not start life in parliament on a high financial base. This career path hardly describes someone who is in it for the money.

His error was poor judgement, but not avarice. This man was born to serve the public. Now that this year-long report has concluded, let's allow him to get on with it.

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Journalists publicly mock Emma Watson’s breasts – therefore proving her point about feminism

“Bit small and flat.”

Yes, it’s Incident #9486538476538 in the “BUT FEMINISTS CAN’T LOOK NICE?!” (ie. Women Are Not Allowed To Make Decisions About Their Own Bodies) log.

The actor Emma Watson has done an interview with Vanity Fair, illustrated with a photoshoot of her in designer versions of theatrical costumes: a Shakespearean ruff, various floor-length gowns, a baggy checked double-breasted jacket, a fencing uniform.

The Sun being The Sun picked out the shot where she is the least covered-up (a kind of white thick netted bolero thingy) for a puff piece about the interview. A photo that is not really representative of the rather classical shoot, which features a far-less-dressed male model in pictures alongside Watson.

But that didn’t stop the broadcaster and titfinder-general Julia Hartley-Brewer taking issue with the Vanity Fair shoot. Well, two parts of it:

“Emma Watson: ‘Feminism, feminism... gender wage gap... why oh why am I not taken seriously... feminism... oh, and here are my tits!’” tweeted Hartley-Brewer, ever vocally offended by people she accuses of being oversensitive.

Enter Times journalist and Britain’s most enraged attender of restaurants Giles Coren, who retweeted the comment and replied: “That dim-witted, attention-seeking hoyden doesn't just give feminists a bad name, she gives THE HUMAN RACE a bad name.”

This descended into a bizarre public rating of the actor’s breasts:

Your mole would like to point out the irony in attempting to undermine the actor’s feminist credentials by OBJECTIFYING HER BODY AND CRITICISING HER CHOICES. As if we needed any further proof of the need for feminism.

I'm a mole, innit.