Sunday 28 October 2012

Must Be One Hell Of A Secret!

As we relax on a Sunday evening, it's worth looking forward to the coming week and - hopefully - more revelations in the John Dalli affair.

If you're not aware of this, it concerns the Maltese EU Health Commissioner resigning from his post (or forced out, according to him) over alleged charges of overlooking corruption. The UK press have been almost silent on the affair - despite speculation now entering a third week - which is very strange considering Dalli's job held sway over every single citizen of the UK as well as those in the other 26 countries of the EU. UKIP's Alexandra Swann was the first to point out how blasé this is.

It could, however, be explained by the fact that no-one really has much of a clue as to what is going on at the moment. Snowdon has been posting the odd info here and there, but the truth is that the EU and their anti-corruption enforcers, OLAF, are keeping tight-lipped about the whole case.

As a result, conspiracy theories are rife. Almost all of them from the tobacco control industry accusing tobacco companies of some kind of nefarious plot, despite all the available evidence pointing elsewhere. This blogger, for example, has suggested that media silence could be evidence of tobacco execs running around stifling reporters who are usually champing at the bit to attack smoking and the companies which provide the materials.

The European Smokefree Partnership stopped a smidgeon short of accusing tobacco companies of rifling their offices, whilst a Maltese politician was more forthright in declaring that Dalli was framed.

A barrowload of empty vessels making a right royal din, but still no revelations from the EU, or any sign that OLAF will be releasing the findings of their months-long investigation into Dalli.

Why not?

If this was a case of tobacco companies trying to pervert the passage of Dalli's Tobacco Products Directive, it should be dead simple. Just produce the OLAF report and release the Europe-wide, professional, state-funded tobacco control hounds to rip and tear at the tobacco industry's sorry carcass. It's the stuff of the overwhelmingly anti-tobacco EU's wildest wet dreams.

But they won't do that. They have consistently refused despite EU President Barroso's evident contempt for Dalli in correspondence.

Today, the Times of Malta has led with an editorial demanding that the OLAF report is made public.
The report compiled by the EU’s anti-fraud agency, OLAF, which led to the departure of John Dalli from the European Commission, must be published immediately. The issue will not go away until there is full disclosure. And while this fails to happen, the situation is unfair on Mr Dalli, Silvio Zammit and the public, as well as casting a shadow on the Commission’s approach to transparency. 
For all its well-oiled and well-paid public relations machinery, the EU has made a rather amateur job of disseminating information about this case to the public. Statement has followed statement but conspicuous by its absence has been the vital golden thread that must hold them together: documented evidence. 
We have been told by European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso that it is there; we have been told by the head of OLAF that it is there; and we have been told by several spokesmen. But more than 10 days on from Mr Dalli’s departure being made public, we have been not been told what that evidence is.
Indeed. It must be one hell of a secret for the EU to be so determined to keep it quiet! What on earth is the problem?
There is only one way to resolve this: publish, and let whoever is in the wrong be damned.
I agree entirely. Publish the evidence, let the world see how disgusting the tobacco industry is, and move on. What could be more simple? Or is it a little bit more problematic than that?

Whiffs more than a plate of fortnight-old trout, dunnit? Roll on week three, I'm glued.


Mac McCubbin said...

I think Dalli went under the bus to deflect any light being shone on the exact nature and extent of lobbying at the Berlaymont...

Dick_Puddlecote said...

There's definitely that. Except that lobbying is perfectly acceptable and tolerated by the EU, while bribes aren't.

I could understand the argument that they want tobacco lobbying hidden away if it wasn't so very easy to show the same approach from other industries. So perhaps Dalli contradicted the terms of the FCTC, that would appear to be about as bad as it could get for the tobacco industry.

Unelected body guilty of contravening rules demanded by another unelected body. Yay, democracy!

Junican said...

Gosh, Mac and Dick, what on earth are you talking about? What is 'the Berleymont'? And what is the stuff about lobbying by the tobacco industry? Such lobbying is advertising, isn't it? Tobacco Company lobbying/advertising is illegal, isn't it? Such lobbying (even if money is not offered) is, by definition, attempted bribary, isn't it? Is it not the law, according to the FCTC Treaty, that TCs have no voice at all? Thus, according to the Treaty, the Match Company cannot complain about bribery since they have no voice - they are dumb. Anyone in the EU can ask a TC for a bribe and the TC cannot complain because it does not officially exist. I effect, that is what the Treaty says - tobacco companies do not exist. So how can they be regulated?
What an incredible mess Tobacco Control has got itself into! The mess was not obvious at the time when the Treaty was described, but it is becoming obvious now. If the ARISTOCRATS say that a group of people are not permitted to speak, then that group of people are cannot be approached at all.