So at last we have the final line up for the Presidential Election 2011 (#aras11) and Norris made it over the line. It seems the media have gone from following his roller coaster trip from council to council to – without stopping for breath – pursuing him on the rest of the clemency letters he wrote for his former partner convicted of statutory rape.
To be honest. I wasn’t particularly interested in their contents. I felt letter-gate had been well aired and not forgotten – people in the privacy of the ballot boxes would make up their own minds’ on his explanation.
But then along came this legal advice crap. Speaking on the radio with Pat Kenny this morning he said:
I am absolutely restricted by questions of privacy,” he said. “I understand people’s interest but I’ve been told by my lawyers that these letters are subject to professional legal privilege and I’ve been told I cannot publish them.
Huh. Professional legal privilege. Professional legal privilege. What the hell does that mean? He’s not a solicitor advising a client. Nor a doctor advising a patient. Where does privilege come into it? I cannot possibly fathom how it could be covered by data protection.
He wrote multiple letters seeking clemency for his ex-partner – either in a personal capacity or abusing his position as a Senator. These are not letters to constituents who would have an expectation of privacy. I cannot see where professional legal privilege comes into this. So, I’m forced to wonder – is he protecting the recipients or himself? I suspect the latter. What is David Norris hiding now?
Publish the letters or publish the legal argument and advice in full. I’m sick of politicians quoting some intangible legal privilege to protect themselves. In that same interview, Norris claimed he was about the most transparent person in politics today. It doesn’t feel like it Senator, it doesn’t feel like it.