by Ray Fleming

Apologies are ten-a-penny at the moment in Britain. By far the most serious and constitutionally important was the BBC's to Queen Elizabeth yesterday for the unbelievably irresponsible revelation of a personal conversation that its veteran journalist Frank Gardner had had with her on the subject of Abu Hamza and his anti-British sermons at Finsbury Park. Gardner was speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today and when James Naughtie expressed some surprise at the revelation Gardner said, nonchalantly, “Yes, I thought I'd drop it in.” Although there will be sympathy for Gardner as a permanent victim of violence in Saudi Arabia there is no excuse for his ironic lapse as the BBC's security correspondent.

Nick Clegg's apology, apparently for changing policy on university fees, was rather spoiled by his subsequent statement that people had misunderstood what he was apologising about. As for the case of Andrew Mitchell, the government's Chief Whip, he has sort-of apologised for swearing at police officers in Downing Street but insists he did not utter the demeaning words they say he used . To exercise your power as Chief Whip in Parliament you need to have an absolutely clean record in Westminster and Whitehall matters but Mr Mitchell has just smudged his. I think the prime minister may regret saying the issue is closed and may even have to re-open it under pressure.

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