Back in September, it emerged that the Queen privately lobbied a British Home Secretary in the former Labour administrations to arrest British Muslim cleric Abu Hamza.
At the time the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner revealed the Queen confided to him that she had asked Labour ministers to deal with Abu Hamza, in effect breaking the constitutional principle of leaving the governing to the government.
“Actually, I can tell you that the Queen was pretty upset that there was no way to arrest him. She couldn’t understand – surely there had been some law that he had broken? In the end, sure enough, there was. He was eventually convicted and sentenced for seven years for soliciting murder and racial hatred,” Gardner told the BBC’s Today program.
The intervention raised outrage among the public and in the media as the Queen is considered by the British constitution to be no more than a representational figurehead who should act only on her ministers’ advice.
“However strongly she may feel about the matter, it is her constitutional duty to keep her mouth shut,” commented Alex Stevenson who is deputy editor of political news outlet Politics Home.
This comes as the Queen has kept silent about the recent child abuse scandal around former BBC star Jimmy Savile that is described as the worst crisis to hit the corporation in 50 years.
She has refused to comment on the subject despite the fact that the scandal is a moral issue of public interest and that she is directly involved in the matter: the BBC is run by 12 trustees appointed by the Queen in person while she granted Savile knighthood in 1990.
Indeed, Savile was knighted when his abuse was well underway and the Queen should have distanced herself and the royal family from the pedophile immediately after allegations of his pervert activities to ward off unwanted speculation.
However, there has been no comment by the Queen herself, her office or the royal family as if she knew of the Savile’s scandalous behaviour and decided to decorate him regardless.
As for the BBC, it runs under a Royal Charter, the present one having come into force in 2007 and running until the end of 2016.
The corporation is also ruled and supervised by the BBC Trust, which is a board of 21 trustees directly appointed by the Queen to set “the strategic objectives of the BBC” and chooses the broadcaster’s director general who heads its Executive Board in charge of its services and output.
The magnitude of the Savile scandal and the unfolding drama including comments by Tom Watson MP who openly suggested in parliament that there may be a pedophile ring going right to the British Prime Minister’s office at No 10 Downing Street raise more questions.
Is the Queen aware of the true scale of the scandal that is currently unknown to much of the public and even investigators and wants to keep herself out of any inquiries?
Or probably she is keeping a low profile to evade responsibility for knighting a former employee of an organization where its sovereign body members she directly appointed.
What is clear is that her silence remains problematic and begs more questions still less answers.
Savile receives his knighthood in 1996.
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