Todays news reports that F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone appears to have bought his way out of a multi-million pound bribery charge by paying a cool £60 million leaves me, and I guess lots of you, shocked, confused & angry.
Shocked that the German authorities – who are seen as the de facto moral leaders of Europe – think it is acceptable to let somebody off a criminal charge scot-free by paying enough money.
Confused – because, whilst I have no idea whether Mr Ecclestone was or was not guilty of the charge against him, surely that’s why criminal and other cases go to Court – so all the evidence can be considered by an honourable & independent judiciary who then rule accordingly for all to see.
And angry – because whilst £60 million is a huge amount of money to most of us, it represents less that two-and-a-half percent of Mr Ecclestones apparent £2.5 billion fortune. Not a bad deal to escape a potential 10-year jail sentence, is it?
Whatever the rights & wrongs of the charges is not the issue here, but surely it is a massive travesty of justice if a criminal charge can be avoided by bunging the state a few quid (or even a lot of quids!). What next – will there be a scale of charges to avoid a speeding fine under the future United European States of Germany?
I’ve always been ready to see both sides of the debate about the UK staying in Europe, but now I’m beginning to wonder – do we really want a legal system like that?