I was once involved in a commercial court case. One of the witnesses on our side was the plant manager at a major energy facility – graduate engineer, unpolished but very sharp, and the absolute expert on the matters he was questioned about.
He spoke in much the same way as Clare Short before Chilcot yesterday: bluntly, informally, sometimes with passion, and with much colloquial turn of phrase. Every factual statement he made was true – and plainly-spoken, too.
He made a dreadful impression on the Court, the judge describing him (to his utter and unconsolable dismay) as an ‘unreliable and unconvincing witness’. The smooth liars we faced on the other side received no such censure. The case went against us in the High Court, but was overturned by the Court of Appeal, I am pleased to say. The Appeal judges, of course, were ruling on the basis of written material and never met our engineer, which perhaps helped.
Smooth lying is the order of the day. Will Clare Short’s performance yesterday be equally off-putting to Chilcot and his colleagues? Whilst every word of her account rang true (IMHO) the delivery was not of the polished Civil Service variety. I fear it is discounted accordingly: but we should suspend our own judgment until Chilcot delivers his.
Let’s see if they can skewer Straw on his second time around. No applause from the gallery for him.