You’ll know the routine from the ‘Downfall’ spoof videos. The scene is the justice bunker under Petty France and an official is explaining that a fault has been identified in *this* MoJ website just *here*. (Points to the map.) ‘Oh well,’ says the minister, ‘only about four people ever look at that site and as soon as we’ve tweaked it we can make a big deal of announcing that everything’s in order.’
‘My leader,’ the perm sec ventures, ‘my leader… er it now appears that financial assets in more than 3,600 divorce settlements may have been miscalculated owing to an error in Form E. We’re going to have to tell about 2,000 couples that they’re going to have to reopen their cases.
‘The web team didn’t have enough resources, it wasn’t their fault.’
With slightly shaking hand, the minister removes his glasses and orders: ‘Everyone who has already been hauled over the coals for an IT fiasco this year, get out.’ The bunker empties but for four sweating mandarins.
We will draw a veil over what happens next.
What really interests Obiter is why the duty of making dismal statements like yesterday’s one about the divorce self-assessment website always seems to fall on one individual. Whether it is court closures, the curtailment of justice to such and such constituency or just this week’s computer glitch, Shailesh Vara MP (pictured) is your man.
Is there a secret brief in his portfolio - ‘minister for cock-ups’, perhaps - or is Vara the victim of some civil service conspiracy against solicitors?