Written by Phil Hall • Published 05th March 2014

The Patrick Rock affair is a disaster for the Government in PR terms as they gear up for an election.

To recap, he is the senior Government official who has been accused of downloading child pornography at No. 10 Downing Street.

The Prime Minister and other senior officials knew about it for weeks and when the media finally got on to the story, they tried to push it back by being less than open. The public have the right to know what the police forces of this country are up to and they certainly have the right to know if someone at the heart of Government has been arrested.

Of course, the general public will swallow that people make awful mistakes, they do not, however, accept that there should be cover-ups when these mistakes are exposed.

The prosecution of police officers and journalists over stories that have run in the national Press is designed to create a secret society – one where politicians, public officials and indeed public servants are no longer answerable to the public.

The view is our public institutions are damaged by the constant wave of negative publicity that surrounds misbehaviour in public office. Surely the right attitude is we can only prevent such abuse by bringing it out into the open?

Politicians and civil servants should not be protected through fear their exposure will damage the reputation of one political party or another.

This country is revered around the world for its honesty and integrity. It is why so much investment has poured into the UK while many other countries have suffered.

It is the media that are the champions of this integrity but they can only do that job with access to information and that starts with openness in Government.