Wednesday 2 May 2007

Lies - Between human frailty and the law

Lying to protect - the unrecognised dilemma

Being economical with the truth or lying is something too many human beings do for one reason or another - many do think they can get away with it, but when they get caught it is never a good end result.

In the best of situations, the truth - honesty being the best policy - can come with some pain but your integrity, honour and respect is maintained, in the long run there might even be a reward.

When it comes to great men with much to protect, a reputation, a stake, a relationship or some circumstance, much as the luxury of being an observer makes one entreat the principal to come clean and be over with it, there are some extenuating circumstances that might prevent them for speaking the truth.

Sometimes, there is conflict, when dealing with the law; the truth is expected regardless of the situation, but when the issue touches on the very personal which could bring shame - the human dimension is lost whilst they who have never sinned rile the principal to derision.

This is no advocacy for lying, but put yourself in these two men's shoes.

Truth in a dress

Just about 10 years ago, a man of great importance in a long-term relationship coming to 20 years had been involved in some infidelity with an intern in his office. This improper relationship became the means by which he was assailed by his political enemies when he was asked if he had any sexual liaisons with the intern.

Now, an improper sexual relationship is not something you go and tell your wife like you just made a fantastic deal, in fact, the likelihood for any man caught in that kind of situation would be to completely deny that situation till the accuser can produce incontrovertible evidence, at which point, disgrace, dishonour and disdain are heaped on the principal as he apologises for a lying.

In this case, it was the sperm stains on the dress that caught him out, one could almost say that it as all planted to ensure that he was caught in a desperate situation. The man was Bill Clinton, the lady Monica Lewinsky and prosecutor Kenneth Stark - Mr. Clinton is the man making history, the other two who sought to bring him down do not have footnotes on those esteemed pages.

Mr. Clinton definitely should not have lied but if anyone asked you in his circumstances about an improper sexual liaison would have owned up in public?

Where did you meet?

More recently, a well-respected businessman had a relationship with a young Canadian that lasted four years. There is no doubt that the young man would have in that time grown accustomed to the style and status of his amazingly well-to-do spouse.

When the relationship ended, it would appear the wealthy businessman cut his ex-lover adrift, but having not made sufficient contingency for the welfare of his "discard", the young man in dire straits after entreaties to his ex-lover decided to monetarise the information about this relationship by selling his story to the tabloids.

Now, there was nothing improper about the relationship though it was homosexual and private, the business man being a closet gay man.

What amazes me about this whole situation is how the businessman's support infrastructure which usually is quite solid and disciplined allowed the situation to degenerate into that what we have now.

In trying to prevent the young man from selling the story, the businessman went to court and the question about where they met arose. Obviously, any respectable person would like to say they met their partner in some romantic setting; it has only become socially acceptable to say you met on some online dating site.

The businessman with a career and reputation to protect said he met the young man in Battersea - probably a gay cruising area - innocuous, but plausible, however, the young man who had nothing to lose said different; he met the businessman on a gay escort website.

Oops! Someone has been caught in a lie; the businessman on court documents - his undoing and this disgrace as this has now been exposed - a resignation with a loss of probably £20 million in payments where probably £1 million in a blackmail payment might just have kept this under wraps for another few years.

The businessman is Lord Browne who resigned as the Group CEO of BP yesterday, the young escort, Jeff Chevalier - time will tell how history would play this out. Lord Browne however could face perjury charges.

If asked and indeed you met your partner as a Pretty Woman, gigolo, on an escort website or some place of ill repute tell anyone that is where you met?

The law deals stridently with perjury, however, there has to be mitigating circumstances when it comes to what might be lies of passion.

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