I have known David Laws vaguely for several years. He has total integrity. He gave up a burgeoning career in finance because he had "already made enough money". For several years he worked for essentially no money to help craft a set of economically coherent policies for the Liberal Democrats. He has a forensic intelligence- a deeply impressive understanding of economic and financial context. He is a genuine star in a field where mediocrities are more usually the norm.
In the first few days of the new coalition he was already establishing himself as a key figure at the very heart of government, and was becoming not just respected but popular on both sides of the government.
David has always been intensely private about himself. Those who knew him best have generally assumed that he was gay, but if he chose not to discuss his private life then that was entirely his choice. To see the obvious personal distress that he is in as the result of the attacks against him in the press has filled me with a cold and furious contempt for those responsible.
Essentially no one can be safe from attack under the spurious label of expenses. David did not make a cent from these supposed abuses. It is incredible that such destructive cruelty can be unleashed in the name of "the public's right to know". Britain deserves better leaders: leaders with the quality of David Laws- but no one will put themselves forward in the future when any tiny mistake can become such a cause celebre: where no one in the public eye can defend themselves from a shredding at the hands of a criminally irresponsible media.
Make no mistake, what was done to David Laws was wicked.
Those responsible are evil- there is no other word for it.
It is time they were themselves held to account for their own vile hypocrisy.
UPDATE: I e-mailed a journalist friend as follows:
Following on from our discussion at lunch the other day, I must say the eventual outing of David Laws that we discussed as a possibility has really shown up the media in a truly horrid way.
I think what has been done to David is actually evil- I think the damage to our country that may come from his fall is appalling.
Those responsible- presumably the Barclay brothers- have behaved in a way that is simply monstrous. Every one of us- all of us- has something in their lives that could be read by the mind of evil doers in a bad light.
Quite frankly I hope that some one destroys the figures in the media that sponsored this with the same ferocious efficiency which has just been used to destroy the life of David Laws.
If he kills himself, they will all have blood on their hands.
Sorry- but I am absolutely incensed by this. The scandal is the media, not the minister.