One aspect of government that all its citizens are subject to are the laws of the land enforced by the criminal justice system. If there is a lack of public confidence in the fairness of this system, respect for the bodies supposed to be managing law and order is lost and law and order itself may be undermined.
A conflict of interest is when someone in a position of trust has competing professional and/or personal interests. In the case of the legal system, where it is the public's confidence that is at risk, a perceived conflict of interest is just as important as an actual conflict of interest. This underlies the maxim that not only must justice be done but it must be seen to be done. This principle applies at all levels of the legal system. It is why the juror who mentions any connection with the defendant will probably be asked to stand down at a criminal trial.
This is all pretty standard stuff, so WHY THE HELL DOES IT NEED SPELLING OUT TO ATTORNEY GENERAL LORD GOLDSMITH THAT HE SHOULD STAND ASIDE?
Please feel free to add to this list of his conflicts of interest on the "Loans for Peerages" case passed to the CPS.
1. Goldsmith was appointed by Tony Blair who has been questioned in respect of this case.
2. Goldsmith has donated to the Labour Party. The case passed to the CPS is likely to have significant financial ramifications on that organisation.
3. The case passed to the CPS relates to entrance to an elite club of which Goldsmith is a member (The House Of Lords).
4. Said lordship was handed to Goldsmith by Tony Blair.
5. The Grauniad reported that Blair has influenced Goldsmith in the past.
Convinced yet? Some might say that his personal indiscretions and professional prevarications make Goldsmith generally unsuitable for his current role. Hat tip Iain Dale.
Note - the US Attorney Genera, Alberto Gonzales is coming under far greater pressure to go.