Say what you like, when the British get it wrong, we're pretty good at holding up our hands and admitting it. Or, maybe slightly closer to the truth, when we've been found out and can't deny it any longer, then we're okay about taking the punishment that comes our way.
Late last Sunday night, RBS boss Stephen Hester did the honourable thing and returned his just-short-of-a-million-pound bonus, earning himself some grudging admiration from the general public and more than a few raised eyebrows from the boys in the City who, as one high-earning individual pointed out to me a few days later, couldn't work out why one would bother to give up "such a small bonus anyway". Oh, to think of a million pounds as small change.
Fast-forward a few days and it wasn't bonus cheques causing U-turns, but speeding tickets, with Chris Huhne and estranged wife Vicky Pryce finding themselves back in the headlines and, in Huhne's case at least, out of the cabinet after prosecutors charged them with perverting the course of justice. Never has so much been made of so few licence points.
His bosses, Cameron and Clegg, covered their backs with carefully worded statements that stopped short of saying they believed his side of the story, but left the door open just wide enough to welcome him back into the fold should he clear his name. If time teaches us nothing it's that even if he doesn't, the cabinet isn't adverse to a little rehabilitation once the public's memory fades the sting of a particular politician's foibles. We forgive and forget all too easily these days (or at least that's probably what Liam Fox is counting on).
With public office comes a responsibility to uphold the morals, not to mention, the law of the country you serve, but as John Terry found to his cost this week, with public adulation comes an even greater responsibility.
Our footballing stars, with their zillion-pound paycheques (funny how no-one demands those get returned alongside the bankers' bonuses) might be able to shrug off numerous kiss-and-tells, adultery and drug taking, but there is a line over which it seems we are finally going to hold them to account: allegations of out-and-out racism.
The England skipper wasn't in court to hear the charges levelled against him on Wednesday, but he woke on Friday to find himself stripped of the captain's armband, despite his lawyer entering a not guilty plea on Terry's behalf.
The FA had hoped its members wouldn't be forced to oust Terry, but were left with few other options after the court hearing into Terry's alleged racist rant against QPR defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League game last October, due to be completed before the Euro 2012 games, was adjourned to July.
We shouldn't forget, in both the Terry and Huhne cases, that in the eyes of the law neither has been proven guilty yet, both are protesting their innocence and both could be reinstated in their positions of authority before the summer is out. However, one thing was made very clear this week: no matter how large your pay cheque, how important your position, or how many fans cheer your name from the stands on a Saturday afternoon, slip up and be prepared to face the consequences.
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