I have always believed that it is not the big distortions that say everything about people with power deceive us, but the little deceptions.
And this weekend we have had a classic of its kind with Sir Philip Dilley caught out in an apparently small distortion that is hugely damagin to him.
Sir Philip, the chairman of the Environment Agency, which is responsible for flood defences, stayed at his second home in Barbados rather than return home when the floods hit the north of the country over Christmas.
The Agency said he had stayed there because he had family connections in Barbados. But it is now clear his wife in fact comes from Jamaica which is some 1,200 miles away.
It is at least arguable if he could have done anything more useful had he been in London or indeed appeared in the flooded area – modern communications make it just as easy to lead a response from thousands of miles away as from close to hand.
But in the modern world, senior figures are means to appear on the site of the worst floods and show their support for those whose homes are under water.
It hardly helps when Sir Philip was in an exotic part of the world and his wife accused the press of “being out to destroy people” – this is an unwise statement when the lives of the victims of floods think their lives are being destroyed by the inaction of the Sir Philip’s organisation.
Worst of all was the original statement by the Environment Agency that Sir Philip had “been in Barbados where his family are from.” It later transpired that his wife is from Jamiaca which is 1,200 miles from Barbados.
Then Sir Philip opted for vagueness when he said that his wife was “from the Caribbean, we have a home there and I spent some time there over Christmas.”
Strange how they all thought they could get away with it. Perhaps they assumed journalists would concentrate on the main story and would not bother to follow up this angle.
Whatever the reason, this just shows how careful one has to be when looking at anything said by people in power. This episode is further evidence that we should never take their word for granted.