The Greens' Golriz Ghahraman is one of the brightest new faces in a more youthful Parliament. She came with a glowing resume on the Greens' website that read: "Her studies at Oxford, and work as a lawyer for the United Nations and in New Zealand, have focused on enforcing human rights and holding Governments to account. Golriz has lived and worked in Africa, The Hague and Cambodia putting on trial world leaders for abusing their power ..."

The website does not say that now. The second sentence has been replaced with: "Golriz worked for United Nations tribunals as part of both defence (Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia) and prosecution (Cambodia) teams."

There is, of course, nothing wrong with defending anyone accused of a crime in a court of law, though that is not the view of Phil Quin, a former adviser to Labour Governments, who drew attention to the nature of Ghahraman's work in the Rwanda case.

"Any MP who acted as a voluntary intern to defend war criminals, and authors papers that deny the Rwanda genocide, must resign," said Quin, who has worked in Rwanda.


Ghahraman worked on the defence team for Joseph Nzirorera, who died before he could be convicted of genocide in Rwanda. She was also on the defence team for the Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic, who was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

No lawyer would hold this work against her. Their profession requires them to serve the interests of justice, and justice requires people accused of crimes to be properly defended. It is indeed the difference between justice and the sort of summary executions probably carried out in the name of those standing trial.

Justice is not vengeance. It is a fair investigation of facts and the individual's knowledge and intentions. It needs trained legal minds on both sides to reach a fair and balanced conclusion.

The pity is that whoever in the Greens posted the original resume for Ghahraman — she says she did not write it — saw fit to say she was "putting on trial world leaders for abusing their power", which implies she worked only on prosecutions. Whoever wrote that passage was misleading the public, possibly deliberately. The Greens can ill-afford this sort of deception so soon after the admissions of their recent co-leader.

For all new young MPs in Parliament, Ghahraman's experience is an early lesson in the need for absolute honesty in politics. They are now public figures. Everything they say and do is liable to come under close scrutiny. If they are tempted to conceal anything of legitimate public interest, they should ask themselves whether its admission would be more embarrassing than any attempt to cover it up.

For chances are it will become known. Parliament is a hothouse of rivalries, not all on opposite sides of the House.

In real life, things are seldom simply right or wrong, black or white. People take opportunities and they are not always on the side of the angels. Golriz Ghahraman can be given a break, and will surely have learned much from her experience this week.