Human error is a claim made by third persons about other people, not by individuals about their own actions. It is not a defence. It does not resolve you of your incompetence. It is a tactic most commonly used by bosses when their staff make mistakes that impact on the lives of others. Third parties use it to resolve themselves of someone else’s incompetence.
If Minister Collins is making a claim that human error is a justification for incompetence, then she is setting a low precedent for accountability avoidance by the political elite. Even if she is not trying to justify her actions in endorsing a product against Cabinet rules, she is trying to invoke mass sympathy for her actions. The kind of strategy she would find reprehensible if it were to come from any other person in her position.
Imagine if George Bush decided to admit one day that ‘oops, War in Iraq? Human error, soz ’.
Of course, that particular example is incomparable to Minister Collins situation, but I think setting the precedent of those holding political authority to claim human error of themselves is actually a really dangerous thing. Minister Collins is manipulating the public into feeling sorry for her incompetence, not because she cares about the public and honouring the rules that govern the power the public delegates to her, but because she cares about retaining her position of power over the public.