February 4th, 2008

Wendy Domino Starts to Wobble

Rich Johnston’s above cartoon from some months ago was not far off the mark (though it missed Peter Hain). In interviews yesterday Wendy Alexander claimed “at the conclusion of my leadership campaign” she made inquiries to the Clerks to the Standards and Public Appointments Committee of the Scottish Parliament, as to if she was required to be registered under either gifts or election expenses.

In the press release she put out last Friday she said she received that advice on November 8. She became leader of the Scottish Labour MSPs on September 14, 2007. So the advice she got was sought nearly 2 months after the close of her leadership campaign. Not much use when you are permitted only 30 days to declare it. She was well out of time before she even sought advice.

More damagingly the Code of Conduct for MSPs, says under Section 1: Registration of Interests:

“A Member must register an acquired interest by lodging a further written statement within 30 days after the date of acquisition (section 5 of the Act).”

So saying “conclusion” of campaign is also outwith the date of acquisition.

Yet these inquiries to the Clerk were made around the same time a document on Wendy Alexander’s husband’s computer was checking the admissibility of donations:

Crucially the list also drew attention to the awareness of the donation’s illegality by stating at the end: “Permissible?” According to the Microsoft Word document file on which it was saved, the document’s creation date is November 5.

Although Wendy’s illegal and unreported donation is relatively small, her behaviour afterwards is going to prove difficult to explain. She denied all knowledge of the donation, until the day Guido reprinted her letter of thanks to the donor. There is also evidence that there was knowledge in her circle that there was an illegal donation.

A string of donations fell just below the £1000 threshold which suggests there was also a deliberate attempt to avoid donor transparency. The list of undeclared donations includes; GMB Scotland £999, Michael D Rutterford £999, Neil Davidson £995, Nicholas Kuenssberg £995, John Lyons £995, Phoenix Car Company £995, Strathvale Holdings Limited £995, City Refrigeration Holdings Limited £995, David J Pitt Watson £990, Paul Green £950.

The matter has now been referred for prosecution, another domino may yet fall…


Seen Elsewhere

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Greens are UKIP for Young People | Telegraph
Short-Termism of CCHQ | ConHome
May Aide: CCHQ Are Being Misleading | Telegraph
Tories Planning For Second Election | Guardian
We Are Losing Cyber War | Fraser Nelson
Osborne Aide Lands Pay Rise | Mirror


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The Economist asks Tony Blair about Wendi Deng:

“Mr Blair roundly denies any impropriety. Asked whether he was (at least) careless about his reputation, he says calmly that it is “not something I will ever talk about—I haven’t and I won’t”, and then bangs his coffee cup so loudly into its saucer that it spills and everyone in the room jumps. But did he find himself in a tangle over his friendship with Ms Deng? A large, dark pool of sweat has suddenly appeared under his armpit, spreading across an expensive blue shirt. Even Mr Blair’s close friends acknowledge that the saga damaged him—not least financially, since Mr Murdoch stopped contributing to Mr Blair’s faith foundation and cut him off from other friendly donors in America.”


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