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Judging by the comments below he let Jacqui Smith off the hook (surprise) over Damian Green. According to PoliticsHome’s transcript when “asked about claims Mr Green had been bugged she said she would have had to sign a warrant for that to happen and she had not”. More when it is up on iPlayer.
UPDATE 11.50 : According to comments below the PoliticsHome transcript is incorrect. Pretty crucial detail to get wrong if they have.
UPDATE 12.20 : Have now watched the interview. She gave the impression, but did not state that she had not authorised bugging. Marr actually seemed better than average.
Regular readers will know that this allgation was a central part of Guido’s campaign against the Sith. Essentially the Smith Institute was a slush fund for Gordon’s ambitions. The Tories are now convinced that Ed Balls continued working for Gordon Brown when he was on the charity’s payroll. They have been trying for six months to ascertain whether or not he continued to have access to the Treasury with a security pass. Guido has other evidence that Ed Balls continued to act as Gordon Brown’s political adviser during th 2004 / 5 period when he was being paid by the charity. Not only Balls but also Tony Pilch, a former SpAd close to Balls, and Bob Shrum during the same over-lapping period were working for the Smith Institute.
According to the Sunday Times “the Tories are submitting a complaint to the Electoral Commission and John Lyon, the parliamentary commissioner for standards. They want Brown to be challenged over whether Balls had a pass.”
Guido understands that the Electoral Commission is already making inquiries, including in the United States, following a complaint made last July (after the Charity Commission report condemned the Smith Institute for partisan activity) by the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics. That letter of complaint (here) focused on the activities of U.S. pollster Bob Shrum. Shrum was paid by the Smith Institute to advise Gordon Brown, these slush payments are a serious breach of electoral law.
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Rob Colvile reviews Russell Brand’s new book:
“Oddly, the person I feel sorriest for isn’t Brand himself – although he certainly comes across as a rather pitiable figure, projecting his own brokenness on to the world around him – but Johann Hari. Drummed out of Fleet Street for plagiarism, the former Independent columnist has washed up as “my mate Johann, who’s been doing research for this book”. For a genuinely talented polemicist, it would have been a humbling experience to have to treat this sub-undergraduate dross as the scintillating wisdom of a philosopher-king.”