Court Reserves Judgement on Spelman Son Injunction

Caroline Spelman was apparently advised against seeking a super-injunction to stop the Daily Star Sunday writing about her England rugby star son, and his alleged ███ ██ █████████. She failed to get the coveted privacy gag and now a judge has said he needs more time to decide whether Jonny should get special treatment because his mother is a) a millionaire and b) in the public eye.

Any other member of the England Under 18 squad accused of similar behaviour would not receive such a special dispensation.

When Total Politics met working class hero Owen Jones:

“Shane had Patagonian Cobbler (Sauvignon Blanc and apple liqueur mixed with peach puree and apple juice, topped with summer berries) and Taladro Argentino (vodka with Argentine mint syrup, lime cordial and fresh lime).

Owen drank lager.”

Labour Suspend IRA Liking Councillor

According to Labour Party sources Councillor Florence Anderson of Sunderland City Councillor has been suspended with immediate effect after Mark Wallace spotted that she had “Liked” a post on Facebook calling for the IRA to bomb the next Tory conference. Good.

UPDATE: It seems she has previous. In October 2010 she called for Thatcher to “burn in hell”. What a charmer…

If You Can’t Beat Them…

Damian McBride has surfaced. As a blogger

Returning to the fray, so far we have been treated to some Whitney and a post about booze.

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery…

Worth a Thousand Words

Julia Quenzier’s court sketch says it all.

Exclusive: Burnham’s Adviser and £170,000 of NHS Cash

The Department of Health was forced to apologise last night after it was revealed that 25 of their civil servants were paid via limited companies in what looks like a Whitehall-wide tax-dodge. This one is going to play and play, Guido imagines there are plenty of mandarins fretting about their accounting today. And BBC news presenters…

Normally you would expect the opposition to be leaping on a story like this, yet Andy Burnham is silent. Could that be because his senior advisor Kevin Lee uses a similar payment structure? As Guido reported in December, Lee is not paid directly by Labour Party HQ, he is instead paid via Lee Communications & Public Affairs Ltd. Assurances were given when Guido first started digging that Lee is no longer lobbying, or “consulting” as he was so keen to put it. If that is the case then why does he need to be paid through the company?

And that’s not the only awkward question Guido has for Andy and Kevin this morning…

When we revealed that Lee had been taken on in murky circumstances, Guido got FoIing. There were some awkward questions; firstly about at £20,000 loan Lee had given Burnham’s abortive leadership campaign, then the fact that the job had not been advertised publicly and there is no evidence that Kevin Lee had declared his own interests in the NHS and how he had made his money. Lee went to ground and Burnham refused to shed any light on whether due process had been followed.

We can now reveal that Lee worked on private projects which have cost the NHS at least £170,000. Though he set up the lobbying firm Lee Communications just one month after Andy Burnham became Health Secretary in 2009, Lee was previously a director of Vision 21. Despite telling Guido today that he’d never been “a health lobbyist”, Lee’s CV claims he was “responsible for establishing a Public Affairs portfolio” there. FoIs show that whilst Lee was at Vision 21, the NHS cash was flowing in. Including £92,486 from the East of England SHA, and £77,000 from NHS Southwark. Lee explicitly denies any contact with Andy Burnham whilst he was Health Secretary.

None of this information was made available when Lee was quietly put on to Burnham’s staff and Guido can see no evidence that it was taken into account. While Burnham moans about the death of the NHS due to privatisation, we revealed that his closest aide and campaign donor was a director of a company that made a six-figure sum from private NHS work. Lee is still claiming this morning that there was no need to declare this and there were no plans to ever make this public.

Taxi for Mr Huhne

The controversial extra-marital affairs dating agency AshleyMadison.com has found a new name to promote their service, having previously used Boris Johnson to front their advertising campaigns they have now switched to Chris Huhne for promotional purposes.

Obviously this is not intended to be a long-term campaign…

The dating site is offering to provide the fast-moving MP with a full-time driver and specially-designed taxi for him to call upon whenever he should wish. Ashleymadison.com, which launched last year in the UK, has written to the former Energy Secretary offering him an exclusive means of transport whilst he is out on bail so he can avoid any further speeding penalties. The decision to offer him a black cab was based upon a poll of its 400,000 members, CEO Noel Biderman says “Setting politics to one side, Chris Huhne has done what plenty of married couples no doubt do every day…” Well up to a point(s)…

UPDATE 10.15: After a ten minute preliminary hearing this morning, Pryce and Huhne were given unconditional bail and told to reappear at Southwark Crown Court on March 2. “The rule in this court is defendants whoever they are & whatever process they came into the court by, they are in the dock.”

Clegg’s Reforms are a Mess

Nick Clegg’s reform packages are not going very well. Obviously AV is still a sore subject in yellow circles and the prospect of two year battle over House of Lords reform is even being discouraged by Guardian columnists. The Recall bill seems to be an irrelevance too. Zac Goldsmith is slamming it this morning:

Here’s the process; once the narrow Committee has qualified an MP for Recall, the petition begins, and requires only 10% of voters to sign it. Given that the MP will effectively have been deemed guilty by Parliament, that threshold will pose little challenge. The MP then faces an immediate by-election where they must fight in the context of national issues and where they are dependent on their Party’s fortunes. Unlike in true Recall, where MPs face a simple referendum on their job, under the Government’s plans, they have no chance to persuade voters that the Recall is unwarranted. This gives real power to the authorities to throw inconvenient MPs to the wolves for spurious reasons.

It says something when even Tory MPs are accusing you of not being radical enough. Guido can’t think why Nick Clegg, in his student-filled constituency, would possibly want to water anything down…



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Quote of the Day

Charles Clarke says Cameron is the most successful PM for over a century…

“Under Margaret Thatcher the Conservatives gained 99 seats. They lost 211 under John Major, gained one under William Hague, quickly and wisely got rid of Ian Duncan-Smith, gained 32 under Michael Howard and have so far gained 133 under David Cameron who, to the great surprise of many (including senior Conservatives), has turned out to be the most electorally successful Tory leader since 1900.”

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