Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sky Debate Question for Tonight:
Did An Accountant Really Sign Off Ken’s Tax Declaration?

Ken said last month: “No journalist has contacted my accountant to ask anything about my tax arrangements. I’d be quite happy for them to do so.” So we called his accountant and he wasn’t happy to speak to us at all…

We called Ken’s accountant Peter Auguste to ask him why if he had signed off Ken’s released tax declaration as Team Ken claims, he had not put his name to the document? He refused to confirm he had in fact signed off the declaration. A week after Ken released his figures they then changed on his website. We think Ken was lying and that the figures were not in fact signed off by his accountant, who would not have got them wrong when by law they were signed off and sworn to be true in his annual returns to HMRC.

All of sudden Ken’s claimed income had risen from £164,055 to £205,800 and his tax paid from £113,861 to £131,606. Mysterious.

This might have something to do with the fact that – as he’s admitted to the Standard – he “forgot” to include in his declaration a “resettlement grant” he got from the GLA when he lost the mayoralty. But that resettlement grant was £71,000 – so even Ken’s new figures don’t seem to add up. So a simple question for Ken tonight. Were his released figures really produced by his accountant or by his campaign?

His accountant has refused to confirm to us he signed them off. There is no signature or letterhead on the released figures and the document properties appears to show that it was produced by Mark Watts. Watts is the name of Ken Livingstone’s former advisor whilst Mayor who joined his Parliamentary staff in 1999 and now works as a “Climate Change advisor”. Not an accountant…

Maid Mary Ann

Pro-Paddick Ad Fakes Riot Footage

Brian Paddick’s campaign are denying any official connection to a pro-Paddick video doing the rounds. Despite the insistence that it was done by an activist, it features Paddick footage and has been pushed heavily by LibDem HQ. The ad was clearly inspired by US Republican presidential wannabe Tim Pawlenty’s “Courage to Stand” video, and has high production values that do not come cheap.

The ad featuring plenty of TV coverage from the riots, but Guido is wondering when this doctored shot of London burning is from? Certainly not August 2011…

Downing Street Deckchairs and Mid-Term Migration

Telegraph newbie Donata Huggins has broken the rumour that the Taxpayers’ Alliance founder Matthew Elliott is off to Downing Street. Guido understands it is definitely not a done deal, though Elliott has been in discussions with the likes of Ed Llewellyn, Rohan Silva and Steve Hilton since as far back as January about taking on an external relations role. It is the same job that Tim Montgomerie was approached about in December and in fact Montgomerie recommended Elliott to Downing Street. The role will focus on building policy coalitions so that the government can be prepared for or better still avoid getting into unexpected fights like they did on the health bill. Elliott has been spotted going in and out of Downing Street regularly.

As Guido mentioned earlier there is a big re-organisation looming. Policy Exchange think-tank boss Neil O’Brien – a much tipped potential Downing Street recruit – is adamant he is happy where he is and definitely not going anywhere imminently. Word is that Andrew Cooper could be about to make an exit to go back to Populus to cash in ahead of a sale of the pollster in the not too distant future. Guido also hears that Hilton may not be the only Steve in the building making an exit, though Rohan Silva is staying despite reports to the contrary. Guido understands that pressure is being put on staffers to declare one way or the other whether they are going soon, or staying in for the long haul. What will be playing on many Downing Street denizens minds is that a mid-term exit puts staffers at the peak of  their commercial value…

Lord Sugar Says Fire Ken

Leading Labour peer Lord Sugar has called on Londoners to ignore Ed Miliband’s explicit pleas for Labour types to vote Ken. He tweeted “Livingstone must NOT get in on 3rd May”. Followed by:

“I don’t care if Ed Miliband is backing Livingstone. I seriously suggest NO ONE votes for Livingston in the Mayoral elections.”

He could have given Boris a run for his money…

LibDems Pasty Leaflet Lies

With the LibDems voting for the pasty tax last night, this leaflet from a west country by-election is looking a little shaky….

UPDATE:

Dial W for Watson

Neo-Guido put it to Tom Watson at his press conference that given he was at the core of Gordon Brown’s operation while Rebekah Brooks was coming round for sleepovers at Chequers and Screws hacks were changing the Prime Minister’s son’s nappies, he has managed to distance himself rather well. He wouldn’t give a firm commitment  to focus on his main job as an MP after the book, or even his new job as Labour’s Deputy Chairman for Campaigns. However he did confirm he had visited Bradford twice during the doomed campaign, which will do wonders to quell concerns about his commitment to his job…

The book seems to be rounding things up rather than moving things on, but one new revelation, though vague, is intriguing: Watson alleges that an intermediary and dinner companion claimed NI would “give him” Coulson if he backed off of “sacred Brooks”. No further details are given, but there is one former News of the World journalist turned Brownite Culture Minister who immediately comes to mind…

Wonks Goes West

Tom Clougherty is leaving his post as Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute at the end of April. He will be taking up a new post as Managing Editor of the libertarian Reason Foundation think-tank in Washington DC.

Dr Madsen Pirie, president of the ASI tells Guido, “We are very sorry to be losing Tom because of the incredible work he did to build up the ASI, but this is a wonderful opportunity for him and we wish him well in his new venture.”  There are a lot of ladies in Westminster who will miss the charmer’s smile too..

We are on the eve of a round of musical chairs in Westminster’s wonk-land – expect announcements soon. Downing Street is looking likely to have a big re-organisation of personnel on the policy unit front – Steve Hilton is off to California and Clegg’s strategy wonk Richard Reeves is also leaving for America. They are not the only ones said to be leaving Downing Street.  Foreceful political direction of the civil service is much needed, the permanent bureaucracy has become far too dominant in Downing Street…

Watson Spins Divorce as Murdoch’s Fault

Tom Watson is blaming Rupert Murdoch for the break down of his marriage. His wife Siobhan used to be on his payroll until the expenses crisis exposed him and in a shameless plug for his new book he says:

“I’m very sad to admit the failure of my marriage. I tried my very best to hold things together but the pressure of the hacking scandal inquiry has taken its toll.”

He says that it was the “aggressive” media intrusion which had increased his problems rather than his late night carousing sessions in Soho dives, his 9-hour long video game playing sessions and his wandering eye. By complete coincidence he has a big press conference this morning.

What Watson doesn’t mention about that “aggressive media intrusion” is that he was being followed by a hired private investigator at the 2009 Labour conference in Brighton because the News of the World editorial management did not trust their lobby hacks – who they saw as too close to Watson drinking buddies – to stand up stories about problems in his marriage.  The private-investigator followed him back to his hotel room…


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