PM in Secret Meeting With Anti-Gay Marriage Campaigner

The Prime Minister has held a meeting this afternoon with the bosses of Centrica, Dyson, Airbus, TalkTalk, Sainsbury, BAE, BT and Sony. Along with Nick Clegg he also sat down with a well known anti-gay marriage campaigner. Behind closed doors and away from the cameras, Dave greeted the Dalai Lama in a further sign of a retreat on the issue of gay marriage. 

Mercer: Security Cash is For Client Introductions
Claims Grey Area is “Moot Point”

Guido had a chat with Patrick Mercer this afternoon following this morning’s revelations about the parliamentary pass that he gave the managing director of a security firm that just happens to pay him a monthly fee. Mercer claims that he can check whenever Kevin Horak of Clearwater Security enters the building, but has never done so: “We have an agreement.. when he comes down he tells me, when he’s in Parliament I know what he is doing.” So why the need for the pass?

Guido dug into what exactly it is that Mercer does for his monthly stipend from Clearwater Security and he happily acknowledged it was simply for him to introduce the firm to potential clients – individuals and organisations that require security services. He claims his payment was cut because he wasn’t very good at it. Hmm…

The Newark MP claims that there is no conflict of interest because he doesn’t do this “consultancy work” on Parliamentary time, but given that he is the Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Security Group the grey area is huge. Mercer claims that he did not get into the security world through being an MP, but could not really explain how these introductions were done “exclusive of Parliament” given his job – “that’s a moot point.” Indeed it is…

Guido would argue that a Chairman of an All Party Parliamentary Group for Security should not be taking money off private security firms – even if it has been declared – especially as that money is given in return for introductions to potential clients for that firm.

Labour Start to Shift on In/Out Referendum

As Guido recommended last year, Labour could play a blinder if they outflank the Tories on the issue of an EU referendum. It appears there could be some movement:

If Dave does end up on the wrong side of history here, he only has himself to blame…

Christina Odone said it:

“IDS had better get ready for a backlash. He is taking on a powerful and often extremist lobby. The disability lobby includes politically-savvy activists who know this, and know just which buttons to press. Like PETA, the animal rights lobby, these campaigners are prepared to fight dirty in their effort to embarrass the authorities into doing a U-turn. Emotional manipulation and shock value are routine in their demonstrations; this will only increase if IDS stands his ground.”

The Bodyguard, the Tory MP and the Mystery Cash

Patrick Mercer, the Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Security, has received almost £10,000 from private security firm Clearwater. Until October 2011 the Tory MP sponsored their Managing Director Kevin Horak’s parliamentary pass. While he had that pass, Mercer was paid £1,000 per month by Clearwater for “security consultancy”…

Horak has now been given a pass by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Security which Mercer runs, and since then the monthly stipend has dropped to £500. Horak is a self proclaimed expert on security matters and he boasts all sorts of connections to politicians, including Gordon Brown and former Defence Secretary John Hutton, in order to promote his business. He’s wandering the corridors of power unchecked…

It’s not just the access that Horak is getting. The list of Written Questions Mercer has put in is coincidentally littered with references to private security – Mr Horak’s line of business. The website for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Security states that no one  in the group received any benefits from sources outside of Parliament. Guido feels that’s a pretty bold claim…

N.B: No answer on Mercer’s office line. However all of the sources for this story are publicly available…

Bada Bingle, Bada Boom

On Thursday Bell Pottinger closed down their “Special Projects” division and sacked everyone involved. This division specialised in murky foreign projects – advising governments in lovely places like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Nepal, Northern Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Somalia, South Africa, Yemen and Zimbabwe. Yes, Zimbabwe.

We’re expecting an official announcement at midday that the one and only Peter Bingle is going as well. Restaurant owners across Westminster may have to make further redundancies as a result…

All this is ahead of a management buy-back by Lord Bell himself of the firm he founded. The troubled outfit ironically has a reputation as being closest to the Tories..

UPDATE:

Yesterday’s Daily Star Sunday Column Now Online

You could already be gossiping about Nadine’s fight back if you had got your Daily Star Sunday yesterday…

You would also already know whose job Tom Watson is after…

Guido’s Sunday column is now online here

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View



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Quote of the Day

David Cameron tells MPs after voting:

“Wouldn’t miss this for the world. Secret ballots very important. Remember the Chartists.”

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