Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tory MP Probes Speaker’s Passholder Donation Mystery

On Sunday Guido revealed that John Bercow is facing accusations of ‘cash for access’ over a curious donation from a businesswoman to whom he gave a parliamentary pass. For any other MP such an arrangement would provoke suggestions of impropriety. Today Tory MP Rob Wilson has sought clarification from the Speaker, with a view to potentially reporting him to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards:

Dear Mr Speaker,

I am writing to you today to raise the concerns of several of my constituents about an item in Guido Fawkes’ column in the Sun on Sunday. It outlines that you have signed off on a Parliamentary pass for Farah Sassoon. The item continues that in addition to your signing off on a pass for her that she has donated substantial sums to your office via her company, Trust Reservations Ltd. Appropriately, this donation has been put into the Register of Members’ Interests.

Integrity, accountability and openness, are part of the seven Nolan Principles of Public Life which are enshrined into Parliament by their inclusion in Code of Conduct for MPs. In this spirit and on behalf of my constituents, I would request that you put on the record as soon as possible answers to the following questions:

1. Why Ms Sassoon was given a Parliamentary pass?
2. What kind of pass was she given? (Member’s Staff, Staff of the House etc.)
3. When was this pass issued, and when does it expire?
4. What was the intended purpose of her company’s donation to your office?
5. Did you consult with any of the Parliamentary authorities, such as your foremost adviser, the Clerk of the Commons, on the propriety of accepting a donation having issued this pass?

I am sure that you will be able to provide a speedy answer to my questions and would request that you do so by Friday 1st of August. Several of my constituents have suggested that I write directly to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, however in the first instance I feel it is appropriate that you should be afforded the opportunity to respond.

In the interests of transparency I am placing a copy of this letter in the public domain.

Yours sincerely,

Rob Wilson MP

Has Bercow fallen a little short of the standards of probity expected in public life? Guido awaits the answer, especially to question 5…

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bercow Faces ‘Cash for Access’ Accusations
Speaker Accepts Donation From Sally’s Security-Cleared Pal

John Bercow is facing accusations of ‘cash for access’ after Guido revealed he has accepted a donation from a businesswoman to whom he gave a parliamentary pass. Farah Sassoon, who is a close friend of Sally Bercow and is well known for her booze-fuelled exploits with the Speaker’s wife, was granted clearance by the Bercows allowing her to bypass parliament’s security checks. Handy for Farah, since she is a significant donor to the Labour Party; giving them £40,000 through her hotel reservations company.

What did the Speaker get in return for giving Farah unfettered access to parliament? Surely the £5,000 donation from her company Trust Reservations Ltd this month is completely unrelated. If this were any other MP this would provoke allegations of cash for access. Though surely Bercow as Speaker is squeaky clean and beyond reproach…

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Live Like Chuka Umunna at the White House
Only £36,000 for the Summer Holidays!

Click to enlarge

Chuka Umunna is not the only Labour front-bencher to be visiting the White House this summer. For the cheeky sum of £36,000 you can live like the Shadow Business Secretary for a week at Casa Blanca – his family’s villa in Ibiza is available to rent for £1,700-a-week. Unfortunately it is all booked out until September – so Guido will have to wait…

Click above to see inside the ‘spacious, airy’ 3000 square foot San Jose property, which boasts a private pool and is ‘situated within its own 1.5 acre grounds, in an elevated hill-side position. With parking for several cars, the villa is also surrounded by a large, natural pine garden and tiered flowerbeds.’  It’s recommended for a ‘Romantic Getaway’. You too can read “50 Shades of Grey” by the pool with a special friend… all a very long way from his Streatham constituency in south London.

No trashy types please…

Monday, July 14, 2014

Follow the JP Morgan Money

Ed Miliband has all but outsourced the writing of next year’s manifesto to ‘charity’ think-tank IPPR, the Labour wonkshop recently referred to the Charity Commission for breaching impartiality rules.  They don’t really like to shout about who funds their work, yet they’re nicely set up for the next few years with £780,000 this year and a further £1.6 million expected over the next two years from JP Morgan – the investment bankers Ed likes to demonise. As Guido noted earlier this month, IPPR is stuffed to the rafters with former officials from the last Labour government, not least Jack Straw’s son Will, Labour’s candidate in Rossendale and Darwen, who is their Associate Director. Guido will have more on this tomorrow.

IPPR used to be nicknamed Tony Blair’s favourite think tank. Completely coincidental to the £2.5 million bung, Blair is an official adviser to the board of JP Morgan…

Friday, July 11, 2014

Galloway Doubles Salary on Pro-Assad and Iran TV Channels

George Galloway made £65,000 in the first four months of this year through media appearances on controversial TV channels accused of supporting Assad, Putin and Iran. Press Gazette report that Gorgeous George earned £21,450 for work on LBP TV, which is broadcast out of the offices of Iranian state television channel Press TV. He trousered another £18,000 from Al-Mayadeen TV, which reportedly “represents the latest expansion of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah in the field of media”, and has defended the Syrian government’s attacks on its own people. He also made a cool £25,600 from his work on Russia Today, which is consistently pro-Putin and is funded by the Kremlin. With friends like these…

UPDATE: Here is Press Gazette’s handy table recording MPs’ earnings from the media in full:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Labour’s Fundraiser Figures

£105,000 for Sir Antony’s “Small Turn III”

£42,000 – Grayson Perry “Vote Labour” lion.

£36,000 – Anish Kapoor work.

£24,000  – two games of football with Ed Balls.

£12,000 – Mark Wallinger work

£12,000 – Nicola Green painting.

For everything else, there’s union masters’ card.

Via FT.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Labour’s Lavish Fundraiser Auction: £100,000 Reserve Bids

Labour clucked and screeched last week over a Tory fundraising auction that saw signed Maggie memorabilia go for £45,000 and a tennis match with the PM also up for grabs. Well their own gala dinner tonight will see something very similar, including at least one lot with a reserve price of £100,000:

“We have amazing artwork from Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Grayson Perry, Mark Wallinger and Nicola Green along with an exciting opportunity for you and a chosen team to go head to head with a Shadow Cabinet Five-A-Side All Stars football team which includes, Ed Balls, Andy Burnham, Sadiq Khan, and Jim Murphy.”

The Gormley has a reserve price of £100,000, while the Kapoor work is available for a more ‘in touch’ price of £25,000. Most would struggle to pay for Nicola Green painting “The Struggle” at £6,000. No cost of living crisis there.

Other lots include “Patrick Stewart to record your answerphone message”, and cash-for-access to “Tea at the National Gallery with Tristram Hunt”. It is not believed “the week long stay in a Tuscan villa for 9″ was donated by Polly Toynbee.

Table cost £15,000 and the tickets are a poverty busting £500…

UPDATE: Although Guido didn’t get the story from the excellent Kate McCann, she did run the story in City AM this morning and we are happy to point that out.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cross Party Councillors Go After Hancock For Cover Up Costs

A cross party motion will be put before Portsmouth Council to get pervy MP Mike Hancock to cough up for the legal costs of the extensive cover up instigated by the old Liberal Democrat regime in the city, concerning his sexual harassment of a mentally ill constituent. Both the Tories and Labour are signed up to this motion that is expected to easily pass:

(f) Proposed by Councillor Alistair Thompson
Seconded by Councillor John Ferrett

The City Council is concerned at the conduct of one its former members’ who has admitted to abusing his position of trust. He has admitted to harassing a resident, making repeated unwanted sexual advances and conduct that falls below the standards expected of a Parliamentarian or a member of this Council.

Over the last four years the Council has spent tens of thousands of pounds investigating this matter, both through court and legal fees and officer time – This at a time when the Council is faced with making cuts to front line services.

The Council believes that this is an unsatisfactory situation.

The Council therefore requests the Governance and Audit and Standards Committee to do the following:

1. Instruct officers to prepare a detailed breakdown of the full costs of this affair
2. To write to all members with this information
3. To write to the former member requesting that given this unnecessary burden on the taxpayers of Portsmouth that now he has admitted to these appalling actions he might chose to repay this sum and thus ease the financial burden on residents
4. To consider legal action to reclaim these costs if he refuses.

A council source tells Guido the bill could easily reach £100,000. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

SPEAKER WATCH: Pointless Parliamentary Vanity Prizes

Browsing the Parliamentary Intranet, as is his wont, Guido has come across the ‘The Diversity and Inclusion Awards’ that took place on Monday. Another Bercow wheeze that we are paying for. “All parliamentary passholders are eligible to be recognised by the annual award”, and apparently the judges “had a hard job to choose from the high calibre of nominations, over 40 of which were submitted.” Don’t all rush at once.

Congratulations to all the worthy winners, in these powerful categories:

Embedding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Runner-up: Martin Smith (Deputy Business Relationship Manager, PICT)
Winner: John Thursfield (Portfolio Manager, DHRC) and Salma Dean (Peer’s staff)

Catalyst for Change
Runner-up: Polly Meeks (Inquiry Manager, International Development Committee, DCCS)
Winner: Catherine Tyack (Joint Clerk, Public Administration Select Committee, DCCS)

Most Improved in Access and Inclusion
Runner-up: Dane Smith (Visits Officer, Parliamentary Education Service, DIS)
Winner: Tony Williams (House of Commons Information Office, DIS)

Inspiring Role Model
Runner-up: Tom Goldsmith (Head of the Office of the Chief Executive, OCE)
Winner: Abiola Babalola (Senior Management Accountant, DF)

Special Recognition Award
The judges also conferred a Special Recognition Award to someone who was noted for having made a number of contributions to different areas of Parliament, including work on equality analyses across Parliament, support to individuals, and co-chairing of ParliOUT.
Winner: Jenny Radcliffe (Business Change and Project Manager, Security Arrangements Renewal Programme, Office of the Parliamentary Security Director)

 The only catalyst for any change that Guido can see here, is towards a new speaker. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Yeo Cashing in On Way Out of South Suffolk

Money grubbing Tim Yeo’s deselection by South Suffolk’s Tories has resulted in them not hearing another word from their MP since February. How things change, it was only in December that he was sending them Christmas cards for the very first time. However Tory councillors on the planning committee at Babergh District Council in South Suffolk have noted an application in Yeo’s name to build a new dwelling in the garden adjacent to his house (application here). One local tells Guido “It is quite clear that Yeo means to cash in and sell up.”

Guido always suspected that Yeo’s devotion to his constituency was less than genuine given he actually lived over a hundred miles away in Sandwich in Kent. Local Tories say that since they got rid of Tim 4 members resigned in protest and some 100 members joined and donations are on the up. They select a replacement candidate next month.


Seen Elsewhere

Does Europe Really Want Britain to Quit? | Nick Wood
Immigration Nation | Hopi Sen
Tories Choose Anti-Israel Candidate in Rochester | JC
Osborne’s Daycare Obsession is a Time Bomb | Kathy Gyngell
BBC Marr Pinko Trying to Ban the Queen | Speccie
Eric Hobsbawm: Companion of Dishonour | Standpoint
Guido Party Gossip | Iain Dale
Russell Brand Comes Out as 9/11 Truther | Guardian
Health Revolution is Underway | Fraser Nelson
UKIP Gets Professional | Red Box
Kelly Tolhurst Wins Rochester Open Primary | BBC


VOTER-RECALL
Find out more about PLMR


Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann on Cameron’s refusal to pay the £1.7 billion EU bill by December 1st:

“Well, then he’s gonna pay on December 2nd”



Mycroft says:

Have you read the last bit of Animal Farm?

You know where the animals are looking through the Farmhouse window?

My TV screen was that window at lunch-time today.

Be careful, the sudden self-congratulatory tone, the slightly pudgy outline of indulgence and you become exactly what you should despise.

The jolly face of the Quisling Cameron poses for your camera has mesmerised and deceived you, you who were once not so deceived.

You were no firebrand, you were a damp squib in my opinion, sorry.

You need a damned good kick up the ahse!


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