LibDems: Deceiving Here!

CLEGG-SPEND

On Wednesday evening Nick Clegg’s lawyers sent Guido a three-page letter demanding we take down our story Nick Clegg Cooked the Books for £17,652 or else they would sue. They also threatened The Telegraph for following up our story (who complied).

Subsequently Labour and Tory supporters in Sheffield Hallam have put in complaints to the police. Privately Labour suspect the true spend in Sheffield Hallam was over six figures – way in excess of the legal limits.

Last night we cited just one example of missing transport costs going undeclared. Zero transport costs were declared by Clegg, yet the party advertised that it would pay the travel and accommodation costs of activists in Sheffield Hallam. Having been caught red-handed, how could they spin this away? The LibDem press office claimed the transport costs did not need to be declared because they were individually below the threshold for declarations* (£50). Yet they admit that the payments totaled more than £50. deceiving+here

The LibDem press office imaginatively explained away the missing transport cost declarations by dividing the spend per capita and claiming it was therefore now below the threshold for declarations. This is just ridiculous. As Oliver Cooper pointed out:

Let’s see what a judge thinks of that…

UPDATE: *There is some suggestion (see the featured comment below) that even this is incorrect. The £50 registration threshold apparently applies to donations not expense declarations.

Clegg Failed to Declare Activist Travel Expenses

Nick Clegg did not declare travel expenses for activists who campaigned for him in his constituency, Guido can reveal. On May 2 2015, Clegg held an “Action Weekend” in Sheffield Hallam. Activists were told the event was specifically “to campaign with our amazing leader Nick Clegg”. There is no doubt this was constituency campaigning – the words “Sheffield Hallam” and “Nick Clegg” are in the invite. Activists had their transport costs paid for:

“Accommodation is FREE… We are giving up to £30 towards everyone’s travel costs – just book your travel and we will give you back the full cost up to £30!”

Here is the bombshell: Nick Clegg declared ZERO transport costs in his short campaign:

He also declared nothing for accommodation for activists. The LibDems paid for activists to travel to Nick Clegg’s constituency to campaign for him. This was demonstrably constituency spending. Yet Clegg did not declare their transport or accommodation costs. The police will want to look at this…

Police Receive Multiple Clegg Expenses Complaints

South Yorkshire police have this morning received multiple complaints from members of the public asking them to investigate Nick Clegg’s election spending. Yesterday we revealed how documents in Clegg’s own election return suggested his budget had been surpassed:

Clegg’s lawyers have been in touch to deny that he overspent in his Sheffield Hallam short campaign – they have also sent out threatening letters to newspapers. As with the other parties, the LibDems insist all spending was apportioned correctly to the local and national campaigns. So how do they explain the above document which says in black and white that the Sheffield Hallam budget was exceeded by £17,652?

They claim these figures were based on a budget which “mistakenly included template indicative figures” which “have no relevance whatsoever” to Clegg’s election expenses. Odd since they were filed in Clegg’s official election return. There is no denial that the monies were actually spent during the campaign. In their original official response to our questions, the LibDems made no mention of any “mistake” on their part.

Clegg’s position is that the budget discussed in this spreadsheet was a mistake on their behalf, and that these figures are not relevant. It does seem an odd thing for them to get so badly wrong. Labour sources in the constituency believe he overspent by a considerable sum more than so far revealed, judging by the amount they saw him throwing at the campaign. Clegg says it was all apportioned within the law. Either way, it’s in the hands of the police now…

REVEALED: How Nick Clegg Cooked the Books for £17,652

clegg

Guido can reveal that Nick Clegg overspent by £17,652 in his Sheffield Hallam short campaign, then cooked the books so his declarations came in under the limit. Clegg’s official declarations claim he spent £14,138.77 in his short campaign:

Yet a second internal budget schedule obtained by Guido reveals Clegg’s true expenditure in Sheffield Hallam. This bombshell document admits Clegg actually spent £36,852.89 in his Sheffield Hallam short campaign. Astonishingly, under the column headed “What you’ve got left”, the figure “- £17,652.89” appears. This is prima facie evidence that Clegg broke electoral law – Clegg overspent by over £17,000…

CLEGG2

Clegg disguised his overspend by declaring £14,120.31 of his Sheffield Hallam spending as part of the national campaign. His Election Address – which by statute, namely the Representation of the Peoples Act, explicitly states is for the local candidate’s spend only – was declared as part national spend. His vehicle hire, room hire and agent costs were all declared as national spend. A further £5,913.45 was then “offset” for local elections and future campaigns. This is classic cooking the books – the document we have obtained admits that in reality all this spending was part of the “Sheffield Hallam Short Campaign Budget”.

A LibDem spokesman says spending was apportioned correctly to the national and other local campaigns in Sheffield Hallam:

“The figure of £-17,652 that you refer to is the amount spent above an indicative figure in a draft template budget. It does not relate to spend over and above an election spend limit. Any claim or suggestion of an overspend on the constituency return is misleading and factually inaccurate… We are confident that all spend has been correctly attributed to the appropriate return.”

It’s there in black and white – “What you’ve got left: -£17,652.89” – that looks like the true figure to Guido…

Labour Activist Outs Cat Smith’s Campaign Manager

singleton2

If Labour MP Cat Smith had declared her campaign organiser’s full salary in her election expenses, she would have bust her limit and broken electoral law. Instead, she declared just 12.5% of Ben Singleton’s wage because she claims he spent just 12.5% of his time on her campaign. Yet the above tweet from a fellow Labour activist outs Singleton as the man “who managed her campaign”. Added to the vast social media evidence here, there can be no doubt now that Singleton was in charge. It is simply not believable that he spent just 12.5% of his time on her campaign. Falsely declaring it as such would be against the law…

Guido has tried to ask Singleton for an explanation, but his phone is off and his email bounced back. He has also hidden his tweets from public view. This is now the key part of a live police investigation, so perhaps that’s why he doesn’t want to talk. Remember, Smith would have been over the spending limit if Singleton’s full salary had been declared. Cat got your tongue?

Khan’s £105,000-a-Year Aide Never Worked Outside Politics

jack stenner

Jack Stenner is Sadiq Khan’s new Mayoral Director for Political and Public Affairs, paid £105,893-a-year by the taxpayer. Young Jack is just 28 years old, so he has done remarkably well to land a six figure publicly-funded salary. Especially since he’s never worked outside of politics…

Stenner’s CV would make Andy Burnham blush:

2006-2009: Queen Mary University of London, Politics

2009-2010: Communications manager, Barry Gardiner MP

2010: Field team, Ed Miliband for Leader campaign

2010: Campaign manager, Yes to AV campaign

2011-2012: Director, Labour Friends of India

2012-2013: Head of Leader’s Office, Brent Council

2013-2015: Political adviser, Sadiq Khan

2015-2016: Political director, Sadiq for London campaign

2016: Mayoral Director for Political and Public Affairs

Every single job he’s had out of uni has been in politics. He now has one of the four most powerful jobs in City Hall. What’s the betting he’s parachuted into a safe seat in 2020…

Cat Smith Expenses Cover Up

A very interesting development for the police investigating Labour MP Cat Smith’s election expenses. Cat claimed her election organiser spent just 12.5% of his time on her campaign – she would have bust her spending limit if his entire salary had been declared. So the cops will be intrigued to learn that, since Guido’s story, Smith’s organiser Ben Singleton has ‘protected’ his tweets. Something to hide, Ben?

singleton

Why might Singleton want his tweets kept secret? Well, Guido looked through his posts. During the election he tweeted exclusively about Smith, and not about any other candidates. This would suggest he spent a lot more than 12.5% of his time campaigning for her. As you can see below, Singleton appeared time and time again in tweets and photos relating to Smith’s local campaign:

ben singleton compilation

 

What’s more, Singleton’s public Facebook activity from the election is almost entirely devoted to Cat Smith, and not any other candidates:

ben

From the evidence available, it simply isn’t believable that Singleton spent just 12.5% of his time on Smith’s campaign. He was her devoted organiser. If Smith had declared his true salary accordingly, she would have bust her limit. Singleton suddenly hiding his tweets from public view shows they are on the run…

Jim Shannon Ordered to Repay £14,000 Expenses

shannon

A hugely damning verdict from IPSA following their investigation into the expenses of DUP MP Jim Shannon. He has been ordered to pay back a massive £14,000 in staff mileage claims. Some choice findings:

“The records kept by the MP’s office are completely inadequate and make it impossible to conduct a viable external audit of the activities undertaken”

“The methods for the submission and collation of mileage claims by individual staff members are equally woeful.”

“the current situation is unsustainable, and Mr Shannon must engage with IPSA with a view to conducting a fundamental review of his constituency office management”

Read the findings hereAbout as harsh a condemnation as IPSA ever give…

Police Investigating Tessa Munt Election Expenses

Avon and Somerset Police have received several complaints about ex-LibDem MP Tessa Munt following Guido’s story on her election expenses. Munt, who hypocritically attacked the Tories over their spending declarations, herself failed to declare a battle bus which campaigned in her constituency.[…] Read the rest

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Eddie Izzard’s Hotel Bills Not Lawfully Declared

Eddie Izzard Alex Sobel Leeds Labour

On Sunday the Labour Party told Channel 4 News that they “never spent any mone y putting volunteers up in hotels during tours” in the general election. Channel 4 reported that “so far no evidence has emerged to contradict them”.[…] Read the rest

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Political Party Richlist

January Loans Graph merged

2016’s first quarter saw a bumper month for parties vying for local election funds, with the Tories raising £6,744,212 and Labour £5,486,345. This represents around 50% less than last year for both major parties in the same period (the larger ammount is to be expected in election year).[…] Read the rest

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Munt Admits She Didn’t Declare Local Campaign Transport

Tessa Munt has confirmed to Guido she did not declare any battle bus costs in her local spend, telling us: “Nothing to declare! Leader’s bus different from activists bus all expenses paid.” The Electoral Commission however say that the a party leader’s transport costs, if used for local campaigning, should be split between the local and national spend.[…] Read the rest

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“Cheated” LibDem Pictured Campaigning on Battle Bus

“My constituents should feel cheated,” whinged beaten ex-LibDem MP Tessa Munt to the BBC about the Tory election expenses scandal. The sore loser went even further on her Facebook page:

“The new Tory MP seems to have cheated the people of the Wells Constituency of a fair and just election result last May. 

[…] Read the rest

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Christine Hamilton Hired on the Public Payroll

hamilton

UKIP’s new group leader in Wales Neil Hamilton is wasting no time in making the most of his new gig. Guido can reveal he has already hired his wife Christine as his new assistant on the public payroll. No doubt after a full and open recruitment process…

Neil tells Guido:

“It is true I will be employing Christine.

[…] Read the rest

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Osborne Missed Borrowing Target By Even More Than Previously Thought

OSBORNE MISSES TARGETS

Revised ONS data shows public sector net borrowing was £76 billion in the last financial year, £2 billion more than previously thought. Osborne had forecast £72.2 billion of borrowing for the last year and was reported to have missed his target by £1.8 billion back in April.[…] Read the rest

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Police Investigating Shadow Minister Over Election Expenses

Detectives have launched an investigation into shadow minister Cat Smith after Guido revealed a string of anomalies in her election expenses. Last week we reported that several thousand pounds were missing from the Labour MP’s spending declarations. Smith herself refused to comment, though her election agent denied wrongdoing.[…] Read the rest

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