Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Will Chris Huhne Go the Way of Bertie Ahern?

Grainne Carruth was Bertie Ahern’s secretary, the Irish PM had been dogged by corruption scandals and allegations that he had for many years been taking bribes from property tycoons. Nothing ever stuck to him, investigations and tribunals were overcome. He became known as the “Teflon Taoiseach”.

The press suspected he was guilty of more than just sharp practice, but the voters tolerated it as the economy bubbled. That was until his secretary under cross-examination had a nightmare time in the witness box as bank records were produced to contradict her sworn evidence that she had not lodged cash for Mr Ahern while serving as his constituency assistant. She had earlier supported Ahern’s testimony, when confronted with bank records which flatly contradicted him she broke down in tears saying plaintively: “I just want to go home.”

The widespread suspicion that Ahern had something to hide, and had sent in an employee to carry the can for him, led to a surge of public feeling against him. He was finished, Irish voters would tolerate a politician who was a bit “cute”, but not a bastard who would put his constituency assistant on the stand to lie for him. Something for Chris Huhne to reflect on…

+ + + Laws Guilty + + +

David Laws has been found guilty of six breaches of expenses rules by Commissioner for Standards. He can breath a sigh of relief that the case was shown to the coppers who did not decide to prosecute, but it’s not looking good with Parliament.

Nicholas Cecil at the Standard has more details:

“The suggestion is there were six breaches.They are understood to include breaking regulations on claims for a second home, statements made to the Commons authorities, renting property from a partner and other issues.”

That Cabinet return is looking bleak. Developing…

UPDATE: The Standards and Privaleges Committee is meeting right about now and will report back later in the week. For comparison Jacqui Smith did not get suspended, did not have to pay the money back and merely had to apologise to the House when she fiddled over £100,000.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Quote of the Day

The Commons Administration Committee rules…

“The Committee agreed to recommend that passes should not be provided to former Members convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a year or more in prison.”

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Justice Day

Back in 2009 eagle-eyed Scottish journalist Paul Hutcheon, who is the investigations man at The Herald, cornered Labour’s Jim Devine. His dodgy receipts, VAT numbers and mystery shelving reeked. As the expenses scandal progressed, The Sunlight Centre saw an opportunity to further the exposé and reported Devine to the Met. This morning he is facing a lengthy spell at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Devine didn’t exactly help his cause before the trial:

It’s taken time, but justice looks set to be served at the Old Bailey – jail for stealing from the taxpayer. Law makers can not be law breakers and should be treated harshly in view of their position of power.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Den Dover For Your Punishment

Former Tory MP, MEP and Chief Whip in the European Parliament, Den Dover, has been ordered by the European Court of Justice to repay £345,289 in expenses. However, an ECJ ruling said “only” £421,156 was justifiable. The Brussels system has only ensured partial justice – it still allows huge amounts of money to be paid to office workers. Or in Dirty Den’s case, his family members.

UPDATE: Dover now faces an investigation by Olaf, the EU’s anti-fraud agency with the possibility of criminal charges.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

+ + + Chaytor Loses Appeal + + +

James Sturman, convicted fraudster and ex-MP David Chaytor’s QC, argued in the Court of Appeal yesterday that he could not receive a fair trial because of media scrutiny. The briefed claimed that the 18 month sentence failed to take into account the public vilification Chaytor had been subjected to in some quarters of the media, and particularly in the blogosphere.“Calls for his death, pictures of him mocked up being hung – it really was quite a horrendous time” said the silk.

The judge didn’t agree and refused to reduce the thieving bastard’s sentence. Oink oink!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Scandal is Back

From behind the pay-wall, the seasoned Sunday Times stingers have blown the doors off three cases of old-fashioned bribery in the European Parliament. Despite scalping one MEP from Austria, there has been very little follow-up. The ease at which these Members were willing to table amendments for cash and the channels by which they were paid, point to systematic and wide-spread corruption. As Dan Hannan said, Labour’s own Cash for Amendments scandal pales in comparison and this blows the duck house out of the water. However there is the inevitable “it’s just Europe” dearth of coverage.

Closer to home we learn that MPs here are to have IPSA’s rules relaxed. Claiming for second homes again if you a London MP? Why not! Also Illsley could be out in eight weeks and guess what, government plans to freeze MPs pay is facing a backbench rebellion. All very new politics.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The MacShane Mystery

Denis MacShane found no sympathy from the Labour hierarchy when it was announced that the Met was investigating his rather controversial expenses claims. He instantly had the whip removed and was hung out to dry. However that was the last we heard…

Since then he has slowly crept back closer and closer to the central hub of Labour MPs in the House and was sitting comfortably this afternoon with Chuka Umunna, Chris Byrant and Rachel Reeves. If he has been suspended, why do his former colleagues at best turn a blind eye, or at worst keep him in the fold despite the fact he has disgraced himself? It’s been over five months since his file was passed to the CPS…

Will Labour still be so welcoming if he goes to trial?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Troughing Tory Peer Plea Due

The second Tory peer charged with fiddling his expenses is due to enter his plea this morning at the Old Bailey. Paul White, the one time leader of Essex County Council said the claims for overnight stays in London, despite written evidence that he had travelled back to Essex, were in “good faith”. Like his fellow Tory Lord Taylor, Hanningfield  is expected to plead not guilty, so we will have to see what twelve honest men say about that…

UPDATE: Hanningfield was a no show, no plea entered. Trial in May at Southwark. Oink oink…

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Above the Laws

Ever since he walked in May, a David Laws imminent return story has been the mark of a slow news day, however this one is different – there is actually some detail.

The Mail and the Indy have been tipped off to Nick Clegg’s private talks with David Laws about the possibility of a return to a new “Mr Fix-It” position in the Cabinet Office, which would avoid the need for a reshuffle.

A fixer is much needed, but it’s almost as if the coalition big-wigs have decided he is innocent before the Standards and Privileges Committee has made a determination. What about due process? A cynic might think there is an establishment stitch-up going on to clear someone who paid his boyfriend £40,000 of taxpayers’ money, other MPs have gone to jail for less.  Laws has been under investigation for nearly ten months. If it was all so innocuous, why has the inquiry taken so long?

UPDATE: Latest betting on the return of Laws here.


Seen Elsewhere

A Bold Plan to Reform Welfare | Ruth Porter
Clinton’s Busty Mistress Nicknamed ‘Energizer’ | Mail
Photo Analysis of Miliband’s Obama Visit | Buzzfeed
Dave Shouldn’t Have Moved Gove | Michael Howard
Bercow’s Nightmare | Alex Wickham
Miliband Abandons Britain to Meet Obama | Sun
Tequila-Quaffing Chat Show Plonker Clegg | Quentin Letts
Pragmatists v Romantics | Rachel Sylvester
I’m Sorry | Colin Brazier
Blair Was a Gradualist Prime Minister | Janan Ganesh
Why Blair Will Worry Ed | Steve Richards


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Owen Paterson lifts the lid on the Green Blob:

“I received more death threats in a few months at Defra than I ever did as secretary of state for Northern Ireland.”



Flight Watch says:

Russia Today is a cauldron of bullsh*t. The only people that take it seriously are deluded conspiracy theorists. Other RT journos have resigned citing the same reasons.

It’s about as believable as Press TV, KCNA of North Korea or the Daily Mirror.


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