Bus-ted: Tories Admit Dodgy Election Expenses

battlebus

The outrageous expense fiddling in South Thanet revealed by Channel 4 earlier this year led to a full blown Electoral Commission investigation. While previously the Tories have denied any knowledge of wrongdoing, a new investigation by Channel 4 has prompted the party to come clean over the £38,000 cost of accommodation for Battlebus activists:

” As is apparent from our National Return, the Party declared expenditure related to our CCHQ-organised Battlebus.

However, due to administrative error it omitted to declare the accommodation costs of those using the vehicles. This is something we have already brought to the attention of the Electoral Commission in order to amend the return.  

The Party always took the view that our national Battlebus, a highly-publicised campaign activity, was part of the National Return – and we would have no reason not to declare it as such, given that the Party was some millions below the national spending threshold. Other political parties ran similar vehicles which visited different Parliamentary constituencies as part of their national campaigning.”

If the Conservatives are found to have paid the hotel bills for Battlebus campaigners on locally focussed campaigns, then not declaring the accommodation could constitute a criminal offence. Channel 4’s investigation is set to air on the news tonight. Guido will be watching…

IPSA: MPs Can Use Expenses to Campaign on Referendum

expenses

Cameron has imposed strict rules on the campaign activities of ministers and SpAds during the referendum, and CCHQ have banned Tory associations from using party resources to campaign for Leave. So Eurosceptic MPs are delighted with a ruling by IPSA last night allowing them to use their office and business costs to campaign on the referendum. The expenses watchdog says MPs’ staff, office resources, websites and casework capacity may be used for campaigning:

“Our approach to MPs’ claims for costs and expenses relating to the EU referendum will be, in essence, no different to claims relating to MPs expressing their views or attending events relating to, for example, the environment. It is a cross-party matter of great importance to the future of the United Kingdom, and, therefore MPs will be expected by their constituents to have a view on the matter and to be making arguments either for remaining or for leaving.”

The only exception will be leaflet production, which remains prohibited. In light of the strict rules imposed on them by their government and party, Eurosceptic Tory MPs are delighted with the ruling. They see it as “game on”. It does of course also mean yet more taxpayer money will be spent on the Remain campaign too…

MPs Send £1 Million of Expenses Offshore

Over £1 million of taxpayers’ money has been diverted to offshore property companies through the MPs’ expenses system. In 2012-13, 13 MPs were paying rent expenses for properties in the luxury riverside Dolphin Square complex, made famous as the home of coke-snorting Lords (and worse).

Records show MPs including top Corbyn allies Steve Rotheram, Nic Dakin and Shabana Mahmood paid the expenses cash to subsidiaries of Westbrook Dolphin Square Ltd. This is a network of 612 companies which own two flats each in Dolphin Square. All 612 companies are registered in Jersey…

Tory MP Jonathan Evans meanwhile paid rent expenses to Abal Establishment, a property company with offices in London but which is registered in the tax haven of Lichtenstein:

Overall in 2012-13 MPs sent over £230,000 of taxpayer cash to tax-avoiding offshore property companies. Extrapolating these figures means over the course of the last parliament well over £1 million of your money was sent offshore so MPs could live it up in London…

Danczuk Told to Pay Back £11,500

The report by IPSA’s compliance officer into Simon Danczuk’s expenses finds:

The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that the MP obtained an increase to his Accommodation Expenditure budget by claiming dependant uplifts for his two oldest children for a period of over three years, when, at no point were either of the children routinely resident. The Compliance Officer must also conclude that this was done knowing that there was no reasonable prospect of the children staying at the accommodation. The total claimed by the MP in breach of the Scheme and which he is required to repay is £11,583.20.

Simon says:

“I hold my hands up and admit that this was an error on my part.”

Developing…

SNP MP Puts Luxury Jermyn Street Shirts on Expenses

BOSWELL SHIRTS

Walking expenses catastrophe Phil Boswell tried to claim £136.95 worth of luxury shirts on expenses just four days after being elected. The SNP MP attempted to bill the taxpayer £29.95 for items from high-end Jermyn Street tailor TM Lewin, £59 for a single shirt and £48 for clothing from Next. Why? The claims were made due to “lost luggage” and were filed on the 12th and 13th of May. IPSA told him to get lost and refused to accept the claims. Just four days in parliament and he was already on the take…

Of course Boswell already faces two investigations into allegations that he has been abusing expenses and failing to register financial interests. His past form also includes an £450 claim for a series of YouTube videos watched just 650 times. Guido wants to know if he ever got his luggage back…

Electoral Commission: We Can’t Stop Expense Fiddles

Crick Electoral

The impotent Electoral Commission have pleaded for greater authority to investigate election spending fiddles in the wake of the Tory overspend exposed by Michael Crick:

“The Electoral Commission has called again today for greater fairness and clarity around the current regulatory framework for candidates at elections. The law currently stops short of giving the Commission the power to enforce candidates’ spending rules and only the police can investigate if there’s a problem. It’s time to end that anomaly and give us the power to investigate and sanction.”

So they are effectively saying they can do nothing as the current rules stand. Does this mean the Tories have got away with it?

Crick Reveals More Tory Expense Fiddles

Channel 4 News last night exposed more allegations about Tory overspending in South Thanet. Michael Crick’s investigation revealed:

  • More hotels booked that were not declared.
  • CCHQ Campaign Specialist Marion Little personally booked hotel rooms in her name, registered to her home adress in Hertfordshire.
  • Allegedly over 770 nights of hotel room bookings made, covering all three by-elections, were linked to Little.
  • An email in which Little coordinated moving equipment and activists between undeclared hotels.
  • The Tories legal agent for the whole campaign, Victoria Goff, signed off on an election declaration that omitted hotel overspends. This is despite her staying in a room at one of the undeclared hotels.
  • Local Conservatives working for the Tories in Clacton have now demanded an inquiry into potentially illegal by-election spending.

That’s plenty for the Electoral Commission to investigate then…

Third MP in Two Months Facing Expenses Probe

IPSA say they are investigating loud mouth SNP MP Phil Boswell over expenses irregularities:

The Compliance Officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has opened an investigation to determine whether Mr Phil Boswell MP has been paid an amount under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’) that should not have been allowed. An investigation will be conducted into claims submitted under the following areas of the Scheme:

Office Costs Expenditure

In accordance with the legislation and the procedures for investigation made thereunder, no further information will be published until the investigation has been concluded.

Boswell is the third MP to face an expenses investigation in the first two months of 2016, following Jim Shannon and Simon Danczuk. Two MPs have also been referred to the police, yet their constituents are barred from knowing their identities. They still don’t get it.

How Tories Hid Hotel and Transport Bills in Newark

Guido can shed some more light on how the Tories hid their by-election hotel bills in Newark. On 31 May 2014, over 350 young Tories boarded coaches and minibuses up to Newark for a day of campaigning. At the end […]

+ READ MORE +

IPSA Launch Danczuk Probe

The expenses watchdog IPSA say in a statement:

“The Compliance Officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has opened an investigation to determine whether Mr Simon Danczuk MP has been paid an amount under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs

[…]

+ READ MORE +

SNP Expenses Crusader Employs His Own Wife

SNP Nepotism

Who would have thought SNP MP George Kerevan’s crusade against expenses abuses would turn out to be complete pish? Kerevan was elected last year on a ticket to clean up Westminster and fight greedy MPs:

“I don’t think Westminster MPs

[…]

+ READ MORE +

“Sh***ing All Over the Working Class” Labour MP Charged Taxpayer For Whirlpool Bath

Corbynista MP Dawn Butler indulged us with the “new, kinder politics” at PMQs:

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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