Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Month of Sundays

It’s now been a month of Sunday paper hounding for Huhne. After four consecutive weeks he still limps on. The Mail says he refused to answer certain questions when asked by the police. It is your right to remain silent for fear of incriminating yourself.

GPS tells us that Vicky Pryce could not in all likelihood have gone from a dinner in London to Stansted airport to collect her husband, and back to the M11 southbound speed camera before 11.34…

The speed camera is said to have caught a car with the number plate H11 HNE at 11.23.

Guido understands that if the police got a Court Order against the Sunday Times they would obtain interesting evidence. Though other papers suggest it could be couple of weeks yet, intriguingly the Indy, who are no enemy of Huhne, say a file will go to the CPS this week. Even without answers from the couple, the evidence is piling up, trial by media is at an end…

Friday, May 27, 2011

Crick Debunks Huhne’s Telegraph Spin

Regarding the Telegraph’s report this morning that Vicky Pryce had not co-operated with the police,  Huhne has briefed their crime correspondent, Mark Hughes, that he doesn’t think his estranged wife pulled the trigger:

“We have always thought that she was never going to make that allegation. But we didn’t know what she was going to do, she had made the allegation to the press, how did we know what she was going to say to the police? I think the phrase that has been used is that her allegations were to wound not to kill, because even if this all goes away she has still caused a huge storm. Chris is confident, but his confidence is not just because she hasn’t told the police anything, it comes from the fact that he hasn’t done anything.”

Enter stage right Newsnight’s Michael Crick with a comprehensive rebuttal of The Telegraph’s story. Crick says he has learnt:

Vicky Pryce is “irritated” by the report. “It’s rubbish that she’s not co-operating.” Ka-pow

Huhne’s car was photographed at around 11.20pm on the night in question, Huhne landed at nearby Stansted just under an hour before, while his wife was 40 miles away. Spin that.

As Guido said  there is evidence from Pryce to satisfy newspaper lawyers, according to Crick she has pledged to back up the papers in court if necessary. We might see this on Sunday. Boom.

Huhne’s Expenses Developments

The former LibDem councillors who recorded conversations about Huhne’s election expenses, and gave the transcript to the Mail, have just had their complaint that Huhne overspent last year rejected by the Electoral Commission. The figures given on the tape included general and local elections so there was no direct evidence of an overspend or that Huhne had any knowledge of it. Some costs can be split if the item is re-useable (as the agent says did in fact happen on tape), so only part of the cost gets declared. There was “no specific evidence that expenditure was under-reported.”

There were also allegations of undeclared donations, though it seems they were actually loans which had been properly declared to the Commission. Huhne has commented saying how grateful he is to the Commission for looking into this “quickly and thoroughly”. Though he should think twice before any sighs of relief…

Yesterday’s Sunlight Centre complaint did have specific expenditure details. Specifics that have led the Commission to say today that they are “urgently considering the allegations”, though due to depth, they will not be able to make the decision to launch a formal enquiry before the weekend.

Despite the protestations of LibDem bloggers, it seems that the Commission doesn’t share Mark Pack’s view thatthere is nothing to see here and hasn’t dismissed the allegations which he has spent the last two days trying to rubbish. Could it be because these same tricks are used by LibDems in other marginal constituencies…

Sources: Sunday Times & Mail on Sunday Have “Confession”

Guido understands that both the Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday have evidence that is not in the form of a “sworn affidavit” as was claimed yesterday by rivals the Telegraph. It is nevertheless evidence from Vicky Pryce that gave the respective papers’ lawyers confidence to allow them to assert that Chris Huhne perverted the course of justice. A serious charge…

Today in the Daily Telegraph the same journalist, Mark Hughes, claims a police source says Vicky Pryce did not confirm claims she has previously made about taking her husband’s penalty points. It was Mark Hughes however who made the claim about a “sworn affidavit” and wrote yesterday in the Telegraph that it was “the likelihood that Miss Pryce told detectives that she took penalty points on behalf of her former husband when she was interviewed on Tuesday.”  An about turn in 24 hours…

Given the existence of her evidence, if it is true that Vicky Pryce has declined to assist the police, the police will almost certainly obtain a Court Order for the evidence from the newspapers. Not long now...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Frontrunners to Replace Huhne

LibDems and civil servants are openly discussing when, not if, Huhne will be going. There is some logic to getting the mess out of the way before the weekend, and the country will be able to cope without a Climate Change Secretary for a couple of days. The two yellows in the lead to replace him in the Cabinet role seem to be Ed Davey, who has been invisible as a Business Minister, and Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne, who has been all over the TV whenever Hague is busy being briefed by MI6.

Both are Orange Bookers, though Browne is seen as more right-wing which will likely dent his chances for the soppy climate change brief. Obviously Laws is toxic and Guido understands that Sarah Teather has little chance of a promotion. 

Proceed With Caution

If the police had any suspicion that Chris Huhne might have charges brought against him, they are legally obliged to caution him and read him his rights. Now that Press Association have picked up on this morning’s Mail story, presumably independently verifying that the police have made contact with the Director of Public Prosecutions, it’s clear the police must have had a suspicion that Huhne might face charges when they grilled him at Belgravia Police Station for two and half hours on Tuesday.

Essex Police have so far refused to comment publicly whether they questioned him under cautioned, but as the week rolls on, it’s becoming pretty clear that they must have. A serving Cabinet minister is a suspect in a police investigation, how exactly is he meant to be doing his job properly? If he had any honour left he would step down immediately to fight the charges.

Vicky is Answering Questions

Hot on the revelation that Vicky Pryce has signed an affidavit confessing to have taken Chris Huhne’s points hacks may want to ask her a few follow-up questions. If so they should hurry on down to Stationer’s Hall in the City where she is on a panel at an economics conference  at 11.15. Chris Huhne is not answering questions – except to the police, even then he can’t remember the answer…

Huhne’s Local LibDems in a Panic

As Guido reported at the time, Chris Huhne’s Eastleigh LibDems met last night for an emergency meeting. They tried to spin it on the way out as a “scheduled local area committee”. Though local sources are adamant that such meetings are announced in advance and open to the public. They also don’t last for over two hours…

Guido understands that the two complaints to the Electoral Commission were top of the agenda, as was how long their local MP could survive at the centre of an ever growing media storm. Loyal councillor Chris Thomas was sent out to speak to the local media that had gathered, including a BBC camera crew. He was apparently very “relaxed” about the expenses allegations, but quick to attack the “underhanded” tactics of secretly recording meetings. Apparently Huhne is his “normal self” despite it all. As brazen and shifty as ever then…

One spinning loyalist however could not hide the fact that the rest of the councillors left the meeting “tight lipped and ashen faced”, looking “decidedly worried” and gazing down to avoid the questions shouted from the local press.

Anne Winstanley, Huhne’s ever silent election agent, was the last to leave, carefully avoiding the press by “running” into a car from a side door – in the manner of a US-style crook avoiding the “perp-walk” of shame. Guido understands she is not living at home at the moment in order to avoid a doorstepping.

This Huhne loyalist won’t be able to hide from the Electoral Commission forever though…

UPDATE : According to the Mail the Director of Public Prosecutions is set to rule on Huhne’s prosecution. In response to the Sunlight COPs submission to the Electoral Commission Huhne released a statement ‘I am satisfied that the declaration of election expenses has been checked thoroughly and is fully compliant with the rules.’ Never believe anything until it is officially denied…

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

+ + + Eastleigh LibDems Holding Emergency Meeting + + +

Guido has just heard they are holding an unscheduled meeting right now as we go to pixel. There is so much for Huhne’s local party to talk about this evening.  Their MP interviewed by the police over allegations that he perverted the course of justice. Accusations from former members of expenses fraud, new evidence provided to Electoral Commission about false declarations. Not long now methinks…

Second Complaint to Electoral Commission for Huhne

The Sunlight Centre has put in the following formal complaint to the Electoral Commission regarding Chris Huhne’s expenses. This comes on the back of the two LibDem councillors who blew the whistle on the murky affairs.

The Sunlight Centre for Open Politics has been looking into Huhne’s election returns for nearly a year. There are missing invoices, national irregularities, undeclared website costs and staffing holes.

Having been stonewalled on various occasions, Guido thinks they might be onto something with this one…


Seen Elsewhere

Labour’s Plan to Attack Part-Time Boris | Standard
Ex-Sun Hack Cleared After 582 Days on Bail | MediaGuido
11 Times Boris Denied He Would Stand for Parliament | Buzzfeed
Attacking UKIP’s Posters is Counter-Productive | Guardian
Sarkozy Tried it on With Hollande’s Ex | Times
Another Spare Room Subsidy Cut Success | Harry Phibbs
Rich Now Have Less Leisure Than Poor | Economist
UKIP’s Immigration Policy Promotes Migrant Entrepreneurs | Breitbart
Another Feminist Lecture | Laura Perrins
UKIP Posters Bad Economics But Good Politics | James Delingpole
Tories Losing to UKIP in Scotland | ConHome


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A confused Nick Griffin says Nigel Farage is a shill for the City, forgetting that City banks want to stay in the EU:

“Farage is a snake oil salesman, but a very good one. His supposed anti-immigration stance is all smoke and mirrors, as is his carefully cultivated image as a ‘man of the people’. The truth is that UKIP is a pro-immigration party that exists to lobby for the interests of the City of London.”



Alexrod says:

It’s money innit.


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