Monday, June 6, 2011

Up Pops Pryce

Invited on to the Daily Politics as one of the signatories to the B-Team’s Observer letter, Vicky Pryce, aka the former Mrs Huhne to be, had to quickly point out that she hadn’t actually signed the letter. Though the researchers can be forgiven, she seems to be changing her mind all the time about what she may or may not have signed.

As with Sky News yesterday, Pryce insisted on a wall of silence regarding the current police investigation that she triggered, a deal of which her husband can only dream. She instead choose to give dire warnings about  his government’s spending plans.

Guido isn’t sure she’s going to have as much success playing the ball instead of the man.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Huhne’s Evidence Confusion

Chris Huhne said last night that he looked forward to the Electoral Commission rejecting the expenses complaint “as roundly as the last one”. Guido isn’t sure the Secretary of State gets how this whole evidence thing works. This should trigger an inquiry to dredge up his entire campaign spending, including invoices to and from his friendly but secretive printers “The Itchen Valley Print Society”, conveniently run out of his constituency office.

Talking of evidence, Guido has yet to coax a comment out of Essex police on whether or not they intend to get, or are getting, a Court Order against the Sunday Times (and possibly the Mail on Sunday) for the signed undertaking in which Vicky Pryce is thought to say she will stand by the allegations she put to the paper if it ended up in court. If the police don’t get a copy of that undertaking, they can hardly have carried out a full investigation. Guido has reason to expect them to apply for a Court Order imminently…

If the stories circulating that the Huhnes’ kids have mediated the parental feud are true, and neither of them are being entirely helpful to the police, their silence or faulty memory won’t save Huhne if the evidence stacks up. “No comment” is the official line from Essex Police on matters that “could or maybe aid the case”.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Quote of the Day

Exclusive: Electoral Commission Launches Huhne Review

The LibDem blogosphere whipped itself up into a sandal-throwing tantrum of self-righteous fury when the Sunlight Centre reported Chris Huhne to the Electoral Commission last week, regarding his election expenses. “Nothing to see here” was the line crafted by yellow-blog chief Mark Pack and fed down the line. In rowed various vicious weirdie-beardies attempting to debunk the complaint and whine that a dead horse was being flogged…

Well today the Electoral Commission have announced that they are launching an official case review into Huhne on the back of the same said complaint. Unlike a rejected complaint last week, the Commission believes that this time there is evidence of possible offences under the Representation of the Peoples Act 1983. They have decided further assessment is needed and will report on the 24th August. Looks like there is something to see here after all Mr Pack…

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.


Seen Elsewhere

UKIP Mosque Confusion | The Week
Let’s Ban the Word Internet | Padraig Reidy
Are the Broadcasters Ready For the Election? | Specccie
Moral Bankruptcy of the BBC | David Keighley
UKIP’s ‘Starsky and Hutch’ | Total Politics
Innocent Sun Journo Just Doing Her Job | Sun
Boris Sent Up North | Times
The Only Way to Mend the EU | Leo McKinstry
Northern Labour Tearing Party Apart | David Aaronovitch
Osborne is Son of Brown | Peter Oborne
Uber Needs to Mind Its Manners | CapX


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Tony Blair threatens Ed:

“If you had a strong political lead that was combining the politics of aspiration with the politics of compassion, I still think that’s where you could get a substantial majority…  If I ever do an interview on [the state of the Labour Party], it will have to be at length…”



Left on Left says:

The lefties are attacking because the panellist is a millionaire and lives in a London home worth upwards of two million. Someone had best tell them he’s called Ed Miliband.


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