Friday, August 13, 2010

Tory Taylor Tipped for Trial

Lord Taylor of Warwick is due at Westminster Magistrates Court today on six charges of dodgy accounting. Though a barrister, he is going to find it hard to wriggle out of charges of claiming expenses for living outside of London when that seemingly wasn’t true. Mysteriously the addresses he claimed he lived in don’t really check out. If it wasn’t for eagle-eyed co-conspirators, Taylor would probably have some role in government right now.  

As with the investigation into Jim Devine, he would have got away with if it wasn’t for those pesky bloggers…

UPDATE 14.19: Taylor pleads not guilty and is remanded on bail until 17th September.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Huhne’s Park Communications Confusion

The Sunlight Centre for Open Politics has been sniffing around Chris Huhne’s election expenses and despite asking very nicely, they are not getting any reply from him. Now Guido knows the multi-millionaire gold-mining, horizontal jogging Secretary of State for Energy and the Environment has other things on his mind, but it appears there are some serious questions involving some interesting invoicing practices, possibly designed to hide the true cost of printing.

You can read some of the background to the Sunlight Centre’s investigation here, but essentially the invoices for Huhne’s leaflets are from the “Itchen Valley Printing Society”, who mysteriously share his constituency office. The  produced material however was in reality printed by Park Communications Limited. Park is an interesting organisation that is very, very close to the Liberal Democrats – their chief exec hosts events with the head of the LibDem campaigns department. Through various holding accounts, the money it makes from a host of LibDem candidates ends up offshore in Guernsey.

Perhaps if Chris Huhne could find a moment over the weekend he might want to clear this little matter up. Or maybe he would like to go on Channel4 News and chat about it with Jon Snow…

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Friends in Nye Places

So Gordon made it along to Westminster to watch old Sue become Baroness Nye of Lambeth. Gordon’s newly domiciled dodgy donor Lord Paul even managed to put in a rare appearance in the Lords. As gatekeeper Sue would have had a lot of responsibility dealing with the hundreds of thousands of pounds Paul took from the pension funds of his steel conglomerate and threw Gordon’s way. Guido imagines he will be buying the drinks later, although his other close friend, Sarah Brown, won’t be joining the party… When Gordon comes down to London from Scotland, She’s goes from London to Scotland on a mystery “mini-break”.

UPDATE: Jon Craig had a view of Gordon:

…there he was, standing bolt upright and staring straight ahead at Sue, no smile, the sort of serious expression he used to display at the Cenotaph on Rembembrance Sunday. Once Sue had signed in, I ran downstairs to the Peers’ Lobby to see if I might bump into him and grab a word. But I failed. He had left the Lords chamber by a side door and I was thwarted. So, now I know he’s on the premises, will he turn up – and perhaps even speak – in the third reading debate on the Finance Bill?

Guido isn’t holding his breath…

Friday, July 16, 2010

+ + + Breaking: Lord Taylor Charged with False Accounting + + +

Troughing Tory peer Lord Taylor of Warwick has been charged for claiming expenses in relation to a house he didn’t own.

Having been brought down by a blogger he’s now on his own, out of the party and in the dock. He’s accused of fiddling the second home allowance by claiming to have spent six years living at the former home of his dead mother.

Developing…

Friday, July 9, 2010

Miliband’s Own Donors Don’t Believe in Him

David Miliband proudly published his formidable donors list on his website yesterday. Intriguingly the law firm Mishcon de Reya have given the favourite in the race £13,077 through a donation-in-kind of legal services. This strikes an odd note given David’s less than amiable relationship with said law firm previously.

Last year John Jackson, Mishcon’s chairman,  accused the then Foreign Secretary of a breach of the rule of law over the case of the tortured terrorist suspect Binyam Mohamed. For someone now providing valuable support through his firm, he has certainly changed his tune. Jackson wrote:

“The Foreign Secretary has, apparently, said that the judges were mistaken and that at no time did US authorities make the threats set out in the judgement. This is said to have been confirmed by very senior U.S. spokespeople. If the judges were mistaken what, precisely, was the basis of the Foreign Secretary’s Immunity Certificate? And, come to think of it, why is he the Minister concerned with intelligence sharing? This is beginning to look like the proverbial can of worms.

Three days later the donor went even further and hinted that Miliband was not being entirely straight regarding whether the US threatened British authorities about the case:

“David Miliband now claims the US authorities did not make threats in relation to the sharing of intelligence information and that he had not raised this aspect of the BM case with colleagues in the US since the inauguration of President Obama. This is so astonishing as to defy belief when placed next to what the Divisional Court said in its last judgement published last Wednesday

David Miliband’s own brother doesn’t think he is the best man for the job, and even those who are throwing money at him seem to doubt his honesty. When both blood and money question the man, eyebrows are inevitably raised. If they don’t trust him, why should anyone else? What changed Jackson’s mind about David Miliband? Why the cash? What was promised?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pervy Porn Councillors Quit

Scandal looks set to rock Kensington and Chelsea Council as two Tory councillors have just quit following the circulation of, err, extremely inappropriate material, via their council email accounts. All sorts of rumours are flying around about Cllr’s Barry “filthy” Phelps and Mark Daley, to the extent that careful ConHome have shut down their comments on the thread that broke the news.

Apparently due to the “sensitivity” of the darker reasons behind the resignations…

UPDATE: The emails sent. Not porn, but weird and disgusting.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday Sleaze

Sunday Sleaze

A pretty quiet round of Sunday’s. Labour’s Frank Cook is the latest MP to feel the heat of the Telegraph’s rehashed expenses attack. The story was worth printing just for the headline, but as Dale points out these two have history. Allegedly he has been double claiming on receipts. Such dodgy accounting practices have left other Labour members in the dock…

Over in Hampshire, Caroline Nokes is facing a bit of local difficulties as moves are afoot in her Romsey constituency to have her deselected after her trysts and affairs with toy-boys have been splashed across the papers and the internet. “Shagger” is already feeling the direct influence of the local anger according to the Mail. She hasn’t been invited to the summer fête.

More dangerously for Nokes an anonymous letter writing campaign is gathering pace. Heaven knows what would happen if a certain no-holds-barred video was to appear online…

Monday, June 28, 2010

Up in Arms: Back Again Despite Being Twice Stripped of Pass,
Loophole Lets Lobbyist Back into Parliament for Third Time


On first impression the aims of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces - “to promote in Parliament better understanding of the UK’s armed forces, and their objectives and activities” - seem reasonable. Alarm bells start to ring when you look at the make-up of this particular cross-party group. Any organisation that has Lord “Cash for Influence” Moonie as its treasurer needs investigating…

So far all the group seems to have done is get some army officers drunk on the Common’s terrace. They deserve a beer you might say, but when you look at who is organising this whole jolly grouping, the true purpose of it all comes into question. The first meeting “agreed that the offer of the UK Defence Forum to provide support for the APPG and single service groups within it be accepted (subject to appropriate disclosures in the Register of Interests).” Now what would a group funded by a bunch of weapons contractors have to gain from pouring money into such a group, eh?

The background of the employee brought in to organise the APPG is laughable. Robin Ashby was subject of an exposé in the Indy two years ago. It was revealed this defence lobbyist had a pass sponsored by a LibDem peer. He was subsequently stripped of the pass. That didn’t stop him getting another one from Lord “Cash for Influence” Moonie in 2009. Again this was exposed, this time by the Telegraph and for a second time he was stripped of that pass. He now has a third pass, this time through the back door of an APPG of which Lord Moonie holds the purse strings.

Ashby runs the defence industry funded UK Defence Forum and owns lobbying firm Bergmans.* Bergmans, according to the Indy, do work “on behalf of more than a dozen large defence and aerospace companies including BAE Systems, Northern Defence Industries, UK Defence Forum, Boeing and Rolls-Royce, which has been criticised for its past links to the Burmese regime.” A nice bunch, and just the man we want mingling with law-makers.

In his secretarial role to the Armed Forces APPG, Ashby has been given a third new parliamentary pass and email address, and is once again free to roam the corridors of power and take full advantage of the parliamentary hospitality and entertainment, for himself and his clients. So embedded is Ashby that this morning he even signed off emails on behalf of an MP.  In what way does the group’s chairman James Gray think it acceptable to grant this arms lobbyist, who has twice before been stripped of passes, unfettered access to MPs and Lords when the rules about this are so clear?

UPDATE : Just got off the phone with Robin Ashby. He says he is more of a hobbyist than a lobbyist, his hobby being the UK defence industry which doesn’t pay him much more than expenses. He claims he is basically semi-retired, with an office and a staffer. The Millbank, Brussels and Washington office addresses on his website are all “rubbish” he says.  When Guido pointed out the obvious commercial advantages of having a parliamentary pass for someone who offers a parliamentary monitoring service he said he does that all online. All clear?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Here We Yeo Again

Tim Yeo is Chairman of Univent plc, on the board of Eurotunnel and the non-executive chairman of both Eco City Vehicles plc and AFC Energy plc. In his spare time he is an MP.

Yeo came to Guido’s attention back in Feburary when the Parliamentary Room Bookings records were released showing how green-fingered Tim had opened up the parliamentary estate to prospective investors in green technology firms. You may remember what happened when he was confronted about his mixing of politics and business live on Newsnight:

MPs are electing the Chairman of Select Committees for the first time. These vital scrutineers must hold ministers to account. Guess who is front-runner to take Energy and Climate Change? Step forward Tim Yeo.

Yeo’s dealings with AFC Energy are particularly interesting. As Guido reported before;

At the time AFC Energy plc were raising £2 million from  environmental investors, and for each of the following five months AFC Energy paid Tim Yeo £3,750 a month (up to a total of £18,750) until in December when they succeeded in raising the £2m they were seeking from environmental investors in a share placing.  Tim also got a bonus when the shares were placed with investors of 150,000 shares for his work.  All in all he made a total of some £80,000 out of the AFC deal from July when he hosted the Environmental Investment Network event until December when they sold the shares to investors.

MPs look set to elect a man completely tied up with an industry that he would be responsible for the checks and balances on. He would need cross party support to get the job. Perhaps members might like to take another look at their favoured candidate.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Danny Alexander’s SpAd Ordered to Pay Back Expenses

Sunday Sleaze

The former LibDem MP for Dunfermline, Willie Rennie, abused his constituency expenses and has been ordered to pay back £2,647 wrongly claimed from his Incidental Expenses Provision after the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon found he had over- claimed for office costs.

Despite this Danny “Beaker” Alexander (pictured) the newly appointed Chief-Secretary to the Treasury, has given Rennie a job as his SpAd after he lost his seat to Labour in the general election.  Willie Rennie was using a scam widespread amongst LibDem MPs, renting his constituency office off his local LibDem constituency party and shifting his campaign costs onto his parliamentary expenses. It is usually difficult to prove, Rennie was unlucky to get caught, it was only that his campaign team made canvassing telephone calls to Labour activists from a phone number paid for out of parliamentary funds that also appeared on his party letterhead that did for him.

Willie Rennie (pictured here after his famous 2006 by-election victory) was according to a report by Campbell Gunn in the Scottish Sunday Post (not online) renting the office space off his party, which meant that Commons expenses cash was going directly into the local LibDem coffers.  Effectively the local LibDem party was his landlord and taxpayers’ money was being used for LibDem campaigning. Not a frugal sign from the right-hand-man of a Chief Secretary charged with cutting public expenditure.

This scam is widespread among LibDem MPs and unofficially it is Cowley Street’s policy to manipulate the Commons expenses regime in this way.  When Guy News reported that Sarah Teather abused the system in the same way she sent lawyer’s letters demanding a retraction and threatening legal action.

Guido refused to back off and still stands by the story…


Seen Elsewhere

Users of Gay Hook-Up App Grindr Infected | TechnoGuido
ISIS Raising Funds Online Using Bitcoin | TechnoGuido
UKIP’s Youth Challenge | BBC
ISIS Operative: This Is How We Send Jihadis To Europe | BuzzFeed
Shapps Defends Bashir Defection | Seb Payne
Tory Leadership Contenders Jostle Over Europe | Alex Wickham
Cutting Taxes is Good For You | Art Laffer
Suspects Will Now Have to Prove Innocence | Laura Perrins
Labour Cllr: Cops Shouldn’t Stop Petrol Thieves | HandF Forum
Creeping Cultural Acceptance of Anti-Semitism | Eric Pickles
Time For Greece to Leave Eurozone | Allister Heath


Rising Stars
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Boris on British Jihadis. Apparently based on MI5 intel:

“If you look at all the psychological profiling about bombers, they typically will look at porn. They are literally w***ers. Severe onanists. They are tortured. They will be very badly adjusted in their relations with women, and that is a symptom of their feeling of being failures and that the world is against them. They are not making it with girls, and so they turn to other forms of spiritual comfort — which of course is no comfort.”


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