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…

Friday, May 14, 2010

Farm-Gate : Spelman’s Agri-Business, Bio-Tech Lobbying Past

On the campaign trail David Cameron said

“It is the next big scandal waiting to happen. It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money.”

This week Cameron appointed Caroline Spelman to be the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  Obviously he feels that nanny-gate is all water under the bridge. Spelman’s long history in agricultural politics and lobbying somehow makes her an ideal candidate for the job in his judgment.

Spelman spent her days before becoming an MP in the agri-business, with a lobbying focus mainly on sugar beet, one of  the most heavily subsidised crops in Europe. She was the Sugar Beet Commodity Secretary for the NFU in the early eighties before becoming  Deputy Director of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers. Seemingly well connected in the field, Caroline and her husband Mark went on to set up “Spelman, Cormack & Associates” in 1989 as a food and bio-technology lobbying company.

For over ten years the new Secretary of State, along with her husband, lobbied the very department she now runs. Caroline resigned as a director less than a year ago and conveniently transferred her share of the company to her husband.  The company address was also changed from her constituency home, for which Spelman claimed around £40,000 on expenses for cleaning and bills, to their million pound London flat. According to the company accounts last year, no rent was paid on this “office” subsidised by the taxpayers.

Mark Spelman, who was also a Tory candidate (unsuccessful), uses both his name and his wife’s maiden name (Cormack) on his firm’s letterhead – that won’t hinder business.  After all, the Minister who is now the number one target to be lobbied has her name on the company letterhead. Caroline Spelman lobbied for the industry and is now in charge of negotiating quotas, subsidies and price tariffs with the EU Agricultural Council. Her “family firm”  deals with bio-tech clients that the Secretary of State is now responsible for regulating in the GM foods sector.   As a result of anti-competitive EU regulations and industry lobbying British consumers are forced to pay prices for sugar which are massively inflated in comparison to the rest of the world. Did Cameron know that she was so recently a shareholder in a  lobbying firm focused on Defra before he appointed her to the position?  Because the whole thing taints politics and shows the far-too-cosy relationship between lobbyists, government, business and money…

Thursday, April 29, 2010

+ + + Bristol Police Receive Official Complaint + + +
+ + + Kerry McCarthy Accused of Breaching Electoral Law + + +
+ + + First Case of Electoral Twitter Crime + + +

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ban The Bercow

The non-partisan online fund-raising site YouFund.Me.uk has raised thousands in small online donations to beat Ed Balls, hundreds to unseat Nadine Dorries and is aiming to raise even more money for Nigel Farage in his bid to unseat Bercow.  Guido will bet that a lot of conservatives around the country will be donating to get rid of Bercow.  The unprecedented “Friends of the Speaker” slush fund has ensured Bercow will be fighting for survival hard, so why not throw Farage a tenner to oust the troughing flipper…

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Calamity Clegg’s Cab Cock-Up

Having sworn blind that Lord Rennard was not involved in the Liberal Democrat campaign, Cowley Street looks a little silly this morning given The Sun’s dossier scoop. In a blunder, Clegg’s spinner John Sharkey’s notes on debate rehearsals – including how Clegg is being coached to imitate, yet slam, David Cameron, were left in the back of a cab.

Lord Rennard’s role in manifesto planning and organisation is referenced and amusingly, true to form, he was keen on involving token women. Less funny is the fact that Cowley Street staffer Phil Reilly lied to Guido.  Yesterday he said categorically Rennard was in no way involved in Clegg’s campaign. Does he now want to retract that and apologise for lying to Guido?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Disgraced Rennard’s Return

Chris Rennard stood down as the CEO of the Liberal Democrats citing ill health. Nothing to do with the outrage caused by the £41,000 in expenses he claimed for his “holiday home” in Vauxall-on-Sea. Let’s not forget all those other skeletons in the cupboard too.

Well the rotund trougher is back. He was spinning for Clegg in Manchester and has been spotted going in and out of the Lib Dems Cowley Street HQ. When Guido put a call in to ask them what his official role in the campaign was the inept spinner replied “Oh I’m not even sure what his unofficial role is.”

So we know he is back but they have taken over an hour and still no response to what his official role is, how much he is being paid and whether he has recovered from the health reasons that saw him stand down… Still waiting for that return call.

UPDATE: So the official line is that Rennard was in Manchester in a “personal capacity” and “he is not part of our campaign team“. That doesn’t really wash given that the Manchester debate site was on lock down and someone would had to have cleared his pass. Is he also going in and out of Party headquarters in a “personal capacity”?

UPDATE: Cowley Street’s Phil Reilly has got himself into a right teenage rage with this one. He claims because he hasn’t personally seen Rennard in HQ he’s not been there, but that’s not what Guido’s witnesses say.  The line has also changed to Rennard being a “guest of a media organisation” in Manchester.  Everyone there was a “guest of a media organisation” – namely ITV who hosted the event.


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