Tonight’s Conversation Starter for Mandelson and Balls

Patrick Hennessy tells us that there is an interesting dinner planned for tonight, and that in a new found spirit of peaceful cooperation, bread will be broken by two old enemies. Before the great tribal truce and the summoning of the Dark Lord from over the water by the One-Eyed Son of the Manse, Peter Mandelson and Ed Balls were the most vicious champions of their respective masters; Blair and Brown. Briefing and pouring bile about the enemy camp into the ears of anyone who would listen.

It was at the height of the Blair destabilising cash for honours investigation that Guido was sent a document outlining the use of 11 Downing Street by the Smith Institute and the role of that “charity” in furthering Gordon’s ambitions. The note was passed to Guido by an über-Blairite close to No. 10. This was hardly surprising since No. 10 suspected (rightly) the Brownies were stoking the flames of cash for honours, this was essentially a sleaze counter-attack. The note outlined how Gordon got private polling and personal consultants flown in from the States. How they were paid for by cash-for-access meetings in No. 11 involving Brown and his aides under the auspices of the Smith Institute. Balls himself was paid an £89,000 bung by the Smith Institute and is now under scrutiny with the Tories looking to link this payment and others to the unlawful furtherance of Brown’s political ambitions.

Perhaps tonight, over the appetisers, Ed might want to ask Peter who it is he thinks was the cabinet minister who gave a very similar tip to the Tories?

Gordon’s Slush Fund

The Mail on Sunday this morning is following up on this story. Guido will have more revelations next week…

Hain : CPS Statement in Full


CPS decides no charges for Peter Hain MP


5 December 2008


The Crown Prosecution Service has today advised all concerned parties that there is insufficient evidence to charge Peter Hain MP with any offences in relation to donations made to Mr Hain’s campaign to support his bid to become Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in mid 2007.


Stephen O’Doherty, reviewing lawyer from the CPS Special Crime Division said: “Although Mr Hain did not report all regulated donations to the Electoral Commission within the 30 days stipulated by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, in order to prove a criminal breach of the Act the Crown must first prove that Mr Hain held the position of either a ‘regulated donee’ or, if operating via a ‘members association’ he was the ‘person responsible for dealing with donations to the association’.


“The evidence in this case shows that Mr Hain’s campaign was run through an organisation named ‘Hain4Labour’ which was made up of members of the Labour Party. That organisation had its own bank account and the funds for Mr Hain’s campaign were solicited for that account and cheques donated were made out to that account. Those were all characteristics of a ‘members association’ as defined in the Act. Mr Hain was not a signatory to that account and did not direct where funds should be spent.


“In light of this evidence, I have concluded that Mr Hain was not the ‘regulated donee’ and nor was he the person responsible for dealing with donations to the association under the terms of the PPERA.”


“As to who should have been responsible for reporting these regulated donations, it is not possible to prove from the evidence available that any other individuals involved with Mr Hain’s campaign fell into the category of being either the regulated donee or the person responsible for dealing with donations. Accordingly I have advised the police to take no further action.”


Following a review into donations received to support Mr Hain’s election campaign by the Electoral Commission, the matter was referred for investigation to the Metropolitan Police Service in January 2008. Following their investigation, a file was submitted to the CPS in July 2008.

So you can raise some £100,000 without declaring it to the Electoral Commission in support of an elected politician using a shady “think tank” / slush fund and get away with it, so long as you muddy the waters enough. The Progressive Policies Forum was a slush fund. It had done nothing, had undertaken no known political activity, had no employees, no policies and there was no forum or indeed any meeting ever. When it quacks like a slush fund, acts like a slush fund and washes money like a slush fund, it is a slush fund.

Was it really not possible for the CPS to prove who was responsible for dealing with donations? Some donations we know were sent to the offices of Morgan Allen Moore, Steve Morgan was running the campaign. Steve Morgan, told Radio Wales on January 8, 2008 that he had been brought in to the campaign to “bring order to chaos”.

Here is a clue*:

—–Original Message—–
From: Huw Roberts [mailto:huw@huwrobertsassociates.com]
Sent: 24 April 2007 16:23
To: ian@tmcommunications.net; alan.cummins@waitrose.com; ‘Dai Davies’; russell.goodway@thechamberofcommerce.org.uk; showell@freshwater-uk.com; gary.mawer@up-ltd.co.uk; kate.lewis@morganallenmoore.com;
frank.specsavers@virgin.net;
nigel.roberts@paramountinteriors.com;john@clearco.co.uk

Cc: steve.morgan@morganallenmoore.com; andrew.bold@walesoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Subject: Dinner

Dear all

Thank you all for joining us at dinner last night. I thought it was a thoroughly enjoyable event as well as very helpful to Peter’s campaign. As I am now off to France to recuperate, Kate Lewis has very kindly agreed to follow up on the delicate matter of the contributions to the campaign fund.

Cheques, made payable to “Hain4Labour” should be sent to Kate at Morgan, Allen, Moore, Bay Chambers, West Bute Street, Cardiff Bay, CF10 5BB.

Best wishes,

Huw

Is it really impossible to determine who on the campaign team was responsible for donations?


Bear in mind, if Hain had “bought the election” having spent double the expenditure of the other candidates, he would now be deputy leader of the party of government, and beholden to secret donors unknown to us. That is not a minor technicality.

*The authenticity of this email was confirmed by Huw Roberts to the journalist Martin Shipton of the Western Mail.

Electoral Commission Is Investigating Gordon Brown / Smith Institute Slush Fund Allegations

The Sunday Times is reporting that the Electoral Commission is to investigate whether, in breach of electoral law, Ed Balls continued working for Gordon Brown while on the payroll of the Smith Institute charity before becoming an MP.

Regular readers will know that this allgation was a central part of Guido’s campaign against the Sith. Essentially the Smith Institute was a slush fund for Gordon’s ambitions. The Tories are now convinced that Ed Balls continued working for Gordon Brown when he was on the charity’s payroll. They have been trying for six months to ascertain whether or not he continued to have access to the Treasury with a security pass. Guido has other evidence that Ed Balls continued to act as Gordon Brown’s political adviser during th 2004 / 5 period when he was being paid by the charity. Not only Balls but also Tony Pilch, a former SpAd close to Balls, and Bob Shrum during the same over-lapping period were working for the Smith Institute.

According to the Sunday Times “the Tories are submitting a complaint to the Electoral Commission and John Lyon, the parliamentary commissioner for standards. They want Brown to be challenged over whether Balls had a pass.”

Guido understands that the Electoral Commission is already making inquiries, including in the United States, following a complaint made last July (after the Charity Commission report condemned the Smith Institute for partisan activity) by the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics. That letter of complaint (here) focused on the activities of U.S. pollster Bob Shrum. Shrum was paid by the Smith Institute to advise Gordon Brown, these slush payments are a serious breach of electoral law.

Welsh Charitable Think Tank Pulls Out of Hain Organised Event Electoral Commission to Examine Foreign Funding

Peter Hain has organised a conference today in his Neath constituency on “Winning Economically, Winning Politically”. Labour politicians and German SPD politicians will be discussing strategy and tactics in a session titled “What was done, what went wrong and how to win back voter support”. The event is financially supported by the SPD’s Friedrich Ebert Stiftung think tank. The Welsh Bevan Foundation, an educational charity, was co-sponsoring it.

On Tuesday following complaints made by Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price, the Bevan Foundation pulled out because it feared its charitable status could be compromised.

Price wrote to the Bevan Foundation’s director Victoria Winckler:

“You will no doubt be aware that the Charity Commission began a formal inquiry into the Smith Institute last year occasioned by not dissimilar circumstances, after the Democratic political consultant Robert Shrum was shown to have given electoral advice to Labour Party members based on US experience.

Commenting on the publication of its report into the institute’s political activity, Andrew Hind, the chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: ‘Trustees of charitable think tanks have a responsibility to ensure the political neutrality of the work they do. When a charity operates close to the political environment, it must safeguard its independence and ensure that any involvement it has with political parties is balanced.’

Clearly the event was political, Price was entirely right to cite the Smith Institute precedent. The Bevan Foundation secretary Mick Antoniw now says:

“Our reputation is everything and because of the concerns raised and the advice the trustees have received, the foundation will be withdrawing from the event….”

Price is not letting the matter rest: “I will be writing to the Electoral Commission as to whether the funding of what in the afternoon is effectively a Labour election strategy seminar amounts to an impermissible donation. I will also be asking the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to investigate whether the involvement of Peter Hain’s political researcher in organising the conference in any way constitutes a misuse of parliamentary resources.”

Hain is a creature of habit, once again another think tank’s funds are being used to further his political ambitions. Just as with the Progressive Policies Forum there appears to be a case to answer for breaches of electoral law – a foreign foundation funding electoral strategy advice is illegal. You would have thought given he is currently under police investigation for funding irregularities Hain would be more cautious, he already has one criminal conviction, he is asking for another…

Full story in the Western Mail.

Cameron Strips Den Dover of the Whip

This afternoon a source told Guido that the Tory NW Regional HQ was trying to find out which association Den Dover was formally a member. Guido wondered what was going on…

The Tory MEP is being expelled from the party after the EU Parliament’s fraud investigators told him to repay £500,000 in expenses paid to his family for office work. The former chief whip says he will repay all the money and has denied breaking any parliamentary rules.

Below Guido reproduces his June 5 story about Den Dover:

Guido treads warily with this one since Den Dover MEP got The Sun (at the hands of Carter-Ruck) to apologise for accusing him of expense fiddling. Clearly Den Dover is very sensitive to suggestions that he is an expense fiddler.


He is the chief-whip of the Tory MEPs led by Giles Chichester, who has himself been caught whoops-a-daisy paying £445,000 of public funds to a company of which at one time only he and his wife were remunerated directors. So what of his colleague Den Dover? Here is an extract from his recently updated declaration of interest (full document here)

click to enlarge

It was updated shortly after Open Europe’s Transparency Initiative started asking him questions about his expenses. Den Dover said repeatedly he had nothing to declare in the past, but mentioned this time for no apparent reason, in passing, that his wife and daughter work for the company that he pays out of his expenses. Fancy that!

He didn’t mention that as well as paying his wife and daughter some £376,916 in salary, the company in question is based at his home address. The company has spent £32,462 on “repairs”. Presumably repairs to a property. Guido wonders which property could that be getting repaired at the taxpayers expense?

Did Guido mention that the family firm has had £56,411 in motoring expenses off the taxpayer as well? Finally, and this takes the euro-biscuit, the family firm makes five figure profits. Whoops-a-Bloody-Daisy….

Why is his wife’s family firm profiteering out of his expense claims? Shouldn’t the claims and payments be made on a costs basis, rather than a profiteering basis? The family is troughing enough at the taxpayers expense already without rubbing our noses into it and profiteering.

The profiteering factor from bills from his wife, authorised by him, to a business based in the family home is worse than Derek Conway. In total he has authorised payments of £758,143 to his family’s firm since he joined the Euro-gravy train…

It takes time, but in the end…

Sleazy Lobbyists Morgan Allen Moore Suspended from Political Lobbyist’s Standards Body

Morgan Allen Moore MAM, the lobbying firm which managed Peter Hain’s leadership campaign, has been suspended from the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC) for “non-compliance” for inter alia non-payment of fees and failure to register clients.Steve Morgan has not had a good year – already under investigation by the police for funding irregularities concerning the Hain for Labour campaign, MAM sued a former employee for libel because James Davenport alleged that MAM had, in breach of the APPC rules, provided campaign services to Peter Hain. The Mail on Sunday alleged that Peter Hain had endorsed MAM clients in what looked like a return of favours.

The MAM case against Davenport collapsed when evidence presented to the Court revealed that cheques were solicited to be sent to MAM’s offices in Cardiff and that MAM employees were dealing with the Hain4Labour campaign finances.

MAM is now reduced to running skeleton staff, with clients shying away and politicians refusing to talk to them, and their influence inevitably waning. Phil Woolas was said to be livid when he discovered that Deborah Morgan (Steve’s wife), for whom his office had arranged a Commons pass, was boasting on her lobby firm’s website that SD Environmental Solutions could influence decisions and had access at ministerial level. Woolas was at the time the Environment Minister.

Steve Morgan claimed to a credulous local paper that he was the “international spokesman” for the Obama campaign. Where was Obama’s international spokesman on the night of Obama’s victory? He was in a Yates’ wine bar in London watching it on TV. Tragic.

Sunday Sleaze Round-Up

Mandy Faces EU Probe News of the Screws
Mandelson Oligarch Oleg Deripaska Linked to Mafia BossSunday Times
Lord Mandelson and Oleg Deripaska, the Billionaire at BaySunday Times
Mandelson’s Last Act in Brussels Boosted Russian OligarchIndy on Sunday
Pressure Mounts on Mandelson to Come CleanSunday Telegraph
Oligarch Flew Mandelson into Moscow for DinnerMail on Sunday

“Osborne and Rothschild’s Drug Crazed Sex Parties”News of the Screws

Vaz : The Ingratitude

Vaz spotted Gordon outside the Midland Hotel Saturday night. He strolled over smiling and said to Brown “Hello Gordon, how are you?” Gordon switched off his smile and walked off without saying word.

This is the man who saved Gordon’s bacon over detention without charge.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

CCHQ Admits Cawte Declaration Errors Blames “Administrative Oversight”

When you are Chief-of-Staff to the Conservative Party chairman and she is under investigation for expense fiddling to pay for her nanny constituency secretary there is bound to be some scrutiny of your status. Simon Cawte has not yet satisfactorily explained how when she was in charge of the Tory local election campaigns he, as her Chief-of-Staff, was performing a non-partisan role paid out of her Parliamentary Staffing Allowance by the taxpayers.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Sleazy Speaker Sunday Special

Focus this Sunday Sleaze on the Piggy-in-Chief, the Speaker Michael Martin. This is the man supposedly in charge of reform, he is as unsuited to reforming and opening up parliament as can be. The Sunday Times has a fantastic investigation into his affairs by Stephen Robinson.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Charity Commission Attacks Sith for Spinning Report

According to charity sector specialist magazine Third Sector, Andrew Hind, chief executive of the Charity Commission, has said he is “extremely concerned” that the Smith Institute is misrepresenting the contents of the regulator’s report into the think tank.
The commission reprimanded trustees of the think tank this week for failing to protect the charity from claims that it is supporting the Labour Party.
[…]

+ READ MORE +

Will He Make Another Illegal Donation?

As Barack heads to Europe the Washington Post asked yesterday of Obama, “Surely a man who has said he would talk with U.S. adversaries such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can spend a few moments with journalists from friendlier countries.” After all, McCain spares a moment for foreign press questions – probably because he is comfortable with foreign affairs issues.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Gordon’s Undeclared Donations During the Long Campaign

Last week’s Charity Commission report ruled the Smith Institute was in breach of the laws on political impartiality. Paul Myners whines that the Charity Commission “have shown a fundamental lack of understanding of the work that all think tanks undertake.”* It is Myners and his fellow trustees who have clearly shown a fundamental disregard or lack of understanding for Charity law.
[…]

+ READ MORE +

Sunday Sleaze Round-Up

Time for the weekly Pigs in Shit ratings (ranking guide here). Post links in the comments and we will update this post during the morning.

Dizzy kicks it off with evidence of Cameron’s Piggish Tendencies. Nil pigs.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Tory Expense List Released

Uploaded to the Tory website.

Ooooh, what a surprise, the troughing Wintertons don’t appear to have put in their return…

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Heather Wheeler talks to Burton Mail about her tweet…

“It was a tongue in cheek pop after the European Parliament tweet – it was purely that. I also wanted to congratulate Team GB on a brilliant result and thirdly congratulate the Commonwealth countries who also did very well. Fourth, I am also looking forwarded to establishing new trade agreements. That was it – nothing more. Let’s just enjoy the summer!”

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