Monday, January 18, 2010

Gordon Reported to Standards Commissioner
Over Second Slush “Fund With No Name”

It seems Gordon was not content with just the Smith Institute as his personal play thing and slush fund. Perhaps the most damaging allegation by Peter Watt yet, has been the emergence of Gordon’s secret “fund with no name“. Watt accuses Brown of siphoning donations to the tune of fifty grand a year to his own private polling fund, the only record of which was a tatty old exercise book. How very Gordon.

As regular readers will remember, when the Charity Commission reported that The Smith Institute, despite their many failings in terms of political neutrality were not paying the salary of Gordon’s private yank pollster Bob Shrum, Guido will admit to some confusion as to how Brown had managed to wriggle his way out of this. It now appears that Shrum could well have been paid out of this second, secret “fund with no name.” Whatever this fund was being used for it was breaking the rules for personal benefits that MPs must declare. The rules state that MPs must “provide information of any financial interest or other material benefit which a Member receives which might reasonably be thought by others to influence his or her actions.” Unsurprisingly a complaint has been put in to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards:

Guido reckons there is a very strong case for an investigation into this murky secretive fund.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Sleaze : Pesky Bloggers Do It Again

Sunday Sleaze

Lord Taylor of Warwick is back in a spot of bother over claiming overnight expenses in relation to properties which he doesn’t live in – again – and if wasn’t for those pesky blogs he would have got away with it.   He claimed to the Sunday Times earlier this year that he had lived at his mother’s home in the West Midlands. However this claim turned out to be false as his mother died in 2001 and her house was sold that year.  His former wife has also confirmed that he lived in London, and nowhere else, until their separation in 2003.

Lord Taylor blogs occasionally on the Lords of the Blog site, it was on there that a co-conspirator* challenged him about the matter in the comments (since removed).

However Guido has a copy:

Lord Taylor of Warwick
Thank you for your comments. For your information, the police have examined my expenses. The police are satisfied that there has been no impropriety or any other cause for concern. They have thanked me for my cooperation, and will not be taking the matter further.

In late October Guido passed this snippet of news on to Jonathan Calvert who originally revealed the fiddles in the Sunday Times and knows more about peer’s fiddles than the House of Lord’s financial administration. Last night Jonathan got back in touch to say

… Thanks for letting me know about Lord Taylor of Warwick’s escape from the police investigation. We went back into it and the result is in the paper tomorrow. He was hiding another address (where, inevitably, he doesn’t live either) …

The result is that the Conservative peer is facing a fresh police investigation into his expenses after using the address of a second house belonging to his nephew’s companion to claim tens of thousands of pounds to which he was not entitled. To paraphrase Scooby Doo: he would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those pesky bloggers…

*A Conspiracy Member T-shirt is on its way to Guido’s pesky source.  The best stories are always  a result of tip-offs from this blog’s readers.  Peter Hain, Prescott, Damian McBride – all undone in reality by co-conspirators as much as Guido.  You make this blog.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Sleaze

Sunday Sleaze

target-baronessThe Attorney General, Baroness Scotland flouted the tax laws, broke employment laws she herself drafted and fiddled £170,000 in expenses.  She was given a £5,000 fine for what she described as “technical breach of the rules”.  The rest of us call it breaking the law.  As far as Guido knows the only other issue she faces is a Bar Standards Council investigation for bringing the Bar into disrepute.   The Attorney General has got off very lightly…

You could argue that her former maid, Loloahi Tapui, also committed a “technical breach of the rules” in overstaying her visa.  She now faces charges and a prison sentenceDoes anyone else feel that the weight of the law is falling disproportionately on Lolo?

The Blairite loyalist Baroness Morgan has been caught fiddling her overnight expenses by pretending her Wandsworth home isn’t her main home.  The Lords authorities refuse to investigate this kind of fiddle despite, or  perhaps because, it is so widespread.  She tells the Lords that her main home is in Petersfield and she swears to Companies House on corporate filings she is ordinarily resident in Wandsworth.  Give you one guess to whom she is lying…

Morley

On a lighter note, Elliot Morley, one of the few MPs predicted to face fraud charges, spends a lot of time reversing edits to his Wikipedia page, mainly trying to erase references to his claiming of our cash on false pretences.  His detractors have managed to slip past the editors a change to the pronunciation of his name:

Guido suspects he won’t be a “shameless freeloader” for much longer…

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Sleaze

Sunday Sleaze

pork-spotlight

The Mail thinks Tony McNulty could be suspended from parliament for using his expense claims to house his parents in a second home in his Harrow constituency only 11 miles from Westminster and 4 miles from the home he and his £225,000 a year quangocrat wife live in.  On past performance Guido is not so sure.  The Committee on Standards and Privileges has so far administered only the gentlest of slaps on the wrist to the Wintertons and Jacqui Smith, both beneficiaries of £100,000 plus scams.  Guido has almost given up hope of porcine politicians being ordered to repay their ill-gotten gains.   Do the punishments really deter the crimes?

Another Sunday, another Sunday Times revelation of a peer pretending not tol live mainly in London.

goudieA close friend of the prime minister who lives with her husband in a £1.5m house in London has claimed £230,000 in expenses by saying a flat in Glasgow is her main home.  Baroness Goudie, a Labour donor and fundraiser, has lived since childhood in London where her two sons grew up and her husband works as a leading barrister.  However, the baroness tells the Lords her main address is 400 miles away in a Glasgow apartment block. A close neighbour said she had not seen Goudie there for some time.

With the Lords establishment ruling that the Sunlight Centre’s complaint against Lord Rennard could not be upheld, because the Lords had no definition of main residence, Guido is sceptical that a penny will ever be repaid by Lords for lying about their main residence.  So far not one single penny has been shamed out of these troughers of the realm.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

+++ Rennard Admits Flipping Main Residence in 2007 +++
+++ Ruling : No Definition of ‘Main Address’ +++

Shhh, Don't Tell Anyone We're in StockwellIn a very odd ruling following a complaint made by the Sunlight Centre about Lord Rennard to the House of Lords Clerk of the Parliaments’ Office, the Clerk has decided that in “the absence of any definition of main address in the current guidance to the House of Lords’ Members Expenses Scheme, I have come to the conclusion that I should not uphold the complaint.”

Guido takes this to mean that no peer will be found to have broken the rules regarding main residence.  This ruling will certainly will be grabbed by Baroness Uddin as a get out of jail free clause.  Stunning.

Media Rant?

ldnewsPerhaps Clegg could get Legg to look into Liz Barker’s home address?  The Baroness seems to be suffering from amnesia

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sunday Sleaze

Sunday Sleaze

You have to admire the audacity of these troughers, or is just desperation? The Sunday Herald reveals that

“a handful of Labour MPs are trying to block the police ­investigation into the ­possible criminal abuse of Commons expenses, It is understood the group has warned the Metropolitian Police that probes into expenses may breach “­parliamentary privilege”, the ancient right that protects proceedings in Parliament, which notably allows freedom of speech in the Commons chamber. A senior Labour source confirmed some MPs have taken legal advice on whether parliamentary privilege extends to expenses, potentially putting them off-limits to the police.”

They are trying to claim that an MP committing fraud is immune from prosecution due to parliamentary privilege.  Ridiculous.

Guido’s guess is that the Tory MP (and whip) John Baron’s expenses might benefit from further investigation. His mortgage seems to have gone up as interest rates have gone down.  His local paper the Echo reports that a local Tory councillor has resigned in disgust.  His home is 35 miles from Westminster.

Elizabeth_BarkerThe LibDems like to posture as morally superior to their parliamentary colleagues on matters of probity.  This may be true in the Commons, however in the Lords their peers trough like the best of them.  Lord Rennard, the former CEO of the party, is already under investigation for claiming overnight allowances for being away from home, when to all intents and purposes his main home is minutes away from Westminster over the Thames in Vauxhall.  Now it transpires that the frontbench health spokeswoman Baroness Barker followed her leader.  Just like Rennard she has been living and working in London and claiming the away from home overnight allowance to the tune of £70,000 in expenses from the House of Lords.  She is refusing to say where her main residence was when she made the claims.  The Sunday Times suggests she has always lived in Merton, not Sussex as she indicated to them.  She seems strangely unable to remember her home address…

Elsewhere in somewhat unsurprising news documents reveal Jack Straw tried to conceal expense revelations.  Wonder why?

In the Mail the neighbours of Jacqui Smith’s sister feel vindicated that despite her sister’s smears against them they were proved to be telling the truth.  A survey of  Jacqui Smith’s Redditch constitutents for the Mail reveals that the majority want her to pay back the money, resign and be prosecuted:

Chris Galley of the Sunlight Centre tells the Express he will see Jacqui in Court.  You can donate towards making that happen here.

UPDATE : Maybe St Frank ain’t so saintly after all.  Trouser press, flat-screen TVs, linen etc. and £1,000 a month in unreceipted expenses.  Hmmm…

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jacqui Smith : Crime Without Punishment

Crime Without Punishment

Guido is grateful to Newsnight’s David Grossman for revealing how it passed that Jacqui Smith’s investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner and critical report to to the Committee on Standards and Privileges resulted in a mere slap on the wrist.

Guido has, for once, no complaints about Commissioner John Lyon’s report to the Committee.  Paul Waugh says that the Commissioner “confided during the course of his inquiry that he has to “keep a keen eye on the blogs”. Government sources feel that Lyon believed he was under heavy pressure to do a tough report…” Good.  It is fair to say that John Lyon and the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics were in correspondence from the outset – remember the Commissioner at first rejected Sunlight’s original request for an investigation into Jacqui Smith.  Sunlight persisted, citing precedent and the existence of witnesses and he reluctantly began an investigation.  (Sunlight’s correspondence was noticeably omitted from the final report.)

The former Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Sir Alastair Graham, is shocked that despite the findings, which include that the former Home Secretary attempted to mislead the investigation as to where she spent most of her nights, the MPs’ Committee on Standards and Privileges ruled she just had to apologise.  Guido has said it before; MPs judging MPs will always give them the benefit of the doubt, it is like selecting jurors from prison.  In this case the composition of the Committee was disgraceful.  One Tory, Greg Knight, was outnumbered by five Labour MPs, Andrew Dismore, Chris Mullin, Kevin Barron, Paddy Tippin and Dr Alan Whitehead.  So despite being found to have wrongly claimed £116,000, to have mislead the investigation and broken the rules, her ‘honourable’ friends ruled she had to merely apologise.  She was not ordered to repay a  single penny.  This is crime without punishment…

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Sleaze

Sunday Sleaze

target-baronessBaroness Scotland is being investigated by the Bar Standards Board, the barristers’ watchdog, reports the Mail on Sunday.  She is accused of bringing the profession into disrepute.  A quick run down the charge sheet for those who have forgotten: she broke employment laws by not providing payslips or paying all the taxes due at the time, she provided no written contract of employment and effectively paid her housekeeper cash in hand.  She was fined £5,000 for breaking the laws she herself introduced that were designed to punish unscrupulous employers from hiring illegal immigrants.  She has hardly enhanced the reputation of the Bar has she?

The Sunlight Centre For Open Politics claimed in formal submissions to the Bar Standards Board that the Baroness had ‘breached the Barrister’s Code of Conduct by acting in a way that damages the profession’s reputation’. Incidentally, Baroness Scotland, as the highest law officer in the land, is nominally the head of the Bar.  Unlike many of her illustrious predecessors, she is however clearly without shame…

In the coming weeks Guido is looking forward to the next round of expense scandal, the 2008 – ’09 expenses are soon to be released and the Legg letters are going to demand re-payments from MPs who ‘mis-claimed’.   Hundreds of MPs will have to repay over-claims (they are always over-claims) for mortgage repayments that paid down mortgage capital rather than merely covered the interest.  Tory grandees will be asked to repay claims for their stately homes, Nick Clegg will have to justify his serial refurbishment of home(s) at our expense, Gordon Brown will have to justify and probably repay his claims for a Sky Sports subscription and did we really need to pay to have his shirts ironed? It is not as if his wife has a job…

Not forgetting that we have Sir Christopher Kelly’s report with recommendations to the Committee on Standards in Public Life due soon.  The shadow report was tough on sleaze, tough on the causes of sleaze…

UPDATE : Guido almost forgot to mention multi-millionaire Labour peer Lord Paul, a big party donor and financial supporter of Gordon’s ambitions, blatantly fiddling his expenses. They are all at it…

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Government of Lawyers : Equality Before the Law?

Sunday Sleaze
harriet_carAnother Labour minister and QC thinks the laws are for other people. Harman was on the mobile when she crashed into a parked car without stopping to leave her details. Under the 1988 Road Traffic Act, any driver involved in a collision with another vehicle is required by law to stop and give their name and address, as well as details of the vehicle’s owner and the vehicle’s registration.  Not exactly Chappaquidick Bridge, but that she drove off telling a witness ‘I’m Harriet Harman – you know where you can get me…’ is a little high-handed…

target-baronessThe other Labour minister and QC in legal difficulties is the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland. She is now accused of flouting the tax laws; she had no written contract of employment with Lolo, her illegally employed Tongan cleaner, there is firm evidence that no tax was paid for at least 10 weeks and Lolo wasn’t given any wage slips as required by employment protection laws.

Clear breaches of employment law which imply that for a period of time she was effectively paying Lolo cash in hand…


Seen Elsewhere

Harriet Harman Offers Less Than the Living Wage | Owen Bennett
Fallon’s Red Arrow Spin Unravels | Wings Over Scotland
What is the LibDems’ Problem With “The Jews” | Speccie
Image is the Least of Ed’s Worries | Speccie
The Most Politically Cynical Speech I Have Ever Seen | Dan Hodges
Full Sunday Sport Style Guide Email | MediaGuido
What if a Hamas Rocket Hit a BA Plane? | Richard Littlejohn
Sunday Sport Swearing Style Guide | Popbitch
Tory MP’s Love of Astrology | BBC
No.10 Shouldn’t Get Excited at Growth Figures | Mark Wallace
Feminist Lobby Killing Meritocracy | Kathy Gyngell


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New Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has big ambitions in his first meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu today:

“I came to bring this conflict to an end.”



Christie Malry @fcablog

Ed Miliband does photo oops, not photo ops


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