Big Oil Freebie for Conflicted Energy Committee Baronet

Regular readers will remember Sir Robert Smith’s attempts to follow in the sleazy footsteps of Tim Yeo, namely the conflict of interest between the LibDem baronet’s position on the Energy select committee and his registrable shareholdings in Shell, Rio Tinto and Glaxosmithkline. Financial interest, tick! What next for Sir Bob at the Yeo School of Milking Your Cushy Energy Job for Personal Gain?

Well, Smith has just declared to the parliamentary authorities that BP generously paid for him and his wife to go to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. No expense spared, natch. Freebie from big oil, tick! Robert will be be back scrutinising the laws that regulate BP next week…

WATCH: Tim Farron Jokes About LibDem Sex Scandals

One line jarred in particular in LibDem President Tim Farron’s speech today:

“Of course there are some parts of the job I am happy to pass on. The next time any of you get caught with your pants around your ankles, the media can call someone else to make a comment.”

The victims of Mike Hancock, Chris Rennard and Cyril Smith won’t be laughing…

LibDems Keep Women Away From Lawyers in Glasgow

The LibDems are taking no chances that the past indiscretions of pervy peers and handsy MPs will come back to bite them up in Glasgow. As illustrated by the map above, the LibDem Women’s stand in the conference exhibition hall this year has been situated at the furthest possible point to the right of the room. The LibDem Lawyers stand, meanwhile, is at the furthest possible point to the left of the room, as far away as possible from any potential clients. Presumably Lord Rennard was in charge of the layout…

Help Stop New MPs’ Expenses Cover Up

Quietly announced during the noise of Tory conference were new proposals from the parliamentary expenses watchdog to keep secret the names of MPs facing investigation for fiddling their expenses. IPSA chair Ian Kennedy has decreed that “an MP could suffer unfair reputational damage” if the public knew they were facing an expenses investigation, ruling that the “publication of an allegation” should be prevented. The sinister document claims “public interest in transparency must be balanced with operational needs and fairness”, concluding: “we believe that the operational and reputational damage to MPs which could be caused by the publication of allegations in advance of a substantive investigation outweighs the benefits of release.” This is a flagrant attack on transparency and and clear attempt to cover up and keep secret the names of MPs accused of wrongdoing.

The good news is you can stop it from happening. IPSA has launched a public consultation on the insidious proposals, inviting the thoughts of voters on whether or not they should be allowed to know if their MP is suspected of being a crook. They have already been condemned by Alistair Graham, former chairman of the Committee on Standards and Public Life, as “retrograde, foolish and perverse”. You can read the document here and email a submission to the consultation here

WATCH: Newmark Story Was Not Entrapment

Fleetstreet Fox’s defence of the Sunday Mirror’s Brooks Newmark story on Question Time last night is worth watching. Critics who have not read the original story and trigger happy IPSO bosses should watch:

“I think in this particular case that it’s not entrapment because Mr Newmark, if you’ve read the original article, responded to this journalist, which he thought was a young woman online, by firstly offering his mobile phone number, secondly going into private messages, and then on seven occasions seeking explicit photographs from her, and on another three occasions asking to meet her. Now that doesn’t sound to me like someone who was reluctant or who needed persuading, it sounds to me like someone who was quite enthusiastic with the opportunity to misbehave, and he grabbed it with one hand while lowering his pyjama trousers with the other one.

“I think there are two issues that would make this in the public interest. One of those is one of the messages that Brooks Newmark sent was “you send me a picture and I will send you one, that way we both have a secret”. Now if that were you and me, it doesn’t matter. A government minister who has security clearance, that’s an invitation to blackmail, and corruption. Under the Ministerial Code of Conduct that alone would be a reason to resign… A man with power and wealth and influence repeatedly, not once or twice, sought explicit photographs from what he thought was a young woman who had no power or wealth or influence, and if she had been the young activist that he thought she was, he would have had the power to influence her career for better or for worse. To me, that smells like exploitation and it’s certainly abuse of power.”

Notable that Grant Shapps also refused to say Newmark was entrapped…

UKIP Banks on Mystery Donation Figure…
…and Don’t Mention His Mrs and Mike Hancock

There is some bafflement in Tory circles this morning over from where exactly UKIP have plucked the quarter of a million pound figure for defector Arron Bank’s donations to the Conservative Party since 2005. A hungover scan of the Electoral Commission website by Guido shows only two donations of £25,000 from Banks to two Tory branches since Cameron became leader: Thornbury & Yate and Northavon, and no money to the central party. Which makes the £250,000 being punted on the news channels look a little iffy.

Leaving that aside this initial confusion while it’s investigated, what will Arron Banks’ new friends at UKIP have to say about his wife’s somewhat mysterious acquisition of the right to stay in the UK? Banks married Ekaterina Paderina in 2001, who regular readers will remember was a good chum of LibDem turbo-perve Mike Hancock:

“Miss Paderina came to Britain from Ekaterinburg in eastern Russia on a student visa in the late 1990s. In November 1998 she met and married Eric Butler a retired merchant seaman from Portsmouth, who was more than twice her age. Immigration officials were suspicious about the marriage and Miss Paderina was informed she could face deportation. But after seeking help from their local MP, Mr Hancock, Miss Paderina was allowed to stay in Britain, despite her marriage to Mr Butler allegedly lasting just three months.”

According to Paderina’s ex, Handy-cock “went out of his way to help the blonde Russian after she paid several visits to his constituency office.” Rather awkwardly for Banks, Hancock’s seat is very high up the list of UKIP targets that he’s now funding… 

UPDATE: UKIP sources are confident of the figure. They immediately point to an outstanding loan from 2007 of £75,000 from Banks’ Panacea Finance to the Thornbury association, as well as the £50,000 given in his own name. So that’s halfway there then…

LibDems Give Two New Jobs to Disgraced Rape Row Councillor

Four days after Mike Hancock left the party and the LibDems have already screwed up their next sex scandal. Disgraced Milton Keynes councillor Subhan Shafiq was forced to quit as mayor when he was exposed for allegedly giving character references to up to three alleged sex offenders applying to become taxi drivers, including rapist Nadeem Kiari. Lib Dem group leader Douglas McCall says despite this he is standing by Shafiq. That’s not all, McCall has just handed Shafiq two new council committee roles, on the health and adult social care committee and joint negotiating committee. Will they ever learn?

H/T miltonkeynes.co.uk

EXCLUSIVE:
Minister Funnels Expenses Cash to Firm Run By Former Agent

Energy minister Amber Rudd has channelled thousands of pounds of taxpayer cash to a Tory-linked company run by her former agent. Over the last two years Rudd has claimed £6,000 on expenses for “professional services” to organise several local jobs fairs in her constituency. The jobs fairs were organised by Events Office, a company run by Terri Lock, who is a Rudd’s former agent and a Tory council candidate in Hastings. Terri is married to Matthew Lock, former leader of Hastings Conservative group. Events Office seem to get a lot of business from the Tories, having organised a number of jobs fairs in the constituencies of other Tory MPs including Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Charities minister Brooks Newmark.

Guido’s favourite Labour MP Karl Turner says:

“Amber Rudd has serious questions to answer about whether the rules have been upheld. There can be no question of funnelling taxpayers’ cash to cronies against the rules. I hope David Cameron will investigate the behaviour of his new Minister.”

Fishy…

LibDems Select Hancock Cover Up Ally to Fight His Seat

Nick Clegg said that the LibDems had had a long hard look in the mirror after the recent sex scandals that have plagued the party. But has anything really changed?

They’ve welcomed back handsy Lord Rennard into the party fold […]

+ READ MORE +

Clegg Spins His Own Rennard Failings

The restoration of Lord Rennard’s LibDem membership card, and neutering of Nick […]

+ READ MORE +

Burnham ‘Owes’ Tax Efficient Lobbyist Aide £20,000

The Times and Mail are on the case of Andy Burnham’s health lobbyist aide Kevin Lee over his tax arrangements, a story Guido broke over two years ago. Readers will remember how back in 2011 this blog revealed how Lee […]

+ READ MORE +

The Expenses Claims Parliament Doesn’t Want You to See

Flamboyantly-named IPSA chief Marcial Boo is plotting to shroud MPs’ expenses claims in secrecy once again. Boo has told John Bercow that politicians’ claims for small stationery items should be kept hidden from the public because the delicate flowers are […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

David Cameron tells MPs after voting:

“Wouldn’t miss this for the world. Secret ballots very important. Remember the Chartists.”

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