Straw and Rifkind Let Off By Standards Commissioner

Jack Straw did not break parliamentary rules when he boasted he could use his influence to change EU rules for a company that pays him £60,000-a-year:

“I got in to see the relevant director general and his officials in Brussels …  and we got the sugar regulations changed,” he said. “I mean … the crucial thing about this, it’s all, it’s public that the regulations have been changed, but the best way of dealing with these things is under the radar”

Malcolm Rifkind has also been cleared this morning. See the original Telegraph/Dispatches story here. Developing…

UPDATE: Despite Straw suggesting he could use his influence to have laws changed in exchange for payment, the Commissioner finds:

“The question of lobbying for reward or consideration simply does not arise”

On Straw boasting about how his reputation and contacts would be useful to a lobbying firm, the Commissioner says sympathetically:

“A Member’s reputation will be important to them and, inevitably, is part of the “package” on which they may rely when they later seek employment outside the House.”

On Rifkind, the Standards Commissioner explains he has let him off on a technicality:

“Had Sir Malcolm’s offer been taken up, particularly after the second meeting when it was clear that PMR were likely to have further questions relating to the possibility of employing him, Sir Malcolm might then have been in breach of the rules by using parliamentary resources for the purpose of boosting his employment prospects.”

The Commissoner says that while Rifkind made “errors of judgement”, “Sir Malcolm has suffered as a result of the allegations and inferences made, which were covered widely in the media”. Playing the world’s tiniest violin…

UPDATE II: The Telegraph and Dispatches get both barrels from the Standards Commissioner:

“the distorted coverage of the actions and words of the Members concerned has itself been the main cause of the damage… If in their coverage of this story, the reporters for Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph had accurately reported what was said by the two Members in their interviews, and measured their words against the rules of the House, it would have been possible to avoid the damage that has been done to the lives of two individuals and those around them, and to the reputation of the House”

Ouch…

UPDATE III: Channel 4 hit back:

“Channel 4 Dispatches stands by its journalism; this was a fair and accurate account of what the two MPs said. This investigation was in the public interest and revealed matters that were of serious public concern.”

Burnham Mocks Corbyn

Here is what Andy Burnham really thinks about Jeremy Corbyn:

“Privately, it’s a disaster for the Labour Party. Privately. I mean, publicly, he is a nice man, he’s a nice individual. He believes in the things he campaigns on, so he’s not a fraud in any way. But I think the public will think Labour has given up. Labour has given up on ever being a government again… Jeremy just looked like a slightly disheveled figure in the back of the Commons and Cameron was there, wasn’t he, just kind of banging, swatting him away and it was like, whoever was watching must have thought, hmmm that doesn’t feel good.”

Andy was caught out spilling the beans on Jezza by an undercover reporter from the Sun who was granted access to Burnham after paying Faiz Ul Rasool, the chairman of the Muslim Friends of Labour group, £5,000 “in tenners in the back room of a London casino“. There goes his place in the shadow cabinet…

Poll: How to Deal With MPs Not Settling Debts?

snouts

How to deal with the 26 MPs who refused to pay back money owed to the taxpayer despite being asked “several times” by IPSA? The Taxpayers’ Alliance say dock their pay:

“If sitting MPs are unwilling to pay what is due, the simple solution would be for the amount to be docked from their next salary payment. Those former MPs who have been named and shamed should also do the honourable thing and pay up – and if they are unwilling to do so, then the obvious sanction would be to remove the parliamentary pass they enjoy as a former member until such as time as their debts to the taxpayer are paid up.”

IPSA have flown the white flag because it isn’t “cost effective” to chase up debts under £500. What do you think they should do?

Take Guido’s poll…

Named and Shamed: MPs Refusing to Pay Back Debts to Taxpayer

snouts

The expenses watchdog has decided not to pursue the recovery of debts owed by 26 shameless MPs, who owe the taxpayer amounts up to £500 but are refusing to pay up. The cost of recovering the debts means it is “not cost-effective” to force the MPs to pay the money back, though IPSA insist: “All MPs have been contacted several times about these outstanding sums”. These are the names of the piggies cheating the taxpayer…

Charles Hendry

Chris Skidmore

Clive Efford

Daniel Poulter

Frank Dobson

Frank Roy

Guy Opperman

Ian Mearns

Joe Benton

Julie Hilling

Khalid Mahmood

Laurence Robertson

Michael Meacher

Paul Farrelly

Peter Bone

Sian James

Stephen Barclay

Stephen McCabe

Stephen Williams

Stewart Jackson

Tim Yeo

Tobias Ellwood

Guido would like to buy their debts. And send round the heavies…

UPDATE: Caroline Dinenage says she was on the list erroneously and has receoved an apology from IPSA, though Guido hasn’t seen it.

UPDATE II: David Mowat gets in touch: “The bill was in respect of a £35 invoice (to the information commissioner) which was correctly claimed. IPSA have removed me from their list and apologised for their error.” IPSA would have more credibility if they got things like this right…

UPDATE III: Barry Gardiner was also falsely accused by IPSA.

UPDATE IV: Sources close to Edward Timpson get in touch to say he has also received an apology from IPSA. They have had a ‘mare…

Hain Gravy Train Hypocrisy

On 3 November 2014, not even twelve months ago, Peter Hain told his constituents he believed the second chamber should be elected:

“The Lords are an archaic anomaly which fuels disillusionment with British politics. It exists purely on a democratic deficit which has been allowed to evolve unchecked for centuries… the fact is that people are fed up with an out-of-touch political class and the growing sense that Westminster is failing us all.”

Yesterday, he became Lord Hain of Neath, writing in the Guardian that “it wasn’t an easy decision“, it had required “considerable thought“, but he concluded that “more peers in favour of reform are crucially important“.

What was it about the £300-a-day attendance allowance that changed his mind?

Shameless LibDems Bung Honours to More Donors

nick clegg sad

Next time the LibDems tell us how the House of Lords is an antiquated, corrupt body that needs reform, remember who they chose to give honours to today:

Duncan Greenland CBE: Has donated a total of £316,858.95 to the LibDems since 2004, £31,000 of which went to Clegg’s constituency.

Richard Duncalf OBE: Donated £216,000 to the party since 2007, including an individual £10,000 donation to Clegg.

Sir Anthony Ullman: Given the party £108,000 in total, including £30,000 directly to Clegg four days before he visited Ullmann’s firm in 2013.

Ian Wright CBE: Given £32,807.79 in addition to £9,000 to Clegg directly.

It stinks.

Moat Cleaning Expenses Scandal MP Awarded Peerage

Douglas Hogg, the disgraced Tory minister who infamously had his moat cleaned on expenses, has been made a Lord. Hogg charged the taxpayer for having his moat cleared, piano tuned and stable lights fixed at his country manor house. He’ll fit in well in our second chamber.

Other upstanding names on the list include Peter Hain, who had to resign and faced a police investigation after he failed to declare 20 donations to his deputy leadership campaign worth a total of over £100,000.

Also there is bonking David Blunkett and a very long list of Downing Street SpAds.

A proud day for parliament…

Yentob Demands “Congratulations” as Lurid Rumours Swirl

On Wednesday the BBC’s spin arm briefed Media Guardian that its creative director Alan Yentob had not tried to influence Newsnight’s investigation into scandal-hit Kids Company, of which he is chairman. Yet on Channel 4 News last night, Yentob admitted he did phone Newsnight staff before the programme aired. He still insists “I don’t think I’ve abused my position in any way”.

In a bizarre interview, a heated Yentob said of sexual abuse allegations at Kids Company: “I don’t believe them for one minute”. He then weirdly demanded Matt Frei congratulate him for his role in running a charity which has now collapsed in disgrace:

“Why don’t you say to me, congratulations Alan?”

Judging by this tweet from the Mail’s media editor…

… it must have been a very long day…

End of an Era…

End of an error, more like…[…]

+ READ MORE +

Cooper and Watson Backer Under Investigation For ‘Undue Spiritual Influence’

Regular readers will remember Guido’s pre-election stories about Labour’s sex segregation rallies, organised in Birmingham by Labour councillor Ansar Ali Khan. The sinister gatherings allegedly involved British Muslims being ordered to vote Labour by religious leaders. […]

+ READ MORE +

Lord Sewel Full Statement Text

LORD-COKE

Lord Sewel has this morning contacted the Clerk of the Parliaments indicating his intention to terminate his Membership of the House of Lords with immediate effect. In his correspondence to the Clerk Lord Sewel issued the following statement:

“I have

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Bercow’s £172 Expenses Bill to Drive 0.7 Miles

MPs have been getting it in the neck this week for 9p mileage claims, but this is something to really get peeved about. Some top digging by Press Association has found John Bercow billed the taxpayer £172 to be chauffeur-driven […]

+ READ MORE +



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“A decision to leave the EU is not without risk, but I believe it is the ideal and idealistic choice for our times. Taking back power from arrogant, unaccountable, hubristic elites and putting it where it belongs. In people’s hands.”

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