Monday, March 18, 2013

McMental’s Revenge: Brown SpAd Will End Press Freedom

With a twist of the knife, the statutory underpinning of the Royal Charter will be put forward in the Lords this afternoon by former Gordon Brown Special Adviser Lord Wilf Stevenson. Loyal Guido readers will remember Stevenson’s role as the Director of Brown’s leadership slush fund the Smith Institute, a position he was forced to resign from after heavy criticism from the Charity Commission. Guido’s sustained campaign to make that happen can be found here.

The Prime Mentalist and his allies are having their revenge for exposure of their dodgy ways.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Smith Institute No Longer a Charity

Touching to see that now Gordon has exited the stage his old slush fund / think-tank / charity is no more. Former Smith Institute boss Wilf Stevenson has at last got his peerage as a reward for being Brown’s long time toady. The charity which even provided a well paid berth for Balls when he first stood for election is now superfluous and has been wound up.

The name lives on as a limited company available as a think-tank-for-hire by big business; organising seminars for pharmaceutical lobbyists, government contractors, supermarket chains and other vested interests aiming to get their hands into taxpayers’ pockets. The glory days of hosting Al Gore meeting Chancellor Gordon a distant memory…

Monday, May 17, 2010

Smith Institute’s Deficit and Decline

A co-conspirator points out that the Smith Institute, formerly Gordon Brown’s favourite think-tank/slush fund, hasn’t filed the legally required accounts to the Charity Commission due over three months ago. As regular readers will remember, the organisation was slammed by the Commission in 2008 for its political activity. Essentially it was a front group for Gordon’s leadership bid.

It seems that as the main beneficiary of the Sith’s work has now been consigned to history, the money and activities are drying up. Last year’s accounts showed that they were close to £120,000 in the red – a far cry from those heady days when they could afford to pay Ed Balls £89,000 for writing two pamphlets while in transit from being a Treasury SpAd to becoming an MP. It makes you wonder what devastation the missing accounts might possibly be hiding.

The Smith Institute says it is getting back to Guido… hopefully quicker than they file their accounts.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Gordon’s “Fund With No Name”

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is taking longer than usual to indicate whether or not he intends to investigate allegations about a second secret slush fund used by Gordon Brown to pay his personal pollster and speech writer Bob Shrum, as revealed in former Labour general-secretary Peter Watt’s book Inside Out.

Usually John Lyon rejects complaints in 48 hours or so if he is not inclined to investigate. Why is the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards taking longer than normal in this case?

  1. It could be that John  Lyon is snowed in with complaints about our troughing political class.*
  2. John  Lyon could be referring to the scathing Charity Commission report into Bob Shrum’s involvement with Gordon’s other slush fund – the Smith Institute – before proceeding.
  3. The Commissioner could be looking for an excuse to not investigate a secret slush fund controlled by the Prime Minister in the sensitive run-up to a general election.

Nevertheless there is prima facie a case to answer, Peter Watt is not some insignificant peripheral figure. The allegation that Gordon Brown kept track of donor’s funds for his own use in an exercise book is not transparent and above board, keeping the details hidden from the person responsible for compliance with the law is just not acceptable and possibly illegal.   Gordon really needs to explain himself, during the last investigation he point-blank refused to answer any questions put to him by the Charity Commission. Where are the records? What is Gordon hiding about the Shrum slush fund? Something smells.

*Harry Cohen is to be fined £65,000 for his fiddles, the socialist fraudster claims it “smacks of class discrimination”.  He should really face criminal charges.

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.

Monday, December 8, 2008

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?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Gordon’s Slush Fund

Sunday, November 30, 2008

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.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Wilf Rumoured to Be Headed to the Downing Street Bunker

The Telegraph is floating the perennial rumour (it has been going around for years) that Wilf Stevenson, the disgraced former head of the Smith Institute, is to go to Downing Street in a policy role.
A couple of years ago when Guido first started exposing the Smith Institute’s links to Gordon Brown – that it was an illegal slush fund for Gordon Brown’s ambitions, acting as his all-but-in-name campaign HQ – a canny observer of Westminster told Guido that “You don’t realise how much of a favour you have done Gordon. If it weren’t for you Wilf would be in Downing Street and he is a walking disaster”. Now he as at a loose end it is more feasible that Wilf could shift to Downing Street, moving from Brown’s policy engine room to join his captain on the ship before it sinks.

Excellent. Wilf’s time as head of a think tank was distinguished only in that it was mired in controversy, was twiced investigated for breaches of the law, was found by the Charity Commission to have broken the law and is now facing the possibility of a third investigation for other breaches of the law by the Electoral Commission. The Smith Institute was not exactly a font of vote winning policies – if it had been any good Brown would not be reduced to desperately nicking Tory policies. If Wilf does move to Downing Street he will only be formalising his role as adviser Gordon. It is somehow fitting that he will be joining his former Smith Institute deputy Konrad Caulkett in Brown’s Downing Street bunker at the end…

Friday, August 8, 2008

Wilf "We Had a Brilliant Report"

Sir Michael White this morning confirms the accuracy of Guido’s exclusive report yesterday. Through gritted teeth the left-wing journalist reported that “right-wing bloggers celebrated what they see as two Brownite scalps”. Too right.

Comical Wilf told Sir Michael that there is nothing to see here, the savaging that the Institute’s trustees got from the Charity Commission was “brilliant”, he told the Telegraph: “The Commission’s report was excellent in every respect and it is only because it was so good that I am able to step down now at this time” and that he always intended to resign as director, presumably Lord Haskel, donor to Brown’s leadership campaign and chairman of the trustees, always planned to resign as well.

Nothing then to do with the direct criticism of the trustees, finding “evidence of unchallenged party political comments being made at Institute events by politicians and also party political comments made by or on behalf of the Institute… combined with the predominant involvement of Labour Party politicians in the Institute’s activity, compromised the Institute’s independence. Bearing in mind the previous engagement between the Commission and the trustees in 2001/02 on this matter, the Commission concluded that the trustees had not safeguarded or adequately supervised the risks posed to the independence and reputation of the Institute… the trustees had allowed the Institute to become exposed to concerns that is supported Government policy and was involved in party political activity inappropriate for a charity”.

Haskel was damned as “not sufficiently engaged to ensure the proper supervision of the charity”.
click to enlarge
Guido doesn’t entirely agree with Iain Dale that the “Institute will cease to be”, it will however cease to be what is was, a slush fund for Gordon Brown. It will become a more normal think-tank, not a partisan vehicle for one politician’s ambitions.

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