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.

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…

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.

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.

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.

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…

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.

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.[…]

+ READ MORE +

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.
[…]

+ READ MORE +

+++ Wilf Stevenson Resigns From Smith Institute ++++++ Lord Haskel Resigns Chairmanship of Trustees +++

Guido has learnt that following the condemnation by the Charity Commission of the trustees of the Smith Institute, Lord Haskel has resigned as chairman of the trustees, Wilf Stevenson has also resigned as director after the unprecedented criticism of the charity for partisanship.
[…]

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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.
[…]

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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.
[…]

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Flashback : The Smith Institute Exposé

If you are new to the Smith Institute story this January 2007 documentary expo which Iain Dale presented and Guido scripted for broadcast by the old 18 Doughty Street internet TV station gives you the background. This video really did kick off the official Smith Institute investigation.[…]

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The Sith Suffered a Grave Defeat Yesterday

Guido has now had time to fully digest yesterday’s report on the Smith Institute. Some comment from the unpopular wing of the blogosphere shows they don’t seem to have grasped that the Sith were found to have operated illegally nor have they understood the full ramifications of the Charity Commission’s investigative findings:
The Institute failed to implement key elements of the 2002 commitments arising from the first investigation.
[…]

+ READ MORE +

Gordon Brown Refused to Answer Inquiry Questions

One footnote from the Charity Commission report into Gordon Brown’s Smith Institute is positively Nixonian.

You have the right to remain silent but….

Labour are spinning that the report clears Gordon of any links to the Institute. Which is complete bollocks.

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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