Tories Call for an Inquiry into Balls’ Bung

The Tories are calling for a Civil Service inquiry into the circumstances surrounding a 2005 payment of nearly £100,000 to Ed Balls from the already under statutory investigation Smith Institute. The payment was allegedly for his work on two pamphlets published by the Institute. Ex-employees confirm that he was never seen at the Institute’s offices during his 8 month tenure despite being paid an unheard of (for wonkland) monthly salary of over £10,000.

The Smith Institute was used as a slush fund for the Brownies. It functioned effectively as Gordon’s policy and political secretariat in his long putsch for the premiership. Once Gordon Brown was installed in No. 10, Konrad Caulkett moved seamlessly from his executive position at the Smith Institute to become a Special Adviser in Downing Street. During Konrad’s time at the supposedly non-political charity he assisted Ed Ball’s 2005 election campaign in his Normanton constituency whilst still drawing a salary from the charity.

Who stumped up for Ed Balls’ generous payments package? Could it have been wealthy property developer John Milligan? Pictured here with Brown, he is a trustee of Gordon’s charity, the Smith Institute, has given tens of thousands to the Labour party and even made a personal donation of £25,000 to Gordon’s leadership coffers.

For some strange reason Ed Balls failed to properly declare his income from the Smith Institute or get the necessary Treasury clearance required for a Special Adviser before taking the sinecure. The rules were designed to prevent conflicts of interest. It also turned out that the Treasury had made undeclared payments to the Smith Institute, by mistake of course, which were only discovered when Guido succeeded in pushing the Charity Commissioners to investigate. They were the result of a mix-up according to yet another Smith Institute trustee Paul Myners, one of Gordon’s favourite businessman who only remembered (during the week the investigation was announced) that he was himself supposed to make good the payment, some two years later.

Of course the Smith Institute received free advice and polling data from another trustee, Deborah Mattinson, whose firm coincidentally won government contracts for which they charged the Treasury £3 million. Do you think there is a strong piscine smell here?

Tories Slam Sith "Fair Tax" Plans

This morning’s controversial Smith Institute summit on “fair taxation” was relocated from Downing Street after Guido drew attention to it. The event featured Gordon Brown’s former adviser and architect of Brown’s pensions grab, Chris Wales. As the principal architect of Gordon Brown’s pensions tax he is responsible for devastating pension funds. Today he gave the Sith a few new ideas for “fair taxes” on property to be levied through local councils.

Eric Pickles MP, Tory local government shadow didn’t hold back, he laid into the Smith Institute today – “the public will be alarmed that Gordon Brown’s advisers and favoured think-tank are calling for a toxic cocktail of local income taxes and a new national property tax.”

The Charity Commission is still investigating the Smith Institute for engaging in illegal political activity. Obviously these new policies are just a tad politically contentious…

Sith Cancel Scheduled Downing Street Meeting

The Telegraph’s Chris Hope is reporting that the Smith Institute has cancelled the meeting it was having at No. 11 Downing Street and moved it to a different central London location – the British Academy.

He says the Smith Institute refused to say where it originally planned to have the meeting – despite it stating clearly in the original invitation that it was being held “with the kind permission of the Chancellor of the Exchequer”.

Hope has picked up on the use of “Fair” by Gordon yesterday at his press conference in reference to tax, and the seminar’s “Fair Tax” title. Could they somehow be related?

Anti-sleaze campaigner Chris Grayling MP agrees; “It looks like an amazing coincidence that the Smith Institute is riding once again to the rescue in areas where Gordon Brown is having political problems.”

+++ EXCLUSIVE +++Tax Policy Emergency : "Call in the Smith Institute"

The non-political charity known as the Smith Institute, which is in no way a front for the Brownies, is having a Downing Street seminar on Wednesday next week.

The subject? “Fair Tax” – which is the political hot-issue of the moment for the Brownies. Is this what Gordon meant this morning when he said he wanted more time to “forensically” take apart Osborne’s proposals?

Judging by the copy of the invitation Guido has obtained, it looks like the Smith Institute is being tasked with developing a political response strategy for dealing with the non-domicile and inheritance tax proposals – Osborne has pushed Brown into uncomfortably defending tax-free billionaires. Something the Brownies would not have been expecting…

No wonder Smith Institute director Wilf Stevenson is inviting people to 11 Downing Street “with the kind permission of the Chancellor of the Exchequer”they need a new tax philosophy and fast.

UPDATE : The respected Institute for Fiscal Studies is distinctly unimpressed at the claim that the event is part of a jointly held seminar series. Bonnie Brimstone the events organiser at the IFS told Guido she had not heard anything about it, Robert Chote the Director of the IFS was more diplomatic, when Guido put it to him that Wilf’s invite said it was a joint seminar he demurred “I wouldn’t describe it that way”.

The Fink Spots Shrum Hand

Tomorrow’s Times will highlight the input of Bob Shrum into Gordon’s conference speech. It turns out to have been a formulaic re-hash of old Shrum speeches. Danny Finkelstein spotted the similarity this afternoon and the paper has since confirmed it to be the case. Shrum is understood to have been given a desk in Downing Street.

Guido need hardly remind readers that Bob Shrum was paid by Gordon’s think-tank, the Smith Institute, to advise him on political strategy. It was documentary evidence of that blatantly illegal activity (provided by Guido) which triggered the ongoing Charity Commission investigation. Ed Balls also berthed at the Smith Institute between leaving his job as a Treasury SpAd and becoming an MP – he was paid a little short of £100,000 for writing a couple of pamphlets.

With the transfer also of Konrad Caulkett from the Smith Institute to Downing Street as well, it is abundantly clear that the Smith Institute has served its purpose – preparing the ground for the Brown premiership. All unlawfully subsidised by the taxpayer…

Charity Commission Will Publish Sith Investigation Findings

Guido contacted the investigators at the Charity Commission recently to inquire as to how the eight-month long investigation into the wrong doings of the Sith was progressing. They won’t say as yet, but did promise they would publish their report online.

Gordon is pushing for a change in the laws the Smith Institute broke so that their actions are decriminalised. He told voluntary workers this week

“I do not personally believe that you can be an effective community and charity organisation… if you’re somehow limited in advocacy and your ability to speak and campaign on things you think are wrong. It should not be wrong for you to say `we urge you to support this cause.’ That’s a controversial thing as well.”

Ed Miliband, the ultra-Brownite Cabinet Office minister and frequent attendee of Smith Institute events at 11 Downing Street in the past, also reckons “Charities should be free to participate in appropriate ways in political activities. There are clear benefits to society from allowing charities to do so.” Clearly such a change would benefit the Smith Institute and that charity’s sole beneficiary – G. Brown.

Nevertheless this will be a change in the law that will allow tax rebates for political campaigning. Surprisingly enough Guido favours the change. Guido has never yet met a tax deduction he hasn’t liked…

Just so long as it is not retrospective and doesn’t get the sleazy Sith off the hook. Which is why a timely conclusion to the Charity Commission’s investigation is now overdue.

Coincidence or Corruption?

Gordon’s pollster Deborah Mattinson sits on the board of Gordon’s think-tank, the Smith Institute. Her relationship with Gordon has been very profitable for her firm, OLR. According to today’s Sunday Telegraph, government contracts totalling some £3 milllion have come her way.

By coincidence OLR does a bit of polling for the Smith Institute for no charge. In February Guido queried who paid for their latest “92% favour Gordon” poll. OLR came back and said they had no paying client for the research. Nor did they have an identifiable paying client for their “What it means to be British” research in 2005. Shortly afterwards Gordon began loudly banging his Britishness drum. Opinion Leader Research has helped Gordon on “Britishness” issues before, their research was also used extensively in “New Britain” a 1999 publication produced by the Smith Institute. The pamphlet was itself singled out and explicitly criticised by the Charity Commission as being party political in the first 2001 investigation into the Sith.When the taxpayer is paying OLR £153,484.38 for one-day seminars it can’t be hard for OLR to do a bit of off-the-books work for the Smith Institute. The taxpayer is subsidising Gordon’s private polling, just as it subsidised the event hosting of Gordon’s Smith Institute at Downing Street.

Chris Grayling has written to the Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell, asking him to investigate how OLR comes to win so many government contracts. Many market research industry competitors agree with Guido:- it is cronyism plain and simple.

Sith’s Konrad Rewarded with Downing Street Job

Guido can reveal that Konrad Caulkett, the former Smith Institute “charity worker” who was responsible for organising the nearly two hundred events at 11 Downing Street which proved so controversial that the Charity Commissioners launched a statutory investigation into the affair, has become a Downing Street Special Adviser.

The Smith Institute, a charity widely seen as a front for Gordon Brown, who seemed to be the only beneficiary of the charity, acted as an integral part of his long campaign to become PM. By law it was supposedly a non-partisan, non-political organisation, yet it hosted a how to beat Cameron event to which the Conservatives formally objected.

Wilf Stevenson, the director of the institute claimed, somewhat implausibly, that there was no direct link to Gordon Brown. Guido revealed that Sarah Brown got Konrad Caulkett the job at the Smith Institute. Despite Konrad being at the centre of allegations that the Smith Institute broke the law, Sarah Brown has once again stepped in to help him get a job, this time as her SpAd. So despite him being suspected of various breaches of the Charity laws, despite denials of links to Gordon, he has been brought onto the No. 10 payroll. Downing Street sleaze clearly didn’t end with Blair.

See also Sith attempt to cover-up use of No. 11, Mrs Brown recruits Konrad as the Sith apprentice, The back story to the Sith’s Konrad, The public charity which refuses to talk to the public, Non-political charity does policy at No. 11, Sith’s Konrad paid by charity to campaign for Balls’ election, The Charity Commission announcement, The Sith and the Statesman.

Sith Break the Rules, Sith Change the Rules

The Charity Commission has been foot dragging on reporting any findings from their investigation into the Smith Institute’s multiple breaches of the charity laws.

Ed Miliband, the Cabinet Office minister and frequent attendee of Smith Institute events at 11 Downing […]

Brown to Protect the Sith

In the small print of Brown’s Commons Statement yesterday:

Right of charities to campaign
168. …it is important to ensure that the regulatory framework for the third sector, together with the Government’s consultation mechanisms and investments in strengthening the organisational

[…]

Smith Institute Board’s Financial Backing for Gordon

The Smith Institute’s director, Wilf Stevenson claims that it is an independent, non-partisan charity and has no direct links to Gordon Brown.

So it is a bit of a coincidence that Lord Haskell, chairman of the Board of Trustees gave

[…]

Brown Dodges Answering for the Sithat Last Treasury Questions

Today was the last Treasury Questions ever for Gordon Brown, Stephen Timms, Treasury Chief Secretary, was also fielding questions. David Jones, the Shadow Welsh minister, took the opportunity to ask a question about the Smith Institute. He blogs that it

[…]



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