Tory MEP Troughers Try to Shut Down Dubrovnik Junket Story

Fourteen Tory MEPs took the gravy train to Croatia last week, recovering from the gruelling Euro election campaign by spending £30,000 on a taxpayer-funded “study day” at Dubrovnik’s luxury 5-star Imperial hotel, enjoying posh nosh and being entertained by world-renowned, and often lingerie-clad cellist, Ana Rucner. Though this time Ana managed to keep her mini-skirt on for her performance. As Guido revealed in the Sun on Sunday, Syed Kamall, the new leader of Tory MEPs in Brussels, only dashed back to London a day early from his “studies” so as not to miss seeing the England-Uruguay match in London. Now the MEPs who went on the jolly have been told to stonewall hacks investigating them living it up on the taxpayer, sending this email to the junketeers:

From: HOLTUM James
Sent: Sunday, June 22, 2014 11:23 AM
To: CALLANAN Martin; ANDREASEN Marta; ATKINS Robert; KIRKHOPE Timothy; VAN ORDEN Geoffrey; FOX Ashley; MCINTYRE Anthea; CAMPBELL BANNERMAN David; FOSTER Jacqueline; ASHWORTH Richard; MCCLARKIN Emma; DUNCAN Ian; FORD Victoria Grace
Cc: FURBISHER John; HOLTUM James
Subject: Study days

Dear Members, you may have seen that you are mentioned as one of the attendees at ECR study days this week.

Our advice is to avoid any unknown numbers for a day or two, but in case you are caught off guard or doorstepped, here is the line that we gave the Mail…

Shutting down stories about wasting taxpayer cash, clearly Brussels has taught them well…

Parliament Asks for Friends for MPs

An interesting job vacancy in Parliament:

Job Title: Induction Buddy for a Member of Parliament (Expression of Interest)
Number of Posts: 75-100
Type of Post: Internal – Expression of Interest
Hours: Variable during November 2014 – January 2015, and first two weeks after the General Election
Closing date: midnight on 19/06/2014

The Role
The Induction Buddy will be the first point of contact for a new Member of Parliament arriving at the House of Commons on their first day. The buddy will escort the new Member through the Members Induction Centre, answering or finding out answers to any queries that the Member may have and take them on a bespoke tour of Parliament. The Buddy will also be expected to provide on-going support to the Member in the weeks following the formal induction, providing the Member, or the Member’s Office with a first point of contact for any queries.

Why not, as a condition of their resettlement pay-offs, simply get those MPs who lose their seats to stick around for a few weeks to show their newbie replacements where the bars are and how to fill in their expenses forms?

Ed in Thurrock: Labour Councillor Faces Benefit Fraud Charges

As if there weren’t already enough rakes to step on for Ed Miliband in Thurrock, a local Labour councillor has been charged with benefit fraud ahead of his trip today. Clare Baldwin has represented Labour on Thurrock council since 2011, this month she appeared in court charged with making dishonest representations so as to obtain housing and council tax benefit, allegedly dishonestly claiming more than £2,640. Labour have suspended Baldwin while she contests the charge, though Guido is told she still sits in the Labour group. Let’s hope no one brings this up this afternoon…

GuyNews Special: Walthamstow’s #BiscuitGate Outrage

Expenses are back in the news, so the Guy News special rapporteur decided to travel to sunny Walthamstow to ask Stella Creasy’s constituents what they thought about their MP’s #BiscuitGate troughing. A complaint was sent to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner after St. Ella claimed £30.98 on expenses for Jammie Dodgers, chocolate fingers, kettle chips, sensations, Viennese biscuits, onion rings and Starburst sweeties for Labour Party volunteers.

The people of Walthamstow have spoken…

Farage Fingers Wrong Blonde

The Times have done over Nigel Farage this morning, reporting that £60,000 of taxpayer cash paid into his personal bank account is unaccounted for. The £15,500-a-year was for the upkeep of his constituency office in Bognor Regis, but since Farage gets it rent-free the accusation is that he only spends £3,000-a-year on running costs. Leaving around £12,000-a-year missing. No doubt it will turn out to be within the European parliament’s lax rules. It doesn’t smell right, even if the payments are automatic.

UKIP pre-empted the Times splash yesterday by naming the anonymous ex-party official who has grassed Farage up to the EU anti-fraud office as Jasna Badzak:

“Jasna Badzak is a convicted fraudster serving a suspended sentence, whose allegations are unfounded and vexatious. She has never been a press secretary or confidant of Mr Farage’s. Your use of her indicates that you are writing an article with a defined end by inventing a road to achieve that end.”

Just one problem: the Times tells Guido that Badzak was not the source of the story. This could get messy…

He Lied and Lied and Lied

Jailed expenses crook Jim Devine has been ordered to pay his former office manager £18,000 in damages after a judge ruled that he had defamed her to cover up his own criminality. Marion Kinley alleged Devine had stated I’d stolen significant sums of money while office manager and the reason I did this was because I had a serious gambling problem”. The judge agreed “that when he made these statement he knew them not to be true and that they were made maliciously” and that Devine’s evidence was “incredible” and “implausible”. This is one Jim won’t be able to charge to the taxpayer…

Guy News Musical Special: So Long, Farewell Maria

Goodbye…

Miller Drowns Out Osborne’s Good Economic News

George Osborne must be furious that because of Maria Miller no one is talking about the IMF’s forecast that Britain will be the fastest growing leading economy this year. They have today announced their prediction that UK growth will reach 2.9%, the fastest in the G7, and then 2.5% in 2015. Also endorsing Osborne’s strategy for future growth:

“the government’s efforts to raise capital spending while staying within the medium-term fiscal envelope should help bolster recovery and long-term growth”

Yet because of one Cabinet minister grabbing all the headlines, this will go unnoticed by the vast majority of the public. As ConHome’s Mark Wallace points out:

“Ministers need to be able to get on with communicating the central messages that have the potential to deliver victory in 2015. If their interviews are constantly sidetracked into the question of Miller’s expenses, or their arguments are undermined by the presence in the cabinet of someone who demonstrably didn’t deliver the best value for the taxpayer, that becomes a serious problem.”

If Number 10 let this go on into recess it’ll be the only talking point on the doorstep for weeks…

UPDATE: Interestingly, Guido understands the IMF are refusing to let Olivier Blanchard, their chief economist who famously warned Osborne was playing with fire“, be interviewed by Sky News. Surely they aren’t worried about him putting his foot in it again…

WATCH: “Are You Going to Resign, Maria Miller?”

Great stuff from Sky’s Sophy Ridge, who has spent the day standing outside Number 10 shouting at Cabinet ministers. Miller’s face…[…]

Shine Light on the Standards Committee

John Mann has used his urgent question to not unreasonably request that all recordings of Standards Committee meetings are made public. How did the Committee come to the decision to give Miller such soft censure? Which members of the troughers’ […]

Two Thirds Say Standards Committee Should Be Abolished

69% of the public agree with Guido that MPs should not be allowed to sit on the committee that judges whether politicians are guilty of fiddling their expenses, according to a Survation poll for Breitbart London. 47% say Maria […]

Where is Harman?

It’s not just Maria Miller that has gone to ground – where is her Shadow? Who, Guido hears you ask, even is the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport? Harriet Harman has not really been seen since […]



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Quote of the Day

Lord Ashcroft’s focus group is asked where each party leader would be most likely to go on holiday:

David Cameron: “Monaco”

Nigel Farage: “Blighty”

Nick Clegg: “Caribbean”

Ed Miliband: “The Moon, his own little world”

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