No need to dip into the £137,000 salary paid to the worst Speaker in living memory. It might be legal, it still stinks. The Speaker is overseeing the investigation into parliamentary expense padding, no wonder he wants to hide the truth from us. What will it take to shift the fiddler-in-chief?
So these conferences are completely separate, got that? Different organisers, different logos, the whole lot. You even had to accredit twice, with different people. By an uncanny coincidence, of the sort that one sees all the time in real life, they feature the same people, meeting in the same place, under the same title (Progressive Governance). But they’re totally different things.
Just like when Gordon’s Smith Institute invited U.S. pollster Bob Shrum to outline an attack strategy against David Cameron to an invited audience of Polly Toynbee, Ed Balls, Dougie Alexander and the rest of the Brownies fan club in the media. That invite wasn’t from the independent non-partisan charity the Smith Institute. It was from the private limited company called the Smith Institute, 100% owned by the Trustees of the charity, from the same office, with the same people. But a totally different thing.
All the SpAds and ministers and security are at the conference on the public payroll. Guido would be surprised if other subsidies hadn’t slipped through. The same applies to all the foreign attendees as well. The Euro-gravy train has come, at their respective taxpayer’s expense, via the channel tunnel bringing the social democratic elite to wine and dine. They really know how to trough on the continent. The British taxpayer is picking up the tab for the European socialist’s weekend break in London courtesy of Gordon Brown. Bet you are happy about that…
That is an incredible average of £3,723 per meeting.
She also works for Pat McFadden MP and Michael Cashman MEP, so the taxpayer chips in a bit more there in addition to the payments she gets from the Labour Party and Amicus.
Is she the most overpaid local council fat cat? Are all the Watsons getting fat off the backs of struggling taxpayers?
“There are legitimate grounds for appealing the decision to publish private addresses. However, there is no earthly reason why the rest of the information should not be published immediately.
“Any delay will only add to the British public’s distrust in their politicians.”
GF : I see from Nick’s press release that he thinks MPs should publish their full expenses immediately. When is he going to publish his expenses?
Tim : I don’t know. Can I get his press officer Hannah to call you?
GF : When is Lynne going to publish her expenses in full?
Ian : Err, don’t know. I’ll ask her.
GF : Great, get back to me.
Guido called Ed Davey’s Office.
GF : When is Ed going to publish his expenses in full?
Kerry : He will as soon as he can. We have had staffing problems and he has been very busy with the Lisbon Treaty.
So Ed Davey is going to publish his expenses in full. Just as well because his leader says any delay will “will only add to the British public’s distrust in their politicians.” The LibDems are talking the talk, can they walk the walk? Don’t delay…
UPDATE 16.15 : Clegg’s office has just called to say he will be publishing his expenses in full the week after next. They were not clear if all LibDem MPs will be doing the same.
Your request falls outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act because the BBC and the other public service broadcasters are covered by the Act only in respect of information held for purposes “other than those of journalism, art or literature”Well that argument seems flawed on two counts. Firstly the cost of a bottle of wine ordered by Nick at the telly taxpayer’s expense is not information held for the purposes of journalism. It is information held, by law, for the purposes of accounting. Guido has not FoI’d Nick’s notes of the lunch, he simply wants to know how many pound notes a bottle of wine poured down the throat of a politician costs the licence payers. Guido has not requested the names of his dining partners either. There is therefore no journalistic reason to keep the cost of a bottle of wine secret is there? It is public money after all.
Secondly the BBC has given dozens of FoI responses to requests about expense claim requests in the past. So why is this one different? There is a clear public interest in the voters and licence payers discovering how lavish are the contents of the trough that the politico-media nexus dines at – the public pays for the “trebles all round”. Guido revealed a few weeks ago that the Lobby’s journalists have their own bar subsidised by taxpayers to the tune of £1,000 every working day. Is it any wonder that for so long they have gone easy on MPs when they are guilty of sharing the same trough?
Mr Guido Fawkes
March 20, 2008
Dear Mr Fawkes
RFI20080192 – Freedom of Information request
Thank you for your email of 26 February 2008 requesting a full, itemised account of the expenses of the BBC’s Political Editor, Nick Robinson, and in particular any itemised receipts for Shepherds, Le Caprice and The Atrium restaurants. The reference number for your request is RFI20080192.
Your request falls outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act because the BBC and the other public service broadcasters are covered by the Act only in respect of information held for purposes “other than those of journalism, art or literature” (see Schedule I, Part VI of the Act). We are not therefore obliged to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities.
The BBC considers that this includes information about the costs involved in creating its output, including expenses incurred during this process. Information which is not subject to disclosure under the Act because of Schedule I might otherwise be exempt from disclosure because of the application of other provisions of the Act. The BBC notes the recent decision notice of the Information Commissioner (ref. FS50085710): in that case the Commissioner considered that payments (including expenses) made to talent did fall within the scope of the Act. However, the Commissioner decided that the information was exempt from disclosure under section 40(2) of the Act as he felt that the payment information constituted personal data and that its disclosure would breach the first data protection principle in the Data Protection Act, being ‘fair and lawful processing’. The Commissioner considered that the individuals in that case had a reasonable expectation that their personal data would not be disclosed and it would therefore be unfair to do so.
The BBC does not agree with the Commissioner’s decision on the scope of the Act and reserves its position on the matter; however, the BBC onsiders that in the event of a similar finding by the Commissioner in this case, the information you have requested would also be exempt under the Act under section 40(2) as the information constitutes personal data and disclosure would breach the First Principle (fair and lawful processing). The expenses claimed by this individual do not relate to the performance of a public function which involves spending public money or taking influential policy decisions. The individual involved would not expect the type of information requested to be disclosed to third parties, and therefore to do so would be unfair.
Head of Editorial
Compliance, BBC News