Sunday, February 22, 2009

Who Wants to be a Millionaire MEP?

No one is really surprised by MEP’s expense fiddles. The Taxpayers’ Alliance has got a leaked copy of the confidential Galvin Report into Euro-fiddles. The Galvin Report, named after Robert Galvin, the EU Internal Audit Official whose name is on its front cover, was written at the end of 2006 as an audit of the expenses and allowances claimed by a sample of more than 160 MEPs.. Some of the brazen fiddles are just complete p*ss-takes. The Taxpayers’ Alliance shows how it is possible to become a millionaire in a single term as an MEP with shrewd claiming of expenses and allowances. See the summary here [pdf]. British MEPs will be taking home 47% more after June 2009, nice work if you can get it…

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Standards Commissioner Asks Jacqui to Explain Herself

Paul Waugh has the scoop – John Lyon has finally written to Jacqui Smith asking her to explain her £116,000 fiddle.

She is going with the “it was all approved” line. Guido very much doubts she told the Fees Office she was going to spend most nights of the year with her family rather than at the “main home” (actually her sister’s spare bedroom).

On the basis of the Trend ruling, where the Tory MP in parallel circumstances had to pay back £90,000 and the precedent established ironically by Mr & Mrs Balls, she has a prima facie case to answer. (The Balls’ argued successfully that in the recess and school holidays they spent the majority of the time away from London at their constitutency home, therefore on the basis that they spend more nights there, that was their main home). The Standards Committee needs to take a hard look into the evidence of where she spent most nights.

UPDATE : Isn’t there a huge conflict of interest here? The best independent source of evidence for where Jacqui spent her nights will be the records of the police protection unit. Who oversees the police?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lord Moonie’s Backers Arrested Alistair Darling "Did a Jacqui"

When the man in charge of the nation’s finances, Alistair Darling, has been caught fiddling his expenses, and Jacqui Smith, the woman who is in charge of crime prevention is accused of corruption, you have a government which is a kleptocracy. The New Labour promise to be “whiter than white” is like a sick joke now.

Lord Moonie’s money grubbing ways are a disgrace to the House of Lords, he also aided and abetted another expenses fiddle by facilitating Alistair Darling lodging with him and claiming expenses based on Moonie’s flat being Darling’s “main home”, in just the same way that Jacqui claims her sister’s house is her “main home”. Already under investigation for Cash for Amendments, Lord Moonie is mired in fresh sleaze after his business associates were arrested in a police probe into alleged fraud in the NHS.

The Sunday Herald has the scoop:

Richard Nawrot and George Henderson, who run Fife-based Americium Developments, were arrested in London last month on “suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and misconduct in a public office”.

Americium currently pays Moonie, a close ally of Gordon Brown, up to £40,000 a year in consultancy fees. The peer’s relationship with the company dates back to October 2006.

Two of Americium’s US clients have told the Sunday Herald they had lunch with Moonie and Nawrot at Westminster and that the peer later gave a tour of the parliament.

One client said he discussed a potential NHS contract with Moonie at the lunch.

Moonie was close to Gordon and at the heart of the Scottish Raj. He knows where the bodies are buried. This could potentially get very messy for Brown.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cameron Criticises Jacqui Smith

Dave has just told LBC Radio: “I think it is also important that the arrangements that we go into, we can explain them in a reasonable way to a reasonable person, and they would think that we were being reasonable. I don’t think her arrangements really pass that test.” On the subject of her claiming her main residence is her spare room Dave said: “I do think it is a little bit hard to believe, but she has now got to defend it in the court of public opinion.” She may have trousered £116,000 but Guido thinks it will cost her the parliamentary seat.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Second Complaint Over Jacqui Smith to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner

The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner told the Centre for Open Politics he can’t accept the evidence of a newspaper article alone. Well how about Jacqui’s own words?

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings…

Jacqui Says

From Jacqui’s own website (www.jacquismithmp.labour.co.uk/biography):

Can the taxpayers have their £116,000 back please?

Hat-tip : Old Holborn

Michael Trend Precedent is Worrying for Jacqui Smith

Sir Michael White reckons that Jacqui Snith will get away with it. Guido, ever the optimist, is not so sure. The atmosphere currently is very unsympathetic to expense fiddles by politicians, particularly fiddles on this scale. The Michael Trend precedent is not encouraging for Jacqui, nor is is the precedent established by Mr & Mrs Balls.

You may wonder how that is so – after all Ed and Yvette got away with their fiddle. Yes they did, but only after arguing that their constituency home was their main residence. They claimed that they spent more time at the constituency home and therefore that was their primary residence, allowing them to claim expenses for their more expensive London home. That argument was accepted by the authorities.

Jacqui wants us to accept the opposite. That her main home is her sister’s London home where she lodges, so she can claim for her more expensive constituency home. She will have to show that she spends more time at the London flat than seeing her own kids. Crucially, is it three or is it four days a week that she spends away from her kids? The Balls’ argued successfully that in the recess and school holidays they spent the majority of the time away from London, it is hard to believe that Jacqui would stay in London when parliament is in recess and remain away from her family. Why would she do that when she was previously a whip? There would be no reason to stay away from her family and constituency.
That recent Balls precedent is going to be a difficult obstacle. However the Michael Trend precedent is even more worrying for Jacqui. In 2003 the Tory MP was found guilty of abusing the allowances system and ordered to repay £90,277, he was also suspended from parliament and stood down in disgrace at the following election. His crime was to claim the same allowance as Jacqui has when he was staying with a friend in London. Trend claimed he “believed that I could properly continue to designate London as ‘home’ for the purposes of ACA, even though, in domestic terms, Windsor had become my “main residence”.” This is apparently Jacqui’s position. It was not accepted. There was no doubt in the Standard’s Committee’s minds that there was no “real scope for doubt that the words “main residence” were intended to have other than their natural meaning.”

The Committee ruled that “Mr Trend should have recognised that, by claiming Additional Costs Allowance in relation to his Windsor home, the taxpayer was meeting some of the core running costs of what was in reality his main residence. He should have realised that this was wrong. Accordingly, we agree with the Commissioner that Mr Trend was negligent and has breached the Code of Conduct by making improper use of the Additional Costs Allowance and by failing strictly to observe the administrative rules relating to the Allowance.”

It is hard to see how, in these parallel circumstances, Jacqui Smith should not suffer the same fate. Ordered to repay the fiddled £116,000 and suspended from parliament. In which case she will have to resign as Home Secretary.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Anti-Corruption Group Calls for Investigation of Jacqui Smith

The Centre for Open Politics has written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards making a formal complaint regarding Jacqui Smith’s expense fiddles:

Jacqui Smith Complaint to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner

Interesting dilemma: if there is any question of a police investigation of her “Obtaining by Deception” under the Fraud Act, she would have to resign as Home Secretary.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Labour Sleaze : "Second Home Secretary" is on the Take

The Mail on Sunday has caught Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, fiddling her expenses to the tune of £116,000 – bang to rights.
  • She claims her “main home” is the one she stays in when in London – except it belongs to her sister.
  • She claims her “second home” is the home she owns in her constituency. However her own official website says she and her family live there.
Her SpAd claims “It has been cleared by the Commons Fees Office.” The Fees Office don’t clear anything, they take an “Honourable” Member’s word. The property records indicate sole-ownership of the property she claims is her “main home” is in her sister’s name. If she is in fact merely lodging with her sister, who is pocketing the taxpayer’s £500-a-week tax free? Can we have a Home Secretary who steals £116,000 from the taxpayers?

UPDATE : Don’t forget her husband is also on the payroll (£40,000) doing “research” – when he isn’t sending letters supporting her to the local paper – without mentioning his financial and marital relationship.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Make Blunkett Happy

David Blunkett is campaigning to return to the cabinet for the use of yellow buses for schools.

Why don’t we just tell him his campaign has won and make the old guy happy?

UPDATE : Well fancy that, Guido only intended to make a jokey comment and the co-conspirators in the comments pointed out he is paid £25,000-year by a bus company. What do you bet they want to get into the yellow school bus market?


Seen Elsewhere

Labour’s Plan to Attack Part-Time Boris | Standard
Ex-Sun Hack Cleared After 582 Days on Bail | MediaGuido
11 Times Boris Denied He Would Stand for Parliament | Buzzfeed
Attacking UKIP’s Posters is Counter-Productive | Guardian
Sarkozy Tried it on With Hollande’s Ex | Times
Another Spare Room Subsidy Cut Success | Harry Phibbs
Rich Now Have Less Leisure Than Poor | Economist
UKIP’s Immigration Policy Promotes Migrant Entrepreneurs | Breitbart
Another Feminist Lecture | Laura Perrins
UKIP Posters Bad Economics But Good Politics | James Delingpole
Tories Losing to UKIP in Scotland | ConHome


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A confused Nick Griffin says Nigel Farage is a shill for the City, forgetting that City banks want to stay in the EU:

“Farage is a snake oil salesman, but a very good one. His supposed anti-immigration stance is all smoke and mirrors, as is his carefully cultivated image as a ‘man of the people’. The truth is that UKIP is a pro-immigration party that exists to lobby for the interests of the City of London.”



Alexrod says:

It’s money innit.


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