Miller Car Crash Interview Raises More Expenses Questions

Maria Miller has been well and truly skewered by the Standard this afternoon during an interview in which she tried to play down allegations about her expenses. Did Sir Thomas Legg, the man who carried out the first independent audit into her second home claims, know that her parents lived in the property? “I obviously spoke to the Fees Office about my claims and they were happy that everything was in order”. Hardly a yes.

Who was the second independent auditor? Joe Murphy reports that “The Culture Secretary replied that it was the Conservative Party which “audited all Conservative MPs’ expenses”.  Her definition of independent may raise some eyebrows as the Tory panel was headed by the then Chief Whip and David Cameron’s chief of staff”. Most suspect of all was Miller’s answer to the charge that her decision to stop claiming just as the expenses scandal broke was more than coincidence:

“”I think there was a lot of concern about the rules and, er, a lot of concern about, you know, the whole issue, and it’s something I felt that I didn’t want to be, sort of, mixed up in, the fact that I …”  Mrs Miller finally stopped trying to explain herself, and simply said:  “I just made that decision.””

She will have to do better than that when John Lyon comes calling…

Why Guido Won’t Be Apologising to Hodge the Dodge

This morning the Telegraph issued a carefully-worded apology to question-dodging Margaret Hodge:

hodge“Contrary to our report “Hodge faces challenge over family firm’s taxes” (Nov 20), Stemcor, in which Ms Hodge has a small shareholding, has not abused transfer pricing to avoid tax. We accept that there is no inconsistency or hypocrisy in Ms Hodge criticising other companies for tax avoidance and apologise to her for any contrary impression.”

Note the very specific assertion that Stemcor did not abuse transfer pricing to avoid tax. Guido never made that claim. The paper’s willingness to describe a million pound plus shareholding as “small” is odd, and crucially there is no mention of Hodge’s use of shares held in trusts. She has still yet to reply to our repeated questions, which followed a very different line to the Telegraph’s accusations and have been sent again to her today. Guido stands by everything we have written.

Hodge the Dodge v The Shadow Cabinet


Last week Guido noted how question-dodging Margaret Hodge was at odds with Chuka Umunna over his use of a £20,000 analyst from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Despite Hodge having worked for the company herself in the past, she suggested that PwC should no longer be given government contracts due to their collusion in “aggressive tax avoidance”Unfortunately for the chair of the Public Accounts Committee, her shadow cabinet bosses have failed to adopt such a noble position.

In the latest Register of Members’ Interests Ed Balls declares that he  has taken on a PwC analyst until March next year, with their £88,060 wage paid for by the company. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing…

Starbucks Solidarity

st pauls

The unwashed hordes who support UK Uncut will be harassing low-paid workers in Starbucks today. It seems like only yesterday that the Occupy crowd were queuing up outside the St Paul’s branch for a fair trade skinny decaf. If you are doing a bit of Christmas shopping today maybe pop in and show some solidarity with the workers…

MILT: Mums I’d Like To Tax

It’s taken some time but it seems the Labour kickback machine is getting into gear. The dividing lines are being drawn over the whether or not Labour back the Welfare Uprating Bill that will apparently be published this side of Christmas. In the meantime a nice row is brewing over the so called “Mummy Tax”. After granny and pasties, hidden hits are de rigueur these days. A friend of Ed Balls tells Guido this morning:

“Osborne effectively branding mums, taking time out from work to be with their new baby, as work-shy benefit scroungers is a big political mistake.”

Guido is not sure how a reduction in hand-outs is a “tax”, but the issue is certainly potent. Mumsnet will be unbearable today…

Halfon to Campaign for ‘Great Gordon Brown Repeal Bill’

gordonToday’s Indy reports on rumours that fuel duty campaigner Rob Halfon will turn to the 10p tax rate for his next trick. Guido can confirm that Halfon will push George Osborne to repeal Gordon Brown’s abolition of the 10p rate, bringing it back for everyone earning under £15,000. The move is inspired by work done by the ASI to produce a living wage through tax cuts rather than wage fixing. Halfon will lobby the treasury to make the move by the 2013 budget, 2014 failing that. A friend of Halfon tells Guido that Gordon’s 10p rate abolition was a “reckless, lunatic thing to do, Robert wants to put that right”. They’re calling it the Great Gordon Brown Repeal Bill…

Margaret Hodge Worked for PriceWaterhouse

When Margaret Hodge went off on one about the ‘Big 4’ professional services firms this morning, she awkwardly forgot that half the shadow cabinet have employed staffers from PricewaterhouseCoopers during the last year. Could there be anything else languishing deep down in Hodge’s memory that she needs reminding of? Something that happened before she became an MP, perhaps? Maybe to do with a past career choice?

Between 1992 and 1994 Hodge worked as a senior consultant for, you guessed it, PriceWaterhouse, as they were known before the 1998 merger with Coopers & Lybrand. Guido would ask what her duties were, but she’d probably just dodge the question…

Hodge the Dodge: Satire is Dead

Question-dodging Margaret Hodge had some nerve asking the PM about tax avoidance today, and when she got her phone out to tweet afterwards the irony knew no bounds:

Never mind the fact that she still hasn’t answered Guido’s repeated questions about her own tax arrangements. Come on Margaret, what was that about failing to answer questions? 

Broke Guardian Selling the Rest of the Auto Trader Silver

Somehow Sky beat the Media Guardian to the story in their own backyard – GMG are selling their remaining 50% stake in Auto Trader for up to £600m. Things must be getting really bad…

Of course it was the sale of the first chunk of the car classifieds goldmine that employed the finest tax avoidance techniques known to the Cayman Islands.[…]


Bring It On Hodge

Margaret Hodge told the Daily Politics that she will be taking action against anyone that points out that her  family firm Stemcor pays very little corporation tax on a billion pound turnover. Yet, she will still not explain the exact nature of her “tiny, tiny, tiny” shareholdings worth several million pounds and the trusts involved.[…]


All Eyes on Hodge the Dodge


Margaret Hodge is enjoying her day in the limelight but continuing to dodge Guido’s questions about her own perfectly legal and sensible tax efficiency. The slayer of Starbucks and chief inquisitor at the Public Accounts Committee has been peddling around a Private Eye story that she says exonerates her over the tax avoidance allegations put to her by Tory MP Priti Patel.[…]


Guardian Hosted Seminar Encouraging Tax Avoidance

To mark the Guardian’s ‘Offshore Secrets’ week Guido has been exposing some home truths of their own over the past few days. On Monday GMG’s Cayman Islands company was shown to still be active, while yesterday a special Guidorama investigation revealed that their King’s Place offices are owned by a tax-exempt offshore investment trust.[…]


Guidorama Investigation: Guardian Offices Owned Offshore

Day two of the Guardian’s ongoing Offshore Secrets investigation focused on “who is buying up London: the real identities behind Britain’s secret property deals”. Apparently some 100,000 tax avoiders have been purchasing British properties and offices using offshore companies, hiding their dealings in the UK and reducing their bill to the exchequer.[…]


Guardian’s Offshore Secrets: Guardian Media Group Cayman Islands Company Still Active


In 2011 Guido produced a video highlighting Guardian Media Group’s financial hypocrisies, provoking a rambling article from editor Alan Rusbridger and another self-justifying piece in the paper blaming the decision to place hundreds of millions in assets offshore on their investment partners Apax.[…]


Priti Patel Demands “Hodge the Dodge” Calls Stemcor to PAC

Priti Patel has written a strongly worded letter to Margaret Hodge demanding that she calls Stemcor in front of the Public Accounts Committee for a grilling –  as Chair of the PAC she would have to stand aside when Stem or gave evidence to avoid a conflict of interest because of her position as a shareholder with millions tied up in Stemcor.[…]


Margaret Hodge’s Multi-Million Pound Stemcor Trusts

Margaret Hodge didn’t take too kindly to being accused of tax hypocrisy by Priti Patel yesterday. The litigious Labour MP and ardent anti-tax avoidance campaigner insists she has done nothing wrong with her shareholding arrangements at 0.01% tax rate paying Stemcor.[…]


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Quote of the Day

Trump jokes about media bias…

“The media is even more biased against me than ever before. You want the proof? Michelle Obama gives a speech and everyone loves it. It’s fantastic. They think she’s absolutely great. My Wife Melania gives the exact same speech! And people get on her case! And I don’t get it! I don’t know Why!”

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