Congratulations to the Mirror’s James Lyons, who has landed the Deputy Political Editor gig at the Sunday Times. Lyons is hardly short of a few bob having married into the multi-millionairess Margaret Hodge’s family dynasty. Still, nice little earner…
Just two weeks ’til the referendum on Scottish freedom and finally Westminster’s chattering classes are waking up to the bookies halving the odds on a ‘Yes’ victory. The Times’ Red Box has gone into panic mode this week, with Scottish political editor Lindsay McIntosh yesterday warning against bubble complacency:
“The first is seen by many in the political bubble. In it, the Nationalists are losing the practical arguments about the economy, so are on course to lose the vote badly. The other, seen by some outside, shows “yes” quietly stealing victory… Unionists need to brush up on their messaging if they are not to be responsible for a dramatic redrawing of the UK after September 18.”
Alice Thomson this morning goes further, imploring: “Wake up unionists, you could really lose this”:
“If Scotland votes Yes, all hell will break loose – and the unionists’ complacency will be to blame. It’s time for Westminster to focus on the independence referendum.”
Rachel Sylvester also has growing concerns, telling Dave:
“If he becomes the Conservative prime minister who presided over the break-up of the United Kingdom, he will face immediate calls for his resignation from within his party.”
Squeaky bum time…
The Telegraph would usually be the first out of the traps on an expenses story, but they’ve decided it will be more fun to side with the ‘Kippers and knock the Times today. Brogan has been activated and is talking down the story. The polling, it seems, would agree with his angle, namely that scandal is wasted on Farage because – like Boris – the public have warmed to him. Nothing like a bit of mudslinging to liven up a dull day though.
Could today’s effort by The Times to get UKIP have anything to with the complaint made last month by the Lib Dem MEP Edward McMillan-Scott about UKIP’s use of allowances? His complaint was based on a series of reports by Times journalists Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson. Yesterday that complaint was thrown out by a European Parliament bureau meeting that found there was no matter requiring further investigation…
Times hack Billy Kenber has hit back at claims from UKIP that they borked the figures in their story this morning.
From: “Kenber, Billy”
Date: 15 April 2014 10:14:05 BST
To: David Samuel-Camps
Cc: Alexi Mostrous, Nigel Farage
Subject: Re: Your report
The difference between the two figures lies in the way Ukip MEP’s break down their transparency reports.
This includes various categories – of which the one of relevance to rent is “office management and running costs” which covers rent, utilities, insurance, business rates and cleaning. In his transparency reports Farage claims to have spent £15,500 a year solely on this category since July 2009. This does not include office equipment, phone bills and stationery which fall under “communication costs” and “stationery, periodicals, subscriptions”.
As you say, the total monthly cost for all office expenditure was £700 (down from £2,000 when you managed to cancel various locked-in contracts for things like unnecessary amounts of printer ink) which I asked you to break down into its constituent parts – something we went through twice to ensure accuracy.
You said that utilities and insurance amounted to less than £100 a month and that council tax/business rates were £150 (I looked it up and it was £149 a month for the current financial year 2013). Hence the figure of £250 a month, which is £3,000 a year. The remaining £450 a month falls under the two other categories outlined above.
Bognor Regis is the nearest well-known town for readers who are less familiar with the West Sussex coast.
Media Guido, your one stop shop for airing dirty laundry in public…
Guido said this morning that this would get messy, and as predicted, one of the Times’ sources is now kicking back. In a letter to the journalists who wrote the story, David Samuel-Camps says he was misquoted:
“Mr Kenber and Mr Mostrous,
Re: Nigel Farage and office costs
I am extremely concerned that in your report you have distorted my responses to your questions regarding the Lyminster office costs.
On the front page you quote me as stating that the costs were £3000 per year. This is grossly incorrect. I told you that the previous manager had tied the office into some supply contracts and as a result the monthly costs were some £2000. I told you several times that I eventually reduced the costs to £700 per month. When I went to school we were taught the times tables and that £700 times 12 equals £8400 (which is not too far removed from Mr Farage’s £1000 per month) so where on earth did you come up with a figure of £3000?
At no time did I say that “electricity, heating, and business rates at the office totalled less than £250 a month”. I told you that I could not remember the individual amounts as it was over four years ago but they would have been in the region of £200 each.
Later, you then contradict yourselves by quoting me as saying that the costs were £700 per month – which is correct. You asked me a number of times about the £700/month figure which I confirmed several times; again I have to ask how does £700 per month equate to £3000 per year? I should also point out that our conversations were witnessed.
To the best of knowledge and belief I was completely honest in my answers and resent the fact that those answers have been completely distorted. I did warn you that there is a small minority who are “mischief makers” – one in particular who would go to any lengths to destroy Mr Farage’s reputation.
I expect you to publish corrections as outlined above.
Finally, I should point out that the Lyminster is nowhere near Bognor Regis; it is on the outskirts of Littlehampton, a fact that could have been verified by looking at an AA road atlas!
David Samuel-Camps BA (Hons) Dip. PA”
To a completely impartial observer like Guido, this doesn’t look good. If what Samuel-Camps is saying is true they should go to the PCC…
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…
Last week this blog pointed out that Ed Miliband is hardly coming across as the Prime Minister in waiting, well today the people agree. A Times/Yougov poll has just 19% saying they can see Ed in Number 10, when the same question was asked of Dave in 2008 the number was 49%. Just 26% think Labour is ready for government. As Morten Morland says in the video above, Britain can do better than this…
Plenty of names in the hat for the soon-to-be-vacated Political Editor position at the Sunday Times. A top three Lobby job is up for grabs, as usual Guido gives you the runners and riders. A betting man would have a flutter on Tim Shipman from the Mail, the Spectator’s Pol Ed James Forsyth has Sunday experience from his Mail on Sunday column, Rob Winnett is said to be upset about being recalled back to Telegraph Towers, so could well put his hat in the ring.[…]
Worth keeping an eye on this one. An unnamed undercover Sunday Times reporter has been accused of having sex with the target of her sting, a dentist believed to be involved in female genital mutilation. Particularly awkward that Omar Addow will not face charges after the CPS suggested the journalist’s version of events was not credible.[…]
With no diary bitch fights to entertain MediaGuido today, the Times have taken to winding up the Telegraph in person. Their Royal reporter Valentine Low has been busy subverting the Telegraph’s royal baby webcam this afternoon:
In fairness, it’s the first time anything interesting has happened on the feed so far…