Monday, March 17, 2014

Witness Points Finger at Tory Whips in Evans Trial

Today Preston Crown Court heard evidence from several current and former MPs responsible for disciplining Nigel Evans over his alleged sex offences. Former whip Michael Fabricant began by testifying that the allegations against Evans seemed “out of character”. John Randall, former assistant whip, recounted being told by the alleged victim how he had woken up while being sexually assaulted by Evans on his sofa. Also attending that meeting was former chief whip Patrick McLoughlin, who admitted Evans’ version of events did not differ considerably from the victim’s and so he was warned of his future conduct. Randall said the incident was considered “disciplinary not criminal”.

It was also claimed that the whips tried to talk the victim out of his demand that Evans resign. Tory PRU wonk Iain Corby claimed that Evans’ fourth alleged victim told whips the MP should not stand for re-election in 2010 but eventually agreed to compromise after the being asked “do you really want Nigel’s career to end?” This afternoon another alleged victim claimed that Evans “cupped his genitals” in the full view of the Commons’ Strangers bar. The trial continues…

Government Trade Envoy’s £60,000 Conflict of Interest
Charles Hendry’s Oil Job Linked to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan

Tory MP Charles Hendry has been a busy coining it since he was sacked as Energy minister, landing a £48,000 windfall from wind energy giants Forewind and hobnobbing with Hanover lobbyists and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. On top of that, Hendry has now bagged another outside job as a consultant at oil giants Vitol. He will be paid £60,000-a-year for eighteen days’ work, taking his outside earnings over £100,000.

Vitol is a $300 billion energy trading company which runs oil exploration projects in corrupt, authoritarian countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Guido is sure it is nothing more than coincidence, but Hendry is also the president of the advisory board of the Russo-British chamber of commerce and is the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Hendry is standing down in 2015, but not before he trousers one last big payday…

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tory Wars: Boris, Gove, Osborne and… Fallon?

20140313-090219.jpg

James Forsyth’s Speccie column this week is getting a lot of follow up in today’s papers, he reports on a blue on blue between Boris and Gove over the Education Secretary apparently telling Rupert Murdoch he sees Osborne as the next Tory leader. One minister is quoted as saying:

“Michael is licensed to sink his teeth into Boris’s ankles in a way that neither the boss nor George can.”

Another Tory adds:

“It’s like Blair-Brown with them. A journalist calls them up and says: “They’re saying this about you.” They respond with some ridiculously over-the-top-quote.”

With all this attention on Boris, Gove and Osborne, Mandrake at the Telegraph reckons one minister is slipping under the radar. Michael Fallon is holding an “open session” for Tory MPs in the ministerial conference room:

“This is the sort of thing only the PM or somebody who wants to be the PM would do. I’ve been hearing an awful lot lately about how great Michael is and how rubbish everyone else is.”

Will all due respect to Mandrake, surely this is more likely to do with Fallon wanting the Tory chairman job…

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Miliband Bottles EU Referendum

Back in 2011 Guido recommended that Miliband call for an in/out EU referendum. It would have helped him make an impact with ordinary, sensible voters, distanced himself from Brown and Blair and wounded “cast iron” Cameron over his failure to keep his own referendum promise. Today’s announcement confirms that an in/out referendum would be “unlikely” under a Labour government. Miliband is ruling out a vote unless “significant” treaty changes are proposed. The Labour leader had the chance to lead on this issue, to outflank the Tories and offer voters something clear and definitive. Instead he has given them a deliberately vague fudge. Miliband says this morning that “you can’t trust the Tories on Europe”. He is the man who doesn’t trust the people on Europe… 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

“Oh God, It’s Happening to Me Now”

Today in court three alleged victims of sex offences at the hands of Nigel Evans gave evidence against the former Deputy Speaker. The first alleged victim told the court he felt a “very drunk” Evans put his hand down his trousers in a Soho bar. He said he thought at the time “oh god it’s happening to me now… if I don’t walk away I am going to hit him,” and that “it wasn’t a comedy squeeze. I knew what he was doing, he knew what he was doing.” Evans was, he said, “like a drunken 14 year old at a school disco who couldn’t chat you up with words”. Another witness present confirmed they also saw Evans put his hand down the man’s trousers. Under cross-examination, the alleged victim played down the incident, saying “he was just being drunk Nigel” and that he didn’t consider himself the victim of a crime.

The second alleged victim told the court a “very clearly very heavily intoxicated” Evans put his hands down his trousers at Tory party conference in 2003. He said he told Conor Burns, now a  Tory MP, that Evans was subsequently put to bed. He said he told then junior whip Mark Hoban what had happened and that he considered it something he could leave the whips to resolve. The alleged victim described Evans as “a drunken letch at a bar” and said that “although I thought his behaviour was unacceptable I didn’t want it to be pursued.”

The third alleged victim claimed Evans tried to kiss him at parliament’s Strangers bar. He said that when he left the bar to use the bathroom Evans called him into another room and leaned in to kiss him. He told him “No, we’re not doing that” and pushed him away. A friend later dismissed the incident, saying “that’s what Nigel can be like”. The trial continues…

Via @stepholiversky, @evansma, @rachelsmithlep and @joshhalliday.

MEPs Plot to Spike No.10′s Choice for EU Commissioner

Despite Downing Street getting to choose the candidate for EU Commissioner, the European Parliament has to approve their pick. Guido understands Number 10 is preparing for the possibility that the PM’s first choice will be spiked by MEPs as revenge for the British vetoing the 2011 treaty. So Dave faces a dilemma. Does he put forward his first choice as normal and risk seeing them vetoed, or does he hold back who he actually wants at the risk of a decoy first nomination scraping through? Andrew Mitchell will be watching closely.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Today in Court

Daily List for Monday 10 March 2014 at 

THE LAW COURTS, RINGWAY, PRESTON

Court One

THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE KING

For trial (no witnesses)

EVANS, Nigel

04ZD0330513

No witnesses until 11/3

Evans is charged with nine sex offences against seven men. He denies all the charges.

UPDATE:

Dave’s Barrister Brother Backed Legal Aid Cuts Strike

As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun column, Dave’s barrister brother was sympathetic to Friday’s strike over Government cuts to the legal aid budget that will leave some junior lawyers paid less than the minimum wage. Alexander Cameron’s case was not sitting on the strike day so he did not picket. But a source at his London chambers tells Guido: “He would not have gone to court even if his case had been sitting.”

Leaked Tory Candidates List Confirms Dave’s Women Problem
Less Than 1 in 3 Names on the List are Female

Guido has obtained the top-secret Conservative Party parliamentary candidates list – and it doesn’t look like the Tories’ “women problem” will be going away. As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun, less than a third of the names on the list are women, just 31%. This despite Cameron’s promise to get more women on board and him privately blaming Tory associations for not selecting female candidates, though actually it is CCHQ who have approved twice as many men as women for selection. Even then the overwhelming majority of safe seats which have already chosen candidates have been won by men. Labour’s Michael Dugher is scornful, he tells Guido: “Female Tories will still be in a minority and David Cameron has broken all his promises to do anything about it.” Stay tuned for more revelations from the leaked Tory candidates list…

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Business Turns on Tories

James Brokenshire’s first big speech as immigration minister went well then. First he landed the PM in it by accusing the “wealthy metropolitan elite” of encouraging mass immigration by employing cheap foreign nannies. Just like Dave did.

Now business leaders have piled in, Institute of Directors boss Simon Walker says of Brokenshire’s speech:

“It is feeble and pathetic to hear yet more divisive language from politicians on immigration.”

So Brokenshire has managed to alienate his boss and get business to turn on the Tories in one move. Slow clap.


Seen Elsewhere

Ed’s Constitutional Failure | ConHome
UKIP Poster Girl’s Naked Photos | Sun
Miliband’s Radical Old Labour Agenda | Fraser Nelson
Meet Team Miliband | Dan Hodges
Run Boris Run | Times
Tories Pledge to End Onshore Windfarm Subsidy | Telegraph
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


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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.”



Nick Clegg says:

Do you want lies with that?


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