Proof that Ed Miliband is Jimmy Carter

It’s uncanny…

Cameron’s Memory Worse Than Murdoch, Brooks or Coulson

The BBC is running a brilliant graphic this afternoon illustrating the worst offenders of memory lapses during the Leveson Inquiry. Bottom of the pile – below such trustworthy characters as Rupert and James Murdoch and the recently-charged Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson – comes our worryingly forgetful Prime Minister. That doesn’t look good…

Musical Chairs, Guardian Conversions & Hackgate

Looking for summer transfer season news, Guardian mea culpas and full phone-hacking statements?

All over at Media Guido.

Bonkers Bryn’s Latest By-Election Blunder

After Occupy tramp Bryn Phillips lied to get on the ballot at the upcoming City of London by-election, you would think he would try to stay on the right side of the law. This rioter, who was recently found guilty of violent disorder and burglary, is hilariously trying to stand on a moral platform.

He’s not too hot on the law though and failed to declare his conviction on his ballot submission.

Guido would now like to introduce him to some new legislation – Section 66 of the 1983 Representation of the People Act. That’s the bit that  that forbids “any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election” being made before polls close.

So perhaps bonkers Bryn could explain his latest Twitter outpouring:

Labour MP Kerry McCarthy was cautioned for an identical crime during the last election. Either Bryn is lying, and he has not seen the postal votes, or he has broken the law. Which is it?

Guardian Education Hack Sends Child to Private School

By admitting that she sends her daughter to a private school, Janet Murray – one of the Guardian‘s top education journalists, has triggered plenty of hand-wringing today.  Murray tells of her difficulty at walking her five-year-old walk to school in a “straw blazer and boater”, comparing herself to that paragon of virtue Diane Abbott for putting her child before her career. Annoying when those pesky lefty ideals get in the way of reality eh?

The education world is certainly surprised by Murray’s Damascene conversion and she’s getting it in the neck from the left and the right. Murray ends her mea culpa to the left by passionately imploring:

I plan to send Katy to a state secondary if I can, but if I find myself dissatisfied with what is on offer, I will go private again. Until local schools meet families’ needs and cater for each individual child, can you blame people for putting their hand in their pocket?

Welcome to the real world Janet.

Video: Coulson Speaks – Full Statement

I am extremely disappointed by the CPS decision today. I will fight these allegations when they eventually get to court, but I would like to say one thing today about the Milly Dowler allegations. Anyone who knows me or who’s worked with me would know that I wouldn’t, and more importantly that I didn’t, do anything to damage the Milly Dowler investigation. At the News of the World we worked on behalf of the victims of crime, particularly violent crime, and the idea that I would then sit in my office dreaming up schemes to undermine investigations is simply untrue.”

His trial is likely to coincide with the last few months of an election campaign.

Guido imagines there are people sitting in offices dreaming up schemes to undermine that fact right now…

Thurlbeck's Statement

Neville Thurlbeck comes out fighting:

“Following today’s announcement that I am to be charged in relation to Operation Weeting, I would like to thank my family and friends for their undying support during the past 15 months. My thanks also to my lawyer Henri Brandman for his wise and calm counsel during the police investigation.

I am most surprised and disappointed in the outcome. I have always operated under the strict guidance and advice of News International’s lawyers and under the instructions of the newspaper’s editors which will be abundantly clear when this matter comes to court.  I will vigorously fight to clear my reputation. Neither I nor my lawyer will be making any further comment at this stage.”

Coulson statement expected within the hour…

Total Politics Pol Ed Amber Elliott Moves to Sky News


One to watch…

Picture: Compare and Contrast PMs' Body Language

Now Guido is no body language expert, but you don’t have to be to work out who hates each other here…

Video: CPS Phone Hacking Press Conference

Video via LiarPoliticians

Brooks Will Fight Charges

Rebekah Brooks is first to break cover, she’s going to contest:

“I am not guilty of these charges. I did not authorise, nor was I aware of, phone hacking under my editorship. I am distressed and angry that the CPS have reached this decision when they knew all the facts and were in a position to stop the case at this stage. The charge concerning Milly Dowler is particularly upsetting not only as it is untrue but also because I have spent my journalistic career campaigning for victims of crime. I will vigorously defend these allegations.”

Coulson likely to fight too, just in time for the election…

Hunt Uses News International to Bury Bad News

Continuing his quest for the title cynical political operator of the year, Hunt has used the phone-hacking scandal to bury bad news.

At 11am – literally the same moment that the CPS were announcing charges for Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson – the Culture Secretary revealed the embarrassing news that 1,200 extra troops would be called up to provide security at the Olympics following the G4S debacle:

Ah the tricks of the trade…

UPDATE: As Kevin Maguire points out, there are now more troops on the streets of London than in Afghanistan.

Full Weeting Charge List

The eight who will be charged are: Rebekah Brooks, Andrew Coulson, Stuart Kuttner, Glenn Mulcaire, Greg Miskiw, Ian Edmondson, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup.

They will face a total of nineteen charges in all. The full wording of all the charges will be made available, which will include the names of others whom the prosecution say are victims, but for now I shall summarise them as follows.

All, with the exception of Glenn Mulcaire, will be charged with conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority, from 3rd October 2000 to 9th August 2006. The communications in question are the voicemail messages of well-known people and/or those associated with them. There is a schedule containing the names of over 600 people whom the prosecution will say are the victims of this offence.

In addition, each will face a number of further charges of conspiracy unlawfully to intercept communications, as follows:

Rebekah Brooks will face two additional charges:

  • the first relates to the voicemails of the late Milly Dowler
  • the second to the voicemails of Andrew Gilchrist 

Andrew Coulson will face four additional charges, relating to the following victims:

  • Milly Dowler
  • the Rt Hon David Blunkett MP
  • the Rt Hon Charles Clarke, and
  • Calum Best 

Stuart Kuttner will face two additional charges, relating to:

  • Milly Dowler and
  • the Rt Hon David Blunkett MP 

Greg Miskiw will face nine further charges, relating to the following victims or groups of victims:

  • Milly Dowler
  • Sven-Goran Eriksson
  • Abigail Titmuss and John Leslie
  • Andrew Gilchrist
  • the Rt Hon David Blunkett MP
  • Delia Smith
  • the Rt Hon Charles Clarke
  • Jude Law, Sadie Frost and Sienna Miller, and
  • Wayne Rooney 

Ian Edmondson will face a further eleven charges, relating to the following victims or groups of victims:

  • the Rt Hon David Blunkett MP
  • the Rt Hon Charles Clarke
  • Jude Law, Sadie Frost and Sienna Miller
  • Mark Oaten
  • Wayne Rooney
  • Calum Best
  • the Rt Hon Dame Tessa Jowell MP and David Mills
  • the Rt Hon Lord Prescott
  • Professor John Tulloch
  • Lord Frederick Windsor
  • Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills 

Neville Thurlbeck will face a further seven charges in relation to the following victims or groups of victims:

  • Milly Dowler
  • Sven-Goran Eriksson
  • the Rt Hon David Blunkett MP
  • the Rt Hon Charles Clarke
  • Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
  • Mark Oaten
  • the Rt Hon Dame Tessa Jowell MP and David Mills

James Weatherup will face a further seven charges in relation to the following victims or groups of victims:

  • the Rt Hon David Blunkett MP
  • the Rt Hon Charles Clarke
  • Jude Law, Sadie Frost and Sienna Miller
  • Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
  • Wayne Rooney
  • the Rt Hon Lord Prescott
  • Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills 

For legal reasons, Glenn Mulcaire does not face the first of these charges. However, he will face four charges, relating to:

  • Milly Dowler
  • Andrew Gilchrist
  • Delia Smith, and
  • the Rt Hon Charles Clarke 

+++ Breaking: Brooks and Coulson Charged +++

Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson have been charged by Operation Weeting, the investigation into phone-hacking.

Developing…

UPDATE:

19 charges for:

Brooks, Coulson, Thurlbeck, Edmonson, Weatherup, Mulcaire, Kuttner, Miskew

UPDATE II: 

Brooks and Coulson to face specific charges related to hacking Milly Dowler’s phone.

David Gauke Worked For Tax Avoidance Firm

Exchequer Secretary David Gauke has some nerve doing the rounds on tax morality this week. Yesterday Guido brought you news of Gauke’s past avoidance of stamp duty and his wife’s job at a firm advising tax lawyers, while today the Telegraph and Mail both splash on his claim that paying tradesmen cash in hand is “morally wrong“:

“Getting a discount with your plumber by paying cash in hand is something that is a big cost to the Revenue and means others have to pay more in tax. I think it is morally wrong.”

Guido can now reveal that Gauke himself worked for a company that specialises in helping the wealthy avoid tax. According to Debretts between 1999 and 2005 – when he became an MP – Gauke was a solicitor at Macfarlanes, a top city law firm with expertise on tax efficiency. They boast on their website:

“The tax efficient structuring of employee incentive arrangements is often a key requirement for our clients to achieve their commercial objectives. We have particular expertise in the structuring of tax efficient equity based incentive plans. We are able to develop innovative solutions to the most complex tax issues when necessary.”

Tax efficient equity-based plans, eh? Like those used by investment bankers perchance? Gauke must have made a success of finding “innovative solutions” to reducing his clients’ tax bills as he appears to be held in high regard by his former colleagues:

Guido feels Gauke should look in the mirror the next time he thinks about lecturing us on the morality of taxation…

Justine Greening's Agent in Addison Lee Fraud Mess

Guido has been leaked details of an internal inquiry into Justine Greening’s former agent and current Wandsworth councillor, Robert Morritt.  The agent for the Wandsworth Conservative Group at the 2010 election stands accused of running a secret Addison Lee taxi account that racked up over £26,000 in journeys between 2008 and 2010. Despite billing thousands monthly over two years, members of the group’s management committee had no idea of the taxi account’s existence and it was hidden in the books. Guido hears that Morritt  developed something of a habit of turning up to management meetings and ordering volunteers to raise more money to cover the costs of impending elections. What he didn’t tell them was that he was spending existing scarce resources on expensive taxis journeys around London. In management accounts seen by Guido there were never any references to taxi fares despite them being top expense items in many months. When the Addison Lee account was eventually  discovered and a deep analysis of the group’s numbers was undertaken, further spending was drawn into question. Guido will be exposing that later…

Morritt denies the allegations despite the fact no record of the taxi account exists in Wandsworth Conservative’s books: “I was amongst other passengers regularly using the company and paid for all personal journeys. In the course of my duties I naturally incurred a number of expenses that have all been satisfactory accounted for. I am not able to add anything further.” For now his new boss Anthony Cole, Chairman of the Wandsworth Conservative Group, is currently standing by him: “There was an Addison Lee account as much travelling was required by Mr Morritt and others. On occasions this was used for Mr Morritt’s personal use and these sums were reimbursed.” Guido has all of the receipts and the vast majority of the £26,000 spent was by Morritt himself. A large number of personal journeys appear, including trips to the airport for holidays and journeys home from nightclubs in the small hours. When this fraction of the bill was paid back is the crucial question…

Morritt was confronted about the account in July 2010 and forced out of his job. On departure he was compelled to reimburse Wandsworth Conservative Group with over £5,000 for his personal journeys. So yes, in a way, he did pay for his own personal journeys, but only after he was caught red-handed. It was only after the existence of the taxi bills was revealed that his personal usage emerged. Original receipts and invoices have seemingly been destroyed. Officially Morritt left on good terms, but Guido has an exchange of letters that says otherwise. There are also frantic emails about the possibility of the truth leaking out to the wider membership and public. This is just the first layer of a much bigger cover up…

Wandsworth group leader Anthony Cole claims that the information Guido put to them “is inaccurate, misleading and full of half-truths. There has not been any ‘deception’, accounts were not ‘doctored’ and all sums have been accounted for.” Perhaps Mr Cole could explain why thousands of pounds every quarter were not included in the accounts then? He can bluster all he wants, but Guido has the books and the spending is not recorded. When Guido attempted to further question Cole’s spokesman, and pointed out that Morritt only repaid after getting busted, no further communication was forthcoming. A Wandsworth source claims: “Its all b****ks. He was ordered to resign and given 24 hours to clear his desk. And the locks were changed behind him.”

What started out with some dodgy taxi numbers goes right up the party machine. There is plenty more to come on this one. You would have expected someone so flagrantly caught out to disappear from the scene, but unfortunately for the Tories, Morritt is not only still a deputy chaiman of Greening’s constituency, he was also elected onto Wandsworth Council in 2010. Hilariously Morritt now represents the Tories’ flagship “careful spending” council for the East Putney ward. Without a hint of irony he sits on their audit committee. To catch a thief eh…



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