To the surprise of many, Corbyn remarkably escaped punishment for failing to declare his 2014 trip to Tunisia to lay a wreath for terrorists responsible for the Munich massacre after telling the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards that his trip had only cost £656 – £4 under the £660 threshold for declaring trips. Convenient…
After a much deeper investigation into the evidence Corbyn provided to the PCS, Guido can reveal that Corbyn himself was aware of the threshold (although he got the number wrong) and knowingly tried to avoid exceeding it. Corbyn sent an email, apparently to his office staff, raising his concerns that the organisers “keep it cheap” to avoid him having to declare it and refer to it in debates in Parliament:
“thanks, just received a text from [redacted] also.
It sounds alright but will need to be very clear who is paying for it as I will have to declare anything over £600, unless thy [sic] can keep it cheap. If declared has to be referred to by debates etc.
CS/JB please block out dates I assume 29 to 3rd or so.
Corbyn was replying to the email below which appears to be from one of his Parliamentary staffers, although the sender been redacted. It has a UK Parliament Disclaimer at the bottom and is clearly discussing his diary arrangements. CS referred to in the email above is presumably Cat Smith who was working in Corbyn’s office at the time.
Why was Corbyn so keen to keep the trip out of the public eye before agreeing to go on it? Why has Corbyn still refused to submit the original receipts for his flights, only submitting “estimates” which conveniently worked out just £4 below the threshold? Surely Corbyn wasn’t trying to cook the books to hide a trip he knew was going to be so controversial?