Baroness Scotland Refuses to Let Guardian Take Pics Inside Mayfair Home

The Guardian sinks to new depths of sycophancy today with its hilariously soft-ball interview glorifying the shamed Baroness Scotland. Little more than an adulatory puff-piece, the article comes in the wake of a watershed series of IPSO rulings that entirely vindicated journalistic investigations into Baroness Brazen’s eye-watering expenses. The paper devotes no fewer than three pages to shilling for the Baroness, giving an unchallenged airing to her side of the story. Even though the piece claims to investigate the details of the refurbishment of her home – carried out at vast public expense – neither the print nor the online version are accompanied by any pictures of the interior. This is particularly amusing as the latter version is headlined: “inside Lady Scotland’s refurbished home”. An explanation is given for this glaring oversight:

“A request to publish pictures taken inside the house was refused.”

We paid for it, so why aren’t we allowed to see?

Throughout, the author entirely misses the point:

“To my surprise, there is no sign of anything that could reasonably be described as an extravagant upgrade.”

That’s because press scrutiny halted the egregious renovation works from taking place at all…

No mention is made of other criticisms of Scotland, not least the Baroness’s work for the Kazakhstan and Maldives governments. Did those questions go unasked?

Moreover, the Guardian clearly struggled to find defenders of the Baroness who would put their name to quotes. All that can be mustered are simpering lines from Scotland fan Lord Mandelson and Evan Harris, director of Hacked Off, who has a vested interest in damning IPSO on any account. Even The Guardian seems to admit no serious argument can be made in Scotland’s defence…

Commonwealth Nations Ask: How Much Longer Can Baroness Scotland Continue?

News of Baroness Scotland’s abject humiliation with the IPSO press regulator yesterday has travelled quickly around the Commonwealth. Caribbean News Now has published an editorial today headlined: “How much longer can Baroness Scotland continue as Commonwealth secretary-general?” The site accuses Scotland of “questionable appointments”, “attempted suppression of press freedom” and “allegations of profligate spending“, warning: “The resulting implications of her continuing in office for much longer are now of active interest in a growing number of Commonwealth capitals”. It concludes:

“The question now is will United Kingdom exert any influence and shield the Queen from further damaging controversy as Head of the Commonwealth at the London Summit next April.”

Commonwealth nations are getting jittery…

IPSO Throws Out Baroness Scotland’s Complaints

What remained of Baroness Scotland’s credibility lies in tatters after the IPSO press regulator threw out a litany of complaints she made about stories exposing her expenses shame. Last year the Mail titles, as well as Guido and other outlets, published a series of shocking revelations about Scotland’s expenses based on documents leaked by concerned whistleblowers. The Baroness denied everything and filed a vast number of complaints to IPSO about the stories. Today, after a nine month IPSO investigation, Scotland is left humiliated… 

  1. Baroness Scotland claimed she was the victim of a “partisan campaign” by the Daily Mail, that the paper’s articles about her were “distorted“, inaccurate and that the Mail had published knowingly false allegations against her. IPSO rejected all of this and threw out every single one of Scotland’s complaints against the Mail. 
  2. Baroness Scotland claimed reports recruitment rules had been bypassed to hire her friend Lord Patel’s company were untrue. IPSO found the standard recruitment process had been waived – the reports were true. 
  3. Baroness Scotland denied reports her spending figures, published every three months, had not been released on time. IPSO found they were not released on time, the reports were true. 
  4. Baroness Scotland claimed reports she had “brought in” interior designer Nicky Haslam were untrue. IPSO found Haslam had indeed been brought in by Scotland, the reports were true.
  5. Baroness Scotland denied Haslam had “partly overseen” the planned renovations. IPSO found this was an accurate description.
  6. Baroness Scotland denied that her advisers were “left-wing political fixers”. IPSO found they worked closely with the Labour Party and Labour figures and the reports were accurate. 
  7. Baroness Scotland denied reports of plans for a “swanky new dining area” in her Mayfair residence. IPSO found there were plans to relocate a chandelier to the dining room so this report was accurate.
  8. Baroness Scotland denied reports staff had received a “sinister” notification from her office warning their communications were being monitored. IPSO found the reports were accurate.
  9. Baroness Scotland claimed it was misleading to refer to Lord Patel as her “partner in crime”. IPSO found Scotland had herself referred to him using those words.
  10. Baroness Scotland denied she had been “dubbed Baroness Brazen”. IPSO found that a Conservative MP had indeed dubbed her Baroness Brazen.
  11. Baroness Scotland claimed newspaper reports suggested she had paid her sister for advice. IPSO found the reports made clear she hadn’t paid her sister.
  12. Baroness Scotland claimed there was no evidence to suggest the Queen was “embarrassed” by her. IPSO found a well-placed Royal source said the Queen was embarrassed.
  13. Baroness Scotland claimed there was no whistleblower, as there was nothing to blow the whistle on. IPSO found it was accurate to call the concerned source a whistleblower.
  14. Baroness Scotland claimed it was misleading to say Downing Street had refused to give its confidence in her. IPSO found Downing Street would only give confidence in the role of Secretary-General, the reports were accurate. 

IPSO ordered one minor correction, changing a headline in the Mail on Sunday about the sums paid to Lord Patel. This was the only breach found out of all the complaints made by Baroness Scotland against three titles. Her claims of inaccuracies, media lies and a vendetta against her have been exposed as fantasy – after such an unequivocal humiliation it is laughable that she can continue to hold public office… 

Number 10 Sidelines Baroness Scotland

Number 10 has brutally snubbed Baroness Scotland by failing to mention the Commonwealth Secretary General entirely in its announcement on the Commonwealth Summit today. Downing Street set out the schedule for the summit this morning, which will be attended by leaders from more than 50 countries in April 2018. The press release revealed the Prime Minister and Cabinet will “oversee preparations” and that Amber Rudd and Boris Johnson have been tasked with chairing an Inter-Ministerial Group on the summit. Number 10 adds that they have implemented a new “dedicated unit” led by diplomat Tim Hitchens to look after proceedings:

“A central team has also been established in the Cabinet Office to deliver the Summit, working closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat and member states. The dedicated unit will report directly to the Prime Minister, who has appointed Tim Hitchens as its CEO. Tim Hitchens was previously British Ambassador to Japan, and has served as Africa Director and Europe Director in the Foreign Office, and also as Assistant Private Secretary to The Queen.”
Name-checks for Theresa May, the Cabinet, Amber Rudd, Boris and Tim Hitchens – and no mention whatsoever of Baroness Scotland. Almost as if Number 10 is making clear that it has taken responsibility for the Commonwealth summit away from its scandal-hit Secretary-General. Sidelined…

Baroness Scotland’s Aide Matthew Doyle Caught Red-Handed

With the Baroness Scotland scandal back in the news, her former special adviser Matthew Doyle went out to bat for her on the World at One. He was grilled repeatedly about his massive taxpayer-funded contract, refusing to answer several times before claiming the figures reported are wrong:

BBC: “It’s been reported that you yourself were paid £15,000 per month.”

Doyle: “Yeah and you’ve seen these sorts of stories about the official residence… I think what’s important to recognise is the fact that the official residence is redecorated every time there’s a new Secretary-General. But look these things ultimately aren’t what matters.”

BBC: “And your salary?”

Doyle: “… Aren’t what matters in terms of the work of the Commonwealth. What matters is that the Commonwealth continues to deal with those big challenges that there are…”

BBC: “Indeed, but just on this question about your salary, which I notice you’re not answering.”

Doyle: “Well the figures aren’t correct but I really don’t think that that’s important.”

A straight denial that his salary was £15,000 per month. Below is Doyle’s Commonwealth contract, bearing his signature, showing his salary was two monthly instalments of £15,000 followed by a third if £18,000:

This contract bears Doyle’s signature. He just said on the radio that the figures in it are not correct. Remarkable behaviour…

Baroness Scotland: Government Intervenes, Queen Snub, Officials Say She Can’t Survive

The BBC has some major developments in the Baroness Scotland expenses scandal: the government has sent in two senior civil servants to take charge of the Commonwealth Secretariat following complaints about her leadership and extravagant spending. Former FCO official Sir Simon Gass has been installed as chief operating officer at the Secretariat and Tim Hitchens, another former FCO mandarin, has been put in charge of next year’s Commonwealth summit. The Queen has also snubbed Baroness Scotland’s main Commonwealth Day event. James Landale quotes senior sources as saying:

“The Queen has only got to nip down the road from Buckingham Palace to Marlborough House in a Bentley. It’s not that hard. And yet she has decided not to come. The Palace are thinking there is so much more to be done with the Commonwealth and yet they are lumbered with such poor leadership. The Commonwealth is stuffed. The High Commissioners have all given up on (Lady Scotland). They have other fish to fry. I do wonder if she can survive. She just treats people appallingly. And she has this political tin ear.”

The Queen and the government are throwing the Baroness under a bus and diplomats are speculating whether she can survive. Will she still be in post by the time of next year’s CHOGM summit?

Baroness Scotland Refuses to Answer Questions at Anti-Corruption Lecture

Baroness Scotland refused to answer questions about her conduct as she delivered Transparency International’s annual anti-corruption lecture last night. The organisers had said Scotland would address her expenses scandal, telling guests it was the “ideal opportunity for her to respond directly to those claims, as well as allowing members of the public and press to raise any questions they may wish to ask”. Alas, Baroness Scotland told an unimpressed audience she was “unable” to answer questions on the scandal because the press regulator is investigating. There is no reason an IPSO investigation means she cannot answer questions, the Baroness is stretching the truth once again…

Scotland did tell the room that corruption “is a scourge which holds in thrall millions of our Commonwealth sisters and brothers… the Commonwealth will.. eliminate the scourge of corruption from institutions of governance and public life at every level”We know where to start…

DfID Slams “Poorest Performer” Baroness Scotland

scotland

The Department for International Development has delivered a scathing assessment of Baroness Scotland, labelling her Commonwealth Secretariat one of the “poorest performers” when it comes to spending taxpayers’ money. A new DfID report out today has found “the Commonwealth Secretariat continues to underperform” and that “improvement is essential if DFID is to continue to fund the organisation”. The report warns “the Secretariat requires urgent organisational reform” in terms of “transparency” and “human resource management”, slamming Scotland’s department for its poor “financial management and budget discipline”. The Commonwealth Secretariat scored a mark of 2 out of 5 on transparency, accountability and value. This could not be a more damning indictment of Baroness Scotland’s exorbitant spending and lack of accountability…

Baroness Scotland to Deliver Anti-Corruption Lecture

scotland

Who have Transparency International decided is the best person to deliver their “Annual Anti-Corruption Lecture” next week? Baroness Scotland will be giving the talk, discussing how important it is “to champion integrity, increase public awareness on the adverse impact of corruption, and promote appreciation of how important it is that the UK acknowledges the pressing need to tackle corruption within its own borders”. Transparency International admit it’s a slightly odd choice given the Baroness has been mired in a sleaze scandal of her own. They say:

“We are aware that since then a number of allegations have been made against Baroness Scotland and our Annual Lecture will provide the ideal opportunity for her to respond directly to those claims, as well as allowing members of the public and press to raise any questions they may wish to ask.”

Starting with that £307 toilet seat, those phantom school fees and her £90,000 crony contract

Baroness Scotland For Sale

buy-scotland

Art lovers will be thrilled to discover a oil painting of scandal-hit Baroness Scotland is for sale. This Youldon, painted in 2007, was showcased recently by a group of lefty luvvie lawyers – now one lucky fan could hang the Baroness in their loo and reminisce about her asking for £300 of taxpayers’ money for a new toilet seat. Luckily the cost includes delivery and the frame. Don’t worry, just put it on expenses…

Baroness Scotland’s New Loo Seat Cost £307

haslam

Baroness Scotland charged the taxpayer £307 for a new loo seat in a bathroom in her Mayfair home which cost £24,000 to refurbish. She has also admitted spending thousands to paint six rooms with top-of-the-range Farrow & Ball paint, despite previously dismissing reports as “outright lies, half-truths and innuendo”. Scotland spins in today’s Times that she was “furious about some of the money spent”, yet leaked emails show it was her staff who complained to her about the costs and pleaded with her to reduce her demands. In the email below the most senior Commonwealth official notes it is Scotland who “wants her bathroom completely done” and says the paint was her priority:

bathroom

Makes a complete mockery of Scotland’s previous statements. Remember her promise: “There has been no extravagance…”

Criminal Charges Over Chandelier Expense Claims

office-chandelier

Former Congressman Aaron Schock has been indicted for using public money to make his office look like Downton Abbey. The criminal charges against him include theft of government funds, fraud, making false statements and filing false tax returns. He has been accused of embezzlement to the tune of $100,000 including charging a $5,000 chandelier to the taxpayer. Couldn’t happen in Britain, could it?

Baroness Brazen Battles to Save Her Skin

scotland

Guido’s co-conspirators on the diplomatic circuit tell him that the Baroness is battling to hold on to her position.  She’s been lobbying Commonwealth envoys, stressing she is a reformed woman.  She has told friends that she believes former Antigua High Commissioner to London, Sir Ronald Sanders has been leading the campaign against her because he lost to her in the last election to be the new Secretary General. In reality many African nations are irritated by her, the “white Commonwealth” nations including Canada and Australia have strong reservations and she has lost the confidence of Downing Street and the Department for International Development. In short, she is running out of runway and heading for a crash landing. The talk over the canapes on the diplomatic cocktail party circuit is that we can expect she will be gone before the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which will be held in London the year after next.

Guido hears that The Queen is concerned that the boat is being rocked and could have a negative effect on the organisation. So how will the Baroness go?

She won’t resign soon. Temperamentally she will want to try and tough things out for as long as possible, in any event if the Baroness resigned immediately, she would look guilty. She won’t want that and for appearances sake and the reputation of the Commonwealth that is unlikely. When she does resign a committee of five high commissioners will have to look after the secretariat until a successor is chosen. Under an informal convention any successor – when it comes to that – will have to be from the Caribbean.

She sacked or tried to sack some 40 people within a few days of taking office. This means she is very unpopular with her secretariat staff. She is trying to lock down bad publicity and staff have been warned that anyone leaking will be fired. Morale is not high.

Guy News Visits Baroness Scotland’s Mayfair Mansion

During her Today programme interview last week, Baroness Scotland invited listeners into her Mayfair home to show she was telling the truth that there is “no extravagance”. Guy News took her up on her offer…

PM Demands Answers From Baroness Scotland

scotland

Theresa May has broken her silence on Baroness Scotland, demanding answers and insisting the Commonwealth Secretariat needs “reform”. The PM has said during her trip to India:

“The UK is a strong supporter of the Commonwealth – we believe as an organisation it has a role to play in dealing with shared challenges around the world such as human rights. We believe it does need to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. That means there does need to be reform of the secretariat. For Baroness Scotland, of course she needs to respond to the allegations that have been made. She will be judged on how she delivers on that need for reform for the Commonwealth secretariat to be operating effectively and efficiently.”

Baroness Scotland told Today she had the PM’s full support. Doesn’t sound like it. Have May’s furious Indian counterparts raised the recent revelations?

Antiguan PM: Baroness Scotland Has Brought Shame on Commonwealth

gaston

The Prime Minister of Antigua has launched a devastating attack on Baroness Scotland for bringing “shame” on the Commonwealth. A report in the Antigua Observer says PM Gaston Browne has slammed Scotland’s extravagant spending as an “embarrassment for the Caribbean”. They quote Browne as saying: “Instead of bringing benefits to the Caribbean, she brought shame”, adding “the election of a real Caribbeaner of great competence and experience was missed because of insularity, a culture of non-cooperation and hate of our own”. That’s two Commonwealth nations who have publicly criticised their Secretary General. How long before Theresa May has to comment? 

Baroness Scotland Does Not Deny Claiming Phantom School Fees

fees

Baroness Scotland does not deny claiming a taxpayer-funded school fees allowance for her adult children. The astonishing claim was made by a senior Commonwealth official in an internal complaint about Baroness Scotland’s “revised salary package”. According to Ram Venuprasad’s complaint, published below, Baroness Scotland demanded she was paid an “educational allowance” for her children. Guido has tracked down Baroness Scotland’s children – they are both grown up. There is no conceivable justification for either of them needing an “educational allowance” – unlike her predecessors who had school age children. 

allowance

Over the course of the last week, Guido has repeatedly asked Baroness Scotland’s press office if they deny she is being paid an educational allowance. They refuse to deny it and do not contest the claim. This is the most shocking revelation so far – Baroness Scotland does not deny claiming a taxpayer-funded educational allowance despite her adult children having finished their education. Was she claiming to send them to Hogwarts?

Guy News Special: Baroness Scotland’s Spending Spin

Baroness Scotland’s case for the defence during her Today programme interview this morning was essentially: Extravagance? What extravagance? Does that defence stand up to scrutiny? Guy News takes a look…

Baroness Scotland Speaks: Extravagance? What Extravagance?

Baroness Scotland has surfaced on the Today programme where she insisted “there has been no extravagance at all” in her spending since she became Commonwealth Secretary General.

Scotland said it is “untrue” she demanded £4,000 for a mirror-lined cupboard. Here is the cost plan showing her demand for a £4,000 mirror-lined cupboard.

She said there is “no chandelier”. Read the emails where her staff complain about her demands over an “extremely expensive chandelier” here.

She said the total cost would be the original budget “plus the fees plus things that would come up”. Read her staff complaining about how expensive those “things that would come up” are here.

Scotland said she followed all procurement rules to hire her friend Lord Patel on £30,000-a-month. Here is a memo showing procurement practices were waived. 

She said her team she denied this all to journalists “again and again and again” before publication. Guido was in regular conversation with her press office until we asked about her Mayfair home. As soon as we started asking about this, they stopped replying. Given multiple opportunities, they did not deny any of these stories…

Baroness Scotland then invited Today listeners to come into her Mayfair home and see for ourselves. We accept, when can we arrange a viewing?

Public Accounts Committee Member Slams Baroness Scotland

Public Accounts Committee member Charlie Elphicke condemns Baroness Scotland:

“This is a scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money. It beggars belief that hardworking people who struggle to make ends meet will end up footing the bill for Baroness Scotland to live high on the hog.”[…] Read the rest

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