Benn’s DExEU Committee Mutiny

Hilary Benn faced a point of order from Tory MP Craig Mackinlay during his DExEU committee’s questioning of Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay this morning. Mackinlay pointed out that Benn had hogged 20 minutes of questions, without giving the dozen other committee members any time to speak.

“I’m just wondering what we’re doing here. You’ve had the floor now for 20 minutes, I doubt there is any other member of this committee who will have the floor for 20 minutes during this discussion this morning, and I would welcome an opportunity for others to speak.”

Brexit Hero Andrea Jenkyns then chipped in calling in to question Benn’s suitability to chair the session at all.

“And you, with respect, are rather biased because you were pushing the Benn Act through, so I would personally like to see the Chair resign.”

All of which Benn promptly ignored and ploughed on with his questions…

mdi-timer 16th October 2019 @ 10:45 am 16th Oct 2019 @ 10:45 am mdi-comment Comments
Electoral Commission Grilled Over Darren Grimes Cock-Up

The Electoral Commission had to face two Parliamentary Select Committees today after their humiliating defeat in court by Darren Grimes last Friday. Craig Mackinlay – who knows Electoral Commission incompetence only too well, took Chief Executive Bob Posner to task over their decision to relentlessly pursue Grimes while failing to fully investigate Remain campaign spending irregularities. Posner mumbles something about following those “strands” and “maybe” fining a couple of groups. They did nothing of the sort

Instead Posner makes clear that the Electoral Commission are still considering appealing against the Darren Grimes judgement despite having already spent half a million of taxpayers’ cash on the case, although Posner points out that part of that was on the Vote Leave aspects of the case. The High Court having previously found that the Electoral Commission caused the problem in the first place by giving Vote Leave incorrect legal advice

It’s worth looking at the specifics of the Grimes case. Guido was in the courtroom:

  • The Commission’s case against Grimes himself was nothing to do with the spending limit issue around Vote Leave. So they went after him on a technicality instead…
  • The Commission’s first charge was that he had not filled a form in correctly to register as an ‘unincorporated association’ rather than an individual. An issue they didn’t flag at all in their first two investigations into Grimes – which found nothing.
  • They then slapped a second offence notice on him for subsequently submitting an “over-complete” spending return. Kafka-esque.
  • The judge found their form itself was highly confusing and that Grimes had filled out the majority correctly, and to the extent he hadn’t it didn’t matter. The dispute centred around a single box…
  • The judge also found that the Commission had essentially constructed their case the wrong way round. In effect they assumed Grimes’s guilt first and then challenged him to prove his innocence beyond reasonable doubt.
  • This led them to exclude a large amount of evidence in Grimes’ favour. Precisely the opposite of how the law is meant to work.
  • The judge also ruled that even if they hadn’t been wrong on the offences themselves, the maximum £20,000 fine was still disproportionate. It was vexatious.

The full judgment is yet to be published, but the outcome of the case was clear. The Electoral Commission weren’t just defeated, their whole case against Grimes was thoroughly debunked. Their QC James Eadie didn’t even bother to turn up to hear the judgment. The fact that their apparatchiks are now considering dragging it out and blowing even more taxpayers’ money just to try to save face is beyond belief…

mdi-timer 23rd July 2019 @ 7:10 pm 23rd Jul 2019 @ 7:10 pm mdi-comment Comments
Corbyn Accused of Misleading Parliament Over Ferries Claim

Much to everyone’s surprise, Jeremy Corbyn actually asked a vaguely coherent set of questions on a big issue of the day at PMQs today, going on the attack over Seaborne Freight. However, in his excitement it appears that Corbyn may have actually got his facts seriously wrong, with Craig Mackinlay writing to Corbyn to challenge him over whether he misled the House with his claim that the Government’s decision had increased Thanet Council’s budget deficit by “nearly two million pounds”.

Bizarrely, the Mirror decided to make an underwhelming ‘Thug Life’ meme purely on the basis of Corbyn’s facial reaction when Mackinlay challenged him at PMQs. Funnily enough they didn’t make one when Corbyn had a similar reaction to Ben Bradshaw’s second referendum suggestion yesterday. Corbyn may well be ending up with egg on his face rather than a pair of photoshopped sunglasses…

mdi-timer 13th February 2019 @ 5:40 pm 13th Feb 2019 @ 5:40 pm mdi-comment Comments
Mackinlay Slams Electoral Commission as “Unfit For Purpose”

Craig Mackinlay, who after a staggering four-year legal battle was finally cleared of any wrongdoing last week by Southwark Crown Court, has launched a seething attack on the “abstract and confused law” that has wrought so much unwarranted stress for him and his family. Writing for The House magazine he declared that his “greatest annoyance is reserved for the Electoral Commission” who have a “responsibility to interpret the law into understandable guidance for candidates and agents and have extra-statutory authority to produce guidance and rules to assist the electoral process.” Something they have clearly failed to deliver on…

Last year the High Court found that the Electoral Commission issued incorrect advice to campaigners during the EU referendum. Mackinlay has called for all political parties to come together to create coherent, understandable law and consider the status of the Electoral Commission. His whole article is worth a read

mdi-timer 18th January 2019 @ 4:41 pm 18th Jan 2019 @ 4:41 pm mdi-comment Comments
Craig Mackinlay Found Not Guilty

Thanet South’s Tory MP Craig Mackinlay, who has been facing a protracted legal battle over his 2015 election spending in South Thanet, has been found not guilty of breaking electoral law by Southwark Crown Court. He had stood accused of failing to declare up to £66,600 on staffing, accommodation, advertising, and a battle bus during the bitter campaign against Nigel Farage.

The jury deliberated the case for  53 hours and 29 minutes, and while they found Mackinlay not guilty, senior Tory staffer Marion Little was found guilty of two counts of “intentionally encouraging or assisting offence under Serious Crime Act.” She was given a suspended sentence. The judge gave CCHQ a tongue-lashing as well…

mdi-timer 9th January 2019 @ 11:52 am 9th Jan 2019 @ 11:52 am mdi-comment Comments
Craig Mackinlay’s Agent Cleared of Expenses Fraud

Craig Mackinlay’s election agent Nathan Gray has been found not guilty of expenses fraud at Southwark Crown Court. Gray was cleared of one charge of falsifying election expense returns over Mackinlay’s bitterly contested fight with Nigel Farage for the South Thanet seat in 2015. The jury are still deliberating on charges against Tory activist Marion Little and Mackinlay himself…

mdi-timer 13th December 2018 @ 2:38 pm 13th Dec 2018 @ 2:38 pm mdi-comment Comments
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