Cash for Access Sinner Straw’s Sermon on Integrity

Disgraced Jack Straw is taking some time out from offering to take cash-for-access to chair a lecture on “integrity and public service” at Westminster Abbey. Promotional literature for the church’s “Integrity” series says Straw will address questions such as: “What does it mean for a public servant to have integrity?” Like he would know…

Readers will remember Straw was caught on camera by undercover reporters arranging a cash-for-access deal, boasting how he operates “under the radar” using a “combination of charm and menace”, naming a price of £5000-a-day. The same Jack Straw who was damned by Chilcot for his behaviour during the Iraq War, the same Jack Straw facing kidnap and torture claims over the rendition of a Libyan dissident. Who better to speak about integrity in politics?

Labour Considered Migrant Dental Checks Too, Stella

spat

After David Davies MP argued that we should be using dental checks to assess the age of supposed child migrants there was a predictable backlash fromt the usual suspects including posh tweeter and MP, Stella Creasy:

Liam Byrne last night confirmed to Guido that when he was Immigration Minister he had considered tooth checks in principle before deciding they were impractical. Checking the teeth of child immigrants is not a niche view – 16 European countries have used dental checks to help determine the ages of asylum seekers or refugees. Former Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw has just backed the plan:

“I would certainly not as Home Secretary have ruled that out … having tests, providing they are not too intrusive and invasive, is actually a sensible thing to do for everyone concerned. Most of them are economic migrants and you have to be pretty firm about this. Part of the problem with the issue of whether they are children is you have got to test their age because you will understandably always get quite a lot of people who, knowing that it’s easier to get in because they are younger, will pretend they are under 18 when they are not. Some of those who are at Calais are genuine refugees but an awful lot are economic migrants,”

Is Creasy ashamed to be in the same parliament as her own party?

Jack Straw Damned By Chilcot

The headlines will be about Blair, but worth noting that Chilcot says Jack Straw failed in his responsibility as Foreign Secretary to prepare post-war planning in Iraq:

“It was Mr Straw’s responsibility as foreign secretary to give due consideration to the range of options available to the UK… These included making UK participation in military action conditional on a satisfactory post-conflict plan… Mr Straw did not do so in January 2003… Nor did he… between January and March”

On March 8 2002 Straw demanded to know why a Downing Street paper on WMD did not amplify the threat from Iraq:

“Good, but should not Iraq be FIRST and also have more text? The paper has to show why there is an EXCEPTIONAL threat from Iraq. It does not quite do this yet”.

Chilcot then explains how Straw postponed publication of a paper specifically about Iraq because it wouldn’t convince the public of the threat from Saddam:

“On 18 March, Mr Straw decided that a paper on Iraq should be issued before one addressing other countries of concern. On 22 March, Mr Straw was advised that the evidence would not convince public opinion that there was an imminent threat from Iraq. Publication was postponed.”

Bad couple of weeks for the Straws…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

chilcot
‘Brutal’ Verdict for Straw in Chilcot Report

Straw and Rifkind Let Off By Standards Commissioner

Jack Straw did not break parliamentary rules when he boasted he could use his influence to change EU rules for a company that pays him £60,000-a-year:

“I got in to see the relevant director general and his officials in Brussels …  and we got the sugar regulations changed,” he said. “I mean … the crucial thing about this, it’s all, it’s public that the regulations have been changed, but the best way of dealing with these things is under the radar”

Malcolm Rifkind has also been cleared this morning. See the original Telegraph/Dispatches story here. Developing…

UPDATE: Despite Straw suggesting he could use his influence to have laws changed in exchange for payment, the Commissioner finds:

“The question of lobbying for reward or consideration simply does not arise”

On Straw boasting about how his reputation and contacts would be useful to a lobbying firm, the Commissioner says sympathetically:

“A Member’s reputation will be important to them and, inevitably, is part of the “package” on which they may rely when they later seek employment outside the House.”

On Rifkind, the Standards Commissioner explains he has let him off on a technicality:

“Had Sir Malcolm’s offer been taken up, particularly after the second meeting when it was clear that PMR were likely to have further questions relating to the possibility of employing him, Sir Malcolm might then have been in breach of the rules by using parliamentary resources for the purpose of boosting his employment prospects.”

The Commissoner says that while Rifkind made “errors of judgement”, “Sir Malcolm has suffered as a result of the allegations and inferences made, which were covered widely in the media”. Playing the world’s tiniest violin…

UPDATE II: The Telegraph and Dispatches get both barrels from the Standards Commissioner:

“the distorted coverage of the actions and words of the Members concerned has itself been the main cause of the damage… If in their coverage of this story, the reporters for Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph had accurately reported what was said by the two Members in their interviews, and measured their words against the rules of the House, it would have been possible to avoid the damage that has been done to the lives of two individuals and those around them, and to the reputation of the House”

Ouch…

UPDATE III: Channel 4 hit back:

“Channel 4 Dispatches stands by its journalism; this was a fair and accurate account of what the two MPs said. This investigation was in the public interest and revealed matters that were of serious public concern.”

Government Slips Out FoI Commission Stitch Up

On a quiet Friday in July, the Cabinet Office has announced its new clampdown on Freedom of Information, setting up a commission “to make sure it’s working effectively”. Who will get to decide what information journalists can and cannot obtain from government departments?

Jack Straw, a long term opponent of the FoI Act, and a man according to the Telegraph whose “possible role in the rendition of [a] terror suspect may yet be disclosed by FOI requests”.

Lord Carlile of Berriew, such a keen supporter of openness, transparency and holding public figures to account that he acted as Lord Rennard’s legal adviser.

Michael Howard, who was on the receiving end of negative newspaper stories after Labour used FoIs to dig up dirt on him.

Wonder what they’ll recommend?

Jack Straw: Then and Now

Jack Straw, 23 March 2010, on Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon:

“There is such anger in the Parliamentary Labour Party, as well as I may say incredulity, about their stupidity in allowing themselves to be suckered in a sting like this. Their behaviour, prima facie, does indeed bring the Parliamentary Labour Party, as well as Parliament, into disrepute, because it appears that former Cabinet ministers are more interested in making money than they are in properly representing their constituents.”

Jack Straw, 23 February 2015:

“I am mortified that I fell into this trap, despite my best efforts to avoid this, and my previous public criticism of colleagues of all parties who have done so in the past. Of course I am kicking myself.”

That sound you can hear is the world’s tiniest violin…

Miliband Weaponises Straw

Miliband is quick out of the blocks in trying to use Jack Straw’s suspension to hit the Tories:

Dear Prime Minister,

I write this letter to you not just as leader of the Labour Party but as someone who believes that we all need to act to improve the reputation of our Parliament in the eyes of the British people.

I believe MPs are dedicated to the service of their constituents and the overwhelming majority follow the rules. But the British people need to know that when they vote they are electing someone who will represent them directly, and not be swayed by what they may owe to the interests of others.

Two years ago I said Labour MPs would not be able to hold paid directorships or consultancies after the next election.

My party is also consulting on legislation to make this a statutory ban, as well as imposing a strict cap on all outside earnings by MPs.

Today I can confirm that these measures will be included in my party’s General Election manifesto.

The low levels of trust in politics demands clarity and I urge you to follow my lead in banning paid directorships and consultancies.

There have been too many scandals about conflicts of interest in recent years.

It is time to draw a line under this and ensure these current allegations are the last.

I am sure you will agree this is a problem which affects all parties.

I believe these are circumstances which demand action and leadership.

I look forward to receiving your response.

Yours,

Ed Miliband

Miliband knows the business folk and lawyers on the Tory backbenchers will not put up with it. Canny…

WATCH: Rifkind And Straw – The Footage



According to Dispatches:

The fictitious company
PMR, a communications agency based in Hong Kong was set up, backed by a fictitious Chinese businessman. PMR has plenty of money to spend and wants to hire influential British politicians to join its advisory board and get a foothold in the UK and Europe.

12 MPs who already had significant outside interests were invited to apply for jobs with PMR.
Not all politicians are for hire. Half of those approached didn’t respond. One said he wanted to check us out in Hong Kong so we took it no further. And another said he just wasn’t that interested. Of the others, two stood out – Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw.

12 eh? Hope IPSO don’t get on their fishing trip high horse again…

Jack Straw Suspended From Labour Party

Labour statement:

“We have seen the disturbing allegations against Jack Straw in the Daily Telegraph. The Chief Whip has spoken to Jack Straw. He has agreed to refer himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and in the meantime he has agreed the best course of action is to suspend himself from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”

After 36 years as an MP…

Straw and Rifkind Caught in Cash for Access Sting

Jack Straw is filmed boasting:

“I’m well aware of the fact that I bring my name. I know everyone anyway, I’ve got their phone numbers… If I’m doing a speech or something, it’s £5,000 a day, that’s what I charge.”

And explaining how he used his influence to change EU rules for a company that pays him £60,000-a-year:

“I got in to see the relevant director general and his officials in Brussels …  and we got the sugar regulations changed,” he said. “I mean … the crucial thing about this, it’s all, it’s public that the regulations have been changed, but the best way of dealing with these things is under the radar”

Intelligence committee chairman Malcolm Rifkind, when asked by undercover reporters how he could help a fictional Chinese company:

“You’d be surprised how much free time I have. I spend a lot of time reading, I spend a lot of time walking. I’m self-employed. So nobody pays me a salary.”

Read the full Telegragh/Dispatches story here

UPDATE: These are payments declared by Straw from commodities company ED & F MAN Holdings. Straw told the reporters he had helped a commodities company which paid him £60,000-a-year change EU law:

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 22.10.53

UPDATE II: Straw has been suspended from the Labour Party.

Clutching Straw Denies Banana Drama

Jack Straw motoring down the M6 in his Jag while eating a banana. People have been prosecuted for the same, though Straw insists to the Sun that:

“Traffic was incredibly slow. We were either going slowly or we had stopped completely. My clear recollection is I reached for the banana and opened it when we weren’t moving at all.”

That’s not what the snapper says. He claims Straw’s Jag passed him at around 75 mph. On closer inspection, he doesn’t exactly look like he’s stationary…

Secretary of State Spook Connection

While all eyes are on a different courtroom this morning, the inquest into a the dead spook in a bag has already taken a fiction worthy turn of events. Channel Four reported last night, but have not written up on their website, the evidence submitted to the inquiry by the estate agent who managed the Pimlico pad where Gareth Williams was found dead and locked in a bag, saying it was rented from a company in St Hellier by an unnamed Secretary of State in September 2003. MI6 reports to the Foreign Secretary – if the flat was leased by anyone else then this will look very dodgy…

Jack Straw was Foreign Secretary at the time, and what with being sued for allegedly clearing extraordinary rendition, this is yet another very awkward headache for the elder statesman. It’s not yet come out whether the lease was transferred to subsequent Foreign Secretaries, but tongues are wagging…

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Peter Mandelson tells Emma Barnett…

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