Guido revealed yesterday how Jeremy Corbyn knowingly tried to hide his terrorist wreath-laying trip to Tunisia, emailing his staff about the need to “keep it cheap” to avoid breaching the £660 threshold where he needed to publicly declare it. He escaped punishment from the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner by giving them a total estimated cost of the trip of £656 – miraculously just £4 below what he thought was the legal limit:
Despite Corbyn submitting the full itinerary for his flights to and from Tunisia, he mysteriously failed to give the investigation any documentation showing the actual cost. Instead he simply presents an ‘estimate’ of £410, with “supporting evidence” in the form of SkyScanner searches for equivalent flights four years on. Corbyn’s own “evidence” shows that the cheapest costs for the equivalent flights he took is £732:
The outbound flight alone, a business class Tunisair direct flight from London to Tunis, costs more than Corbyn’s total estimate for both legs of the trip in his own evidence. There is no possible combination of flights that yields a cost as low as £410, Corbyn might as well have plucked the figure from thin air. It’s hard to conclude that he did anything else, given the complete lack of hard evidence he provided and the fact that it conveniently kept the total figure just under what he thought was the £660 limit…
When challenged over the discrepancies by the investigators, Corbyn’s response was to suggest that the tickets might have been cheaper because they were return tickets or that the Tunisian Government might have got discounts. This is not a few quid we’re talking about, it’s over a £300 difference. Given his clear concern about keeping the trip below the limit these excuses look flimsy at best, cynical at worst…
Worse for Corbyn, it appears as if he misunderstood the donation limit, which for visits to non-UK destinations where even just some of the costs are covered by external organisations or individuals is just £300. Less than half the the £660 Corbyn thought was the limit…
As it appears that his trip was funded by the Council on for European Palestinian Relations, and the conference as a whole was funded by the Government of Tunisia, it seems all but certain that the £300 limit applies. Corbyn’s team seemingly went to huge lengths to avoid declarations but they did so for the wrong number!
Corbyn wasn’t the only UK politician on the trip, his regular travel buddy Tory Lord Sheikh also went along. Perhaps the Parliamentary authorities should see if Lord Sheikh has been more assiduous with his record keeping and can provide something a little bit more concrete to compare Corbyn’s numbers to?
Stephen Phillips, Secretary to the Board of the Conservative Party, has written to complainants to confirm that Lord Sheikh is “under investigation pursuant to the Code of Conduct for Party Representatives”. Complaints were made after Guido first reported his attendance at the conference which party chairman Brandon Lewis described as making Jeremy Corbyn “unfit for senior public office”. Awkward.
Lord Sheikh has issued a statement after CCHQ received at least four complaints into his attendance at the 2014 Tunis conference and his long history of links to various extremists. Sheikh’s defence appears to be – Guido kids you not – that he was “very tired” and that his best friend at school was Jewish.
I was invited by the President of Tunisia to visit Tunis on 29 September – 2 October 2014. My trip was declared under the Parliamentary rules. I did state that the Government of Tunisia did pay for my flights and accommodation.
The meeting was held in the context of the Arab Spring which affected the whole of the Middle East and North Africa. I arrived in the early hours and attended the conference which started at about 9:30 am. I only attended the morning session as I left the conference to rest as I was very tired.
At the conference, I saw Jeremy Corbyn. I was not aware and did not know that Jeremy Corbyn was going to be there. I did not meet with any members of Hamas. I did not know anything about the wreath laying ceremony. I was not told about this and did not attend the ceremony…
I have a very good connection with the Jewish Peers and in fact I worked with Lord Palmer when the practice of Shechita and Halal meat was raised. We saw the relevant minister together and I spoke on this subject in the House of Lords. I have also looked at issues with the Jewish community relating to post-mortems and circumcision.
At school, my best friend was a Jewish boy and I have connections with Jewish families.
When in a hole…
CCHQ is under pressure to launch an investigation into Lord Sheikh after receiving a formal complaint about his attendance at Jeremy Corbyn’s 2014 Tunis conference, also attended by Hamas and other extremists. Yesterday Guido published photos of the Tory peer speaking at the scandal-hit event, and Sheikh confirmed to us on the phone that he was present. And involved…
Last night Zac Goldsmith demanded Lord Sheikh was booted out of the Tory party, tweeting:
“If this man is not immediately expelled from the Conservative Party, the Party hierarchy’s complaints about Corbyn will look entirely cynical.”
The complaint also calls for investigations into Brandon Lewis, Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry. CCHQ announced that they were automatically investigating Boris after they received a complaint – will they be pursuing these with such public vigour as well?
The complaint in full:
The Tories are going in hard on Corbyn over his attendance at a 2014 conference linked to various Palestinian terrorists. Sajid Javid has called for the Labour leader to resign. Writing in the Mail today, Brandon Lewis describes Corbyn’s attendance at the conference in Tunisia as “beyond the pale”. Which doesn’t bode well for top Tory peer Lord Sheikh…
Sheikh, the founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum, declared in his 2014 register of interests a trip to a conference in Tunisia on the same date:
Visit to Tunisia, 29 September – 2 October 2014, to attend conference in Tunis at invitation of President of Tunisia; cost of flights and three nights’ hotel accommodation was paid by Government of Tunisia
In a post on his website from the time, Sheikh confirms the conference was about Palestine. The conference was addressed by Hamas and other extremist speakers who gave anti-Semitic speeches. Given Lord Sheikh’s other links to various extremists, surely CCHQ will have to act against him?
UPDATE: We now have a pic of Sheikh at the conference. Will the Tories be taking action? Pretty big double standard if not…
UPDATE II: Tory MP Rob Halfon calls for CCHQ to launch an investigation into Lord Sheikh:
“If this is true, re Lord Sheikh, in attending this conference alongside Mr Corbyn – & if it is true extremist anti semites & Hamas were in attendance & speaking, there needs to be an investigation by Conservative Party/inquiry re codes of conduct et al”
After extremist linked Assad fan Lord Sheikh referred Boris’s Telegraph column to the Conservative Party, some other idiots are talking about referring him to the Metropolitan Police.
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has had to confirm that Boris Johnson’s comments obviously do not “reach the bar” for a criminal offence.
Everyone needs to get a grip.