Entries in the comments please…
Shameless Nick Clegg has trousered a massive £30,000 payment from an official ‘friend of Putin’ whose company is based in an offshore tax haven. Clegg received the bung from Frederik Paulsen, the billionaire chairman of drugs firm Ferring Pharmaceuticals. As you can see above, Paulsen was personally awarded an “Order of Friendship” medal by Putin himself. The Vlad acolyte has poured huge amounts of cash into Russia, has been given a gong by the Russian Foreign ministry, and is an honorary Russian citizen. Not only that, his company is ultimately controlled from Curacao, a Caribbean tax haven…
Clegg has of course accused the Leave campaign of siding with Putin. Top level hypocrisy – at the same time he is happy to line his pockets with a huge wedge from one of Putin’s mates…
As police confirm they are investigating Nick Clegg’s campaign expenses, Guido thought he would focus on another example of his undeclared costs. Clegg’s battle to retain Sheffield Hallam declared zero expenditure for transport costs, despite paying for loyal activists to travel to campaign for him (as well as paying for their accommodation). Clegg himself traveled around the constituency in a big yellow campaign bus five times according to Press Association reports. Yet he declared not a penny in transport costs!
It can’t be a national campaign cost if he tours his own local constituency – five times. Do they really think we wouldn’t notice a big yellow bus?
Elsewhere on social media – as with Cat Smith’s campaign manager Ben Singleton – evidence of undeclared campaign spending is being deleted. Too late… we took screenshots. Also inadvisable to destroy evidence as arguably it could invite a “Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice” charge…
On Wednesday evening Nick Clegg’s lawyers sent Guido a three-page letter demanding we take down our story “Nick Clegg Cooked the Books for £17,652“ or else they would sue. They also threatened The Telegraph for following up our story (who complied).
Subsequently Labour and Tory supporters in Sheffield Hallam have put in complaints to the police. Privately Labour suspect the true spend in Sheffield Hallam was over six figures – way in excess of the legal limits.
Last night we cited just one example of missing transport costs going undeclared. Zero transport costs were declared by Clegg, yet the party advertised that it would pay the travel and accommodation costs of activists in Sheffield Hallam. Having been caught red-handed, how could they spin this away? The LibDem press office claimed the transport costs did not need to be declared because they were individually below the threshold for declarations* (£50). Yet they admit that the payments totaled more than £50.
The LibDem press office imaginatively explained away the missing transport cost declarations by dividing the spend per capita and claiming it was therefore now below the threshold for declarations. This is just ridiculous. As Oliver Cooper pointed out:
— Oliver Cooper (@OliverCooper) June 2, 2016
Let’s see what a judge thinks of that…
UPDATE: *There is some suggestion (see the featured comment below) that even this is incorrect. The £50 registration threshold apparently applies to donations not expense declarations.
Nick Clegg did not declare travel expenses for activists who campaigned for him in his constituency, Guido can reveal. On May 2 2015, Clegg held an “Action Weekend” in Sheffield Hallam. Activists were told the event was specifically “to campaign with our amazing leader Nick Clegg”. There is no doubt this was constituency campaigning – the words “Sheffield Hallam” and “Nick Clegg” are in the invite. Activists had their transport costs paid for:
“Accommodation is FREE… We are giving up to £30 towards everyone’s travel costs – just book your travel and we will give you back the full cost up to £30!”
Here is the bombshell: Nick Clegg declared ZERO transport costs in his short campaign:
He also declared nothing for accommodation for activists. The LibDems paid for activists to travel to Nick Clegg’s constituency to campaign for him. This was demonstrably constituency spending. Yet Clegg did not declare their transport or accommodation costs. The police will want to look at this…
South Yorkshire police have this morning received multiple complaints from members of the public asking them to investigate Nick Clegg’s election spending. Yesterday we revealed how documents in Clegg’s own election return suggested his budget had been surpassed:
Clegg’s lawyers have been in touch to deny that he overspent in his Sheffield Hallam short campaign – they have also sent out threatening letters to newspapers. As with the other parties, the LibDems insist all spending was apportioned correctly to the local and national campaigns. So how do they explain the above document which says in black and white that the Sheffield Hallam budget was exceeded by £17,652?
They claim these figures were based on a budget which “mistakenly included template indicative figures” which “have no relevance whatsoever” to Clegg’s election expenses. Odd since they were filed in Clegg’s official election return. There is no denial that the monies were actually spent during the campaign. In their original official response to our questions, the LibDems made no mention of any “mistake” on their part.
Clegg’s position is that the budget discussed in this spreadsheet was a mistake on their behalf, and that these figures are not relevant. It does seem an odd thing for them to get so badly wrong. Labour sources in the constituency believe he overspent by a considerable sum more than so far revealed, judging by the amount they saw him throwing at the campaign. Clegg says it was all apportioned within the law. Either way, it’s in the hands of the police now…
Guido can reveal that Nick Clegg overspent by £17,652 in his Sheffield Hallam short campaign, then cooked the books so his declarations came in under the limit. Clegg’s official declarations claim he spent £14,138.77 in his short campaign:
Yet a second internal budget schedule obtained by Guido reveals Clegg’s true expenditure in Sheffield Hallam. This bombshell document admits Clegg actually spent £36,852.89 in his Sheffield Hallam short campaign. Astonishingly, under the column headed “What you’ve got left”, the figure “- £17,652.89” appears. This is prima facie evidence that Clegg broke electoral law – Clegg overspent by over £17,000…
Clegg disguised his overspend by declaring £14,120.31 of his Sheffield Hallam spending as part of the national campaign. His Election Address – which by statute, namely the Representation of the Peoples Act, explicitly states is for the local candidate’s spend only – was declared as part national spend. His vehicle hire, room hire and agent costs were all declared as national spend. A further £5,913.45 was then “offset” for local elections and future campaigns. This is classic cooking the books – the document we have obtained admits that in reality all this spending was part of the “Sheffield Hallam Short Campaign Budget”.
A LibDem spokesman says spending was apportioned correctly to the national and other local campaigns in Sheffield Hallam:
“The figure of £-17,652 that you refer to is the amount spent above an indicative figure in a draft template budget. It does not relate to spend over and above an election spend limit. Any claim or suggestion of an overspend on the constituency return is misleading and factually inaccurate… We are confident that all spend has been correctly attributed to the appropriate return.”
It’s there in black and white – “What you’ve got left: -£17,652.89” – that looks like the true figure to Guido…
Veteran outer Dennis Skinner got a few laughs chiming in on the Queen’s EU comments with a jab at the former Deputy Prime Minister
Sun editor Tony Gallagher has come out swinging in defence of that splash about the Queen, accusing Clegg of changing his position and of smearing Michael Gove as the alleged source:
Peston: Much of the world believes your source to be the Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, was it?
Gallagher: They can believe what they like. We would never reveal who our sources are. I think it’s interesting to note that there is clearly a smear operation underway at the moment and an attempt to identify Michael Gove. It wouldn’t take too much of a cynic to assume that part of the reason for that is the desire to remove him as a leading light in the Leave campaign. And I think it’s worth putting into the public domain that among those circulating the idea that it is Michael Gove are people close to Nick Clegg… I think Nick Clegg has questions to answer because he’s gone from being ‘I don’t recollect this event’ to ‘it’s nonsense’ to now being certain it’s Michael Gove. So which is it? I think he has to answer that.
Remember, it’s personal between Clegg, Gove and his former adviser Dom Cummings, who once called him a “self-obsessed, revolting character”…
You know how it is, you’re arranging a photo op for the Deputy PM and you accidentally take him to a dogging site. We’ve all done it. Well, no, but former LibDem press officer Ben Rathe did:
“It was the Liberal Democrat Conference 2013, and my role back then was planning all of the visits that Nick Clegg was doing over the course of the 5 days in Glasgow. This included finding somewhere suitable to announce a new 5p charge on plastic bags.
I picked out a lovely nature reserve just south of Glasgow called Cathkin Marsh, which allowed us to tell the story of how discarded carrier bags murder cute, furry animals, damage the environment and ruin picturesque landscapes.
Now, as part of arranging any visit for Nick, who at that time was obviously DPM, you had to recce the site with his Metropolitan Police protection team. As we were in Scotland, we were also accompanied by some officers from Police Scotland, who opened my eyes to a startling fact.
‘Interesting place for a visit’ said one officer after the recce, which had mainly involved walking around a marshland on a wooden boardwalk.
I, thinking he meant they usually take politicians to schools, factories or nursing homes, launched into an explanation about why we’d chosen this location, the environmental impact discarded bags can have etc etc. I was swiftly cut off.
‘No, I mean because of what the locals use it for’ he said.
Now, ‘what the locals use it for’ is never a good sentence to hear, because usually ‘the locals’ are never using ‘it’ for anything good. I didn’t want to ask what he meant, mainly because I knew what he was going to say if I did, but felt that I had to.
So I did. And then came the reply I had both expected and dreaded.
‘Oh, it’s a dogging site.’
A dogging site. I’d arranged for the Deputy Prime Minister to visit a dogging site…
I’d just about accepted that I had to come clean when my phone rang and James Holt, a Number 10 Special Adviser told me that the policy had been leaked and that we’d need to bring the visit forward to the next morning.
Decision made then. There was no way we could find an alternate location in that time, and the announcement needed a visit for the pictures. So I made the very brave (or very stupid) decision and told James that would be fine.
So the next morning came, and off went the Deputy Prime Minister and Lord President of the Council on his morning visit. To a dogging site.”
Read the whole story on Rathe’s blog here. Armando Iannucci eat your heart out.
Nick Clegg claimed Osborne’s view of social housing was…
“All it does is produce more Labour voters.”
A good day for the LibDems to quietly slip out their report into why they were wiped out last May. So, who was to blame? The public of course:
“the weak public understanding of our party and political opinions meant that our move into government was not well understood”
And the media, obviously:
“media system that did not wish to demonstrate that the first peace-time coalition at Westminster could deliver stable government worsened the experience”
Though to be fair, the LibDem report is considerably more candid than Labour’s whitewash. Tuition fees was top of the list:
“critical disjunction between what we had published on the front page of our 2010 manifesto… namely, the abolition of tuition fees”
Intriguingly, they all ended up having blazing rows with each other:
“Some of the most problematic staff relationships came with overzealous party committee members, who took their frustration with the structure out on staff members”
No one was in charge, despite hiring expensive South African strategist Ryan Coetzee:
“lack of a single, professional campaign director responsible for taking strategic decisions about all aspects of campaigning”
They were seen as Tory patsies:
“we unwittingly manoeuvred ourselves into a position of appearing content to be willing appendages to our coalition partners”
Remarkably, due to “dwindling finances”
“no polling activities of note were undertaken at all during the first years of Coalition”
And morale was, well…
“these factors combined to lead to a daily reality for the party of public rejection, falling internal morale, and consistent electoral destruction”
Despite all this they bizarrely conclude:
“the political plight of the party could have been far worse”
You’d have thought Nick Clegg might have had enough of everyone thinking he is a massive hypocrite, apparently not. Clegg has just been in front of a Lords committee to slag off high pay for Special Advisers. He’s outraged, apparently:
“We’ve now got the almost loopy situation where the Chancellor is whacking up the pay of his Special Advisers an astronomical amount. Special Advisers in government are now being paid far, far, much more money than they were in the past… Double standards doesn’t even scratch the surface.”
Is he serious?
Clegg is so outraged about SpAd pay that he bunged his aide Ryan Coetzee £110,000-a-year out of the public purse.
He also ordered the taxpayer to pay his SpAd Jonny Oates £98,500-a-year.
Three more Clegg SpAds were on £80,000.
This was the 2013 FoI request revealing Clegg had a total of 15 SpAds costing the taxpayer an “astronomical” £1 million a year.
“Double standards doesn’t even scratch the surface…”
Those concerned for the fate of Nick Clegg will be pleased to hear that the former Lib Dem leader has netted a cool £22,500 giving a keynote speech for Goldman Sachs. Clearly the company have forgiven him then for slamming them as a reminder of the banking industry’s “recklessness and greed” back in 2010.
Clegg was also tasked with moderating a Q&A session, with the entire engagement lasting a total of 2½ hours, meaning the Sheffield Hallam MP was earning exactly £150 a minute. Well that’s a living wage…
Jokes aside, Guido extends his congratulations to Nick, who would make his millionaire investment banker father Nicholas proud…
Nick Clegg is clearly as masochist. Not content with the beating he took from Farage the last time they debated, he has agreed to take part in Round 2 at the Oxford Union on Monday. Clegg will be arguing that “This House believes Britain and the EU are better together” alongside Jose Manuel Barroso, and it will be the first time that the UKIP leader and the former European Commission president have debated face to face. Farage will be backed up by Bill Cash. Get your popcorn ready…
Guido is sure the Patchwork Foundation are having us on with their MP of the Year awards announced in parliament this afternoon. The winner of Labour MP of the parliamentary term is… Ed Miliband!
Winner of the parliamentary term certificate? Diane Abbott?
Nick Clegg bagged the amusingly titled “Other Parties Winner of the Parliamentary Term”. Zac Goldsmith won the overall award, which is just about believable. Were they winding us up with the rest?
One politically-confused co-conspirator took it upon themselves to join the Liberal Democrats this month. The charitable reader was however surprised to receive a slightly nostalgic membership card:
The back reads like an obituary:
A LibDem source confirms it is one of several current membership cards available, along the theme of “liberal people from history“:
“We do a range of about 11 or 12, and new members can choose whichever one they want… it’s a variety of liberal images/people from history. Lloyd George, Gladstone, Paddy, Kirsty Williams, a pair of sandals, Charles Kennedy, Shirley Williams etc. We’re launching a Tim Farron one at conference”.
Don’t all rush at once…
Next time the LibDems tell us how the House of Lords is an antiquated, corrupt body that needs reform, remember who they chose to give honours to today:
Duncan Greenland CBE: Has donated a total of £316,858.95 to the LibDems since 2004, £31,000 of which went to Clegg’s constituency.
Richard Duncalf OBE: Donated £216,000 to the party since 2007, including an individual £10,000 donation to Clegg.
Sir Anthony Ullman: Given the party £108,000 in total, including £30,000 directly to Clegg four days before he visited Ullmann’s firm in 2013.
Ian Wright CBE: Given £32,807.79 in addition to £9,000 to Clegg directly.