Vaz Promised to “Only Accept a Worker’s Wage”

Keith Vaz promised to “only accept a worker’s wage” when he was in the process of becoming an MP, Guido can reveal. Vaz is under renewed pressure over his finances after the National Crime Agency was asked to launch an Unexplained Wealth Order investigation by Tory MP Andrew Bridgen. According to newspaper reports published before his election in 1987:

“Secretary of Richmond and Barnes Labour Party Keith Vaz has been selected as Labour candidate for the Leicester East constituency… Mr Vaz is going to live and work in Leicester in the run up to the election. He said that if elected he will only accept a worker’s wage and donate the rest of his parliamentary salary to the local Labour Party.”

Mr Vaz’s parliamentary salary is £74,962. Mr Vaz’s spokesman said this weekend the allegations are “entirely unfounded”. How much of Vaz’s salary over his 31 years in Parliament has he donated to Leicester East Labour Party?

High Court Orders UKIP to Pay Share of Labour Libel Costs

UKIP has been ordered to pay a share of the £670,000 costs of the Jane Collins libel case after their MEP accused Labour MPs of involvement in the Rotherham abuse scandal:

“The Court therefore makes an order that UKIP should pay the claimants’ costs from 20 March 2015 to 23 June 2015 and their costs of the assessment hearing.”

Only a share of the total cost, but still going to be tricky for the cash-strapped party to pay…

UPDATE: Labour source says UKIP share of legal costs is estimated at £200,000. Potentially fatal for the party if so…

UPDATE II: UKIP lawyers say they think it will be closer to £20,000. Labour still adamant the party owes £200,000.

Priti Asks Electoral Commission to Investigate Remain Campaign

Priti Patel has written to the Electoral Commission asking them to launch an investigation following Guido’s stories on how the Remain campaign flouted spending rules during the referendum. As we revealed last week, Remainers shared data, suppliers and campaign materials, coordinated spending, funnelled £1 million to new campaigns set up in the month before the vote, and potentially spent double the legal limit. Priti says:

“There needs to be a thorough investigation into the actions, expenditure and financial probity of Remain campaigners, who appear to have flouted the rules and the spirit of the law to advance their cause in concert with each other.

It cannot be right that remain campaigners can so blatantly flout the rules to feed the British people their propaganda. As well as coordinating campaigning and spending they used every organ of the British state to try to bully people into staying in the EU. They even spent £9m of taxpayers’ money on a campaign leaflet breaking the normal rules of fair play of our democratic system.

‘Despite this wall of fear and fury the British people held their nerve and bravely voted to take back control. Brexit will be a great liberation for this country – but the leadership of the remain campaign must still be held to account for their actions.”

Read her letter in full below:

The Electoral Commission have told the BBC they are looking into Guido’s stories, but have yet to launch a formal probe. A lot of evidence landing on their desk this morning…

Remain Campaigns Coordinated Spending

Remain lawyer Jolyon Maugham called the validity of the referendum into question over the various Leave campaigns allegedly coordinating their spending. As he wrote in the Guardian, Maugham was so concerned about Vote Leave paying for services from other campaigns that he launched a Judicial Review into what he called “illegal spending”. Maugham will surely be equally outraged to learn that the same thing happened on the Remain campaign…

Guido has found:

  • The In Campaign Ltd paid for £52,062.23 worth of campaign materials for the Liberal Democrats between 15 April 2016 and 8 June 2016.

  • The In Campaign Ltd paid for materials worth £22,829 for Labour on 15 April 2016

  • Labour paid for £7,265.65 worth of materials for the The In Campaign Ltd on 26 May 2016.

  • Emma Duncan (who set up Wake Up And Vote) donated £24,000 to DDB UK Ltd on 11 July 2016.

  • We are Europe donated £10,000 to DDB UK Ltd on 29 June 2016.

  • Virgin Management Limited donated £15,000 to We Are Europe on 15 June 2016.

Maugham accused Vote Leave of breaking the law and said parliament could decide to overturn Brexit as a result. He wrote: “It’s not just about Brexit. The reason we have spending limits is because we want to live in a democracy”. Now it’s clear the Remain campaign was doing the same thing, will he call for an investigation into them too?

Guido’s investigation over the last few days has revealed the Remain campaign coordinated not only their spending but their messaging, campaign plans, data, materials and donations, with the effect of causing them to overspend by more than double the legal limit. Stay tuned…

Remain Donors Funnelled £1 Million to New Campaigns Set Up in Weeks Before Referendum

More than £1 million of Remain donors’ money was funnelled to new campaigns set up in the weeks before the referendum, as the official Remain campaign approached its maximum spending limit. A Guido investigation can reveal several of the campaigns that supported Remain were registered only weeks before the referendum, and were given hundreds of thousands of pounds each to spend in those final weeks.

  • DDB UK Ltd registered as an independent campaign on 25 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. DDB UK Ltd received £191,000 in donations.

  • Best For Our Future registered as a permitted participant on 27 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. It received £424,000 in donations

  • The In Crowd registered on 10 June 2016, less than two weeks before the referendum. It received £76,000 in donations.

  • Virgin Management Ltd registered as a permitted participant on 3 June 2016, less than three weeks before the referendum. It received £210,000 in donations.

  • Wake Up And Vote registered as a permitted participant on 24 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. It received £100,000 in donations.

Five campaigns which only registered less than one month before the referendum received a total of £1,001,000 in donations. 85% of the total donations given to these campaigns were made by people who had already donated to the official Remain campaign:

Could it possibly be that the official campaign was getting close to its legal limit, and so the donors’ money was directed to other groups in the run up to the vote so it could still be spent? Remember this is exactly what Remainers have accused the Leave campaign of doing, claiming this is reason for the result to be overturned. Stunning hypocrisy…

Remain Campaign Flouted Rules to Spend Double Legal Limit

The Remain campaign flouted Electoral Commission rules so it could overspend by up to £7.5 million during the referendum, a Guido investigation can reveal. Over the next few days Guido will be looking at how the various Remain groups coordinated their messaging, campaign plans, data, materials and donations, causing them to overspend by more than double the legal limit. Sorry Electoral Commission HQ, you’re going to have to come back early from your Christmas holidays…

The Electoral Commission rules are clear: if one campaign “coordinates [its] activity with another campaigner”, then they are “highly likely to be working together”. This definition of “working together” is important, because the Electoral Commission also says: “the lead campaign group must count all of the spending of all the campaigners it works together with towards its own limit”. Guess what… they didn’t.

Two books provide detailed accounts of a number of Remain campaigns coordinating plans and working together in the weeks leading up to the referendum. Tim Shipman’s All Out War reveals “[Craig] Oliver led an early-morning conference call for the media teams at 6.15am. At 7.30am there was a second conference call, in which Stronger In would tell Labour In, Conservatives IN and the Liberal Democrats about their plans for the day”. This clearly counts as “coordinating” and “working together” under the Electoral Commission’s definition.

In his book Unleashing Demons, Craig Oliver somewhat ill-advisedly admits to coordination between the various Remain campaigns: “I join a 7.30 a.m. cross-party call chaired by Will Straw. It’s designed to catch up with what the In campaigns for the various political parties are doing that day. I want to get across a blunt message: this matters. We failed on immigration yesterday, hardly anyone stuck to our line that we accept it’s a problem, but Leave’s solution of trashing the economy is no way to deal with it”.

This reveals clear coordination between Remain campaigns both in terms of messaging and campaign plans for individual days. It would have allowed numerous Remain campaigns to provide a unified message on key issues, as well as adapt their individual campaign activities to complement those of other Remain campaigns. Remember the Electoral Commission rules: “the lead campaign group must count all of the spending of all the campaigners it works together with towards its own limit”…

The combined spending of The In Campaign Ltd (Britain Stronger in Europe), Conservatives IN, Labour and Liberal Democrats during the control period was £14,496,806. Given the clear evidence of coordination between these campaigns, this means that Britain Stronger in Europe looks to have breached its spending limits by up to £7,496,806, more than double the legal limit allowed under Electoral Commission rules.

There has been a lot of attention in the Remain media about alleged coordination between the various Leave campaigns, yet no focus on Remainers breaching the rules. Imagine what the Electoral Commission would have done if they discovered that Vote Leave, Leave.EU and UKIP had a daily morning call to discuss campaign plans. Guido has a lot more to come on this. Stay tuned…

LibDems Livid at Olney’s £68,000 Salary For Four Day Week

There is near mutiny in LibDem HQ after party staff discovered Sarah Olney is being paid £68,000 for a four day week. When Olney quit as Vince Cable’s chief of staff after just six weeks, she was given a cushy non job as head of “special projects”. LibDem sources in the office are bewildered as to how Olney fills her days, she doesn’t appear to do any work and the only email staff remember her sending is the HQ “Hero of the Year” award, which in previous years was done by the PA. Most of the aides in LibDem head office are on £20,000-£30,000, there is outcry among the troops that Olney is on triple their wages for what is ostensibly a nothing job, and for which she only does a four day week. Members’ subs being well spent…

UPDATE: The LibDems have launched an investigation to find who leaked details of Sarah Olney’s salary to Guido. Our mole in the office says it is being carried out by the party’s head of fundraising Emma Cherniavsky. Good luck…

Momentum Claim They Only Spent £38,743 on Election

The Electoral Commission has today launched an investigation into Corbynista shock-troops Momentum to establish whether the group “breached campaign finance rules in relation to spending.” The questions the probe:

“Whether or not Momentum spent in excess of the spending limits for an unauthorised non-party campaigner in the UK Parliamentary general  election;
whether or not Momentum submitted a return that did not include accurate donation information and/or the required declaration stating that the donation return was complete and accurate; whether or not Momentum submitted a return that was not a complete statement of payments made in respect of controlled expenditure; whether or not Momentum submitted a return that did not include all invoices for payments of more than £200.”

Bob Posner, the Electoral Commission’s Director of Political Finance and Regulation and Legal Counsel, said:

“Momentum are a high profile active campaigning body. Questions over their compliance with the campaign finance rules at June’s general election risks causing harm to voters’ confidence in elections. There is significant public interest in us investigating Momentum to establish the facts in this matter and whether there have been any offences. Once complete, the Commission will decide whether any breaches have occurred and, if so, what further action may be appropriate, in line with its enforcement policy.” 

Momentum reported expenditure of £38,743. Guido said it back in November, that sounds impossibly low…

Chuka Lying About Boris and Brexit Bill

Chuka Umunna has emailed supporters this morning claiming “Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said that the Government wouldn’t pay a penny in a divorce settlement – Europe could go and whistle, he said”This is a lie that keeps being repeated by hardline Remainers.

This is what Boris said, from Hansard: “the sums that I have seen that they propose to demand from this country seem to me to be extortionate, and I think that to “go whistle” is an entirely appropriate expression”. Very clearly he says the EU can “go whistle” for “extortionate” … “sums that I have seen that they propose” (which were the reports of €100 billion at the time). All along Boris has said Britain will pay what it owes. In August he said“Of course we will meet our obligations. We are law-abiding, bill-paying people. We certainly have to meet our obligations”. Chuka’s claim that Boris said we “wouldn’t pay a penny” is a straight lie…

H/T @mrharrycole

Remainers Fibbing About ‘Brexit Bill’

If you believe these Remain ultras this morning, the “Brexit bill” we are paying is £100 billion. This figure is from the FT’s report – though what Bradshaw, Doughty and Lammy aren’t telling their followers is that the FT article makes clear we are only actually going to pay half that amount. Deliberately not using the net figure to inflate the number… tut tut.

In any case, even calling this a “Brexit bill” is misleading. Half of the £50 billion-ish figure is simply our continuing contribution during the transition. As Henry Newman points out, the rest is what we would have paid if we had remained. It is not a new bill caused by Brexit. Sensible Brexiters are staying calm and not believing the Remainer hype – this is cash we just owe, and it will all be worth it when we leave…

Labour Call Centre Staff on 12 Hours a Week Get 30p Pay Rise

Staff at Labour’s Newcastle call centre aren’t exactly over the moon about a 30p pay rise they’ve been given in line with this month’s increase to the National Living Wage. A collective eye-roll took place as party’s call centre operators were told in an email:

“We are pleased to inform you that in line with the increase of the Living Wage rate, effective from 1st December your hourly paid rate will rise to £8.75 per hour.”

Labour’s manifesto demands a £10 an hour minimum wage for all workers over 18…

Labour insiders told Guido that staff are only guaranteed 12 hours work a week, and receive an email on Friday evenings telling them how much work is available the following week. A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party is an accredited living wage employer. We don’t comment on staffing matters.” The party simultaneously claims to oppose work insecurity…

McDonnell: “You Don’t Need a Number” For Nationalisation Costs

Two gems from McDonnell on Marr this morning: he reckons when the government borrows to spend it is guaranteed a profit: “On those returns you will always get more than you pay out”. And he says the cost of Labour’s nationalisation programme is… nothing: “You don’t need a number because you swap shares for government bonds”. Not serious, and yet still McDonnell is closing the gap on Hammond on the economy…

From Husky Hugging to Coal Mining

Greg Barker, now m’Lord Barker of Battle, Cameron’s husky hugging companion and former swivel-eyed Energy & Climate Change minister, has found a use for his experience gained in Government. Long a fan of Russian billionaires, Barker is the newly-appointed chairman of EN+, a Russian energy and aluminium conglomerate controlled by oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Barker’s first job is to bring a veneer of respectability to the energy company as it floats on the LSE. He’ll have his work cut out…

EN+’s owner is certainly close to the Kremlin: wikileaked US diplomatic cables described Deripaska as one of “the two or three oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis”, while the US still refuses to give him a visa due to his links to organised crimeDeripaska’s dealings with Manafort won’t help his cause…

More troubling are EN+’s ties to VTB Bank, the Russian lender that has been sanctioned by the US and EU since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014. As the Spectator pointed out:

EN+ says it intends to use the ‘primary proceeds’ of the share offering ‘to repay a portion of its debt’ – which is owed largely to Russian banks such as VTB (also an EN+ shareholder) that helped bail out Deripaska’s businesses with Kremlin support after the 2008 crash, and are currently subject to US and EU sanctions. So London investors’ money will be flowing back into Putin’s other-wise ostracised banking system. 

With sanctions still in place on VTB and Russia, Barker has to convince investors that this deal does not violate sanctions. He’ll have an even harder time explaining to Cameron why he’s working around sanctions his own government helped put in place…

Aside from all that, take a moment to reflect on the sheer cynicism of a husky hugging Climate Change hyping minister becoming Chairman of a coal-mining to aluminum smelting conglomerate. One Tory grandee told Guido that Barker “must be short of cash.” 

Simon Stevens Embraces £350 Million For NHS

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens used to hype up the risks to the NHS of leaving the EU. He even went on Marr during the referendum to personally condemn Vote Leave’s £350 million a week figure. So Guido welcomes Steven’s conversion to the cause at today’s NHS conference in Birmingham, where he has called on the government to spend the Brexit dividend on the NHS: “Vote Leave for a better funded health service – £350 million a week”. Having his cake and eating it? Or is Stevens finally embracing the benefits of Brexit…

Police Consider Action Against Scandal-Hit Lavery

Police are poised to investigate scandal-hit Labour chairman Ian Lavery after he received £165,000 from a 10 member trade union which he ran before becoming an MP. A Newsnight investigation broadcast earlier this month found the socialist hardliner enriched himself via mortgage transactions over the 18 year period when he was General Secretary of the NUM Northumberland Area. The revelations followed an earlier investigation by the Sunday Times’ James Lyons who exposed how Lavery benefited from a miners’ benevolent fund. A report by trade unions regulator the Certification Office raised questions over a string of mortgage transactions and a “severance payment” of nearly £90,000…

A Northumbria Police spokesman said:

 “Northumbria Police had previously received a complaint which was recorded and put on hold to allow an investigation by the Certification Office. Following the outcome of this investigation Northumbria will review the findings of the Certification Office’s report, which has now been received to establish if any further action is required by the force.”

A spokesman for Ian Lavery said he was “unaware of any police investigation”. Another Labour MP to lose the whip? Or will Jez keep his mate on…

EU Budget Latest: €2 Million for “Private Storage of Cheese”

The European Parliament adopted amendments on the draft EU budget this week. A line-by-line breakdown of spending proposals was circulated to MEPs – it’s eye-watering even by the EU’s troughing standards. €2 million for “private storage of certain cheeses” really grates, as well as €700,000 for a “manual of good practices for cruises”. All-time-classics of outrageous splurging…

Independent MEP Steven Woolfe said:

“The EU is actually a parody of itself. If the British people needed further reminding of why they voted to leave the EU last year it’s set out in black and white in this year’s budget. ‘Ocean literacy for all’, a ‘Manual of good practices for cruises’!? The mind boggles. Presumably, the ten million Euros spent on ‘storage measures for skimmed-milk powder’ is to ensure that, in the event of a nuclear holocaust, Eurocrats in Brussels will still be able to enjoy a white Americano as they slowly die from radiation poisoning…”

Roll on 2019…

European Council Orders 4,000 Bottles of Champagne on the Taxpayer

The European Council has put out a tender for 4,000 bottles of champagne with the bill charged to the taxpayer. UKIP MEP Jonathan Bullock challenged the splurge during a plenary debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday night. Bullock said:

“The Council put out a public tender for 4,000 bottles of champagne. Perhaps we could in Britain could have our share of that, I think it works out about 500 bottles by our budget contribution, to celebrate Brexit. We’d even share for 148 bottles if we divided equally between the countries… but seriously when half of Europe is in crisis with austerity biting, you are ordering 4,000 bottles of champagne.”

The European Council is an EU body comprising of the heads of state or government of member states. It is not required to have its accounts approved by the European Parliament. Raise a toast to Brexit…

Labour MPs Accept Thousands From Russia Today

Remember when Russia Today’s Afshin Rattansi fibbed that they don’t pay politicians to appear on their programmes? Labour MP Rosie Duffield has declared £500 “from Russia Today” on 12 October:

Loony Chris Williamson accepted £1,000 from the Russians for two appearances in October:

Labour MPs taking Moscow gold…

Corbyn Stands By Disgraced Lavery

Labour Party chairman and top Corbynista Ian Lavery is one of the biggest wrong ‘uns in Westminster. If there was any natural justice in Labour they would have sacked him when the Sunday Times’ James Lyons exposed how he shamelessly benefited from a miners’ benevolent fund. Last night Newsnight’s John Sweeney had more: Lavery received £165,000 from a 10 member trade union which he ran before becoming an MP. Their investigation finds the disgraced socialist hardliner enriched himself via mortgage transactions over the 18 year period when he was General Secretary of the NUM Northumberland Area. He also took a huge redundancy package before his election in 2010. Trade unions regulator the Certification Office found:

  • 1994: The Northumberland Provident and Benevolent fund lends Lavery £72,500 to buy a house. In 2007 the union forgave the loan, leaving Lavery £72,500 richer…
  • Lavery also kept £18,000 from an endowment fund associated with the mortgage;
  • 2005: Lavery sells 15% of his house to the union for £36,000. By 2014 the value of the house had fallen. He bought the stake back from the union for £27,500. A notional profit of £8,500…
  • 2010: On stepping down from the NUM Northumberland Area, Lavery receives “termination payments” totalling £89,887.83. Quite some termination package…

As Sweeney reports:

“The regulator says that neither Mr Lavery nor the union could provide documentary evidence of the process or the decision by which Mr Lavery was made redundant – or why, given he was leaving for a job as an MP, he needed any redundancy payments at all.”

In total Lavery stands accused of creaming off £165,000 from the union. Lavery is inside Corbyn’s inner circle. It makes a mockery of everything Jez claims to stand for that he has kept his broacialist brother in the tent despite a scandal which should have ended his career several times over. Indeed the Leader’s Office has given him a raft of promotions along the way. Is there anything Ian Lavery could do that would convince Corbyn to sack him?

Tory MP Demands Cabinet Office Investigates Sir Craig’s Book

Following Guido’s story on a potential breach of the Special Advisers Code of Conduct in Sir Craig Oliver’s memoirs, a Tory MP has written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood demanding an investigation. Andrew Bridgen asks the two killer questions: why was Sir Craig permitted to publish information that the Cabinet Office admits could prejudice relations with the US?[…] Read the rest

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John McDonnell does a funny:

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