Second LibDem MP Faces Election Expenses Questions

The Scottish papers think they are onto something with LibDem expenses at this year’s election. Yesterday the Herald accused Jo Swinson of omitting thousands of pounds worth of claims from her expenses return, which if declared would have put her over the limit. Today they are going after new LibDem MP Christine Jardine, claiming voters were sent personalised mail which was not accounted for in her spending return, and that if she had declared this £3,000 of expenditure in her local spend she would have bust her limit by £1,350. The LibDems are protesting their innocence, as they did before they were given the maximum fine by the Electoral Commission after the 2015 election. Expect more LibDem names to come out in the next few days…

Swinson in Trouble Over “Vanishing” Election Expenses

Here we go again… LibDem Jo Swinson is feeling the heat north of the border after thousands of pounds were apparently left off her election expenses declaration. The Herald reports Swinson claimed her spending had come in £210 below the limit, but only after £7,000 worth of claims were left undeclared. Swinson says money was spent on items that were never used so she didn’t declare it – other claims were declared as national spend in a move reminiscent of Nick Clegg’s controversial election expenses last time round. One to watch, who’s up for another summer of election fraud stories?

Starmer Forced to Turn Down Mishcon Second Job

Sir Keir Starmer has bowed to pressure and been forced to reject a lucrative second job at anti-Brexit law firm Mishcon de Reya. A win for Tory MP James Cleverly who wrote to Starmer last night pointing out the conflicts of interest the job would entail. Corbyn voted against second jobs and had a veto on the appointment, did Jez stop Sir Keir from taking the gig?

IPSO Throws Out Baroness Scotland’s Complaints

What remained of Baroness Scotland’s credibility lies in tatters after the IPSO press regulator threw out a litany of complaints she made about stories exposing her expenses shame. Last year the Mail titles, as well as Guido and other outlets, published a series of shocking revelations about Scotland’s expenses based on documents leaked by concerned whistleblowers. The Baroness denied everything and filed a vast number of complaints to IPSO about the stories. Today, after a nine month IPSO investigation, Scotland is left humiliated… 

  1. Baroness Scotland claimed she was the victim of a “partisan campaign” by the Daily Mail, that the paper’s articles about her were “distorted“, inaccurate and that the Mail had published knowingly false allegations against her. IPSO rejected all of this and threw out every single one of Scotland’s complaints against the Mail. 
  2. Baroness Scotland claimed reports recruitment rules had been bypassed to hire her friend Lord Patel’s company were untrue. IPSO found the standard recruitment process had been waived – the reports were true. 
  3. Baroness Scotland denied reports her spending figures, published every three months, had not been released on time. IPSO found they were not released on time, the reports were true. 
  4. Baroness Scotland claimed reports she had “brought in” interior designer Nicky Haslam were untrue. IPSO found Haslam had indeed been brought in by Scotland, the reports were true.
  5. Baroness Scotland denied Haslam had “partly overseen” the planned renovations. IPSO found this was an accurate description.
  6. Baroness Scotland denied that her advisers were “left-wing political fixers”. IPSO found they worked closely with the Labour Party and Labour figures and the reports were accurate. 
  7. Baroness Scotland denied reports of plans for a “swanky new dining area” in her Mayfair residence. IPSO found there were plans to relocate a chandelier to the dining room so this report was accurate.
  8. Baroness Scotland denied reports staff had received a “sinister” notification from her office warning their communications were being monitored. IPSO found the reports were accurate.
  9. Baroness Scotland claimed it was misleading to refer to Lord Patel as her “partner in crime”. IPSO found Scotland had herself referred to him using those words.
  10. Baroness Scotland denied she had been “dubbed Baroness Brazen”. IPSO found that a Conservative MP had indeed dubbed her Baroness Brazen.
  11. Baroness Scotland claimed newspaper reports suggested she had paid her sister for advice. IPSO found the reports made clear she hadn’t paid her sister.
  12. Baroness Scotland claimed there was no evidence to suggest the Queen was “embarrassed” by her. IPSO found a well-placed Royal source said the Queen was embarrassed.
  13. Baroness Scotland claimed there was no whistleblower, as there was nothing to blow the whistle on. IPSO found it was accurate to call the concerned source a whistleblower.
  14. Baroness Scotland claimed it was misleading to say Downing Street had refused to give its confidence in her. IPSO found Downing Street would only give confidence in the role of Secretary-General, the reports were accurate. 

IPSO ordered one minor correction, changing a headline in the Mail on Sunday about the sums paid to Lord Patel. This was the only breach found out of all the complaints made by Baroness Scotland against three titles. Her claims of inaccuracies, media lies and a vendetta against her have been exposed as fantasy – after such an unequivocal humiliation it is laughable that she can continue to hold public office… 

Sir Keir Joining Mishcon: Paid £18,000 For 24 Hours Work

The Lawyer reports Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer is joining Mishcon de Reya as a legal adviser. Mishcon are ultra Remainers – they were behind a big business legal challenge to Brexit and they of course represent Gina Miller. Will be slightly awkward in the office given the Shadow Cabinet’s position on the single market and customs union. In truth this is Sir Keir making his relationship with Mishcon official: last year they paid him £18,000 for 24 hours work. Kerching…

Davis Accepts Donations From Top Blairite and TV Remainer

David Davis has banked nearly £35,000 in donations in the last month, from a variety of benefactors across the Brexit spectrum. Intriguingly Davis accepted £15,000 from Allamhouse Ltd, a firm owned by former major Labour donor and top Blairite Assem Allem. Readers may remember Allem as one of Labour’s main individual donors from the 2010-2015 parliament, before he became disillusioned with Corbyn and tried to convince Tony Blair and the LibDems to set up a new centrist party. Curious he is now backing Davis…

DD also accepted £5,000 from businessman and Dragons Den star Theo Paphitis, a Leave voter who oddly wants to Remain in the EU. Paphitis took the unusual position during the referendum of backing a vote to Leave so the EU would give us a better deal and we could ultimately Remain:

“I believe that if we vote to leave the EU there’s a very high chance that our friends in the EU will stop and smell the coffee and propose the sort of reforms that many would like to see and would make them comfortable to remain… I feel that the best way to leverage change and achieve our aim would be to vote out. At that point I am confident there’s a high chance that there will be another renegotiation and then we’re in.”

Fear not, Davis also accepted cash from three Brexiters: Anthony Bamford, Alan Halsall and Peter Cruddas. Raising a decent wedge from across the political spectrum, intriguing…

BBC #NotOnTheList Stars Paid Via Production Companies

The BBC stars who are #NotOnTheList either need to sack their agents or, more likely, are dodging scrutiny by being paid via production companies. Many Beeb programmes are produced by third party companies, which means their stars still ultimately receive licence fee payer cash while keeping their names off the rich list. Neither Ian Hislop nor Paul Merton are on there because Have I Got News For You is made by Hat Trick Productions – they are thought to receive five figures per episode. Not forgetting Hislop’s documentaries which all go towards the upkeep of the comb-dodger’s £5 million Chelsea home. The Apprentice is made by United Artists so Alan Sugar avoids being named. Graham Norton’s salary was disclosed as £900,000 yesterday – the true figure is much higher because The Graham Norton Show is made by So Television. Mary Berry and Sue Perkins from Bake Off weren’t on the list, neither was David Attenborough because he is paid via BBC Worldwide, nor was Paxo because University Challenge is made by Granada. All these companies receive vast sums from the licence fee payer, with which they pay their stars millions, yet their names are #NotOnTheList…

One of the more interesting is Screenwipe’s Charlie Brooker. His programme is made by Zeppotron, a production company co-founded by Brooker which is part of Endemol. Charlie is a director of four companies – House of Tomorrow Drama Ltd, House of Tomorrow Holdings Ltd, Black Mirror Drama Ltd and Black Mirror Drama (S4) Ltd. Zeppotron and these four companies are all registered at the London office of Endemol Shine, which is headquartered in Holland and co-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. Puts Charlie’s Murdoch mocking and Sun-bashing into perspective.

Guido was most shocked to see Emily Maitlis #NotOnTheList. Emily is one of the Beeb’s top stars, presenting Newsnight and the news – she is rightly unimpressed and quipped at an tech industry event last night: “You’re an industry doing so well, soon you’ll be able to afford a BBC man”. Her agent tweeted:

If Maitlis isn’t on the list and doesn’t get paid through a production company, that means the Beeb think she’s worth less than half an Evan Davis…

Humphrys: I Can’t Explain My £650,000 Salary

John Humphrys on his £650,000-a-year salary: “I’m not sure I could explain it”. Mishal Husain is on a third of that, think she’d like an explanation…

Jeremy Vine Asks James Purnell: How Do You Justify My £750,000 Salary?

Ultimate Beeb navel-gazing as Jeremy Vine asks BBC radio chief James Purnell:

Vine: “I’m there as having a salary of between £700,000 and £750,000. How do you justify that?”

Purnell: “You’re fantastic…”

£750,000, or three Laura Kuenssbergs…

Shadow Cabinet Minister Admits ‘Not Possible’ to Keep Student Promise

Shadow Cabinet member Sarah Champion has admitted on the Daily Politics “I don’t think it is going to be possible” to keep Labour’s promise to student voters. Asked why Corbyn made the pledge during the election, Champion told Andrew Neil “you would have to ask him”…

Andrew Neil: Sarah Champion, when Jeremy Corbyn said a week before the election, a week before voting, he told voters that quote ‘he would deal with historic student debt’ what did he mean by that?

Sarah Champion: Well you would have to ask him, I think it’s…

Andrew Neil: Chance would be a fine thing.

Sarah Champion: I’ll ask if he will come on. I don’t think it is going to be possible to be quite honest, how do you square it with people that have already paid off their debt for example, what I do think though is we can’t change the past and I don’t think the Treasury would ever allow us to roll back on something.

Andrew Neil: Because it looks like it would be £100bn is the amount.

Sarah Champion: Yeah…

This is becoming a problem for Jez and his Shadow Cabinet knows it…

BBC Salaries Revealed

TV NON SCRIPTED (FACTUAL AND ENTERTAINMENT)

£150,000 – £199,999 Darcey Bussell – Contributor Mel Giedroyc – Presenter Craig Horwood – Contributor Paul Martin – Presenter Simon Schama – Presenter

£200,000 – £249,999 Gary Barlow – Contributor Len Goodman – Contributor Danii Minogue – Contributor Bruno Tonioli – Contributor Alan Yentob – Presenter

£300,000 – £349,999 Nick Knowles – Presenter

£350,000 – £399,999 Tess Daly – Presenter

£400,000 – £449,999 Alex Jones Presenter

NEWS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS

£150,000 – £199,999 Kamal Ahmed – Correspondent Jeremy Bowen – Correspondent Ben Brown – Presenter Mark Easton – Correspondent Gavin Esler – Presenter James Naughtie – Correspondent John Pienaar – Correspondent Sophie Raworth – Presenter John Simpson – Correspondent Kirsty Wark – Presenter Justin Webb – Presenter

£200,000 – £249,999 Victoria Derbyshire – Presenter Mishal Husain – Presenter Martha Kearney – Presenter Laura Kuenssberg – Correspondent Andrew Neil – Presenter Jonathan Sopel – Correspondent

£250,000 – £299,999 George Alagiah – Presenter Nicholas Robinson – Presenter

£300,000 – £349,999 Eddie Mair – Presenter

TV SCRIPTED (DRAMA AND COMEDY)

£150,000 – £199,999 Laurie Brett – Actor Letitia Dean – Actor Tameka Empson – Actor Guy Henry – Actor Linda Henry – Actor Scott Maslen – Actor Diane Parish – Actor Hugh Quarshie – Actor Jemma Redgrave – Actor Tim Roth – Actor Catherine Shipton – Actor Gillian Taylforth – Actor Lacey Turner – Actor

£200,000 – £249,999 Peter Capaldi – Actor Danny Dyer – Actor Emilia Fox – Actor David Jason – Actor Rosie Marcel – Actor Adam Woodyatt – Actor

£250,000 – £299,999 Amanda Mealing – Actor

£350,000 – £399,999 Derek Thompson – Actor

SPORT

£150,000 – £199,999 Jonathan Agnew – Presenter and commentator Clare Balding – Presenter Jonathan Davies – Presenter John McEnroe – Presenter and commentator

£200,000 – £249,999 John Inverdale – Presenter Gabby Logan – Presenter

£250,000 -£299,999 Jason Mohammad – Presenter

£300,000 – £349,999 Sue Barker – Presenter

£400,000 – £449,999 Alan Shearer – Presenter

£1,750,000 – £1,799,999 Gary Lineker – Presenter

MULTI GENRE

£150,000 – £199,999 Naga Munchetty – Presenter and Contributor

£200,000 – £249,999 Mark Chapman – Presenter Jools Holland – Presenter Dan Walker – Presenter

£250,000 – £299,999 Zoe Ball – Presenter Brian Cox – Presenter Evan Davis – Presenter

£350,000 – £399,999 Fiona Bruce – Presenter

£400,000 – £449,000 Andrew Marr – Presenter Stephen Nolan – Presenter

£450,000 – £499,999 Matt Baker – Presenter Claudia Winkleman – Presenter

£550,000 – £599,999 Huw Edwards

£600,000 – £649,000 John Humphrys – Presenter

£700,000 – £749,999 Jeremy Vine – Presenter

£850,000 – £899,999 Graham Norton – Presenter

£2,200,000 – £2,249,999 Chris Evans – Presenter

RADIO

£150,000 – £199,999 Adrian Chiles – Presenter Greg James – Presenter Shaun Keaveny – Presenter Moira Stuart – Presenter Jo Whiley – Presenter

£200,000 – £249,999 Mark Radcliffe – Presenter

£250,000 – £299,999 Ken Bruce – Presenter Scott Mills – Presenter Trevor Nelson – Presenter

£300,000 – £349,999 Lauren Laverne – Presenter

£350,000 – £399,999 Vanessa Feltz – Presenter Nicholas Grimshaw – Presenter Simon Mayo – Presenter

£400,000 – £449,999 Nicky Campbell – Presenter

£500,000 – £549,999 Steve Wright – Presenter

Specialist Contractors and Writers £150,000 – £199,999 Daryl Bramley – Programme Manager Colin Brown – Identity Architect Roy Clarke – Writer Patrick Foody – Analytics Architect Claire Hetherington – IT Programme Manager James Hewines – Technical Project Manager Daran Little – Writer Ruth Moreland – Project Manager Andy Pryor – Casting Manager Terence Reeves – Service Architect Noel Scotford – Programme Manager Richard Smith – Integration Lead

H/T Piers Morgan

Mishal Husain Grills Tony Hall on BBC Pay

So many deliciously awkward moments to enjoy as Mishal Hussain grilled Tony Hall on BBC pay equality this morning, with Nick Robinson sitting a few feet away. Full figures for the 96 best paid Beeb stars coming later…

Torbynista Greening Loses Fight For New Money

Top Torbynista Justine Greening has come to the Commons to announce that she lost her fight with the Treasury for new money for her department. The Education Secretary dressed up her “extra £1.3 billion for schools” as a new spending commitment, leading the Lobby up the garden path:

The answer? There is no new money, no magic money tree, she has not “won the battle with Hammond“. The cash is coming out of the existing Education budget, which means cuts elsewhere in the department. Remember Greening wanted new cash. Treasury win.

Greening spins it up as more cash, the Lobby falls for it, Greening admits there is no new money, the herd follows. Wonder who could possibly have a motive to brief against Hammond…

Ashworth Confirms Labour Breaking Student Debt Promise

Shadow Cabinet minister Jon Ashworth confirms Corbyn’s promise to “deal with” student debt has been downgraded to an “ambition”. Johnny Sparkle torn a new one by Susanna Reid – if the Tories packed in their self-indulgence and took a holiday this would be the top politics story in the news…

McDonnell Backtracks on Vow to Write Off Student Debt

During the election Jeremy Corbyn vowed “I will deal with” those who had the “historical misfortune” of large student debts, promising he would “ameliorate” their situation and write it off. Last week Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner confirmed the policy, admitting: “It is a huge amount, it is £100 billion. I like a challenge, but we’ve got to start dealing with this debt crisis that we’re foisting on our young people. It’s not acceptable”.

Today John McDonnell u-turned on that key election promise which won the votes of so many students and young people, telling Marr it was just “an ambition” and conceding for the first time “it’s very difficult” to do. All those who voted Labour to have their debts written off should watch this interview. It was fantasy politics, a pack of lies all along…

Welsh Politicians Spend Thousands Chartering Planes to Watch Football

Welsh government politicians, special advisers, private secretaries and press officers have billed the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds to fly around the world on more than 30 foreign junkets in the last year. Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones blew more than £10,000 chartering a plane for him and his private secretary to France to watch the football last summer. Why are taxpayers paying for this?

The itinerary of the Welsh cabinet and their flunkies would put globe-trotting A-listers to shame. Expenses documents show Jones spent nearly £50,000 on another two trips to the US, taking in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Washington DC at a total cost to the taxpayer of £47,992. Economy Secretary Ken Skates and his private secretary also went to the Euro football: they attended matches in Toulouse and Paris over five days, total cost £3,232. How did they manage to spend that much?

He and an official also went to Chongqing and Shanghai at a cost of £17,842. Health Secretary Vaughan Gething was also accompanied by an official on a trip to Enetbbe, Uganda, charging £16,582, to mark the “10th Anniversary of Wales for Africa“. Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths and policy official enjoyed sunny Dubai at a cost of £6,563. Who are these people are why are spending our money?

Welsh politicians have long been on the take and get away with it because no one in the English media cares about what are essentially local stories. At a time when Welsh Labour are breaking their tuition fees promise, their politicians and staff are flying around the world on jollies. How can they justify spending this much on going to watch the football?

Osborne Defends BlackRock’s £500 Million Investment on Standard Front Page

George Osborne has defended his employer BlackRock’s half-a-billion pound investment on the front page of the Evening Standard. In the most glaring conflict of interest since his editorship began, today’s Standard blasts Rebecca Long-Bailey as “out of touch” for criticising Uber, and favourably quotes her own colleagues who support the taxi app. BlackRock, which invested in Uber in 2014, has a stake now worth some £500 million. BlackRock pays Osborne a salary of £600,000 for 48 days work per year.

BlackRock keeps Osborne on retainer and it is in BlackRock’s direct financial interests to see Uber defended, Osborne will no doubt argue that he defends Uber on the Evening Standard front page for liberal reasons. Guido did warn him that as editor he would have to navigate a minefield of conflicted interests when he took the job. This was inevitable…

UPDATE: The first edition of the Standard had no mention of Uber on the front page. Second edition splashed it. Did someone pick up the phone to the editor? 

Feldman Lobbying Job Avoids Oversight

Former Tory chairman Andrew Feldman has landed a lucrative role at the PR outfit Tulchan Communications. The hire highlights a flaw in the system of oversight for outside interests – under House of Lords rules, Feldman doesn’t have to disclose how much he is paid by Tulchan or, more importantly, what businesses he’s assisting. There will be no way of knowing whether questions he asks in the Lords pertain to interests he personally represents…

Feldman also has roles at Macro Advisory Partners – chaired by former MI6 boss Sir John Sawers – and TFG Management, a hedge fund. If he were a former minister or special adviser, he would have had to clear his new appointment with the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA). Despite attending Political Cabinet and still having the ear of half the Cabinet, the authorities have confirmed to Guido that Feldman doesn’t have to get his new job cleared by anyone.

Tulchan only recently entered the shady world of lobbying. As well as Feldman they have former Cameron spinner Graeme Wilson, ex-Osborne SpAd Lisa Jarrett-Kerr and former Tory aide Joe Armitage on their books. Their new under the radar hire spent the last few years phoning up big companies asking for money, sure he’ll make use of those skills at his new gig…

Torbynistas’ £9 Billion Bill

More taxes, more spending, more borrowing, slower deficit reduction, wobbling on tuition fees and ending the public sector pay cap – some members of the Cabinet are becoming Torbynistas. Jeremy Hunt has demanded the “1% cap for NHS workers” is lifted, Justine Greening wants the same for teachers. Now Boris is briefing out he “strongly” believes the public sector pay cap should go. The IFS says copying Jezza’s cap-ditching policy would cost £9.2 billion per year, at a time when the national debt stands at nearly £1.9 trillion…

The 1% cap figure is also very misleading. Many NHS workers and teachers get a salary rise each year additional to national pay. As former minister Rob Wilson points out, this isn’t widely known and is worth several hundreds of pounds a year to several thousand pounds a year depending on salary band. The 1% figure everyone uses isn’t the whole story, for many the real number is more like 4%.

As the IFS says, in the last ten years public sector pay has accelerated faster than the private sector. Indeed earlier this year the IFS reported public sector workers are still being paid hundreds of pounds a year more than their private sector counterparts, despite “austerity“. None of the Torbynistas calling for an “end to austerity” are talking about how they are going to pay for it. For Boris this could be the most expensive Tory leadership campaign in history…

Telegraph Kills Tradition of Charitable Donations

The Telegraph used to make a big deal of its noblesse oblige responsibilities to the less privileged. In 2015 Telegraph Media Group made £3 million of charitable donations via the Barclay Foundation – £2 million to the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre veterans charity and £1 million to Great Ormond Street children’s hospital.[…] Read the rest

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Jeremy Corbyn on Big Ben Bong Ban

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