Baroness Scotland Asked Taxpayer For £33,000 For Posh Paint

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Baroness Scotland demanded the taxpayer pay an astonishing £33,000 for the most expensive paint on the market for her Mayfair home, despite objections from her senior staff. The cost plan for the grace-and-favour residence obtained by Guido shows that the “additional paint specification” ordered by Baroness Scotland was budgeted at £33,000:

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A senior official complained that the Baroness wanted paint from Farrow & Ball, a high-end manufacturer which the official described as “top of the range of commercially available paint”. The official then complains: “The contract allowed for Dulux”.

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Here another senior official emails colleagues explaining that “additional funds” were found to pay for the “more expensive paint”. Additional funds billed to you…

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The original agreement was that the Commonwealth residence in Mayfair would be painted with Dulux paint, Baroness Scotland then insisted they use Farrow & Ball at an additional cost of £33,000 to the taxpayer – ignoring the complaints of her senior officials. Only the best for the Baroness, paid for by the Commonwealth taxpayer…

India Protests Scotland’s Extravagant Spending

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Pressure is mounting on Baroness Scotland tonight after India expressed its anger at the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s extravagant spending. The Indian press says their government is “concerned“, reporting that “alarm bells went off” when they learned Baroness Scotland handed huge contracts to her friends and spent vast sums doing up her Mayfair residence, all paid for by the Commonwealth taxpayer. A letter sent by Baroness Scotland to the Indian high commissioner attempting to justify the lavish spending splurge has gone down particularly badly. The Indian press quote their corruption-conscious government as complaining:

“We are the fourth largest financial contributor to the Commonwealth. We have concerns in how the budget is being spent.”

The main Commonwealth contributors – Britain, Canada, Australia and India – are the ones paying through the nose for Baroness Scotland’s vanities. They are the ones who can stop her too…

Andrew Mitchell Puts Constituency Home Up For Sale

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Andrew Mitchell has put his constituency home up for sale, Guido can reveal. Thrasher may have decided to put the £350,000 Sutton Coldfield property on the market to help pay his million pound legal bill, though there has also been speculation that Mitchell feels he has no future in Theresa May’s regime and is considering his political future. Either way, Guido takes you through the keyhole…

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Described by estate agents as a “stunning” and “beautiful” two bedroom “period residence set within a prestigious town centre location”, Mitchell’s gaff boasts original features throughout as well as a “beautiful kitchen” and “luxury bathroom”. It is a bit too pine ‘n chintz for Guido’s taste.

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Outside there is an enclosed rear garden with patio and dining area:

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The property is on the market now – Andrew Mitchell’s constituency home could be yours for £350,000…

£4,020 For Baroness Scotland’s New Cupboard

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Baroness Scotland demanded the taxpayer stump up £4,020 for her new cupboard, Guido can reveal. The cost plan for renovations to her grace-and-favour Mayfair home, which cost taxpayers up to £450,000 overall, includes a £4,020 cupboard with “mirror clad interior”, as well as a Trompe style door for another £4,000. Only the best for the Baroness.

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Baroness Scotland could have easily bought a perfectly suitable cupboard and door for a few hundred quid. Instead she insisted the Commonwealth taxpayer pay over £8,000 for the highest of high-end furnishings. Not to mention a £5,000 vanity unit in her powder room. Her press office have declined to justify the spending. Stay tuned, this is the tip of the iceberg of Baroness Scotland’s Mayfair expenses splurge… 

Baroness Scotland Billed Taxpayer £5,000 For New Bathroom Vanity Unit

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Guido has obtained the cost plan for the renovation of Baroness Scotland’s grace-and-favour Mayfair home, revealing that she billed the taxpayer £5,000 for a new vanity unit in her bathroom. Her extravagant spending is reminiscent of the duck islands and moats of the expenses scandal. The cost plan shows how the taxpayer was provisionally billed £5,000 for Baroness Scotland’s vanity unit, £2,000 to tile her bathroom, £1,750 for new wallpaper in that room alone and £2,500 to fill in a window. Another £4,000 was spent on maintaining the decorative drapery over a window on the landing. This was all additional spending beyond the original budget, ordered by Baroness Scotland.

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When senior officials queried whether all this spending was really necessary, Baroness Scotland’s fixer Gary Dunn told them: “The SG [Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland] wants her bathroom completely done”. What the Baroness wants, the Baroness gets.

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Over the last 24 hours Guido has repeatedly asked Baroness Scotland’s press office to justify this spending. They have declined to do so. She demanded her bathroom was “completely done” and ordered a new £5,000 vanity unit – all paid for by the Commonwealth taxpayer. Back in 2009 MPs were forced to resign for similar scandalous expenses troughing…

Scotland Wanted £450,000 to Do Up Mayfair Home

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Baroness Scotland provoked outcry among senior Commonwealth officials after she billed £450,000 of taxpayers’ money to do up her grace-and-favour home in Mayfair – double the original budget. Below Guido publishes leaked memos in which officials complain about the huge amount of money being spent. The first memo shows celebrity interior designer Nicky Haslam was brought in to do up the property. A high-ranking official warns that Baroness Scotland’s additional renovations “will increase the total cost for the refurbishment from the original £230k to near £450k”.

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A second memo sees a senior official complain that Baroness Scotland’s demands have caused “a significant increase in cost” to “around double the price of the original specification”.

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And a third memo sees another official warn that “there are no spare funds in the budget”, so Baroness Scotland’s renovations mean “going further into reserves or cutting programme expenditure”.

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Just weeks into her job as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland doubled the budget for the refurbishment of her Mayfair residence. This is a huge amount of money and a significant portion of the whole Commonwealth budget, funded by Commonwealth taxpayers. Guido has asked the Baroness’ spin doctor how they justify doubling the budget. We have not received a reply…

Senior Official Accused Baroness Scotland of Misuse of Public Funds

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A senior official in the Commonwealth Secretariat formally complained that Baroness Scotland’s decision to hire a close friend on £30,000-a-month was a misuse of public funds. Below Guido publishes “frank and candid advice” written by a high-ranking official in the department, which raised concerns “pertaining to procurement, transparency and the use of public funds”. You will never see mandarins using language more explicit…

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The official outlines how they “advised Baroness Scotland against making this appointment” of her friend Lord Patel. According to the official, Scotland extraordinarily replied that Patel “was very supportive during her campaign to become Secretary-General”. This is astonishing: a senior official is essentially alleging Baroness Scotland hired a friend on £30,000-a-month as a reward for him helping her election campaign…

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Sources with an intimate knowledge of the review Lord Patel carried out say it was not worth the paper it was written on. According to the official, this bombshell complaint was overruled by Scotland, who dismissed the advice and forced through the appointment of her close friend…

How Baroness Scotland Waived Recruitment Process to Give £90,000 Contract to Crony

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Guido can reveal for the first time how Baroness Scotland waived procurement practices in order to award a £90,000 contract to a close friend. Just days after taking office, Scotland instructed staff to hire her fellow Labour peer Lord Patel as a consultant to produce a review of the department. Scotland and Patel have been friends for years and she has previously described him as her “partner in crime”. In the leaked memo below, an official carefully makes clear the arrangement is “following your instructions” and requires them to “seek a waiver from the Secretariat’s preferred procurement practices”. The job was not advertised to other bidders, the recruitment process was waived so it could be given to her “partner in crime”.

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The contract is with Patel’s company KYA Global. Its only directors are Patel and his wife – the company appears to have no website or online or physical presence. The sums of money are huge – the company was paid £30,000-a-month out of the public purse. The contract was signed by Baroness Scotland herself.

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In writing, we have Baroness Scotland waiving standard recruitment practices in order to award a £30,000-a-month contract to one of her closest friends. An astonishing conflict of interest involving vast sums of taxpayers’ money. This is cronyism at its most blatant…

Revealed: Baroness Scotland’s Bumper Contracts for Aides

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A Guido investigation can reveal for the first time the extraordinary fat contracts issued by the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Baroness Scotland to her advisers. An internal probe was launched after senior officials complained that the taxpayer-funded salaries awarded to special advisers Matthew Doyle and Joe Phelan were excessive. Now a whistleblower has passed Doyle and Phelan’s contracts to Guido – they reveal that they were paid a staggering £15,000 each in April, £15,000 each in May and £18,000 each in June. These are vast monthly payments – more than the Prime Minister is paid per month – and the bill was picked up by the taxpayer.

Below are screengrabs taken from Doyle and Phelan’s contracts:

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Both Doyle and Phelan refused to speak on the record. They claim the payments relate to work done between January and September and therefore the money is not excessive. Yet the contracts explicitly state in black and white that these are monthly payments for work done between April and June. What’s more, Baroness Scotland was only appointed in April. Which raises three questions:

  • Why were Baroness Scotland’s advisers paid so much money over this three month period?
  • Why do these contracts state in black and white that the payments are for work done between April and June, if they in fact cover a period much longer?
  • Why was the Commonwealth paying for Baroness Scotland’s aides before she was appointed to her role?

These payments are the subject of an internal complaint within the Commonwealth Secretariat. They are the tip of the iceberg of a cache of leaked documents passed to Guido by a whistleblower. Stay tuned for more revelations about the extravagant world of Baroness Scotland’s Commonwealth office over the days ahead…

UPDATE: A Commonwealth Secretariat spokesman gets in touch to say Phelan was wrong to say the payments relate to work done since January:

“We wish to make it clear that both Joe Phelan and Matthew Doyle were paid by the Secretariat from April 2016 until their contracts expired earlier this month. They have now left the organisation. Your article implies that the Secretariat paid them from January 2016. As the contracts you have published show, this is simply wrong.”

Curiouser and curiouser…

Through the Keyhole: Roland Rudd’s 8 Bedroom Country Pile

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Roland Rudd is the chairman of Open Britain, the zombie Remain campaign which is trying to obstruct Brexit. Could it be that the multi-millionaire lobbyist’s sheltered life has left him completely out of touch with the general population? Guido takes you through the keyhole to find out…

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Rudd lives in a Georgian eight bedroom country mansion in Somerset, which was valued at £5.5 million when he purchased it six years ago. Nestled in countryside to the south of the village of Cucklington, it is described by estate agents as a “Grade I Listed architectural gem, considered to be one of the most charming country houses in the area”. It dates back to the 17th century and boasts “beautiful facades, a tranquil setting amidst glorious countryside”, an extensive wine cellar and even a “staff flat” for the help. The Upstairs, Downstairs world of privileged Remainers…

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Guests to Roland’s pile will enter along “a carriage driveway to a grass turning circle with a fine central stone garden sculpture. This comprises a group of 4 cherubs carrying baskets of fruits, the whole topped with a full pineapple and leaves”. Not to mention the livestock buildings, game larder, gardener’s workshop and croquet lawn. Come on Roland, surely room for a few refugees too?

BUS-TED: Labour Hit With Maximum Expenses Fraud Fine, McNicol Broke Law

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Labour has been hit with the maximum £20,000 fine after the Electoral Commission found a total of 107 invoices were missing from the party’s general election expenses return. Labour general secretary Iain McNicol was found to have committed an offence under section 82(4)(b) of PPERA in respect of the missing payments and a further offence under section 82(4)(b) in respect of the missing invoices. Labour have also been slammed for failing to declare payments in relation to their Labour Express and Labour Students bus tours, which were revealed by Guido. The Commission ruled:

“a further 49 payments relating to costs associated with the Labour Express tour and Labour Students tour, which should have been included in the party spending return”

The report is damning of McNicol:

“Mr McNicol failed, without reasonable excuse, to deliver to the Commission a campaign spending return which was a statement of all payments made by the Party in respect of its campaign for the 2015 UKPGE. In total 74 payments totalling £123,748 were missing from the Party’s 2015 UKPGE campaign spending return without a reasonable excuse. 54.

Further and in respect of the same return, Mr McNicol failed to deliver to the Commission all invoices and receipts for campaign payments of more than £200. Thirty three invoices and/or receipts were missing (in addition to those associated with the missing 74 payments), with a combined value of £34,392.”

This investigation looked at Labour’s national spend, the police are still investigating individual candidates such as Cat Smith. Despite finding at least two offences committed, over a hundred invoices and over a hundred thousand pounds missing, all the toothless Electoral Commission can do is award a small fine…

Six Figures For Baroness Scotland’s Friends

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It is worth shedding some more light on the Mail’s recent extraordinary revelations about Baroness Scotland, the new Commonwealth Secretary General. The allegations are very serious – Scotland is essentially accused of using her position to hand out huge sums of taxpayers’ money to her staff and friends. An internal probe is looking at claims her advisers, including the Blairite spinmeister Matthew Doyle, were each being paid £16,000 per month, something they deny. Guido understands that the allegedly excessive salaries were queried by civil servants and raised at a higher level, with Scotland accused of an inappropriate use of public funds. And it doesn’t end there…

The Mail also revealed that Scotland had contracted a company owned by her friend Lord Patel to conduct a review of her department, paying KYA Global an astonishing £30,000 per month. Scotland and Patel are close friends, why on earth is the taxpayer funding this arrangement? Guido has done some more digging – KYA Global has no online existence and its only directors are Lord Patel and his wife. This is hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money per year we are talking about and the whole arrangement stinks. One to watch…

UPDATE: A spokesman for the Commonwealth Secretariat said:

Lord Patel and the advisers were part of a transition team brought in by Secretary-General Patricia Scotland. As we have said continually, they were asked to carry out specific work during a short period of time on a fixed term contract. They have now completed that work, their fixed-term contracts have ended and they are no longer employed by the Secretariat. Secretary-General Scotland would like to thank each of them for their invaluable contribution and wishes them every success for the future.”

Through the Keyhole: Shami’s £2.5 Million “Nice Big House”

On Sunday Shami Chakrabarti tried to excuse her hypocrisy on grammar schools by telling viewers about her “nice big house”. As ever Guido takes you Through the Keyhole, inside the £2.5 million Grade II-listed home Baroness Chakrabarti owns in South London.

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The luxurious property contains no less than SIX bedrooms and FOUR bathrooms, as well as its own courtyard outside the sliding doors behind the ultra-modern dining area.

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Shami bought the house with her husband for £1.4 million in 2010. They then divorced, she became the sole owner, and the property has added a million quid to its value since then.

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Perfect for all your dinner party needs dahling!

SNP MP Gets Son AND Daughter on Payroll

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Full troughing marks to SNP MP Corri Wilson, who has only been in Westminster for a year yet has managed to get both her son and daughter on the public payroll. She’s hired her wee bairns Kieran and Shannon as“personal assistants” on taxpayer-funded salaries of up to £34,000 each. A handy top up to mum’s £75,000 salary, sending the Wilson household income from the taxpayer well into six figures. No doubt a full, open interview process was carried out.

UKIP Gives Taxpayers 52% Rebate

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After winning 3.9 million votes and just one seat, UKIP was entitled to £619,128 of Short Money last year. Their sole MP Douglas Carswell refused to take the full amount, sparking a bitter row with Nigel Farage, and irritating those in party HQ who had to find the money to pay staff wages. Something that did not always happen.

Admirably Carswell believes it is wrong to have too much taxpayer-funded politics. So on that basis UKIP is returning £322,441 of the entitlement back to the taxpayer. That is a 52% rebate to the taxpayer…

The largest area of expenditure for the UKIP parliamentary resource unit was naturally on staff salaries, pensions and NI contributions. For the money the PRU published policy papers, conducted research into upcoming legislation and prepared written parliamentary questions – as well as producing videos.

Last year to help with the deficit George Osborne tried to cut the total Short Money bill by 28%, in the end Labour beat that down to a real terms 5% cut. However since then most of the Shadow Cabinet has resigned, meaning their many attendant staff also lost their jobs. Labour will therefore have a significant underspend this year. How much of the £6 million budget given this year to Labour will be rebated to the taxpayer?

Tory MP Justin Tomlinson Suspended From Commons

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Tory MP Justin Tomlinson has been suspended from the Commons for two days for leaking a Public Accounts Committee report to Wonga. Extraordinarily, Tomlinson thought it acceptable to share a draft report on regulating consumer credit with a Wonga employee. The Wonga employee replied with a series of recommendations, which Tomlinson then put to his committee. The Standards Commissioner ruled he “committed a serious breach of the Rules of Conduct” and the Privileges Committee today found:

“Mr Tomlinson committed a contempt in disclosing a draft committee Report to a third party and that his actions constituted substantial interference in the work of that committee… We recommend that Mr Tomlinson apologise to the House by means of a personal statement and that he be suspended from the service of the House for two sitting days. These days should be consecutive and not be divided by non-sitting days or recesses which would inadvertently extend the period of suspension beyond that specified.”

The Privileges Committee say Tomlinson made no financial gain from the exchange of information. He did however nominate his local football team for a big money sponsorship deal from… Wonga. He’s lucky just to get a slap on the wrist…

Polly Toynbee’s Shameless Grammar Schools Front

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Polly Toynbee today attacks Theresa May’s grammar school plans, arguing that segregation by social class is “irrational” and claiming grammars add to “splits and divisions” in society. She has some front. Polly herself failed her 11-plus and attended the independent Badminton School. Earning £110,000-a-year at the Guardian meant she was able to send two of her children to private school as well. Today Toynbee writes that “inequality is monstrously unfair… it means birth is almost always social destiny”. Some children are evidently more equal than others. Is there a bigger hypocrite in the grammar schools debate?

Owen Smith Donor’s Firm Incorporated in Caymans

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Owen Smith has accepted almost £70,000 worth of donations from a businessman whose company was incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Smith took £67,550 from financial services guru Anthony Watson to help pay the rent for his campaign office. As Guido has previously revealed, Watson’s company Uphold Inc was originally registered in the Caymans. He took charge of the firm in April 2015, when it went by the name Bitreserve. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission documents seen by Guido show that Bitreserve’s jurisdiction of incorporation was the Caymans. Its address is a PO box.

The largest donor to the Owen Smith campaign runs a company incorporated in the tax-free Caymans…

Red Len’s “Stunning” Luxury Apartment Paid For By Unite

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Today’s Guardian reveals Unite bunged Len McCluskey £400,000 to help him buy a central London flat in February. So where has Red Len been living it up with his members’ money? This is the luxury apartment block where Unite generously decided to help Len buy, described as “stunning“, “stylish” and “superb” by estate agents.

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The plush flats in the contemporary block are all kitted out like the one in these show apartment photos. Wood flooring, an open plan fitted kitchen and floor-to-ceiling windows. Len has a “sought after” two bedder. The views aren’t bad either:

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Nothing’s too good for the workers…

Corbyn to Schmooze Big Pharma at Labour Conference

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Jeremy Corbyn and members of his Shadow Cabinet are set to schmooze Big Pharma at Labour conference, despite attacking Owen Smith’s links to the pharmaceutical industry. Labour are offering representatives from the “pharmaceutical and health” industry a private reception, lunch and “roundtable discussions with politicians” for the price of £1,163.[…] Read the rest

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