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

BUSTED

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. The “business forum” advert is accompanied by a photo of Corbyn addressing business representatives last year, suggesting the Labour leader will be meeting the drugs companies and would-be NHS privatisers himself. Red Tory…

Vaz Didn’t Declare Hotels Used For Encounters With Young Men

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Tuesday’s Sun reported that between September 2013 and December 2014 Keith Vaz “often” stayed at the Washington Mayfair hotel, and “sometimes there were other young men with him”. The paper says Vaz does not appear to have been charged for the bookings. Receipts were signed off “As per Mr J. Sanger”, suggesting they were freebies from the hotel’s mega-rich Indian owner Joginder Sanger. MPs are required to declare all hospitality over the threshold in the Register of Interests:

“Over £660 for the total of benefits of whatever size from the same source in a calendar year”

Vaz made no declaration of free hotel stays in 2013 or 2014…

Just three stays plus a few drinks bills would have put Vaz over the threshold. Hotel workers suggest it was more regular than that:

“Keith Vaz would often arrive at very short notice. Sometimes there were other young men with him. There were a number of times when he didn’t stay the whole night. He would stay for just a few hours before checking out.”

If Vaz stayed there often and for free, the hotel rooms used for liaisons with young men should have been declared to the Commons authorities. All this seems so far removed from Vaz’s promise when he was first elected that he would only accept a workers’ wage and donate his parliamentary salary to his constituency Labour Party:

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Somehow he has managed to make millions and the mystery source of his wealth is unexplained, least of all to his local Labour Party…

Farage: I’ve Never Taken a Penny From Putin

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On Monday top Hillary Clinton aide Neera Tanden sensationally claimed “the Russians” were “directly funding” UKIP. Quite an allegation, and one for which Team Clinton alas offered zero evidence. Nigel Farage has addressed the claim :

Breitbart: “According to her, Nigel, you are a far-right politician funded by the Russians. Is that right?”

Farage: “Hmm. Well, I can’t tell you how touched and thrilled I am that, starting with Hillary, and now one of her acolytes, they’ve chosen to make me a political football in this presidential election… All I can say to her acolyte is that I’ve never taken a penny piece from Mr Putin, so frankly what she’s saying is slanderous, there’s no other way of putting it.”

Now, about those Saudi donations to the Clinton Foundation:

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Bit rich of Saudi-funded Hillary, a “family friend” of Egyptian tyrant Hosni Mubarak, to accuse anyone else of having cosy relationships with foreign despots…

Mail Retracts “Escort” Story After Trump Hires Gawker-Bankrupting Lawyer

The Daily Mail has issued a lengthy, grovelling retraction after Melania Trump filed a lawsuit against them in a Maryland court for publishing claims she was once an escort. Trump’s attorney Charles Harder is suing them for $150 million:

“Defendants broadcast their lies to millions of people throughout the US and the world. Defendants’ actions are so egregious, malicious and harmful to Mrs Trump that her damages are estimated at $US150 million.”

Harder is the infamous lawyer who represented Hulk Hogan in his successful suit against US gossip blog Gawker. Hogan was awarded damages of $140 million, Gawker was bankrupted and shut down. Late last night the Mail published a long retraction expressing “regret“:

“To the extent that anything in the Daily Mail’s article was interpreted as stating or suggesting that Mrs. Trump worked as an ‘escort’ or in the ‘sex business,’ that she had a ‘composite or presentation card for the sex business,’ or that either of the modeling agencies referenced in the article were engaged in these businesses, it is hereby retracted, and the Daily Mail newspaper regrets any such misinterpretation.”

Calling a presidential candidate’s wife a hooker does seem a little high risk. Gawker went under for reporting the truth…

MacShelved Pound Shop Europhile

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It is a continuous struggle for Denis MacShame, the ex-convict fraudster, to make an honest living. He must look at Paul Flynn’s plans for receipt free expenses and think “if only”…

Picture courtesy of co-conspirator, Paul T Horgan.

Flynn’s Expenses Plan Would Have Covered Up Own Troughing

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Paul Flynn’s crackpot plan to abolish MPs’ expenses receipts has been met with the contempt it deserves. He is one of Corbyn’s top allies but even the Labour leader’s team are slapping down his ridiculous proposal. Flynn wants it so MPs don’t have to reveal what they’ve spent your money on. Under his opaque scheme, taxpayers would have been unaware that during the expenses scandal Flynn wrongly claimed over £2,000 in mortgage interest and had to pay it back. Nor would you have known that he blew £7,000 of your cash on a new kitchen. Or another £1,100 on new carpets. Or another £1,200 on decoration. Flynn wants it so MPs can claim expenses with impunity without filing receipts because it’s a “chore“. Clearly having two Shadow Cabinet jobs is too much of a strain on the old fool…

Labour Plan to Abolish MPs’ Expenses Receipts Because Filing Them is a “Chore”

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Labour have drawn up plans to end the requirement for MPs to provide receipts for expenses claims. The staggeringly opaque proposals have been made by Shadow Leader of the House Paul Flynn, who is responsible for his party’s policy on MPs’ expenses. Flynn admits his plan is “provocative“, but claims it is necessary to abolish the expenses watchdog and implement an unreceipted allowance for MPs, because filing expenses is a “chore“. The text of the plan, seen by Guido, states:

“A monthly 30 minute chore was complicated by IPSA into hours of tedious frustrating trawling through a bureaucratic morass of rules that are complex and tedious. IPSA robs MPs and our staff of much of their most precious possession – time. There is continuing resentment against unnecessary chores that diminish MPs ability to do their numberless essential tasks.”

Hundreds of thousands of workers across the country take the time to file expenses claims, but Flynn says that’s too much effort for MPs…

He argues the current system, which allows the public to hold MPs to account on each expenses claim they make, should be abolished and replaced by a new “automatic” allowance with no receipts and no transparency whatsoever:

“MPs would embrace a new system without claims or the expensive IPSA. It could be based on an allowance calculated on average expenses based on distance from Westminster and paid automatically.”

So he wants the taxpayer to write MPs a cheque for tens of thousands of pounds and never know how the money is spent. Opaque, unaccountable and ripe for corruption, this is Labour’s new policy on expenses…

UPDATE: A Labour spokesman says “What Paul Flynn has suggested is not Labour Party policy”. But as Shadow Leader of the House Flynn is responsible for their policy on MPs’ expenses…

Sainsbury Broke Labour Rules, Purging Likely

LORD SAINSBURY

Top Labour donor Baron Sainsbury’s grant of over £2 million to the Lib Dems this year means, without any doubt, he has broken Labour’s strict membership rules. The 2016 rulebook, Chapter 2 clause I section 4 paragraph B calls for the automatic exclusion of any members who “supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group”. £2,125,000 to a rival party surely counts as support…

Sainsbury’s money, though much needed with the collapse of union donations on the horizon, can’t have been welcomed too much by the current leadership. Although Sainsbury has, particularly during the Blair years, donated some £15.6 million to the party, he’s given over £5 million to the New Labour faction’s Progress and £1.35 million to the Movement for Change – a now defunct front for David Miliband’s ambitions and that was once seen as integral to the New Labour continuity project in the way that Momentum is to Corbyn. The rules are however clear – with £2 million given to the LibDems – Sainsbury has to be purged by Labour’s Compliance Department…

MoD Spends More on Accountants Than Fighter Jets

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The MoD spent £4.2 billion on “Technical, Financial Services and Other Services”. A handy statistical bulletin released today itemised the £20 billion of the defence budget spent within the UK in 2014/15:

“The industry group that received the highest level of expenditure from the MOD was ‘Technical, Financial Services and Other Business Services’, at just over £4.2 billion.

[…] Read the rest

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