Sir Malcolm Rifkind:
“I want to have a standard of living that my professional background would normally entitle me to have.”
Perhaps time to get out of ‘public service’ then, Sir Malcolm…
Miliband is quick out of the blocks in trying to use Jack Straw’s suspension to hit the Tories:
Dear Prime Minister,
I write this letter to you not just as leader of the Labour Party but as someone who believes that we all need to act to improve the reputation of our Parliament in the eyes of the British people.
I believe MPs are dedicated to the service of their constituents and the overwhelming majority follow the rules. But the British people need to know that when they vote they are electing someone who will represent them directly, and not be swayed by what they may owe to the interests of others.
Two years ago I said Labour MPs would not be able to hold paid directorships or consultancies after the next election.
My party is also consulting on legislation to make this a statutory ban, as well as imposing a strict cap on all outside earnings by MPs.
Today I can confirm that these measures will be included in my party’s General Election manifesto.
The low levels of trust in politics demands clarity and I urge you to follow my lead in banning paid directorships and consultancies.
There have been too many scandals about conflicts of interest in recent years.
It is time to draw a line under this and ensure these current allegations are the last.
I am sure you will agree this is a problem which affects all parties.
I believe these are circumstances which demand action and leadership.
I look forward to receiving your response.
Miliband knows the business folk and lawyers on the Tory backbenchers will not put up with it. Canny…
According to Dispatches:
The fictitious company
PMR, a communications agency based in Hong Kong was set up, backed by a fictitious Chinese businessman. PMR has plenty of money to spend and wants to hire influential British politicians to join its advisory board and get a foothold in the UK and Europe.
12 MPs who already had significant outside interests were invited to apply for jobs with PMR.
Not all politicians are for hire. Half of those approached didn’t respond. One said he wanted to check us out in Hong Kong so we took it no further. And another said he just wasn’t that interested. Of the others, two stood out – Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw.
12 eh? Hope IPSO don’t get on their fishing trip high horse again…
With the video feed on a five minute delay for security reasons and evidence relating to Russian state responsibility heard in private, the Litvinenko inquiry began today. His lawyer, Ben Emmerson QC, accused the Kremlin of committing “the calculated pre-planned murder of a British subject on the streets of our capital city by agents of a foreign government”, claiming “the trail of polonium traces leads not just from London to Moscow but directly to the door of Vladimir Putin’s office”. He says Putin is “a common criminal dressed up as a head of state”.
The inquiry was told the evidence will show MI6 informant Litvinenko was poisoned twice, famously at a hotel bar and also in an office two weeks earlier, where suspects Andrey Lugovoi – now a Russian politician – and Dmitry Kovtun had been present. Lugovoi and Kovtun, charged with Litvinenko’s murder in absentia, have been invited to appear by video link. It is alleged radiation was found in places visited by Lugovoi and Kovtun in London, including on the aeroplanes they had travelled in, cars, restaurants, hotels and Arsenal football club’s Emirates stadium.
Before he died, Litvinenko claimed:
“I know that this order about such a killing of a citizen of another country on its territory, especially if it is something to do with Great Britain, could have been given only by one person. That person is the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.”
The inquiry continues…
Police line-ups are notoriously unreliable, but a new scientific study may have stumbled across a more accurate way of identifying criminals – the BO test. According to the study published in the Public Library of Science, our noses could be more reliable than our eyes when it comes to picking out a bad guy.
In order to prove their overlooked “nosewitness” identification concept, the smell boffins behind the study showed some participants a short video of a man carrying carrying out a crime against a woman while a jar of body odour was wafted in front of them and other participants a neutral video with the same smell.
The participants rated the video in terms of “vividness, pleasantness and arousal” – the crime video were “rated as significantly more arousing”. When given a smell lineup 15 minutes later 68% of those who saw the crime and 45% of those who saw the neutral video were able to identify the odour.
The study notes that although highly arousing events such as witnessing a crime usually lead to a decline in visual recall of the event, it seems we are wired to remember odours encoded during negative emotions.
Is Lynx the new balaclava…
“What really matters about members of the government is not their silly misbehaviour, it’s the way they’re crucifying millions of people” writes multi-millionaire Labour loon Michael Meacher. That alone from his rant in the Morning Star would be worthy of the Order of the OTT, but what followed
“A million people have been sanctioned by government ministers over this last year, which means that they are deprived of all their benefit for often petty infringements – such as being five minutes late for a job interview – and hence have no money for at least four weeks and sometimes three months, forcing them to steal to survive. If they’re caught, the penalty for stealing some meat from a supermarket might be a fine of some £200, which of course they cannot conceivably pay, or it might be six weeks in prison.
During and after the Napoleonic wars there were up to 200 offences for which a person could be hanged, usually for stealing to keep their family alive. The people of this country sitting on the juries finally got round this draconian repression imposed by the ruling class by refusing to convict. That is what juries and magistrates should do now when faced by the stark injustice of the criminal justice system.”
Loot and be merry, comrades.
Disgraced David Ruffley continues to strut around Westminster without a care in the world, despite being deselected by his local association in Suffolk following his caution for assaulting his girlfriend. As Guido revealed in the Sun on Sunday, now cocky Ruffley has told friends that he is line for a peerage when he stands down. Such a move would invoke the wrath of female Tory aides who complained to party whips about his behaviour:
“News to us” says a Downing Street source.
Answers in a text message sent at speed, please…
One topic kept cropping up at Justice Questions today. Chris Grayling took the opportunity to condemn the scourge of using a mobile at the wheel:
“The offence of using a mobile phone while driving is a very serious one. It should be dealt with effectively by the courts, and it is an area where the government is giving active consideration as part of our driving sentences review to strengthen the penalties. It is something that is wholly unacceptable and the courts should deal with it appropriately.”
While Justice minister Mike Penning shared his own personal experience:
“As an ex-firefighter I used to go to so many of these incidents and the distraction of using a mobile phone is not only illegal it actually kills people, the people using the phone and others, and we should all decry anybody for using a mobile phone while driving.”
For some reason the Shadow Justice Secretary had nothing to add…
Guy News tried once more to get an answer from Sadiq as he left a very dark Southbank this evening:
And, with that, he was off into the night. His silence says more than anything…
Sadiq Khan is in hiding. He ran away from journalists who doorstepped him this morning and is refusing to comment on the pictures of him using his phone behind the wheel. Presumably to avoid incriminating himself further; the Tories have called in the coppers and it seems Khan is too cowardly to ‘fess up. The usually media hungry Mayoral candidate is ignoring everyone from the BBC to his local paper.
Meanwhile, Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents tells Guido:
“Using a mobile phone while driving is a significant distraction, that substantially increases the risk of the driver crashing, and injuring or even killing an innocent person. Politicians should set a good example – everyone should switch the phone off while driving. Calls and texts can be returned when the driver has stopped in a safe place.”
“They Sadiq him here, they Sadiq him there, those journalists seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven or is he in hell?”
UPDATE: The RAC are also unimpressed:
“Using a mobile phone at the wheel of a vehicle on the road has been against the law for more than 10 years, yet everyday people can be seen using them. More needs to be done to make this offence become as socially unacceptable as drink-driving. Hopefully a high profile accusation like this will serve to raise awareness of the issue and make people think twice about using their phones while driving.”
He can however listen to BBC London report on the fact his driving antics have been reported to the police:
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For once Sadiq is not answering his phone to any media.
Ask the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to investigate an MP’s pre-2010 expenses and here is the answer you get:
“All records relating to expenses claims before 2010 have now been destroyed. No unredacted information is now available here…”
A committee headed by the Bercow has authorised the shredding of all the evidence. Another win for the ‘reforming Speaker’.
What happened to the ‘reforming Speaker’ who said in 2009, upon his election:
‘The public perception of the way we operate is so negative that it is necessary to accept a wholesale, fundamental and irrevocable change. There has to be some short-term pain in order to achieve the long-term gain of a recovery in the standing of the Commons.’
It’s business as usual.
Scoop from the Yorkshire Post: in 2009 child abuse campaigners in Rotherham sent a five page letter to Denis MacShane detailing concerns about widespread abuse in his constituency, but received no response. In the letter, to which MacShane was copied in, the campaigners wrote: “I would appreciate your urgent response to this letter and more importantly your speedy and effective intervention on this case before one of the children, or another, gets hurt”. Guido publishes it in full here:
Renowned for his honesty, MacShane says he has no memory of the letter. The convicted fraudster visited the European Parliament yesterday, where UKIP MEP Jane Collins raised a Point of Order accusing him of “turning a blind eye to the abuse of 1,400 children in one of my constituencies and he’s in the coffee bar like a bad smell”.
If only he had been more interested in what was going on his constituency than his jaunts to Europe when he was still an MP…
Speaking on stage in Glasgow yesterday was one Colin Rosenstiel, a LibDem councillor in Cambridge for 37 years. What Rosenstiel neglected to mention to his audience was that, just three months ago, he pleaded guilty to hitting a 7 year old girl in the face in the middle of a crowded shopping centre. A policeman who witnessed the incident described it as a “smash to the face”, leaving the girl “upset and crying” and “pale and frightened”. Rosenstiel is considered dangerous and should not be approached by delegates, especially if they are under the age of eight…
UPDATE: Of course there is also the time when Rosenstiel blocked an ambulance carrying an injured man. And the time commuters reported him “shouting at the top of his voice” when he refused to move his bicycle from a train carriage. Rosenstiel is currently undergoing counselling for anger management.
Quietly announced during the noise of Tory conference were new proposals from the parliamentary expenses watchdog to keep secret the names of MPs facing investigation for fiddling their expenses. IPSA chair Ian Kennedy has decreed that “an MP could suffer unfair reputational damage” if the public knew they were facing an expenses investigation, ruling that the “publication of an allegation” should be prevented. The sinister document claims “public interest in transparency must be balanced with operational needs and fairness”, concluding: “we believe that the operational and reputational damage to MPs which could be caused by the publication of allegations in advance of a substantive investigation outweighs the benefits of release.” This is a flagrant attack on transparency and and clear attempt to cover up and keep secret the names of MPs accused of wrongdoing.
The good news is you can stop it from happening. IPSA has launched a public consultation on the insidious proposals, inviting the thoughts of voters on whether or not they should be allowed to know if their MP is suspected of being a crook. They have already been condemned by Alistair Graham, former chairman of the Committee on Standards and Public Life, as “retrograde, foolish and perverse”. You can read the document here and email a submission to the consultation here…
Margaret Hodge has spoken about her car smash this morning:
“This morning driving into work in busy traffic I made a mistake and collided with a man driving a motorcycle. I immediately asked a passerby by to ring an ambulance… Fortunately, the driver was fine and the motorcycle suffered minimal damage.”
Playing it down as a tiny, tiny accident…
Saintly Labour MP Margaret Hodge has been involved in a collision with a motorbike driver on Gray’s Inn Road within the last hour:
This is not the first time that Hodge and her Silver Prius have hit a cyclist; she was accused of clipping one with her door back in May 2013 whilst on her mobile phone. […] Read the rest