WATCH: Tories Troll Sadiq Khan at Justice Questions

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…

Silent Sadiq Again Fails to Clear Up Khan Trouble

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…

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents Slam Sadiq Khan

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.”

Morning Sadiq: Please Don’t Read This Behind the Wheel

If Sadiq Khan could please wait until he’s driven to work to read this morning’s Times and Mailthat would be appreciated by other road users.

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.

Business as Usual: Bercow Shreds the Evidence

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.

Cheque Please, Mr Huhne

At the Court of Appeal today, Chris Huhne lost his challenge to a court order requiring him to pay £77,750 costs from his trial. A very expensive lie…

Child Abuse Campaigners Warned MacShane in 2009 …But Rotherham MP Never Replied and Didn’t Act on Claims

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…

Convicted Child-Beater Addresses LibDem Conference

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.

Help Stop New MPs’ Expenses Cover Up

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

Hodge Confesses: "I Made a Mistake"

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…

Via @elashton.

EXCLUSIVE PICTURES: Margaret Hodge Hits Biker, Again

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. As Guido’s exclusive pictures show, this one is in the hands of the law:

hodge2

On the road at seventy, and her second known offence. Guido would have thought the multi-millionairess would have a chauffeur by now…

71% of Public Think Shaun Wright Should Resign

A YouGov poll for the Times RedBox finds that 71% of the country think that (former) Labour South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner should resign.

Interestingly the poll finds that now more than half of the country “have little or no confidence in the police.”

Even Wright’s own deputy has walked, saying he should go and everyone from the Prime Minister to Yvette Cooper agrees. Apparently Ed Miliband agrees too, but you would not know it from any of his public utterances on the subject (zero).

LISTEN: MacShame Uses Rotherham to Plug Diaries on Radio 4Denies All Knowledge Concerning Child Abuse Scandal

“No single individual, no constituent, no child, no family came to see me…” but buy my book!

MacShame Uses Rotherham Scandal to Plug New Book

Rotherham’s former Labour MP has broken his silence on the child abuse scandal, from the comfort of the Dordogne:

Or you could just read the 160 page report which covers the time Denis was the local Labour MP and seemingly oblivious to what was happening on his patch and the failings of his friends and allies on the local Labour council.

Far more insightful, and free.

Crook Who Took Looks to Get Off Hook While Plugging Book

Jailed expenses cheat Denis MacShane couldn’t stop himself from trying to weasel out of admitting he thieved from the taxpayer as he plugged his book on Channel 4 News last night. “I have no problems at all with what happened to me,” he began, before trying to convince viewers that actually he had been terribly hard done by and didn’t deserve to spend Christmas in the clink. Quelle surprise.

“I claimed money back, all of it expended. Unlike some of my other former colleagues there isn’t a single bit of personal profit for me. As several prisoners said to me, ‘You’re the only guy who’s in here from parliament who didn’t make any money’. But I’m not complaining about it, I’m really not.” 

Of course you’re not, Denis.

Asked repeatedly by Cathy Newman if he accepted he stole from the taxpayer, MacShane refused to show remorse: “No, I was reimbursed for money expended, alright, you can trundle around this as much as you like.” Worth watching the interview just to see MacShame’s face when Cathy reads his charge sheet to him…

Vid via @liarpoliticians.

Balls Fined £900

He also gets another five penalty points on his licence for speeding off after hitting another car. Cheaper than the last time he crashed and fled the scene…

Balls Car Crash Dash Case in Court

Ed Balls’ lawyers will today have to explain why the Shadow Chancellor fled the scene of a car crash in April, after hitting another vehicle and speeding off in his Peugeot 306, without contacting the owner or leaving his insurance details. Leeds magistrates court might also be interested in why at the time Balls admitted “I was aware the two bumpers touched”, simultaneously claiming, “As soon as I was made aware of what had happened, I took full responsibility”. Guido is slightly more concerned about giving Balls back another set of keys…

MacShame on Christmas Behind Bars

No Guardian column for ex-con Denis MacShane, so he’s publishing his prison diaries instead. Readers will have nothing but sympathy for the crook who spent Christmas Day in the clink:

Christmas Day

9.50am: My door opens and a screw barks, ‘Catholic service…’ The mass is brisk and to the point.

To my surprise, Asil Nadir reads one of the lessons. I vaguely know his story as the Polly Peck tycoon who gave hundreds of thousands to the Conservative Party in the 1980s then went back to his native Turkish Cyprus where he avoided extradition after his company went bust.

I chat briefly to him afterwards. He has read about my case and shrugs his shoulder as if to say, ‘British politics, what do you expect?’

It’s a time to shower, to make a phone call, play pool, clean out your cell, fill in forms and chat. Officers can allow it to run for up to two hours or just thirty minutes.

More than anything, I want to call my children, Laura and Benjamin, and my partner Vicky. But there is only one phone for 80 prisoners on the spur.

I wonder if any Prison Minister knows what it is like when you cannot say happy Christmas to your children.

At the final meal of the day. I opted for a half-chicken – a special for Christmas – only to be told all the chickens had gone. In other words, the servers had given the half-chicken to their mates.

Instead it was two thin slices of industrial turkey. At least there was a tiny cocktail sausage with a bit of bacon and a smidgen of stuffing.

The heart bleeds…

Sadiq’s Jihadi Buddy Banged Up

Sadiq Khan’s childhood friend Babar Ahmad has been sentenced to 12 ½ years in prison in the US for providing material support to the Taliban. Ahmad confessed to helping the Taliban and Chechen mujahideen by using websites to raise money and recruit terrorists, at a time when the Taliban were harbouring Osama bin Laden. Hansard quotes Sadiq Khan on 12 July 2006 as saying:

“… Babar Ahmad should be presumed innocent until he is found guilty. Moreover, he is in fact innocent, as I shall explain later.”

How did that work out?

Readers will remember how Khan supported Ahmad for years, even earning the praise of his sister, who called him a “wonderful supporter”. Not to mention Khan’s refusal to come clean about his conflicting accounts of his relationship with Ahmad. Nor that as a human rights lawyer Khan was recruited by 9/11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui to act as his consultant. Since Babar Ahamd was sentenced, Khan has once more stayed silent about his old friend. Hardly conduct befitting a man who wants to be Justice Secretary, or, dare Guido say it, Mayor of London…

Tories Tipped That Ruffley Row Was About to Go Very PublicConservative Staff Threatened With Sack if They Joined Protest

It has been briefed that it was a ‘pincer movement’ from the Chief Whip and the Party Chairman that sealed the deal for Ruffley yesterday. They were kicked into action, finally, by the leak of this letter from the Dean of Bury St Edmunds, and tens of thousands of people signing an online petition.[…] Read the rest

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John Curtice on fiscal policy:

“Attitudes to taxation and spending are basically counter-cyclical. If a government comes in and tries to reduce spending and taxation, after a while people will get worried about the state of public services. If a government increases taxation and public spending, after a while they’ll get concerned about increasing taxation…. In as much as there are lots of ideologues out there who think the state should be this proportion of GDP, they’re all wrong. Because the public’s view is counter-cyclical to the recent experience. It’s basically impossible to satisfy the public.”

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