Today in Court: Former Tory Whips Will Testify Against Mitchell

Andrew Mitchell “could not recall” what he said to police officers at the gates of Downing Street, courtroom 13 at the Royal Courts of Justice heard today. That is what former Deputy Chief Whip John Randall and former whip Michael Fabricant will testify at the Plebgate libel trial, despite Mitchell providing a verbatim account of the incident to the Sunday Times and telling the court “I would never call a policeman a pleb let alone a f**king pleb”. Presented with their testimony, Mitchell responded: “They were not on my side. Mr Fabricant has campaigned against me through out this period”.

Desmond Browne QC, representing PC Toby Rowland, alleged that on another occasion Mitchell told a security officer he was “a little s**t”, and that he told a further officer “that’s a bit above your pay grade Mr Plod”. On the second allegation, Mitchell replied “it’s possible”. Asked if he sneered at officers that they had been “sunning themselves by the pool for four days”, again Mitchell admitted: “it’s possible”. In a witness statement, Bob Geldof said Mitchell is “no slouch” when it comes to swearing.

Gavin Millar QC, for News Group Newspapers, told the court “when The Sun published the story it was because it truly believed the account..to be true”. James Price QC, representing Mitchell, insisted he is an “innocent man”“not a snob”, “a good man” who is victim of “a web of lies, deceit and indiscipline”. The case continues…

New Photo Emerges of Sadiq on Phone

Once again snapped using his mobile when he should be concentrating on more important matters…

Via Mail.

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…

Sadiq Speaks: Doesn’t Deny Using Phone at Wheel

Khan has released the following statement ahead of his speech at the London Conference today. The London mayoral hopeful doesn’t deny using his phone at the wheel:

“Allegations have been made that earlier this week, I was seen glancing down at my phone whilst in my car. I understand from media reports that a Conservative MP has reported this matter to the Metropolitan police. It goes without saying that I will cooperate fully with any investigation.”

An extremely well-crafted statement. Anyone would think he used to be a lawyer.

GuyNews doorstepped him at the event. Video to follow…

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.”

UKIP Well Short in South Yorkshire

Labour: 50.02%

UKIP: 31.66%

Tories: 12.52%

English Democrats: 5.8%

Massive electorate. Limited ground operation. Warnings for UKIP here ahead of next year.

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…

Eric Joyce Denies He’s “In the Wrong” After New Assault Arrest

The Sun reported this morning that Joyce had been lifted for the fourth time in three years. According to the following statement he has just put out on his website, this time he’s innocent:

“On the evening of Friday, 16th October I a detained a youth in a shop in London. Damage had been done to the store. I asked the shopkeeper to call the police, and when officers arrived they arrested the youth and informed me that drugs had been recovered from the scene.

The officers also informed me that the youth had immediately made a complaint that I had assaulted him by detaining him. I was questioned by the police and told that because of my identity the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Metropolitan Police Press Office would be informed of the incident.

I understand the Metropolitan Police has now made the matter public. I will make no further comment for now, other than to say a) that no alcohol was involved and b) I am not in the habit of summoning the police if I feel that I am in the wrong.”

Did his reputation precede him?

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…

MailOnline Breaks Judge’s Libor Gagging Order

“Banker admits rate rigging – but you can’t know where he works” reports MailOnline this morning, explaining that the identity of a top City employee facing ten years behind bars “is protected by a court order”. The story is accompanied by a blurred photo of the banker in question. Right click on the image and look at its properties, however, and the world’s most read newspaper website has inadvertently named the Libor rigger. Guido has blurred the name out:

Judge Leonard QC will not be amused…

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.

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.

Beeb Cliff Spin Mystery

Earlier today, the BBC’s “head of newsgathering” sought to counter speculation about how the Beeb managed to get camera crews down to Cliff Richard’s apartment in time to film the police walking in:

This afternoon, South Yorkshire Police released this statement:

“When a media outlet contacted SYP with information about an investigation, we took the decision to work with them in order to protect the integrity of that investigation.

“Since the search took place a number of people have contacted the police to provide information and we must acknowledge that the media played a part in that, for which we are grateful.”

‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello, what’s all this then?

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…

Ruffley Resignation Raises Recall Row

The Recall measures announced in the Queen’s Speech would mean MPs on the Standards Committee, not local voters, will decide whether disgraced politicians should be booted out. David Ruffley’s announcement last night that he would be standing down at the election shows why it is crucial that parliament passes a proper Recall bill, not Nick Clegg’s fudge. […] Read the rest

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