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…
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…
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:
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 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…
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.
Who pushed the Ruffley story and forced him to fall on his sword? Not his fellow MPs on either side of the House, who were either silent or actively trying to keep him out of trouble. The people saw things differently though…
Ruffley went mainstream because of the admirable work of women both inside and outside of the Tory party; from the Dean of St Edmundsbury’s devastating letter calling for him to quit; to the voices of women’s groups both locally and nationally, to the petition that amassed more than 40,000 signatures organised by an outraged woman. Guido understands 15 Tory women were going to publicly and openly protest Ruffley’s candidature tomorrow, some of them high profile. They were under immense pressure not to go ahead from within the party.
Ruffley will remain as the MP for Bury St Edmunds for ten months, earning more than £50,000 from his salary and pension contributions courtesy of the taxpayer when he should arguably be leaving parliament immediately. He cut a deal with the Tories and remains on board the gravy train. A Recall Bill that lets MPs decide whether their fellow MPs will face a vote is not going to work. David Ruffley shows more than ever why we need a proper Recall Bill to democratically boot out morally bankrupt politicians once and for all…
Senior members of David Ruffley’s Suffolk Tory association say they see nothing wrong with having a man who assaulted his girlfriend remain as their MP.
Do you disagree?
At the time of going to pixel over 33,000 others already have.
Add your voice here…
UPDATE 5:00pm: 38,000 have now signed.
Seven million listeners will have heard Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 phone-in on David Ruffley this lunchtime, many in Bury St Edmunds. The discussion was most notable for the bizarre comments made by Bernard Sergeant, an important local Conservative figure. Asked if Ruffley should resign, Sergeant laughed and replied: “We do have these odd female organisations that look for equality and I think they’ve got it these days.” Pressed further by Vine on whether “you can have as a candidate a man who beats up his girlfriend”, Sergeant replies: “Well why not?”
Guido wondered if that is the official line, before he remembered there isn’t one…
Guido was tickled this morning by the words of Andrew Speed, the chairman of Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association, who has dismissed critics of David Ruffley as “minority feminist groups”. Guido has always believed that this is a minority feminist blog…
That said, you have to wonder what Refuge, the country’s leading domestic violence charity, think about being labelled “minority feminists”. Not to mention the growing number of Westminster staffers up in arms. Let alone the members of Ruffley’s own local party who are increasingly losing patience with their MP…
Leading domestic violence charity Refuge has called for David Ruffley to resign over his assault on his ex-girlfriend. Refuge’s chief executive Sandra Horley says she is “concerned that David Ruffley has so far been allowed to retain his position”, and demands the government “demonstrate to the public that men who abuse women will face consequences”.
“Earlier this year David Ruffley MP accepted a police caution for assaulting his former partner. He has now expressed his ‘deep regrets’ about the incident and has explained that he has apologised to her.
Let me be clear – assaulting your partner is domestic violence, and it is a crime. David Ruffley’s violent behaviour is all the more disappointing given that he has previously spoken out publicly against domestic violence. Writing on his own website, he has asserted that, “One incident of domestic violence is one too many”. Marking the White Ribbon Day campaign in 2005, he also wrote: “By wearing a white ribbon we are able to pledge never to commit, tolerate or ignore violence against women.”
Violent men must take responsibility for their actions. Apologies are all well and good, but at Refuge we know that perpetrators frequently use violence after apologising to their partners and making promises to change their behaviour.
I am concerned that David Ruffley has so far been allowed to retain his position. This Government has stated that addressing violence against women and girls is one of its top priorities. I sincerely hope it shows leadership on this issue by demonstrating to the public that men who abuse women will face consequences for their actions.”
Another loud, public call for Ruffley to go. The growing list of names demanding he step down will not have gone unnoticed by his association…
Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association is now refusing to publicly back David Ruffley as he faces investigation by Michael Gove. On Wednesday the chair of Ruffley’s local party said of his apology: “I support David’s statement”. But Guido understands that the mood among its executive hardened yesterday in the wake of growing publicity, with several members now believing his position is untenable. Tory sources describe the day’s developments as “significant”. This is reflected in the statement given by the local party to BBC Look East last night, dropping their “support”:
“We note David’s acceptance of his responsibilities, the issuance and acceptance of an apology and his expressions of deep regret.”
Ruffley has now led the bulletin on BBC Look East for three days running, with yet more constituents telling last night’s edition he must resign. The story is on national television and radio, and appears in every national newspaper this morning. Today’s Telegraph reports he could be suspended from the House of Commons. More concerning for Ruffley’s local party is the fact the publicity around the story is growing by the day…
Four men who worked as part of the security detail for Rebekah and Charlie Brooks have had the cases against them dropped. Lee Sandell, David Johnson, Paul Edwards and Daryl Jorsling were accused of helping to hide or destroy evidence around the time that Charlie’s infamous dirty DVDs went missing. Now the CPS says they will not face a trial.
Meanwhile Dan Evans, who admitted to hacking more than 1,000 voicemail messages, has walked free.
The judge explained his 10 month suspended sentence by noting his “unique” role in testifying against Andy Coulson…
David Ruffley has bowed to mounting pressure and released a statement on his caution for assaulting a woman, as the story goes mainstream on the Today programme and BBC Breakfast this morning. He says “I would never condone domestic violence under any circumstances,” presumably with the exception of when he is the perpetrator. Here is his statement in full:
“In March this year, an incident occurred between me and my former partner, resulting in inappropriate action on my part, which I deeply regret, in respect of which I accepted a police caution for common assault.
Some time later, I telephoned my former partner to apologise.
I am pleased to be able to say that she has accepted my apology. I have refrained from making any public statement on this matter as it is a deeply personal matter.
It is my understanding that my former partner wishes the incident to remain private.
I wish to stress that I would never condone domestic violence under any circumstances.”
Wonder what the woman he assaulted thinks about that.
Meanwhile, the Beeb’s Chris Mason reports that Tories at local and central level are now privately discussing his future, ahead of next week’s crisis summit. In Suffolk, Ruffley is topping the news agenda and is the only subject on this morning’s local radio phone-ins. The calls for him to go are getting louder…
Michael Gove faces his first major test as Chief Whip after the Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral appealed to him over the David Ruffley debacle. The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward has written to Ruffley, telling him “your position is untenable”, copying the letter to a number of senior local Tory figures, the Chief Whip and Lord Tebbit. Dr Ward recounts a damning conversation she had with Ruffley over the phone last week, revealing Ruffley tried to blame the victim for his violent assault:
“You tried to convince me that in the ‘incident’ back in March there was blame on both sides. When I visited ■■■■■■■■■■■■■■ in March a day or so after the event and went to hug her as my usual greeting, she winced in obvious pain. She told me as a friend and her priest of the events of the evening that had led to your arrest, and how frightened she had been of your rage and violent behaviour.”
Click below to read the letter in full:
The Dean is one of the most influential figures in Bury St Edmunds, so her intervention will concern the local and central party. Greg Hands wouldn’t put up with this…
Bury St. Edmunds Conservative Association has brought forward a meeting of its executive from 9 September to 31 July – Thursday week. They will grill David Ruffley over his caution for assaulting a woman, unsurprisingly once again both Ruffley and the association declined to comment when approached by the BBC last night. Jenny Antill of the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Partnership, who is also a Tory county council cabinet member, has added her name to the growing list calling on him to resign:
“He is a part of a government who has stood out firmly against domestic abuse in all its forms and I think under those circumstances he really must consider his position.”
Ruffley now has nine days to come up with an explanation as to how he can be a candidate for parliament after accepting a caution for violently assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Staying silent didn’t work…
Elsewhere BBC’s Look East is now following the issue closely and the local Green Party is meeting tomorrow to consider how to make Ruffley’s behaviour an issue during the election campaign. Now the issue has spread out into wider civil society locally with the Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral having now written to Ruffley calling on him to consider his position as calls mount for his resignation. The issue won’t go away…
Following on from this blog’s Guy News special two weeks ago, the BBC have also vox-popped voters in Bury St. Edmunds over whether they think he is fit to remain as their MP. The verdict was unanimous:
“I think he should go.”
“I don’t think you can have somebody in that position behaving in that way.”
Significantly, top Tory councillor in Suffolk Joanna Spicer also stuck the boot in:
“I do think, given the publicity the incident has had and the issues it has raised about violence against women, that it is important that both the Conservative party nationally and locally take the earliest opportunity to make clear that they support all the policies and all the people that work in the field of domestic abuse.”
Yet still Ruffley and his local party remain silent…
And Lo! All the MPs saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain spinning, and they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said unto Lord Bew, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, “Speak thou with us and we will hear. But do not let Guido speak with us, lest we die.” And Lord Bew said unto the MPs, “Do not be afeared, for these are the rules of public life.”
The path of the righteous MP is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of greed. Blessed is he, who in the name of integrity and public service, shepherds his constituents through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of abused children. But for them that would stray, Guido will strike down the crosshairs upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger and smite down those that would attempt to poison and destroy the honest man. And you will know my name is Guido when I lay my terrible vengeance upon thee…
Last week the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman insisted:
“The focus was on finding a person with the right expertise and integrity. That’s exactly what we have in Elizabeth Butler-Sloss.”
Theresa May vowed:
“Baroness Butler-Sloss brings with her many years of experience in the field of child protection and law, and I am confident that she will deliver the thorough, robust and independent review that I have promised.”
Today Butler-Sloss has stood down:
“I was honoured to be invited by the Home Secretary to chair the wide-ranging inquiry about child sexual abuse and hoped I could make a useful contribution.
It has become apparent over the last few days, however, that there is a widespread perception, particularly among victim and survivor groups, that I am not the right person to chair the inquiry. It has also become clear to me that I did not sufficiently consider whether my background and the fact my brother had been Attorney General would cause difficulties.
This is a victim-orientated inquiry and those who wish to be heard must have confidence that the members of the panel will pay proper regard to their concerns and give appropriate advice to Government.
Nor should media attention be allowed to be diverted from the extremely important issues at stake, namely whether enough has been done to protect children from sexual abuse and hold to account those who commit these appalling crimes.
Having listened to the concerns of victim and survivor groups and the criticisms of MPs and the media, I have come to the conclusion that I should not chair this inquiry and have so informed the Home Secretary.
I should like to add that I have dedicated my life to public service, to the pursuit of justice and to protecting the rights of children and families and I wish the inquiry success in its important work.”
Where’s Brian Leveson when you need him?
The PM left his Lobby summer drinks party early last night to hammer out an agreement with rowing ministers over new emergency snooping legislation. This morning Cameron and Clegg announced that fast-track laws would be rushed through to allow spooks to keep snooping on our communications, after it was made illegal in the European courts. Civil liberties campaigners Big Brother Watch have condemned the move:
“It is a basic principle of a free society that you don’t monitor people who are not under suspicion. Considering the Snoopers Charter has already been rejected by the public as well as by the highest court in Europe, it is essential that the Government does not rush head first into creating new legislation.
The EU’s data retention laws privatised snooping, meaning companies were paid by governments to record what citizens were doing and retain that information for a year. We need to get back to a point where the police monitor people who are actually suspected of wrong doing and rather than wasting millions every year requiring data to be stored on an indiscriminate basis.”
Open Rights Group adds:
“The government knows that since the CJEU ruling, there is no legal basis for making internet service providers retain our data so it is using the threat of terrorism as an excuse for getting this law passed. The Government has had since April to address the CJEU ruling but it is only now that organisations such as ORG are threatening legal action that this has become an ‘emergency’.
Not only will the proposed legislation infringe our right to privacy, it will also set a dangerous precedent where the government simply re-legislates every time it disagrees with a decision by the CJEU. The ruling still stands and these new plans may actually increase the amount of our personal data that is retained by ISPs, further infringing on our right to privacy. Blanket surveillance needs to end.”
No. 10 says the legislation will make life harder for terrorists, crooks and paedos. But it gives the state the power to access the phone and email data of everyone…
Katie Pruszynski, who works in parliament as an aide to Chloe Smith, has complained to her whip about the Tories’ inaction over David Ruffley following his caution for assaulting a woman. Writing to Claire Perry, Katie warns that failing to sack Ruffley from the party “is grossly at odds with our purported moral compass”:
“I am very concerned about reports that David Ruffley MP has accepted a caution for the assault of his partner. I would like to know, as a female member of the Conservative Party and as a parliamentary member of staff, why the Party and the whips believe that it is appropriate for him to continue as an elected representative of the Party.
It seems to be an outrageous inconsistency that Nadine Dorries had the whip suspended for her appearance on a television show and Mr Ruffley, whose aggressive and menacing behaviour is allegedly not limited to this incident, is allowed to remain. While I understand that the police have concluded their involvement in the matter, I would like to state in the strongest possible terms that his continuing presence as a representative of the Party, and of Parliament, is grossly at odds with our purported moral compass.
I would like to know what message the whips think that this inaction sends to female staff and Party members, not to mention the wider female population that we are so keenly trying to convince that we, as a Party, are the best guardians of their interests?
You have campaigned passionately for the protection of children from sexualisation, and for the protection of women from domestic violence. I hope that you will be able to shine some light on the inexplicable stance on Mr Ruffley.”
Katie also calls on fellow staff members to come forward to the whips, telling friends:
“I don’t think that it is remotely acceptable that he be allowed to continue as an MP. If you feel you would like to send something similar (or know anyone who would), I am here for support in any way I can give it… I don’t believe this man represents the Party that we are trying to get re-elected to Government.”
Pressure is mounting on the Tories to deal with an issue that is clearly of growing concern to women within the party. The whips have known about it for years.
Former footballer Stan Collymore has suffered a humiliating defeat after the Press Complaints Commission ruled that they would not uphold his complaint against the Sun. Collymore accused the paper of publishing an “inaccurate and misleading” article in January this year about his infamous violent attack on former girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson, claiming the Sun “had seriously misrepresented” him, “had misled readers” and had also “engaged in harassment”.[…] Read the rest