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. 

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…

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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…

You can see all Guido’s stories about how the Ruffley story unfolded in full here.

UPDATE: 38,000 Sign Petition Calling for Ruffley to Resign

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?

Then sign this petition calling for Ruffley to resign.

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.

Top Tory: Nothing Wrong With an MP Who Assaults His Girlfriend

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…

It’s Official: Guido is a Feminist

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…

Refuge: Ruffley Must Resign

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 Tory Association Drops Support for Ruffley

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…

Rebekah’s Security Guards Cleared at Old Bailey

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.

evansMeanwhile 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…

Ruffley Speaks: “I Would Never Condone Domestic Violence”

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…

See also: Gove Dragged Into Ruffley Assault Rap – Dean Tells Chief Whip Violent MP Must Resign

Gove Dragged Into Ruffley Assault Rap Dean Tells Chief Whip Violent MP Must Resign

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…

Ruffley Faces Tory Crisis Meeting as Voters Call for His Head

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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…

dean-ruffley

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…

WATCH: Yet More Voters Call on Ruffley to Resign

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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 the Lord Spake Unto MPs…

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…

Butler-Sloss Stands Down

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?

UPDATE: 

Campaigners Condemn Emergency Big Brother Powers

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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…

Another Female Aide Complains to Whips Over Ruffley

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.

Note: For the avoidance of doubt, it was not Ms. Prusynski who leaked this…

Slap in the Face for Stan Collymore Ex-Footballer Loses PCC Case Against The Sun

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”. The PPC has ruled none of Collymore’s complaints have been upheld, and that there was no breach of the Editor’s Code of Practice.

On the inaccuracy complaint:

“As the article made clear that the complainant had compared his single, “open handed” strike with the harm which may have been caused by a more brutal attack, the Commission concluded that readers would not have been misled by the headline or about the basis for the newspaper’s view that the complainant had sought to “justify” the attack. There was no breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code on these points.”

On the alleged harassment:

“It was evident that a reporter had remained outside the house for a considerable period of time, but he had had no contact with the complainant or any member of the household during this period, and no request had been made for him to leave. It did not appear that he had acted in an intimidating manner and, once he had spoken to the complainant and been informed he did not wish to comment, the reporter had not persisted in questioning him… There was no breach of Clause 4 of the Code.”

You can read the original Sun story in full here

WATCH: Theresa May Announces Inquiry: Statement in Full

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The Home Secretary bows to the pressure…

Leon Brittan Denies Rape Allegation: Full Statement

“It is true that I have been questioned by the police about a serious allegation against me. This allegation is wholly without foundation. 

In addition I would like to put on record that I welcome the fact that there is now to be an independent review to look at the missing files belonging to the Home Office.

It has been alleged that when I was Home Secretary I failed to deal adequately with the bundle of papers containing allegations of serious sexual impropriety that I received from the late Geoff Dickens MP. This too is completely without foundation – as evidence from the Home Office’s own report supports. As I made clear in the statement that I issued on 2 July, I passed this bundle of papers to the relevant Home Office officials for examination, as was the normal and correct practice. I wrote to Mr Dickens on 20 March 1984 informing him of the conclusions of the Director of Public Prosecutions about these matters.

In this same report, Mr Dickens thanked the Home Office for the way in which the information he provided was handled and said in a speech to the House of Commons on 31 March 1987: ‘I should like to place on record my thanks to the Home Office for following up the cases that I keep sending to it. I should also like to thank the Attorney General. They have been very helpful and a strength to me in my campaigns.'”

Rolf Verdict Referred to Attorney General as “Unduly Lenient”

Guido understands a member of the public has complained to the Attorney General’s Office that Rolf Harris 5 year 9 month sentence, of which he will serve three years, is too lenient. A spokesperson says:

“I can confirm that the sentence handed to Rolf Harris today has been referred to the Attorney General’s Office under the unduly lenient sentence scheme. 

“It only takes one person to trigger the process, and there is a strict 28 day time period, which means the Law Officers have until Friday 1 August to consider whether they wish to refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal.”

6 months per count…

JAKE THE LAG: Rolf Harris Jailed for 5 Years 9 Months

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Harris will serve 3 years. He’ll be 87 by the time he’s out…[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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