Sarah's Discreet Tête à Tête Tweeted

While the village enjoys a day of bun fighting about unions and Sure-Start centres, how better to escape the toil of the frontline than heading north to Marble Arch for a long relaxing lunch at Locanda Locatelli. Over the £30 per plate coniglio arrosto, or the tagliatelle di castagne ai funghi selvatici Sarah Brown lunched with her husband’s very own dodgy, expenses fiddling, pension raiding, non-dom donor, Lord Swraj Paul. Unusually for Sarah, she hasn’t tweeted this.

Labour have tried to distance themselves from Lord Paul, who Gordon made a Privy Counsellor, despite no obvious qualifications beside deep pockets. To have their “secret weapon” Sarah grinning through anecdotes and stories shows just how keen they are to keep their purse-string holder happy. Wonder who picked up the cheque?

Hat-tip: EyeSpyMP (with a little help from Photoshop).

UPDATE : The Eye Spies inform us that the long lunch finished at three thirty. Something tells Guido that Sarah wouldn’t have been so quick to tweet about her outing had she not been busted with Labour’s persona non grata.  Kids? He is the Labour Party’s piggy bank more like…

Brown-Bankrolling Non-Dom Peer Considers Quitting Over Tax

Non-domiciled Lord Paul of Marylebone, donated over £355,000 to Labour and £45,000 directly into Gordon’s 2007 leadership campaign. Despite his huge wealth he still found it appropriate to claim £38,000 from the taxpayers in Lord’s accommodation expenses despite, by his own admission, having never spent a night in the property.  He is reportedly set to quit the House of Lords, not over his expense claims, but to avoid tax.

Lord Paul has been Brown’s very own non-dom donor and has been repaid handsomely by Labour with a peerage, membership of the Privy Council and until his recent expenses scandal was the Deputy Leader of the House of Lords. So close is Lord Paul to Gordon that he was willing to personally bankroll the autumn election that never happened in 2007. Paul said “All I know is that if there is an election and the money is wanted, whatever I can pay I will. I am a believer in Gordon Brown and his leadership, and I think he’s the best person in the country.” Hence Guido’s amusement today to hear that Paul is ready to jump ship.  He is considering whether to give up his seat in the Lords to avoid having to pay tax in the UK. Which shows where his priorities really lay…

Labour has attacked Lord Ashcroft while turning a blind eye to the activities of one of their biggest donors. Lord Paul has refused to pay tax in this country yet is greeted with open arms by the Labour leadership desperate to get their grubby fingers on some of his controversially raised fortune.  Paul is ranked the 88th richest man, living, in the UK.  This nom-dom, expenses fiddling, conglomerate owning peer has some interesting skeletons in his cupboard to which Guido will be returning. How he amassed his fortune will turn the stomachs of many Labour supporters…

The Letter That Sealed Wendy’s Fate

click to enlarge
Back in November Guido had the exclusive scoop and was the first to publish this letter,* saying it would mean Wendy Alexander was toast. This personal note to Paul Green (dated October 5) showed that her telling the media that the first time she knew about his personal donation was 1 pm the previous day was simply untrue.

Paul Green also admitted that he gave two personal cheques of £950 which would have put him over the £1000 barrier and shown he was an impermissible offshoredonor.

Guido predicted that “there is no wriggle room. She is on the hook completely”. So it turned out, eventually.


*N.B. Incidentally, Guido was accused by Labour supporters of forging the letter.

+++ Wendy Alexander Found Guilty Over Donors +++

Morgan Allen Moore Libel Case Close to Collapse

Readers may or may not know that Peter Hain’s campaign manager’s lobby firm, Morgan Allen Moore, was suing for defamation the person who reported them to the lobby industry’s APPC disciplinary committee over their role in his campaign. Notice that they did not seek to sue Guido for defamation. The whole purpose of the lawsuit was to halt the progress of the disciplinary committee investigation by making it sub judice and quash the complaint by pressurising James Davenport into withdrawing for fear of legal expenses and a lengthy case. To his credit he has refused to back down.
The central allegation made here and repeated in Davenport’s formal complaint was that Steve Morgan and Morgan Allen Moore provided undeclared services to Peter Hain’s campaign in terms of staff and resources in breach of the rules.

In a sworn statement provided to the Court, Richard Moore, Steve Morgan’s co-director denied this was true. Devastating documentary evidence has come to light directly contradicting Richard Moore’s claim. The evidence reveals that donors were instructed to send Hain4Labour campaign donations to the Morgan Allen Moore office where the cheques would be processed by Morgan Allen Moore staff.

So Guido is happy to repeat that Morgan the Organ’s MAM office was effectively Hain’s campaign base and that MAM staff such as Kate Lewis were running the campaign. This clearly breaks the APPC’s Code of Conduct.

Guido is happy to testify and provide the evidence…

Hain’s Future Picture Cloudy

Guido previously suggested that Peter Hain could find an alternative career as a politico-celebrity endorser of commercial services.

Alas perhaps this is not to be, Hain’s ringing commerical endorsement of Picture Financial Services plc has not helped the business. It closed to new business in February as it got into financial difficulties and is now rumoured to be about to change hands in a fire-sale for 1p.

Not exactly the picture of success envisioned by Hain in his endorsement.

Elsewhere Morgan Allan Moore, the spin firm that ran Hain’s leadership campaign and secured his endorsements for clients who were donors, had lined up to be taken over in a multi-million pound deal. Alas as the company has become mired in an ethical standards inquiry that deal has been aborted. Hain has not brought good fortune to his friends.

Most serious of all, the ongoing police investigation has, it is rumoured, uncovered some interesting spending by Hain’s campaign that might not please the GMB brothers.

Guido suspects the union members will not appreciate the way their hard-earned subs were spent by the champagne swilling radical…

Wee Wendy Prosecution “Not in the Public Interest”

The killer line in the Electoral Commission’s determination is:

In respect of a possible offence under Section 56, the Commission has concluded that, while Wendy Alexander did not take all reasonable steps in seeking to comply with the relevant legislation, she did take significant steps. Having considered all the circumstances, the Commission has decided that it is not appropriate or in the public interest to report this matter to the Procurator Fiscal.”

So if you don’t declare £950 of income on your tax return and get caught, try to use this as a defence. “I did declare most of my income, but I forgot about the £950 from the offshore source. It won’t be in the public interest to prosecute…”

UPDATE 16:30 : “I welcome the Electoral Commission’s announcement today, clearing me of intentional wrongdoing. My honesty and integrity have been confirmed by this judgment.” No it does not Wendy. If you did not deliberately solicit a string of donations from £999 to £950, just below the reporting threshold, we might believe you had some integrity. The list of undeclared donations included; GMB Scotland £999, Michael D Rutterford £999, Neil Davidson £995, Nicholas Kuenssberg £995, John Lyons £995, Phoenix Car Company £995, Strathvale Holdings Limited £995, City Refrigeration Holdings Limited £995, David J Pitt Watson £990, Paul Green £950. That is a pattern of deceit and a deliberate attempt to avoid donor transparency.

Wendy Domino Starts to Wobble

Rich Johnston’s above cartoon from some months ago was not far off the mark (though it missed Peter Hain). In interviews yesterday Wendy Alexander claimed “at the conclusion of my leadership campaign” she made inquiries to the Clerks to the Standards and Public Appointments Committee of the Scottish Parliament, as to if she was required to be registered under either gifts or election expenses.

In the press release she put out last Friday she said she received that advice on November 8. She became leader of the Scottish Labour MSPs on September 14, 2007. So the advice she got was sought nearly 2 months after the close of her leadership campaign. Not much use when you are permitted only 30 days to declare it. She was well out of time before she even sought advice.

More damagingly the Code of Conduct for MSPs, says under Section 1: Registration of Interests:

“A Member must register an acquired interest by lodging a further written statement within 30 days after the date of acquisition (section 5 of the Act).”

So saying “conclusion” of campaign is also outwith the date of acquisition.

Yet these inquiries to the Clerk were made around the same time a document on Wendy Alexander’s husband’s computer was checking the admissibility of donations:

Crucially the list also drew attention to the awareness of the donation’s illegality by stating at the end: “Permissible?” According to the Microsoft Word document file on which it was saved, the document’s creation date is November 5.

Although Wendy’s illegal and unreported donation is relatively small, her behaviour afterwards is going to prove difficult to explain. She denied all knowledge of the donation, until the day Guido reprinted her letter of thanks to the donor. There is also evidence that there was knowledge in her circle that there was an illegal donation.

A string of donations fell just below the £1000 threshold which suggests there was also a deliberate attempt to avoid donor transparency. The list of undeclared donations includes; GMB Scotland £999, Michael D Rutterford £999, Neil Davidson £995, Nicholas Kuenssberg £995, John Lyons £995, Phoenix Car Company £995, Strathvale Holdings Limited £995, City Refrigeration Holdings Limited £995, David J Pitt Watson £990, Paul Green £950.

The matter has now been referred for prosecution, another domino may yet fall…

Lobbyist Regulator to Investigate Morgan the Organ Further

The Spin Industry’s APPC Management Committee (background here) has decided to consider and investigate the complaint against Morgan Allen Moore further. The Committee is looking for more information about the conduct of MAM and Morgan the Organ. Further evidence and consideration of specific charges under the APPC Code of Conduct will be considered at a meeting on February 4.

So you have another 24 hours to put in any further complaints…

So Gordon, What About Wendy? Harman? Johnson?

Did Dave dither? He says he slept on it and thought better, well he may have thought better not to lose votes, better not to annoy the activists, better to upset David Davis than Guido and Tim Montgomerie – who knows?

The important thing is, he has now dealt with the sleaze issue decisively. What is Gordon going to do? After the Abrahams scandal broke Gordon demanded the resignation of Peter Watt. He told the monthly press conference immediately afterwards that undeclared donations were unlawful and unacceptable and that was why Watt had to go.

Since then we have had Hain – he went – but we still have Harman, Johnson and Wendy. Why haven’t they gone? They broke the law. Why are they still lawmakers and ministers of the crown?

Exclusive : Leaked Email Reveals Another Undeclared Hain Donation

The Association of Professional Political Consultants emergency meeting of its management committee scheduled for today will consider a complaint about Steve Morgan of Morgan Allen Moore, (“MAM”) the public aff­airs firm linked to the Peter Hain’s donations.
Morgan the Organ not only made a £5,000 donation to the fake think-tank and allowed the Hain4Labour campaign to use MAM off­ices. Cheques to Hain4Labour were sent via the Cardiff offices of MAM before ending up in the campaign coffers. The fake Progressive Polices Forum think tank shares a London address with MAM as well. 

These actions breach the APPC code of conduct, which states that members

must keep strictly separate from their duties and activities as political consultants any personal activity or inv­olvement on behalf of a pol­itical party. 

Steve Morgan is presumably going to try and claim that this was all done in a personal capacity. Herein lies a problem, the Hain4Labour campaign had use of MAM staff. For example Kate Lewis, head of MAM’s Cardiff office was working on the campaign – which also begs the question why no donation in kind was registered? Her services do not come cheap and would not fall below the non-declarable £1000 threshold.

From: “Steve Morgan”
To: “Geraint Davies”, “Kate Lewis”, “Hugh Roberts”, “Andrew Stallard”, “Wayne David”, “CARBERRY, Joe”, “Albert Owen”, “Chris Ruane”, “Huw ID”, “Eluned Morgan”

Subject: Meeting
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2007 16:20

Thanks for coming to the meeting with Peter on Saturday we’re really glad to have you on board and grateful for your support for Peter’s campaign.

There are two items we need to deal with immediately.

1. First meeting date.

If everyone’s ( MPs are welcome but there’s no whip!!) happy to meet in Cardiff for an hour over lunch we can use my offices down on the Bay. Can you make either the 8th, 13th or 14th of March?

2. Wales-wide network.

We talked about getting a key supporter in every constituency. If you know of anyone who can fill these roles for us can you let me know (with contact details please) before we meet. Can you also let me know which constituencies you’re in.

Thanks

Steve

The significance of this email is twofold; it was sent from Morgan the Organ’s MAM office and demonstrates that MAM was effectively Hain’s campaign base and that MAM staff such as Kate Lewis were running the campaign. This clearly breaks the APPC’s Code of Conduct. 

It also means that there is yet another undeclared to the Electoral Commission benefit-in-kind donation probably worth tens of thousands of pounds…

+++ SKY REPORTING ALAN JOHNSON UNDECLARED & PROXY DONATIONS +++

UPDATE 12:00 Sunday : Guido is taking a break this weekend from sifting through sleaze. Take the opportunity below in the comments to do what Guido would do. See if there are reasons why Alan Johnson might cook the books?
Look at Johnson’s donors, are there any with a possible conflict of interest with his ministerial position, people who do business or represent businesses or are associated with government contractors?

Are there people with dodgy histories? What was their motive in giving cash to Johnson? Consider this a little experiment in distributed journalism and research. Good luck, remember the Dead-Tree-Press will be reading and looking for leads. Last week identifiable traffic from newsroom offices surged and contributed to the 30,000 a day readership…

How Guido Destroyed Hain’s Ambitions in 12 Months

On January 29, 2007 Guido threw Hain’s leadership campaign into disarray by revealing his campaign strategy. It led to chaos in Hain4Labour. The leak meant that nobody in the campaign trusted anybody.

In May 2007 Guido revealed the Hain4Labour campaign budget and that sleazy lobbyist Steve Morgan was arranging the financing.

On the morning of December 3, 2007 Guido chased down an undeclared donor and talked to Hain’s Special Adviser Joe Carberry to ask about missing undeclared donations. That afternoon Hain went to see the Electoral Commission.

On January 8 this year Guido revealed the links between campaign donors and endorsements from Hain.

Get the full background to the story:

All Guido’s recent Hain stories. All Guido’s older Hain stories.

+++ HAIN TO RESIGN +++

+++ SKY HAIN DONATIONS MET POLICE TO INVESTIGATE +++

Fourth Company Endorsed by Hain Got£1m from Welsh Assembly Government

When Peter Hain is eventually reshuffled away or forced out of office he can just continue his career in advertising making those celebrity endorsements; “St Tropez, for a perma-tan, will last longer than my career…”

Here is a fourth corporate endorsement, he praised a firm as a “modern, dynamic company” which he wanted to see go “from strength to strength” in the run up to their stock market floatation. It is handy for a Cardiff based spin firm doing government relations if the Welsh Secretary himself gives you a boost despite the obvious conflict of interest. Very reassuring to potential investors…

Freshwater UK plc, which even more handily also got a £1m investment from the Welsh Assembly Government development arm, had coincidentally paid £10,000 for a table at a Labour fundraiser four days prior that ringing endorsement. Peter Hain was seated at the Freshwater table at the event, which was also attended by John Underwood, Freshwater’s business development director and Hain’s campaign treasurer. It was Underwood who set up the faux think tank as well to channel money to Hain4Labour. Yet another amazing coincidence in the Hain saga…

The London Evening Standard has been trying to get hold of Hain4Labour’s campaign manager, the increasingly elusive Morgan the Organ. Morgan Allen Moore’s vice-chairman Richard Moore told the Standard that the fake think tank matter sharing a registered office with them was “purely coincidental”. “The only connection between Morgan Allen Moore and the Progressive Policies Forum is that we have the same registered address with a firm of London solicitors.”

Too many coincidences to be believable.

Electoral Commission Did Not Write to MIC

Word reaches Guido that the Electoral Commission wrote to “certain” unincorporated associations last week, not including the Midlands Industrial Council. Lisa Klein, Director of Party and Election Finance, wrote the letter reminding them about original money sources being permissible donors.

The MIC has long been the target of Labour complaints and has gone to some lengths to satisfy the Electoral Commission.

Lisa Klein was unavailable for comment…

Murkier and Murkier

Two Labour MPs John Mann* and Kevan Jones** have written to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner with a list of donations to 80 Tory MPs they want probed. Guido asked a Labour contact for some background on them, he said “they think they are being clever, but they are idiots”.

The list is a list of donations from unincorporated associations consisting of mainly Tory dining clubs and support groups. There is a real and important issue of transparency here. What Mann and Jones seem to have forgotten is that Labour too has had some £2 million from unincorporated associations. In fact Harriet Harman got £5,000 from one for her leadership campaign…

It might not be illegal, but it is shady, and none of the parties have anything to be proud of on this front. However it is of an entirely different order to Hain’s fake think-tank. Hain’s campaign didn’t even report the donations never mind the source.

UPDATE : Am reliably informed that Kevan Jones was put up to this by his former boyfriend Nick Brown, the long time Gordon loyalist henchmen and enforcer. Kevan was, a long time ago, Nick Brown’s researcher and has enjoyed the patronage of Nick Brown ever since. One amusing story that Guido has been reminded of is that during the 2003 backbench Tuition Fees Rebellion Kevan Jones was summoned to see Gordon who told him he should vote for Tuition Fees. Jones said he represented a working class constituency in the North East and they could not afford to pay for their children to go to university. Gordon’s reply was classic, “I’m not f***ing asking you, I’m f***ing telling you.”

*
John Mann flew to Nigeria recently on a junket courtesy of Shell. Shell is the largest operator in Nigeria providing most of Nigeria’s export earnings. Shell were implicated in the judicial execution of Nigerian environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. In September 2001 a court in New York granted relatives of Ken Saro-Wiwa and another of the executed activists, the right to sue Shell. The suit alleged the company fabricated evidence to support murder charges against the two men.

**Kevan Jones loves a junket, Guido counted at least half a dozen trips to Washington and elsewhere courtesy of various arms trade interests on the register in the last couple of years.

Steve Morgan Sleaze Investigation

The Spin Industry’s self regulatory body, the APPC, describes itself “as the representative and regulatory body for UK public affairs professionals in the consultancy sector.” It was set up in the wake of brown-envelope lobbyist scandals by some of the more respectable lobbying firms to try and prevent the most egregious happenings that are endemic to a murky industry.

Guido has learnt that the APPC has received a complaint from James Davenport, a former employee of Morgan Allen Moore, concerning ten separate breaches of the APPC Code of Conduct by Steve Morgan, Hain’s campaign manager. The book is well and truly being thrown at “Morgan the Organ”…

Hain’s Ryder Cup Cash Link

Peter Hain is getting a lot of cheering from Labour MPs during an unusually well attended session of Welsh questions this morning. Labour backbenchers have clearly decided, perhaps with encouragement from the whips, to prop up the Welsh Secretary. They are cheering him, as Guido writes, for “bringing the Ryder Cup to Wales”.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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