Over at the Guardian’s broadcast arm, Ian Katz has given increasingly unhinged criminal homewrecker Chris Huhne free rein on Newsnight. It is definitely worth watching in full:
Let it go Chris, it’s over…
Margaret Hodge isn’t wasting any opportunity to bleat about the £84 billion Vodafone/Verizon deal today:
“We must demand reassurance that HMRC has thoroughly examined this proposition to ensure British taxpayers get their rightful share of this massive profit. If there’s a flaw in legislation it has to be urgently addressed by Treasury ministers. I don’t understand how anyone can justify such a massive windfall without handing a fair share to the Exchequer. If this is an instance in which Vodafone has simply played the system then clearly they themselves have an obligation to UK consumers, on whom they depend for their business, to do the right thing.”
Flaws in legislation, you say? Well the two companies are exploiting the so-called “Substantial Shareholder Exemption” loophole to legally dodge the tax, the very same loophole used by Guardian Media Group when it sold Autotrader. SSE is a corporation tax exemption for businesses disposing of a substantial shareholding in a part of their business. The idea is that businesses should be able to restructure their businesses without having to worry about chargeable gains implications. And who was it introduced by? One Gordon Brown…
UPDATE: That “flawed tax law” Hodge is complaining about? She voted for it.
Spare a thought for the Daily Star today. They have splashed on the “shock secret love children” of Coronation Street actor Charlie Condou, sensationally revealing that he “secretly fathered two children with a straight girl pal”. Just the one problem. Unfortunately Condou’s kids were less than secret, he wrote a column devoted to them in the Guardian for a year.
In their defence, it’s not like anyone would have read it…
A reconstruction, obviously…
The full story of how state security came to oversee the destruction of the Guardian’s hard drives, not in the Guardian, but the Mail.
Something they deny:
Who do you believe?
Guido gives you a fair and balanced (as always) run down of everything you need to know on the developments of the last few days. As well as the key questions to both the Guardian and the security services that have gone unanswered.
Fascinating stuff from Alan Rusbridger last night. The Guardian editor claims that two months ago he was approached by a government official on behalf of the PM demanding he destroy material they were working on. A month later Rusbrisger says he received a phone call in which he was told “you’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back”. Then a quite extraordinary day at Kings Place:
“And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. “We can call off the black helicopters,” joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.”
You can read his account in full here. Of course there are unanswered questions, chiefly why did Rusbridger allow the spooks to do this? Though what this comes down to is that state security was in the Guardian’s basement destroying their hard drives. Which is a hugely worrying development. After all, this could be Guido one day…
Three weeks since Guido published the remarkable similarities between Andrew Rawnsley’s Observer column and a piece in the Economist. Three weeks since Andrew Rawnsley has appeared in the paper. Still no comment from him despite Guido asking again and again. Hope he is enjoying his break…
Press Gazette’s scoop on Friday that Guardian hack Nick Davies is off to America will remain exclusive. They reported that the paper’s “US invasion gathers pace” as “Nick Davies joins Paul Lewis Stateside” in a now pulled piece.
No need to get the PCC involved this time, but still. Ouch.
Whatever your position on the Guardian’s in-house “pompous douchecanoe” Glenn Greenwald, the detention of his partner under the Terrorism Act raises eyebrows, to say the least. Front of the queue is Labour’s favourite bandwagon-jumper Keith Vaz:
“What is extraordinary is they knew he was his partner… Bearing in mind it is a new use of terrorism legislation to detain someone in these circumstances, I’m certainly interested in knowing, so I will write to the police to ask for the justification of the use of terrorism legislation – they may have a perfectly reasonable explanation. But if we are going to use the act in this way … then at least we need to know so everyone is prepared.”
Yvette Cooper is particularly angry:
“Any suggestion that terror powers are being misused must be investigated and clarified urgently – the public support for these powers must not be endangered by a perception of misuse. The police and security agencies rightly work hard to protect national security and prevent terrorism. But public confidence in security powers depends on them being used proportionately within the law, and also on having independent checks and balances in place to prevent misuse.”
While Tom Watson has helpfully chipped in:
The answer, of course, is that David Miranda was detained under the Terrorism Act that Watson, Cooper and Vaz’s party voted in. If it turns out it is being used to go after journalists and their partners, it won’t take a whistleblower to work out where the blame lies…
According to the ONS the median gross annual earnings for full-time employees in 2011/12 was £26,500. A lower sum than that paid to every single full-time editorial member of staff at the Guardian. Guido has been leaked the pay structures of junior staff, and it makes for an intriguing read in these austere times. Given the interest the paper takes in how much other people are paid, it’s only fair that this document sees the light of day:
For some reason the rates for columnists and executive level staff have been left off the list. And lets not forget all those workers on zero-hour contracts that actually keep the paper and website going…
A leather jacket-clad suspicious looking “warm, sweaty and dazed” man turned out to not be a returning David Leigh to the Guardian offices. He was a heroin addict caught “chasing the dragon” in the toilets at Kings Place. No one batted an eyelid when Clayton Earlington wandered through the security alongside a pack of Guardian hacks, presumably because he fitted right in. After twice approaching Alan Rusbridger’s office and doing smack in the loos, the cops were called.
“Three to four weeks before that I had used the Guardian toilets – I had asked a guard and he had let me in. So I went back. This time there was no guard there so I tailgated some people. I had been there before but I couldn’t remember where the toilet was. At the time my state of mind was not good, I was ‘clucking’. That was why I didn’t want to talk to anyone or ask anyone where it was. But I found the toilet eventually. I ‘chased the dragon’, I burnt it on a piece of foil. I used the drugs, basically. And I went back out. That is all. I didn’t want to steal nothing, it was just to use the drugs. I left and I went back home.”
Confirming long held suspicions that those inside Guardian towers are on drugs…
The final figures are out: Margaret Thatcher’s funeral cost £261,976, plus £943,833 for security. A total of £1,205,809, or 1.9p per person. Worth remembering again how it was reported by some at the time:
For some reason the final figure hasn’t made the front page…
A special guest who somewhat stood out from the crowd:
If they ask Nigel Farage about his offshore tax arrangements he can just ask them about theirs…
As reported last night, the Guardian have added some important details to their Lynton Crosby/healthcare yarn, after Guido’s little fact checking yesterday. Lobbying firm Westminster Advisers “declined to comment” last night over Guido’s revelation that the firm “run by the Labour supporter and former councillor Dominic Church, organised a cross-party meeting at the end of 2010 which was shown the Crosby Textor research.” They told the Guardian: “I’m not going to go into that. I have given you the statement we are giving out. That is all we are saying.” For the sake of clarity, here is the invitation to their event:
“That is all we are saying.”
The Guardian has done a follow up which largely corrects the record after Guido pointed out the factual errors in their healthcare lobbying story from this morning. Namely that they had got the target audience completely wrong and that the firm organising the event wasn’t Tory leaning CTF, it was in fact Labour leaning lobbyists Westminster Advisers. A statement issued by Mark Detre from Westminster Advisers confirms the accuracy of Guido’s version of events:
“Crosby Textor Fullbrook provided research and advice into public attitudes on healthcare to H5. H5 is a predecessor to the Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations and they did that in 2010 and 2011. The arrangement between CTF and H5 ended in mid 2011. AIHO is a new organisation formed in March 2013 and has no relationship with CTF.”
Nicholas Watt at the Guardian reports that
Detre declined to comment on a report on the Guido Fawkes website that Westminster Advisers, run by the Labour supporter and former councillor Dominic Church, organised a cross-party meeting at the end of 2010 which was shown the Crosby Textor research. Detre said: “I’m not going to go into that. I have given you the statement we are giving out. That is all we are saying.”
Judge for yourself…
The Guardian, which likes to boast that they give “the whole picture”, are very excited this morning with the suggestion that “The lobbying firm founded by the Tories’ chief election strategist, Lynton Crosby, advised private healthcare providers on how to exploit perceived “failings” in the NHS, according to a leaked document obtained by the Guardian. The presentation was made by Crosby Textor, known as CTF Partners in Britain, towards the end of 2010.” The timing is right, just who the presentation was actually made to has been conveniently left out of the story.
The Guardian claims that the “leaked” presentation was made by CTF to private healthcare profiteers, it was actually organised by the lobbying firm Westminster Advisers for MPs – who were all given copies – making it more of a handout than a leak. Westminster Advisers is headed by Dominic Church, a wealthy Labour supporter and a former Hammersmith and Fulham councillor for the party. He is a Blairite private healthcare lobbyist…
Church lobbies for the H5 Private Hospitals Alliance. The slideshow was shown at their parliamentary reception themed ‘Improving Britain’s healthcare’ on 29 November 2010 in the House of Commons. The invitation was open to all MPs and Guido understands that many Labour MPs enjoyed the hospitality served in Dining Room A. One attendee remembers seeing, for example, Gisela Stuart at the event. CTF merely providing polling data for the report. It was a briefing for MPs by private healthcare, not a briefing to private healthcare.
Mysteriously there is plenty missing from slideshow the Guardian have published. They have run just 4 pages out of the 31 slide presentation, leaving out what does not fit the story. Take this page for example which is positive about the NHS, and inconveniently shows – for the Guardian’s preferred narrative – that the public back reforms:
Nowhere is this to be seen on the Guardian website. Despite cutting pages, they have re-numbered the 4 pages so you would never know. Guido senses a lengthy Corrections and Clarifications coming tomorrow…
Guardian News and Media made an annual loss of £30.4 million last year, as hard as they try to spin it that still means they are haemorrhaging half a million quid a week. Guardian Media Group made an operating loss of £54.8 million last year, reporting profits before tax of £22.7 million. Presumably meaning their profits after tax were £22.7 million. For three years Guido has been asking GMG where their 50.1% stake in TMG (Autotrader) is held. Guido has asked the GMG CEO Andrew Miller and Alan Rusbridger, who to be fair – despite sitting on the GMG board – admitted he had no idea. Also fortuitously Guido was sat at a lunch next to Dame Liz Forgan chair of the Scott Trust, asked her about GMG’s offshore secrets and she said Guido was the last person she would tell. So much for that famed commitment to openness and transparency. Still no answer, we’re working on the theory that they have created an aggressive tax avoidance structure – solely to avoid UK tax – maintaining for 7 years an offshore Cayman’s holding corporation.*
Some good news though: the Guardian annual report says their hedge fund investments and investments exploiting third world emerging markets are performing well. Alan Rusbridger meanwhile took home total remuneration of £491,000, with chief executive Andrew Miller pocketing £769,000, including a £100,000 bonus fat-cat bonus putting him on some 72 times the earnings of the Guardian’s lowest paid staff. Austerity is only for the staff…
*If any bean counters have any ideas as to why Trader Media Group’s financing costs are so high when it is so profitable, please share in the comments, could it be that they loaded the onshore part of the group up with debt that is serviced by paying the interest, presumably tax-free, offshore to the GMG Caymans holding company? They then can use the tax free profits to support the loss making journalism? Does that theory make sense? How exactly does the money flow from TMG to GMG?
See also Guardian’s Offshore Secrets