Shameless Poetry


Guido’s 140 character effort in response to the convicted fraudster and former MP’s tweet took 3 minutes to compose and it shows. Can co-conspirators do better?

Salmond and Tasmina’s Boozy City Break

The Daily Mail has a great hit on the extra-curricular activities of Alex Salmond and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. They’ve been caught on a three day jolly to Strasbourg enjoying “three-and-a-half-hour lavish booze-fuelled dinners” at a Michelin star restaurant. Guess who is picking up the tab? The Mail reports “Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh is a regular presence at Mr Salmond’s side”. These pics were taken close to the hotel where Salmond and Tasmina were staying:

Och aye the two…

Vince Welcomes LibDems’ Harvey Weinstein Back Into Fold

With Westminster calling on Theresa May to strip Harvey Weinstein of his CBE, the LibDems are still letting their own handsy wrong ‘un get away with it. Bridget Harris, one of Lord Rennard’s victims, has compared the former LibDem chief executive to the disgraced Hollywood mogul in an interview with Emma Barnett. Ali Goldsworthy, who was also harassed by the pervy peer, says Weinstein and Rennard are a case of “Same playbook, different location”. Surely the LibDems won’t be having anything to do with Rennard, right?

Wrong. This is Lord Rennard two weeks ago on a trip to Brussels with the LibDem chief executive and a third of the party’s MPs. Rennard and Vince Cable are old friends, LibDem sources say he is trying to get back into the fold and judging by this photo he is having some success. This trip would have been known about by Cable’s office – they obviously did nothing to prevent Rennard’s attendance. One is a disgraced power-broker despised and loathed by young women in his field, the other is Harvey Weinstein…

UPDATE: Another LibDem source gets in touch to say Rennard effectively ran Cable’s election campaign in Twickenham – here’s a photo he posted on polling day of them campaigning together:

There is a battle going on behind the scenes to convince Vince not to give him a job…

Tim Yeo Still Unworthy of Belief

Westminster is lucky to be rid of him, so what is slimy former Tory MP Tim Yeo up to these days? The not very much-missed Yeo, who was described by a judge in 2015 as “unreliable”, “not honest”, “dishonest”, “untruthful”, “untrue” and “unworthy of belief”, is now working as a “senior consultant” at a merchant bank called Turquoise. According to his bio on their website:

“Tim was a Member of Parliament for 32 years during which time he occupied a variety of senior energy and environment roles including Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs”

Except Tim Yeo was never Secretary of State for the Environment. He was Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, and a junior Environment minister, never Environment Secretary. What was it the judge said? Ah yes, “unworthy of belief”…

Vaz Slips Out in Rolls Royce

An amazed co-conspirator spotted Keith Vaz leaving parliament in a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce. Could the commissions from his washing machine sales be more lucrative than we thought? Of course if it was a benefit in kind from a generous benefactor he will remember to declare it in the register of interests…

Tim Bell: It’s Curtains For Bell Pottinger

Tim Bell says it is “almost certainly” the end for Bell Pottinger: “It probably is getting near the end. You can try and rescue it but it won’t be very successful”. His phone went off twice during this car crash interview, could do with some PR advice…

Bell Pottinger Expelled From PRCA

Bell Pottinger has been expelled by the PRCA trade body over the South Africa scandal. The firm has been banned from joining again for five years. PRCA chief Francis Ingham says:

“Bell Pottinger has brought the PR and communications industry into disrepute with its actions, and it has received the harshest possible sanctions. The PRCA has never before passed down such a damning indictment of an agency’s behaviour.”

Bye…

Bell Pottinger CEO Resigns

August 23: Bell Pottinger chief executive James Henderson denies to Guido that he has resigned.

September 3: James Henderson resigns.

The PRCA ruling on the Bell Pottinger South Africa scandal is due this week…

Bell Pottinger’s PR For Venezuela

It isn’t just Jeremy Corbyn who deserves scrutiny for his links to the murderous Venezuelan regime. UK PLC has approved millions of pounds worth of arms export licences to the country over the last decade. Meanwhile, “reputation management” PR specialists Bell Pottinger worked for Venezuela’s state-owned oil company in 2014Petroleos de Venezuela is one of the key arms of Nicolas Maduro’s regime and needed help cleaning up its image after being hit with sanctions for trading with Iran. It has been accused of “gross mismanagement” and sacked workers who didn’t support Venezuela’s leader, pretty much summing up how the Venezuelan government does things. The book ‘Crude Nation‘ tells how Bell Pottinger conducted surveys for the Venezuelans about the concerns of their foreign partners. At least Jezza didn’t actually take Maduro’s petrodollars…

Bell Pottinger could do with some reputation management of their own at the moment. Aside from Venezuela, they are in front of the PRCA this week over allegations they helped stir up racial tensions in South Africa. Other recent clients have included the brutal regimes in Bahrain and Egypt, the dictator of Belarus and the wife of Syrian butcher Assad. Of course, those following Bell Pottinger’s newest recruit on Twitter know they are not exactly fans of democracy… 

Commonwealth Nations Ask: How Much Longer Can Baroness Scotland Continue?

News of Baroness Scotland’s abject humiliation with the IPSO press regulator yesterday has travelled quickly around the Commonwealth. Caribbean News Now has published an editorial today headlined: “How much longer can Baroness Scotland continue as Commonwealth secretary-general?” The site accuses Scotland of “questionable appointments”, “attempted suppression of press freedom” and “allegations of profligate spending“, warning: “The resulting implications of her continuing in office for much longer are now of active interest in a growing number of Commonwealth capitals”. It concludes:

“The question now is will United Kingdom exert any influence and shield the Queen from further damaging controversy as Head of the Commonwealth at the London Summit next April.”

Commonwealth nations are getting jittery…

IPSO Throws Out Baroness Scotland’s Complaints

What remained of Baroness Scotland’s credibility lies in tatters after the IPSO press regulator threw out a litany of complaints she made about stories exposing her expenses shame. Last year the Mail titles, as well as Guido and other outlets, published a series of shocking revelations about Scotland’s expenses based on documents leaked by concerned whistleblowers. The Baroness denied everything and filed a vast number of complaints to IPSO about the stories. Today, after a nine month IPSO investigation, Scotland is left humiliated… 

  1. Baroness Scotland claimed she was the victim of a “partisan campaign” by the Daily Mail, that the paper’s articles about her were “distorted“, inaccurate and that the Mail had published knowingly false allegations against her. IPSO rejected all of this and threw out every single one of Scotland’s complaints against the Mail. 
  2. Baroness Scotland claimed reports recruitment rules had been bypassed to hire her friend Lord Patel’s company were untrue. IPSO found the standard recruitment process had been waived – the reports were true. 
  3. Baroness Scotland denied reports her spending figures, published every three months, had not been released on time. IPSO found they were not released on time, the reports were true. 
  4. Baroness Scotland claimed reports she had “brought in” interior designer Nicky Haslam were untrue. IPSO found Haslam had indeed been brought in by Scotland, the reports were true.
  5. Baroness Scotland denied Haslam had “partly overseen” the planned renovations. IPSO found this was an accurate description.
  6. Baroness Scotland denied that her advisers were “left-wing political fixers”. IPSO found they worked closely with the Labour Party and Labour figures and the reports were accurate. 
  7. Baroness Scotland denied reports of plans for a “swanky new dining area” in her Mayfair residence. IPSO found there were plans to relocate a chandelier to the dining room so this report was accurate.
  8. Baroness Scotland denied reports staff had received a “sinister” notification from her office warning their communications were being monitored. IPSO found the reports were accurate.
  9. Baroness Scotland claimed it was misleading to refer to Lord Patel as her “partner in crime”. IPSO found Scotland had herself referred to him using those words.
  10. Baroness Scotland denied she had been “dubbed Baroness Brazen”. IPSO found that a Conservative MP had indeed dubbed her Baroness Brazen.
  11. Baroness Scotland claimed newspaper reports suggested she had paid her sister for advice. IPSO found the reports made clear she hadn’t paid her sister.
  12. Baroness Scotland claimed there was no evidence to suggest the Queen was “embarrassed” by her. IPSO found a well-placed Royal source said the Queen was embarrassed.
  13. Baroness Scotland claimed there was no whistleblower, as there was nothing to blow the whistle on. IPSO found it was accurate to call the concerned source a whistleblower.
  14. Baroness Scotland claimed it was misleading to say Downing Street had refused to give its confidence in her. IPSO found Downing Street would only give confidence in the role of Secretary-General, the reports were accurate. 

IPSO ordered one minor correction, changing a headline in the Mail on Sunday about the sums paid to Lord Patel. This was the only breach found out of all the complaints made by Baroness Scotland against three titles. Her claims of inaccuracies, media lies and a vendetta against her have been exposed as fantasy – after such an unequivocal humiliation it is laughable that she can continue to hold public office… 

Security Concerns Over Assange Lawyer’s Access

Seumas Milne’s relationship with Julian Assange’s lawyer has raised security concerns about the confidential intelligence briefings received by Jeremy Corbyn. As a member of the Privy Council, Labour have confirmed that Corbyn has received security briefings about threats to the UK. Given the links between Assange, Wikileaks, hacking and Russia, it is a quite extraordinary situation for the Leader of the Opposition’s main aide to be involved with Assange’s long-term lawyer. Imagine if Theresa May’s top adviser was in bed with someone on the Wikileaks defence team – it would be a national scandal on a par with Donald Trump Jr.

The Hacked Off brigade’s criticism doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Hugh Grant, Hugh Tomlinson QC et al argue there is no public interest. The Editor’s Code sets several public interest conditions, including “Protecting public health or safety” and “impropriety, unethical conduct or incompetence concerning the public”. The security concerns easily satisfy the “protecting public health” condition, and no one can argue married Seumas has behaved properly or ethically.

Robertson claims the story fails to meet the Editor’s Code rule that “It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy”. Seumas and Jennifer were in a hotel bar with dozens and dozens of other drinkers. As you can see from the nervous look on Seumas’ “unwilling” face, there was patently no reasonable expectation of privacy. The press haters will have to suck it up – any regulator or judge would throw out a complaint in about five minutes…

Welsh Politicians Spend Thousands Chartering Planes to Watch Football

Welsh government politicians, special advisers, private secretaries and press officers have billed the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds to fly around the world on more than 30 foreign junkets in the last year. Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones blew more than £10,000 chartering a plane for him and his private secretary to France to watch the football last summer. Why are taxpayers paying for this?

The itinerary of the Welsh cabinet and their flunkies would put globe-trotting A-listers to shame. Expenses documents show Jones spent nearly £50,000 on another two trips to the US, taking in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Washington DC at a total cost to the taxpayer of £47,992. Economy Secretary Ken Skates and his private secretary also went to the Euro football: they attended matches in Toulouse and Paris over five days, total cost £3,232. How did they manage to spend that much?

He and an official also went to Chongqing and Shanghai at a cost of £17,842. Health Secretary Vaughan Gething was also accompanied by an official on a trip to Enetbbe, Uganda, charging £16,582, to mark the “10th Anniversary of Wales for Africa“. Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths and policy official enjoyed sunny Dubai at a cost of £6,563. Who are these people are why are spending our money?

Welsh politicians have long been on the take and get away with it because no one in the English media cares about what are essentially local stories. At a time when Welsh Labour are breaking their tuition fees promise, their politicians and staff are flying around the world on jollies. How can they justify spending this much on going to watch the football?

Assange Lawyer Named as Milne’s Mystery Blonde

Seumas Milne’s mystery blonde is Julian Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson, according to The Times. 36 year-old Australian Robinson has represented the Wikileaks founder since 2010. A source told The Times Seumas has visited Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in the last 16 months. Jen’s tweets show her public support for Seumas and Corbyn:

Robinson didn’t respond to requests for comment. The identity of the lady canoodling with Milne at the plush Courthouse Hotel was the subject of fevered speculation yesterday, with Labour colleagues pointing the finger of suspicion at each other. From Twitter it looks like Jen has been a fan of Seumas’ column for years…

“Seumas, I’m Not Sure This Is a Great Idea”

Pictured on the terrace of a 5-star hotel on Thursday evening, married Labour spin chief Seumas Milne getting hard left with a mystery blonde. The photos show shameless Seumas at the plush Courthouse Hotel in Shoreditch – the opposite side of London to his Richmond family home – where a standard room costs £300 per night. Milne can be seen leaning in for a passionate kiss, before hugging his lady companion and sitting with her legs draped across him.

A bystander said:

“They had a table to themselves. He was drinking a pink cocktail type thing. She looked younger than he is, I would say in her early thirties, early-to-mid thirties. They were there for a good hour or so. They were very hands on, full on heavy petting. There was a lot of hugging, stroking, kissing and intimate talking going on. The photo where her her head is nestled into him – that was them getting off, that was them mid-snog. We saw them leave together down the walkway back inside the hotel.”

Asked if he wanted to comment when doorstepped by The Sun last night, Seumas, who is married to 60 year-old Cristina Montanari, replied: “I don’t think so“. When the spokesman needs a spokesman…

Call 0709 284 0531 for picture syndication.

Washing Machine Protest Outside Vaz’s Office

Spotted outside Jim the washing machine salesman’s office in Leicester this afternoon. “No more spin…”

Neighbouring Tory MP Andrew Bridgen comments: “Keith has been very quiet so far during this election, but then he has a lot to be quiet about”. Jim was nowhere to be seen during the protest today either. His constituents are clearly not impressed…

Number 10 Sidelines Baroness Scotland

Number 10 has brutally snubbed Baroness Scotland by failing to mention the Commonwealth Secretary General entirely in its announcement on the Commonwealth Summit today. Downing Street set out the schedule for the summit this morning, which will be attended by leaders from more than 50 countries in April 2018. The press release revealed the Prime Minister and Cabinet will “oversee preparations” and that Amber Rudd and Boris Johnson have been tasked with chairing an Inter-Ministerial Group on the summit. Number 10 adds that they have implemented a new “dedicated unit” led by diplomat Tim Hitchens to look after proceedings:

“A central team has also been established in the Cabinet Office to deliver the Summit, working closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat and member states. The dedicated unit will report directly to the Prime Minister, who has appointed Tim Hitchens as its CEO. Tim Hitchens was previously British Ambassador to Japan, and has served as Africa Director and Europe Director in the Foreign Office, and also as Assistant Private Secretary to The Queen.”
Name-checks for Theresa May, the Cabinet, Amber Rudd, Boris and Tim Hitchens – and no mention whatsoever of Baroness Scotland. Almost as if Number 10 is making clear that it has taken responsibility for the Commonwealth summit away from its scandal-hit Secretary-General. Sidelined…

Olney Standards Investigation Three Months Into Job

New LibDem MP Sarah Olney is facing an investigation by the standards commissioner just three months after coming to Westminster. Guido understands the complaint relates to using her website for party political purposes, though the LibDems say there are confident it will be dismissed: “This is an utterly spurious allegation without any basis. We are confident this complaint will be rejected at the first opportunity.” A record for quickest standards probe for a new MP?

200 Staff Went Through HS2 Revolving Door

Earlier this month Guido reported that HS2 Ltd had given half-a-billion pounds worth of taxpayer-funded contracts to CH2M, a US engineering firm that just happened to be the former company of the HS2 CEO. Well, now a rival construction business which lost out on the contract is threatening to sue HS2 Ltd over this alleged conflict of interest. Mace say they are “looking closely at our options”. Their case: CH2M was awarded the latest £170 million contract during the tenure of HS2 CEO Roy Hill, a former employee of CH2M. And the revolving door spins even faster than that – industry insiders claim CH2M currently has around 200 members of staff working for HS2. A CH2M man took charge of HS2, HS2 hired 200 CH2M staff, and then HS2 awarded CH2M a huge contract… Hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer’s money spent without a rail being laid…

Taxi For Baroness D’Souza

Interesting timing for the new BBC documentary on the House of Lords. The choice quote is from Baroness D’Souza:

“There is a core of peers who work incredibly hard, who do that work, and there are, sad to say, many, many, many peers who contribute absolutely nothing but who claim the full allowance.

[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Corbynista media cheerleader Aaron Bastani says his friend Clive Lewis’s “b*tch” comment was:

“beneath any parliamentarian”

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