HS2’s Half-a-Billion Pound Revolving Door With US Contractor

HS2 Ltd has today awarded a £170 million taxpayer-funded contract to its CEO’s previous employer. As Guido illustrates above, this is the latest evidence of a revolving door between HS2 and the American engineering firm CH2M. The golden handshakes date back to 2012, when CH2M was appointed as HS2’s “Phase 1 delivery partner”. In March 2016 the firm was appointed as HS2’s “engineering delivery partner”. These contracts were worth some £350 million.

Seven months later, in October 2016, CH2M’s Roy Hill was appointed as the interim CEO of HS2, on secondment from CH2M. Last month HS2 appointed another CEO. Can you guess where from? Mark Thurston also joined from CH2M, replacing his former CH2M predecessor. Very, very cosy…

This afternoon a press release from HS2 Ltd arrived in Guido’s inbox:

“Plans to bring HS2 to Manchester and Leeds took a step forward today with the confirmation that contracts will be awarded to CH2M… CH2M will be become Phase Two B Development Partner”

The contract is worth some £170 million – the shortlist was announced under Roy Hill’s tenure. HS2 Ltd “is an executive non-departmental public body” funded by the taxpayer via a grant-in-aid from the Department for Transport. They have just given a massive taxpayer-funded contract to their CEO’s old company – this smells… 

Baroness Scotland’s Aide Matthew Doyle Caught Red-Handed

With the Baroness Scotland scandal back in the news, her former special adviser Matthew Doyle went out to bat for her on the World at One. He was grilled repeatedly about his massive taxpayer-funded contract, refusing to answer several times before claiming the figures reported are wrong:

BBC: “It’s been reported that you yourself were paid £15,000 per month.”

Doyle: “Yeah and you’ve seen these sorts of stories about the official residence… I think what’s important to recognise is the fact that the official residence is redecorated every time there’s a new Secretary-General. But look these things ultimately aren’t what matters.”

BBC: “And your salary?”

Doyle: “… Aren’t what matters in terms of the work of the Commonwealth. What matters is that the Commonwealth continues to deal with those big challenges that there are…”

BBC: “Indeed, but just on this question about your salary, which I notice you’re not answering.”

Doyle: “Well the figures aren’t correct but I really don’t think that that’s important.”

A straight denial that his salary was £15,000 per month. Below is Doyle’s Commonwealth contract, bearing his signature, showing his salary was two monthly instalments of £15,000 followed by a third if £18,000:

This contract bears Doyle’s signature. He just said on the radio that the figures in it are not correct. Remarkable behaviour…

Baroness Scotland: Government Intervenes, Queen Snub, Officials Say She Can’t Survive

The BBC has some major developments in the Baroness Scotland expenses scandal: the government has sent in two senior civil servants to take charge of the Commonwealth Secretariat following complaints about her leadership and extravagant spending. Former FCO official Sir Simon Gass has been installed as chief operating officer at the Secretariat and Tim Hitchens, another former FCO mandarin, has been put in charge of next year’s Commonwealth summit. The Queen has also snubbed Baroness Scotland’s main Commonwealth Day event. James Landale quotes senior sources as saying:

“The Queen has only got to nip down the road from Buckingham Palace to Marlborough House in a Bentley. It’s not that hard. And yet she has decided not to come. The Palace are thinking there is so much more to be done with the Commonwealth and yet they are lumbered with such poor leadership. The Commonwealth is stuffed. The High Commissioners have all given up on (Lady Scotland). They have other fish to fry. I do wonder if she can survive. She just treats people appallingly. And she has this political tin ear.”

The Queen and the government are throwing the Baroness under a bus and diplomats are speculating whether she can survive. Will she still be in post by the time of next year’s CHOGM summit?

Slippery Vaz Gets Off Again

The police have dropped their investigation into Keith Vaz after he was caught on camera offering to buy cocaine for rent boys. This particular police investigation was always at the mild end of Vaz’s sleazy private life…

Baroness Scotland Refuses to Answer Questions at Anti-Corruption Lecture

Baroness Scotland refused to answer questions about her conduct as she delivered Transparency International’s annual anti-corruption lecture last night. The organisers had said Scotland would address her expenses scandal, telling guests it was the “ideal opportunity for her to respond directly to those claims, as well as allowing members of the public and press to raise any questions they may wish to ask”. Alas, Baroness Scotland told an unimpressed audience she was “unable” to answer questions on the scandal because the press regulator is investigating. There is no reason an IPSO investigation means she cannot answer questions, the Baroness is stretching the truth once again…

Scotland did tell the room that corruption “is a scourge which holds in thrall millions of our Commonwealth sisters and brothers… the Commonwealth will.. eliminate the scourge of corruption from institutions of governance and public life at every level”We know where to start…

Full “Confidential” Bung Claims By Green Party Chair

This is the full 30 page report written by Kingston Green Party chair Ryan Coley alleging the party was offered a £250,000 bung to stand aside in Richmond. Coley has confirmed to Guido that he co-wrote the report. A lot of questions for the Greens to answer here…

UPDATE: At some point tonight the Green Party put in a copyright complaint to our previous host – this from the party that prides itself on transparency – so it is now hosted elsewhere and will be available by email to anyone who wants it (team@order-order.com) if we have any other problems. Bear in mind that they originally said they denied all knowledge of it – now they claim copyright.

Full PDF download here.

Green Party ‘Offered £250,000 Bung Not to Stand in Richmond’

green2

The Green Party was offered a £250,000 inducement not to stand a candidate against the LibDems in Richmond, according to the chairman of the local Greens. Ryan Coley, the Kingston Green Party chair, claims his members were pressured by party officials not to run a candidate because the party had been offered £250,000 conditional on standing aside for the LibDems. Guido has obtained an internal report written by the local chairman and members Clare Keogh and Kieron Merrett. They complain “party staff added pressure” on them, “telling us that there was an offer of a large donation to the party which was conditional on the party demonstrating its desire for a progressive alliance”. They allege the offer amounted to £250,000 and the order to stand aside came “on the instruction of the Chief Executive“.

green1

The report says the offer failed the party’s donation scrutiny procedures and the donation did not go through. After Guido put the allegations to the Green Party they confirmed they would investigate. A Green Party spokesman does not deny the offer of the bung:

“This is an unofficial report from a handful of members of Kingston Green Party and is not officially recognised by either the national Green Party or the local party in question. Many of the claims are disputed and this report has been referred to the Green Party Regional Council and will be looked into as soon as possible.” 

This is a bombshell allegation – not denied by the Greens – that a wealthy donor offered them cash to stand aside for the Remain cause. Local Greens are furious with Caroline Lucas and Jon Bartley over this…

UPDATE: The Greens have a carefully worded new line:

“The Green Party has not accepted any donations connected with the Richmond Park by-election and no donation offer was made on the basis that the Party choose not to field a candidate. Any donation accepted by the Green Party must meet strict ethical criteria and that includes the donation not being used to gain leverage over strategic decisions.”

Guido has asked them if an offer was made in relation to the ‘Progressive Alliance’, as the local chair claims, and why party officials told the local party such an offer existed. They have declined to answer…

Brooks Newmark Back Helping Women2Win

women

One of the main reasons Brooks Newmark’s sexting was so inappropriate is that he co-founded the Women2Win group helping young women get involved in politics. Newmark invited our Sophie to a Women2Win event – he was abusing his position in the group to meet young Tory women. Well, Women2Win have welcomed Brooks back into the fold, there he is in the photo above holding a Women2Win placard while campaigning for the Tory candidate in the Sleaford by-election. Alongside a bevy of young Tory women. Have to wonder if this is responsible from those now running Women2Win…

DfID Slams “Poorest Performer” Baroness Scotland

scotland

The Department for International Development has delivered a scathing assessment of Baroness Scotland, labelling her Commonwealth Secretariat one of the “poorest performers” when it comes to spending taxpayers’ money. A new DfID report out today has found “the Commonwealth Secretariat continues to underperform” and that “improvement is essential if DFID is to continue to fund the organisation”. The report warns “the Secretariat requires urgent organisational reform” in terms of “transparency” and “human resource management”, slamming Scotland’s department for its poor “financial management and budget discipline”. The Commonwealth Secretariat scored a mark of 2 out of 5 on transparency, accountability and value. This could not be a more damning indictment of Baroness Scotland’s exorbitant spending and lack of accountability…

Baroness Scotland to Deliver Anti-Corruption Lecture

scotland

Who have Transparency International decided is the best person to deliver their “Annual Anti-Corruption Lecture” next week? Baroness Scotland will be giving the talk, discussing how important it is “to champion integrity, increase public awareness on the adverse impact of corruption, and promote appreciation of how important it is that the UK acknowledges the pressing need to tackle corruption within its own borders”. Transparency International admit it’s a slightly odd choice given the Baroness has been mired in a sleaze scandal of her own. They say:

“We are aware that since then a number of allegations have been made against Baroness Scotland and our Annual Lecture will provide the ideal opportunity for her to respond directly to those claims, as well as allowing members of the public and press to raise any questions they may wish to ask.”

Starting with that £307 toilet seat, those phantom school fees and her £90,000 crony contract

Vaz Dodges National Crime Agency Meeting

vaz-dodging-nca

Since Keith Vaz’s appointment to the Criminal Finance Bill committee this week it has sat twice, on Tuesday and today. For some reason – to the great disappointment of hacks – Vaz has absented himself from both sessions. Guido can give readers some background as to why that might be…

Guido understands Labour whips have been told that not only is Vaz now under investigation by Scotland Yard, they have been made aware that four files regarding Vaz have been passed to the National Crime Agency. Given that the Bill committee has been taking evidence from the National Crime Agency, it would clearly be completely inappropriate for Vaz to attend this committee. If Vaz had attended he would either have to recuse himself or declare his interest. Rather than face the embarrassment, slippery Vaz has unofficially recused himself by not showing up…

Vaz to Scrutinise Unexplained Wealth Laws

vaz

Today’s Sun reports Keith Vaz has been appointed a member of the Criminal Finance Bill committee despite being under active police investigation. As Guido reported last month, Vaz’s role will include helping to scrutinise new plans to strengthen so-called Unexplained Wealth Orders, anti-corruption laws where assets can be seized if owners are unable to explain how they were funded. This is something of personal significance to Vaz, who in 2012 was subject to another police investigation which found up to £500,000 of funds believed to have been “of a suspicious nature” were paid into current and savings accounts in his name or linked to him:

“There are numerous unexplained payments into the accounts and large transfers between accounts that require further investigation… the level of funds received … are of a suspicious nature”

Vaz did not declare where the money came from. At one point detectives claimed £28,959 in cash was paid into an HSBC account held by Vaz, with no explanation. This is all without mentioning the mystery behind Vaz’s £4 million global property empire, which he has also never explained how he has been able to afford. Vaz is now scrutinising laws on unexplained wealth…

Baroness Scotland’s New Loo Seat Cost £307

haslam

Baroness Scotland charged the taxpayer £307 for a new loo seat in a bathroom in her Mayfair home which cost £24,000 to refurbish. She has also admitted spending thousands to paint six rooms with top-of-the-range Farrow & Ball paint, despite previously dismissing reports as “outright lies, half-truths and innuendo”. Scotland spins in today’s Times that she was “furious about some of the money spent”, yet leaked emails show it was her staff who complained to her about the costs and pleaded with her to reduce her demands. In the email below the most senior Commonwealth official notes it is Scotland who “wants her bathroom completely done” and says the paint was her priority:

bathroom

Makes a complete mockery of Scotland’s previous statements. Remember her promise: “There has been no extravagance…”

Guy News Visits Baroness Scotland’s Mayfair Mansion

During her Today programme interview last week, Baroness Scotland invited listeners into her Mayfair home to show she was telling the truth that there is “no extravagance”. Guy News took her up on her offer…

PM Demands Answers From Baroness Scotland

scotland

Theresa May has broken her silence on Baroness Scotland, demanding answers and insisting the Commonwealth Secretariat needs “reform”. The PM has said during her trip to India:

“The UK is a strong supporter of the Commonwealth – we believe as an organisation it has a role to play in dealing with shared challenges around the world such as human rights. We believe it does need to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. That means there does need to be reform of the secretariat. For Baroness Scotland, of course she needs to respond to the allegations that have been made. She will be judged on how she delivers on that need for reform for the Commonwealth secretariat to be operating effectively and efficiently.”

Baroness Scotland told Today she had the PM’s full support. Doesn’t sound like it. Have May’s furious Indian counterparts raised the recent revelations?

Antiguan PM: Baroness Scotland Has Brought Shame on Commonwealth

gaston

The Prime Minister of Antigua has launched a devastating attack on Baroness Scotland for bringing “shame” on the Commonwealth. A report in the Antigua Observer says PM Gaston Browne has slammed Scotland’s extravagant spending as an “embarrassment for the Caribbean”. They quote Browne as saying: “Instead of bringing benefits to the Caribbean, she brought shame”, adding “the election of a real Caribbeaner of great competence and experience was missed because of insularity, a culture of non-cooperation and hate of our own”. That’s two Commonwealth nations who have publicly criticised their Secretary General. How long before Theresa May has to comment? 

Baroness Scotland Does Not Deny Claiming Phantom School Fees

fees

Baroness Scotland does not deny claiming a taxpayer-funded school fees allowance for her adult children. The astonishing claim was made by a senior Commonwealth official in an internal complaint about Baroness Scotland’s “revised salary package”. According to Ram Venuprasad’s complaint, published below, Baroness Scotland demanded she was paid an “educational allowance” for her children. Guido has tracked down Baroness Scotland’s children – they are both grown up. There is no conceivable justification for either of them needing an “educational allowance” – unlike her predecessors who had school age children. 

allowance

Over the course of the last week, Guido has repeatedly asked Baroness Scotland’s press office if they deny she is being paid an educational allowance. They refuse to deny it and do not contest the claim. This is the most shocking revelation so far – Baroness Scotland does not deny claiming a taxpayer-funded educational allowance despite her adult children having finished their education. Was she claiming to send them to Hogwarts?

Guy News Special: Baroness Scotland’s Spending Spin

Baroness Scotland’s case for the defence during her Today programme interview this morning was essentially: Extravagance? What extravagance? Does that defence stand up to scrutiny? Guy News takes a look…

Baroness Scotland Speaks: Extravagance? What Extravagance?

Baroness Scotland has surfaced on the Today programme where she insisted “there has been no extravagance at all” in her spending since she became Commonwealth Secretary General.

Scotland said it is “untrue” she demanded £4,000 for a mirror-lined cupboard. Here is the cost plan showing her demand for a £4,000 mirror-lined cupboard.

She said there is “no chandelier”. Read the emails where her staff complain about her demands over an “extremely expensive chandelier” here.

She said the total cost would be the original budget “plus the fees plus things that would come up”. Read her staff complaining about how expensive those “things that would come up” are here.

Scotland said she followed all procurement rules to hire her friend Lord Patel on £30,000-a-month. Here is a memo showing procurement practices were waived. 

She said her team she denied this all to journalists “again and again and again” before publication. Guido was in regular conversation with her press office until we asked about her Mayfair home. As soon as we started asking about this, they stopped replying. Given multiple opportunities, they did not deny any of these stories…

Baroness Scotland then invited Today listeners to come into her Mayfair home and see for ourselves. We accept, when can we arrange a viewing?

Tory MP ‘Stuck His Hands Down Man’s Pants and Tried to Kiss Him’

howlett

Tory MP Ben Howlett is the subject of police enquiries after allegedly sexually assaulting a gay couple in a nightclub in his Bath constituency. The Sun reports allegations that:

“He pushed a man up against the wall and stuck his hands down his trousers into his pants and tried to kiss him.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

“There is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints. Time to raise your game, Prime Minister.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.
UKIP NEC Votes No Confidence In Bolton UKIP NEC Votes No Confidence In Bolton
Greenpeace Still Making Fake Wind Claims Greenpeace Still Making Fake Wind Claims
Sunday Show Highlights Sunday Show Highlights
Local Labour Members Want Jared Deselected Local Labour Members Want Jared Deselected
Last Days at BuzzFeed Last Days at BuzzFeed
Bolton: She Came Round But I Didn’t Sleep With Her Bolton: She Came Round But I Didn’t Sleep With Her
Jared Victim: He Shouldn’t Be Back in Westminster Jared Victim: He Shouldn’t Be Back in Westminster
Sick Jared Back to Work Sick Jared Back to Work
Ann Black Purged by Red Terror Ann Black Purged by Red Terror
Parole Board Admit Processes Breached Parole Board Admit Processes Breached
Paul Mason: Aggressive and Intimidating Paul Mason: Aggressive and Intimidating
James O’Brien’s Carillion Fake News Goes Viral James O’Brien’s Carillion Fake News Goes Viral
O’Mara Hasn’t Helped a Single Constituent in Months O’Mara Hasn’t Helped a Single Constituent in Months
Credit Where Credit’s Due Credit Where Credit’s Due
Osborne on Carillion: Then and Now Osborne on Carillion: Then and Now
Paul Mason’s Column Axed Paul Mason’s Column Axed
Lord Pannick Backs Gauke’s Judicial Review Lord Pannick Backs Gauke’s Judicial Review
“Get On Your Knees, B*tch” Clive Lewis Returns to Labour Frontbench in Reshuffle” “Get On Your Knees, B*tch” Clive Lewis Returns to Labour Frontbench in Reshuffle”
Vulnerable Children’s Data Breached at Labour-Run Leicester City Council Vulnerable Children’s Data Breached at Labour-Run Leicester City Council
Dover Traffic at Record Levels Dover Traffic at Record Levels