What Does a Property Developer Secretly Buy for £400,000?

Durham Green Developments Limited had a planning application for a business park development alongside the A1 motorway blocked by the Department of Transport.

Raymond Ruddick and Janet Kidd are directors of the company. Details of their directorships here [PDF]. They donated some £400,000 to the Labour party, secretly on behalf of David Abrahams, the owner of Durham Green Developments Limited.

In October last year the objection to the massive development was dropped by the Department of Transport. What a coincidence…

UPDATE : BBC reporting that Labour’s general secretary Peter Watt has resigned.

“Mr Watt told a meeting of officers of Labour’s National Executive Committee that he had known about the arrangement.”

So who else knew? Douglas Alexander was the Minister responsible for the planning objection…

CIA : BAE Bribed Hungarian and Czech Politicians

The New York Times is reporting this morning that the CIA discovered that Hungarian and Czech politicians received millions of dollars in bribes from BAE. The U.S. Department of Justice is stepping up its investigation into BAE.

The British government is not cooperating with the investigation. Hardly surprising when Blair blocked the BAE/Saudi corruption investigation on security grounds. Will they try that line again?

OLR Win 90% of Government Contracts

OLR has become the Halliburton of British politics. Whereas Dick Cheney’s old firm was suspiciously successful in winning war profiteering contracts, Gordon’s crony pollster Deborah Mattinson’s OLR wins focus group and citizen’s juries contracts. Guido explained how this works in September. In May Guido revealed the £153,484.38 focus group. Why does Gordon like OLR so much? Well could it be that they get (free of charge) research results that give Gordon 92% approval ratings? Teasy May has now written to Gus O’Donnell, the head of the civil service, demanding an inquiry. She says “Citizens’ juries are increasingly looking like a sham… Not only are these glorified focus groups wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money but he has the nerve to award the contracts to his personal polling crony.” It is corrupt, plain and simple.

Labour Party Website Rips Off Taxpayer

This story might seem a bit trivial, but it neatly encapsulates the Brownie’s attitude to using taxpayers money for party political purposes. The most recent list includes; citizens juries making huge profits for Deborah Mattinson’s OLR so she can do “free” private polling for Gordon, the Smith Institute – Gordon’s private think-tank holding nearly two hundred meetings at No. 11 and the awarding to companies of over-priced government contracts whose directors coincidentally go on to do “free” work for the Labour party.

click graphic to enlarge
If you drill-down on pictures of Gordon on the Labour party website you find that they are attributed “Crown Copyright”.

click graphic to enlarge

It is possible that the Labour party has correctly paid for the pictures, Guido has been stonewalled on this, more likely somebody just used the official pictures paid for by the taxpayer for Labour’s private propaganda purposes. In the process stupidly forgetting to remove the “Crown Copyright” attribute. Separation of party and state is of course unnecessary when New Labour is “the political arm of the British people”. Nevertheless, somebody should ask Gus O’Donnell about this, since some taxpayers might object to paying for Labour’s photo ops…

Martin Bell Witnesses Crime, Keeps Schtum

Speaking at the University of Wolverhampton yesterday, Martin Bell told an audience at an open public lecture to plug his latest, book that “he saw and heard an MP trade his vote for a peerage while he was a member”. He explained that he wouldn’t name the party involved because he “didn’t want to spend the next 5 years in court”.

Some might think that reporting crime was a legal requirement, let alone a moral one, for the man in the white suit.

Huhne : Sue Me,”Labour Sold Honours”

Huhne has told the Indy that “the whiff of corruption has become a nauseating stench..there was an organised arrangement whereby a very large amount of money was donated to the Labour Party and at the same time the major donors received peerages and knighthoods”.

“It’s quite clear what was going on,” he said. “This was basically a supermarket in honours. It is completely mad to suggest other than this was an organised matter. I am very happy to say that on the record. If they [the Government] think otherwise they can very happily take me to a libel court.”

Huhne is no idiot, that is too vague to be libellous if it were untrue. You would have to say something more specific, such as “Lord Levy was intimately involved in the trading of honours for donations to the Labour party.” That would only be libellous if it were untrue, and that is why Lord Levy isn’t going to sue anyone.

Lord Hoyle Whores Himself to Arms Dealers

In what is in truth an everyday tale of New Labour sleaze, the Guardian exposes on the front page something that happens regularly at the Parliament of Whores in Westminster.

Lord Hoyle was paid a “counsultancy” fee by lobbyist Michael Wood, of Whitehall Advisers, a firm specialising in the murky world of lobbying for arms deals. The firm boasts in publicity of their ability to influence MoD purchases and that they have played a role in £10 billion of UK equipment procurement.

The undeclared payment is the subject of evolving explanations by Hoyle. He originally admitted to the Guardian

Lord Hoyle accepts he was asked to arrange the lobbyist’s introduction “to say hello to the new minister”. He told the Guardian that Lord Drayson was asked to come for a drink. Mr Wood was already there. He says he told the minister: “Mike Wood of Whitehall Advisers would like to meet you.”

At the meeting, which Lord Drayson, the Minister for Arms Procurement, appears to have correctly and formally noted, Mike Wood made his pitch for his firms clients.

So we have an undeclared, under-the-counter payment to a peer to introduce a lobbyist pimping on behalf of arms dealers to the Minister, Lord Drayson, in charge of buying arms – who himself bought his way into the legislature. Remember the 1997 promise of New Labour to be “whiter than white”…

UPDATE : As a co-conspirator points out in the comments, Tory MP Gerald Howarth obtained a parliamentary pass for Mike Wood. Why? He does enjoy a lot of defence related junkets…

Charity Commission Will Publish Sith Investigation Findings

Guido contacted the investigators at the Charity Commission recently to inquire as to how the eight-month long investigation into the wrong doings of the Sith was progressing. They won’t say as yet, but did promise they would publish their report online.

Gordon is pushing for a change in the laws the Smith Institute broke so that their actions are decriminalised. He told voluntary workers this week

“I do not personally believe that you can be an effective community and charity organisation… if you’re somehow limited in advocacy and your ability to speak and campaign on things you think are wrong. It should not be wrong for you to say `we urge you to support this cause.’ That’s a controversial thing as well.”

Ed Miliband, the ultra-Brownite Cabinet Office minister and frequent attendee of Smith Institute events at 11 Downing Street in the past, also reckons “Charities should be free to participate in appropriate ways in political activities. There are clear benefits to society from allowing charities to do so.” Clearly such a change would benefit the Smith Institute and that charity’s sole beneficiary – G. Brown.

Nevertheless this will be a change in the law that will allow tax rebates for political campaigning. Surprisingly enough Guido favours the change. Guido has never yet met a tax deduction he hasn’t liked…

Just so long as it is not retrospective and doesn’t get the sleazy Sith off the hook. Which is why a timely conclusion to the Charity Commission’s investigation is now overdue.

200 Pledge to Back Private Prosecution

Over two hundred people have pledged to contribute financially towards bringing a private prosecution over Loans for Lordships since the CPS has shown itself unwilling to do so.

Guido has taken soundings and now believes that the best course of action is to form a special purpose vehicle to instruct a legal team and take this further. It also seems wise to first allow the Public Administration Select Committee to conduct its investigation when MPs return after the recess. They will hold evidence sessions after Parliament returns from its summer recess, and report by the end of the year.

Tony Wright plans to call Assistant Commissioner John Yates as a witness. It will be particularly interesting to see what evidence comes out at that time. Meantime if you want to be involved in the formation of a vehicle to bring a prosecution or have relevant legal experience and knowledge, email Guido.

The Courts come to a halt and the political class will be on holiday for the next month. Guido will be in touch with pledge makers with more details in due course.

Surge of Net-Roots Support for a Private Prosecution

Since yesterday pledges of support for a private prosecution have come in thick and fast on the main PledgeBank website and a few via Facebook. You can even text ‘pledge cash4prosecution‘ to 60022 from your mobile phone. One substantial financial pledge via email will hopefully not be the last.

At this preliminary stage the intention is to convene a legal conference before the end of the month and go through the issues and examine the possible approaches including the establishment of a vehicle with a legally qualified advisory committee.

Guido is keenly aware of potential hurdles and risks. Surely the Attorney General will not be able to argue that the public interest is best served by turning a blind eye to what was manifestly an attempt to circumvent the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 Act? How will the public interest be harmed by testing in a court before a jury the legality of the Loans for Lordships scheme?

One example will give you a flavour of the Loans for Lordships scheme – Gulam Noon has publicly stated that he made a £250,000 donation to the Labour party, which he correctly submitted (via Downing Street) on his vetting papers for the House of Lords Appointments Commission. Two days later on October 5, 2005 Lord Levy, Gulam Noon reportedly claims, telephoned him and referred to the £250,000 donation as a “loan” which need not be disclosed on his vetting papers. The Levy-intercepted and revised vetting papers were submitted to the House of Lords Appointments Commission, now without mention of the £250,000 “loan” / donation. When the Commission independently discovered the existence of the “loan” / donation they blocked the peerage – as presumably Lord Levy knew they would – why else would he intervene in the process? What was the Labour party’s chief fundraiser doing intervening in the honours process anyway? Prima facie there is a case to answer. If the CPS won’t bring it, they should at least not attempt to block others from doing so.

UPDATE : The first target of one hundred people making pledges of financial support for a private prosecution has been met in less than 24 hours.

Private Prosecution : Pledge Support

Graphic courtesy of Beau Bo D’Or

Guido has been in discussion with some of m’learned friends after a careful reading of the CPS statement. The CPS has decided on a bar set very high to justify not prosecuting under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 (‘the 1925 Act’).

The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, 2000 (‘the 2000 Act’) was dealt with far too perfunctorily in the CPS statement. More than one legal authority consulted by Guido thinks that there are avenues open to a private prosecution via the 2000 Act which have the advantage of not requiring the proving of a conspiracy.

The weakest part of the CPS statement is point 30:

In relation to possible breaches of the 2000 Act, we are satisfied that we cannot exclude the possibility that any loans made – all of which were made following receipt by the Labour Party of legal advice – can properly be characterised as commercial.

There are a number of related suspected offences under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 governing the evasion of restrictions on donations which provide a firm and clear basis for action. Crucially, a prosecution on this basis would avoid the difficulties of having to prove a conspiracy. It would also have the advantage that there are statements from donors already in the public domain which, contrary to the stated view of the CPS, exclude the possibility that the loans were made, or intended to be made, on a commercial basis.

The attempt by Levy et al to portray themselves as the victims of an over zealous policeman are contemptible. They deliberately subverted the law in a secret attempt to cover up donations made by persons they later put forward for honours. A fact they deliberately and disingenuously hid from House of Lords Appointment Committee. If you want to see justice done and the law upheld, pledge your support for a private prosecution here.

Do You Believe there is No Connection Between Cash and Honours?

Tony Blair created 292 peers. Millions were raised from the recipients of those honours.

The correlation between making large donations to the Labour Party and receiving an honour is extraordinary. Statistical analysis shows that 58.54% of all donors giving more than £50,000 to the Labour Party receive an honour. This compares to just 0.035% of non-donors. Large Labour Party donors are 1,657 times more likely to receive an honour than a non-donor and 6,969 times more likely to receive a peerage. It is almost impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Labour Party has been selling honours, including places in the House of Lords. An analysis of all donations over £50,000 since 2001 reveals that Honour certainly has its price. We publish below the average amount donated by the recipients of various honours – an “Honours Price List”. Those receiving a Peerage have given £1.07 million on average, and a Knighthood £747,000…

Source : The Price of Dishonour

Funding Facts:

  • 80% of Labour’s election funding came from the covert Loans for Lordship program.
  • Every donor who has given the party more than £1 million has been given a knighthood or a peerage.
  • Three quarters of those individuals who have given more than £50,000 to the Labour Party since 2001 have received an honour.

Look Who Flew in to Say Goodbye to Blair

Yates of the Yard is still chasing down evidence and statements to tighten up the case against Sleazy Levy.
Police flew in Ms Courtney Coventry yesterday to question her again about her dealings with Blair and Levy. In April 2004 she was canvassed by Jane Hogarth, the Labour party’s former head of high-value fund raising who supposedly has been made redundant – but is actually still working as a “consultant” to the party.

Lord Levy introduced Courtney, as a potential donor, to Tony Blair. The police want to know what Levy promised in return for a donation.

Innocent Drinks

Last night at the House, on the terrace, a co-conspirator spied John McTernan, drinking with Bridget Prentice. They moved on to the Strangers bar later that night. She is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice with responsibility for legal services. John was, you will recall, very helpful to Yates of the Yard with his enquires. Clearly they had much to discuss…

Politicians are Feral Spinners

Blair must reap what he sowed. The culture of New Labour is a culture of rapid rebuttal, the set “line”, the vicious rubbishing of enemies, the off-the-record briefing all backed up by armies of government media handlers and Special Advisers. 24/7 rolling spin…

Remember, for example, what they told us about the Women’s Institute member who led the slow-hand-clapping of Blair – that she had a National Front past. That was feral spin, vicious and untrue. Do you remember Alastair Campbell’s plan to “fuck” David Kelly? That was feral. Do you remember Alastair Campbell’s foul mouthed tirades? They were feral. The old woman mistreated at an NHS hospital during an election campaign? “Racist” they smeared, without any evidence. The Brownite pack’s undermining of Blairite colleagues like Ruth Kelly and John Reid? Wasn’t that feral?

Blair’s treatment by the media got rough only after he was completely found out. It was the dodgy dossier, and the false prospectus for war that did for him, his spin was until then more than a match for the media pack.

UPDATE : The IPPR has just emailed out a piece (on the back of the Blair speech) by Sir Michael White where he blames everyone else for the “gross tabloidisation of national journalism” including of course the “unmediated internet”. He repeats his claim that the Loans for Lordships investigation is just political opportunism by the SNP and Blair’s political enemies. Michael White has spent 30 years covering politics close-up, he is no longer able to see that selling seats in the legislature is just plain wrong. He basically says “everybody did it”, why the fuss now?

The better question is, why only now has there been a fuss? Well if a young new MP had not stumbled upon the corruption legislation, if a less determined detective had not been given the case and the story wasn’t pushed relentlessly by “unmediated” voices, there would have been no fuss.

Just as well the likes of Sir Michael White and Nick Robinson were ignored and some kept on at the story in an unmediated and grossly tabloid way, eh?

Another £10,000 Taxpayer Subsidy Bung to the Smith Institute

When the Food Standards Agency wanted to find out about the Effects of Nutrition in School Attainment who should they have asked?

Well apart from Jamie Oliver and everyone’s mother, they could have gone to one of the various centres of excellence in the academic world; The Human Nutrition Research Centre at Newcastle University, the Nutrition Research Review team from the department of biochemistry at UCL, the Centre for Public Health Nutrition Research at the University of Dundee would have been particularly appropriate. Maybe the Medical Research Council’s Collaborative Centre for Human Nutrition Research at Cambridge University. These are well known and authoritative centres.

What did the highly politicised Food Standards Agency quango do instead in the aftermath of the Turkey Twizzler scandal? They called those well known experts in child nutrition, Konrad Caulkett and Wilf Stevenson at the Smith Institute. The Sith got Jon Snow in to chair the event, with Dame Deidre Hutton from the Food Standards Agency presiding.

Other seminar contributors included New Labour’s favourite headmaster Gary Philips (Lillian Baylis Technology School), Dame Suzi Leather – who was at the time at the Schools Food Trust. Paul Kelly from the contract caterers Compass Group chipped in – Compass are the firm which shoves chips down the throats of kids.

Funnily enough one of the conclusions they came to was that Mum’s packed lunch was not nutritious and the kids would be better off scoffing Compass Group’s nosh. For this conclusion to the gathering the Smith Institute was paid £10,000 of the taxpayer’s money. The actual benefit to child nutrition was zero. Subsidy value to Gordon’s charitable think tank – £10,000. Isn’t it amazing that once again it costs the taxpayer £10,000 for the Smith Institute to organise one seminar for a government quango, yet costs the Sith nothing to hold nearly 200 hundred seminars on government property at No. 11? The discovery of this latest bung follows last week’s revelation of a last-minute cover-up of another £11,750 bung to the Smith Institute direct from the Treasury. The whole thing stinks.
Even more disturbing is that Dame Suzi Leather, who attended this seminar, is a long-time Labour Party activist who now heads up the Charity Commission, which is conducting the investigation into the Smith Institute for breaches of the Charities Act. No conclusion has been reached in that investigation yet, which is in itself very worrying…

Myners Infraction or Cover-Up?

Back in February this year Guido was pressing for explanations as to the Smith Institute’s use of No. 11 Downing Street. The fact that the charity seemed to have only one beneficiary – Gordon Brown – meant that it was not only breaking the rules against political activity by a charity, it was actually functioning as a factional powerbase for Brownites. The staff and trustees were all allies of the Chancellor.
Political opponents in parliament had tabled parliamentary question after parliamentary question, all were met with stonewalling by the Treasury. Freedom of Information requests were ignored and went unanswered. Then came a breakthrough, the revelation that at a private meeting of the Smith Institute, attended by long list of Brownite allies in the media and the Labour party, the U.S. pollster Bob Shrum had advised on a strategy to defeat David Cameron’s Conservatives based on his experience fighting the Republican party. The speech transcript was proof that the allegations were well founded.

Guido made a formal complaint under Section 8 of the Charities Act. The Charity Commission indicated that it would consider taking action. It leaked out before the official announcement was made that they would commence a formal inquiry. This led to a flurry of activity at the Smith Institute and HM Treasury. Their response was transparently choreographed in the knowledge that a statutory inquiry under the Charities Act would bring previously suppressed documents and information into the public domain.

After months of pressure it was suddenly revealed that nearly two hundred meetings had been held by the Smith Institute (free of charge) at No. 11 Downing Street with the permission of the Chancellor. Guido had been alleging that the use of the building effectively amounted to a subsidy of the Smith Institute’s activities by HM Treasury. It was literally an abuse of office in all senses of the word.

In those circumstances if it were to be revealed that the Treasury had made direct payments to the Smith Institute, Gordon Brown’s political front group, it would have been extremely damaging. The charge against Brown that he was corruptly financing his political ambitions would be hard to defend.

Amazingly a letter dated February 1, 2007, and written by Paul Myners was produced to explain away just such a payment. Myners is a Smith Institute trustee, a Treasury appointed veteran of various Gordon created quangos, who is considered a safe pair of hands by Brownites. He is also a wealthy donor to Gordon’s leadership campaign.

It explained that two years previously the Treasury had paid the Smith Institute £11,750 to hold two seminars on behalf of the Myners Review into the financial sector for Gordon. It went on to claim (without explanation) that the Treasury had paid the money by mistake. That it was always Myners’ intention to pay the cost himself. That he had now, over two years later, paid the sum personally.

If the Charity Commission investigation was not going to bring knowledge of this payment into the public domain, there is no doubt that the Treasury payment to the Smith Institute would have been kept well hidden with no danger of it being discovered or repaid.

The Myners letter is here. The explanations given by Myners are frankly incredible. He is expecting us to believe that the Smith Institute accidentally invoiced HM Treasury and that HM Treasury accidentally paid the invoice. We are asked to believe that suddenly two years later he decided to pay the bill having told his “team that I would be happy to personally contribute some or all of the costs of the seminars”. But he didn’t actually do it at the time, did he?

Why the Two Year Interval?

Could it be that the imminent and inevitable exposure of the payment by HM Treasury to the Smith Institute during the course of the Charity Commission’s investigation was the real and only reason the payment was now refunded by Myners to the Treasury? It was a plain and simple cover up – long after the event – by Myners to help his friend Gordon Brown out of a politically difficult situation.

Editorial Advisory : 17:00 GMT Today

The whole Wonks-on-the-Taxpayer scam is much more widespread than this morning’s Times story reveals. Paul Myners is not only a donor to Brown’s coronation campaign, he was central to a less than credible cover-up of Treasury payments to the Smith Institute. Doubt he will be plain “Mr” Myners after Brown gets control of the honours list…

Full story this evening.

World Bank Sleaze Allegations Swamp Gordon’s Chief-of-Staff

Gordon Brown is expected to recall his former private secretary from Washington, where he serves as as an executive director at both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to become his chief-of-staff. The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that Tom Scholar, like Paul Wolfowitz, is accused of abusing his position to assist a girlfriend get a promotion.
He is accused of violating the Bank’s Staff Rules and the Board’s Standards of Conduct, like Wolfowitz, Scholar is said to have a romantic relationship with a female employee at the World Bank. Scholar has never officially disclosed this relationship even though it clearly interferes with his oversight responsibilities as a Board member. He is accused of directly intervening to further the woman’s career. He is not taking calls and has gone to ground.

Looks like Jonathan Powell’s successor will follow in his high ethical standards…

Aussie Labor Party Doomed

At the swearing in ceremony at the Scottish Parliament a few days ago John McTernan, fresh from organising the Scottish Labour party election campaign, was overheard saying he was off to Australia to help the Australian Labor Party in the upcoming elections.[…] Read the rest

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