+++ ConHom : Den Dover Sacked as Tory MEP’s Chief Whip +++

UPDATE : ConservativeHome has the scoop here.

Silence from Brussels

The Tories have just announced that they are sending an investigation team to find out what the hell is going on with Tory MEPs. Hugh Thomas is the Tory’s new Head of Compliance (a qualified barrister and an ordained minister in the Church of England) who previously held high powered compliance jobs in the City. Nobody in Brussels expects the Spanish Inquisition, but he is the nearest thing to it…
Dave says “Hugh Thomas has been tasked by me to do all that we can to reinforce the clear message I have sent on the issue of expenses. I have said very clearly that MEPs – like MPs – must meet the highest possible standards with accountability and transparency. MEPs do of course report to their own separate authorities in the European Parliament. But anyone who flies under the Conservative banner carries a wider responsibility to the reputation of the party.”

Hugh would do well to take a close look at Den Dover, who is clinging to some flimsy excuse that his wife and daughter are qualified to do their secretarial jobs. Guido wants to know for example where the public funds that went into his wife’s company, based in their home, that went on “property repairs” were spent. Why should public monies be spent on a secretarial service’s property repairs? If they went fixing the leak in the roof over his head he has to go.

Incidentally, Guido has emailed 10 questions to the third Tory MEP under suspicion at his parliamentary email address and his private office email address, faxed him at his constituency office, as well as in Brussels and Strasbourg. No reply as yet. If no reply is forthcoming by 5pm, Guido will be putting the information in the public domain for you to judge…

Third Whoops-A-Daisy Tory MEP

We have had Giles Chichester personally benefiting from payments of £445,000 to his own family service company based at his home, Den Dover authorising payments of £758,143 to his wife’s profiteering service company also headquartered at his home. Blatant and unacceptable self dealing.

This morning Guido is looking at documents which show an MEP authorising six figure payments to himself – not a service company – an unincorporated, unregistered partnership of which prima facie he appears to be the beneficiary.

Guido is contacting the MEP’s office this morning with some serious urgent questions – looking for answers by the close of business today. It doesn’t look good on paper…

13 Tory MEPs Still Hiding Their Expenses Even Now

Giles Chichester has resigned as leader of the Tory MEPs and his career is effectively over. Guido can’t see him being re-selected. As is always seemingly the way with these things we never see any criminal charges. The guilty politician will waffle on about “good faith”, “mistakes” and our old favourite “a technical breach of the rules”.

In reality it is criminal fraud. Returning once again to the subject, there are still, right now, 13 Tory MEPs who refuse to disclose what they have done with their expenses. Den Dover has a very similar set-up to Chichester, with hundreds of thousands of pounds paid to a family firm based in his home, he has a lot of questions to answer. Is it acceptable that public servants who work for the voters and spend public money won’t say where the money has gone? Guido doesn’t think so…

UPDATE : Apparently Chichester has already been re-selected to fight next years Euro-elections. Surely the Tories won’t want to run an expense fiddler? Surely?

+++ Cameron : MEPs Must Justify Expenses in 48 Hours +++

ConservativeHome’s Tim Montgomerie has been on to Team Cameron. He is reporting that Den Dover and Giles Chichester have 48 hours to explain themselves or have the whip withdrawn – “Zero Tolerance”.

+++ Another “Whoops-a-Daisy” Tory MEP +++

Guido treads warily with this one since Den Dover MEP got The Sun (at the hands of Carter-Ruck) to apologise for accusing him of expense fiddling. Clearly Den Dover is very sensitive to suggestions that he is an expense fiddler.

He is the chief-whip of the Tory MEPs led by Giles Chichester, who has himself been caught whoops-a-daisy paying £445,000 of public funds to a company of which at one time only he and his wife were remunerated directors. So what of his colleague Den Dover? Here is an extract from his recently updated declaration of interest (full document here)

click to enlarge

It was updated shortly after Open Europe’s Transparency Initiative started asking him questions about his expenses. Den Dover said repeatedly he had nothing to declare in the past, but mentioned this time for no apparent reason, in passing, that his wife and daughter work for the company that he pays out of his expenses. Fancy that!

He didn’t mention that as well as paying his wife and daughter some £376,916 in salary, the company in question is based at his home address. The company has spent £32,462 on “repairs”. Presumably repairs to a property. Guido wonders which property could that be getting repaired at the taxpayers expense?

Did Guido mention that the family firm has had £56,411 in motoring expenses off the taxpayer as well? Finally, and this takes the euro-biscuit, the family firm makes five figure profits. Whoops-a-Bloody-Daisy….

Why is his wife’s family firm profiteering out of his expense claims? Shouldn’t the claims and payments be made on a costs basis, rather than a profiteering basis? The family is troughing enough at the taxpayers expense already without rubbing our noses into it and profiteering.

The profiteering factor from bills from his wife, authorised by him, to a business based in the family home is worse than Derek Conway. In total he has authorised payments of £758,143 to his family’s firm since he joined the Euro-gravy train…

The silence from Labour and the Lib Dems on this issue is revealing – top Tory MEPs are fiddling the system and they have nothing to say? Guido has tried to get comments from the Labour and Liberal Democratic Brussels press offices. Why would they be so silent? Could it be that they are all at it? Guido is coming for them too…

The only on the record comment Guido got was from UKIP’s Nigel Farage “Mr Cameron said he wanted to ‘clean-up’ British politics but so far Chichester has only been summoned to the bridge. He needs to take tough action if he doesn’t want to be a hypocrite.” Exactly…

He Says “Whoops-a-Daisy”, We Say “Corrupt”

Tory MEPs are led by Giles Chichester, who has been caught paying £445,000 of public funds to a company of which at one time only he and his wife were remunerated directors. Now he has been caught red-handed profiteering from public monies and only after days of calls for him to go, what does he say? He told West Country ITV last night:

…whoops-a-daisy I am shown up to have made a mistake. OK, hands up, mea culpa and I am putting it right.

Not “whoops-a-daisy”, not a “mistake”, Giles Chichester deliberately and disgracefully used a front-company to profiteer from his own expense claims. That is unethical, dishonest and a resignation matter. He is supposed to be fighting waste and EU-fiddles – not designing them.

He is now trying the Peter Hain ruse of reporting himself to the authorities, after he has been caught, no doubt he will go on to apologise for his “errors”, claiming that is was somebody else’s fault that he mistakenly profited from taxpayers funds in a shady under-the-counter arrangement.

He is not the only Tory MEP blatantly profiteering. Guido will be revealing another “whoops-a-daisy” later this morning…

Leader of Tory MEPs Under Suspicion

Dave has made an issue of transparency, promising that his expenses will all be made public and that he will insist on his MPs doing everything above board. The MEPs in Brussels, more used to the continental ways, are proving to be opaque and less than open about their dealings. 13 Tory MEPs have refused to make public their expenses. So public money is spent unaccountably by politicians who are supposed to be holding the EU Commission to account. Much of the cash is known to end up in the bank accounts of people close to the MEPs themselves.
  1. Sir Robert Atkins
  2. Christopher Beazely
  3. John Bowis
  4. Philip Bushill-Matthews
  5. Martin Callanan
  6. Den Dover
  7. James Elles
  8. Malcolm Harbour
  9. Caroline Jackson
  10. Timothy Kirkhope
  11. John Purvis
  12. Struan Stevenson
  13. Robert Sturdy
The 13 Tory MEPs above did not answer questions posed by Open Europe’s Transparency Initiative. It gets worse, the leader of the Tory MEPs, Giles Chichester, has been caught paying £445,000 of public funds to a company of which at one time only he and his wife were remunerated directors.

That is an insurmountable conflict of interest. Even if, as is so often the way with political corruption, he faces no charges, he should at the very least be relieved of his position as Euro-Tory leader. David Cameron has publicly asked for “a full explanation and a detailed account of his Parliamentary expenses”. If it is not satisfactory or forthcoming, Chichester’s days on the Euro-gravy train are over…

Beer and Sandwiches Were Not On the Menu

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC is not really a beer and sandwiches man, so what was on the menu when he was seen slipping quietly into No. 10 yesterday afternoon?

Well, the Labour Party has 27 days to find £7.45m due by the end of the month. Where else are they going to find it?

The TUC no doubt went in to negotiate terms. Perhaps another bung from the government’s “union modernisation” fund to recycle into Labour Party coffers? Some new employment regulations? Perhaps a bit of public sector pay upward flexibility? Gordon will definitely have been listening to his paymaster…

Sunlight Disinfects and Evaporates Expense Claims

At the European Parliament yesterday afternoon they held a hearing on the proposals from the Commission to limit access to information. Kevin Dunion, the Scottish Information Commissioner, was there and gave evidence. The most interesting thing he said was that when he ruled that all MSP’s expenses had to be publicly declared, the result was a 30% drop in the total expenses bill. He suggested the same might happen if the MEPs had to be open about their expenses.
Do you think that if the Tory MEP leader Giles Chichester knew that voters would be able to hold him to account for his expenses that he would have fiddled £500,000 through his family firm?. Stinks doesn’t it?

Incidentally if you are wondering why LibDem and Labour MEPs are not attacking Chichester, the answer is obvious. They are all at it…

Tories Told to Stop Laundering Frontbench Cash Through CCHQ

The Tories say that they sought clarification of the rules only to discover that their interpretation was incorrect. That is a patently disingenuous explanation. Osborne’s office was found by the Mail on Sunday to have had half-a-million of support from donors channelled quietly via CCHQ. Osborne’s office nervously sought clarification of the rules only after the Abrahams proxy donor scandal. The authorities gave them muddled advice which got them off a sticky wicket. In reality anyone honest in politics knows the rules are there to provide transparency, if you are acting opaquely you know it is wrong even if it is legal. The public want to know who is paying so we can judge if policy or favours are being bought.

It turns out that the Tory frontbench is awash with covert cash from vested interests. Mortgage brokers funding the office of the Housing Shadow is pertinent. Cameron gave a high ground speech promising transparency and openness only two months ago. Well get on with it. If this is the finest democracy that money can buy, we want to know at least who is doing the paying. No more shadowy cash, if public money is paying we want receipts for every last single penny.

“Follow the money” is the basic rule of politics, where does the private money come from, where does the public money go? Not hard to understand is it? If donors don’t like publicity, don’t donate…

The former adviser to the former Mayor of London, Lee Jasper, who did so much to help Boris on to the path to power, is speaking tomorrow on the subject of “Money, Power and the Route to Success” (tickets only £10).

According to the Mayor Ken subsidised (until now) BLINK website, the downwardly mobile Jasper will be speaking to “upwardly mobile people like yourself who want to socialize with like-minded others in luxury surroundings that reflect where we are, at this stage of our careers and businesses.” In Jasper’s case that would be unemployed and under police investigation.

Why Do Brownies Like American Losers?

The rumour in PR Week that Stephen Carter wants Mark Penn to come over and advise Brown dumbfounds Guido. Penn, a pollster, was supposedly fired in disgrace from the Clinton campaign after he was found to be taking money to lobby against Hillary’s own policies. (It is all a bit of a sham, she doesn’t really believe in the policy, he isn’t really fired). He hasn’t exactly proved to be the wisest of counsels to Clinton has he? Clearly he will be perfect for Brown.

Gordon has fallen out with Bob Shrum, the unrivalled adviser to 8 losing Democratic Party presidential campaigns. Shrum was last seen at Heathrow, fleeing the country after a bollocking from an ungrateful Brown.

Still, the payments he picked up via the Smith Institute during his time as an adviser to Brown will cushion his hurt…

Charles Clarke Cashes In

Charles Clarke has been given a position by KPMG. Which is nice of them, it is of course entirely unrelated to the millions of pounds of contracts he gave when he was Secretary of State at the Department of Education and Skills (DfES) and the Home Office.

The DfES paid £1.3 million to KPMG in 2004 while the Home Office paid the company £90,000 for a review of the costing methodology of the ID Cards programme in 2005, both during Clarke’s tenure as the minister in charge.

Former Blairites cashing in on their ministerial experience with companies they regulated is becoming the norm:

  • Patricia Hewitt, former Health Secretary, is now a special consultant at Alliance Boots, owner of Boots the pharmacist. UPDATE : Forgot BT – she of course knows something about crap, too big organisations from her NHS days. She was instrumental in awarding a contract for the huge NHS Spine project to BT.
  • Alan Milburn, another former Health Secretary, is on the Healthcare Advisory Boards of Lloydspharmacy and PepsiCo.
  • Ian McCartney, a former minister at the department in charge of nuclear policy, the DTI, is an adviser to Fluor Corporation, part of a consortium that is bidding to run Sellafield
  • Richard Caborn, another former trade minister, is an advisor to AMEC UK, another company bidding to run Sellafield.
Isn’t it amazing how they never have any business experience when they go into government – not even a whelk stall – but when they come out of government they soon gain some.

Clarke’s appointment was given the all clear by the relevant advisory committee. So that is alright then…

TaxPayer’s Alliance forces Sleaze InvestigationInto Speaker’s Expenses

Click to enlarge.

The TaxPayer’s Alliance has struck a blow against the Speaker putting his snout deeply in the trough. Excellent news. If he is found to have abused the system he will have to go. He has no authority to oversee a system supposedly based on “honour”.

Nigerian Financial Services

Personally, Guido can never remember his bank account details, so in order to help his many African correspondents:-

Account Name: George Galloway Election Fund

Account Number: 00 86 45 38

Sort Code: 30 90 47

DoB: 16 August 1954

Please make cheques payable to “George Galloway Election Fund” with your name and address on the back, so we can send you a receipt, and send it to: George Galloway Election Fund, PO Box 1109, London, N4 2UU. A luta continua…

+++ Spink Speaks +++

Bob Spink has just emailed this to Guido:

“The Party has failed to deal with local breaches of its rules and electoral irregularities, and with criminal activities over a long period and there are now corruption and other investigations, surrounding certain senior members of my local Association. It is with great sadness that I therefore felt compelled to resign the Party whip. I hope my action in resigning will bring the necessary changes and therefore be in both the public and the Party’s best interests.”

His email has a final paragraph:

Tories lose another MP at Westminster
MP Dr Bob Spink has resigned the Conservative Party whip because he is disappointed with the Party’s failure to address crime and corruption within the Party.

Dr Spink remains a committed and principled Conservative.

UPDATE I : Nadine Dorries reckons that Spink will, “given his strong anti-Euro views and Essex seat, join UKIP.”

UPDATE II : Bob Spink emails again with a press release setting out his side of the spin:

“For the Conservative Party to now imply they withdrew the whip from me is brass-necked dishonesty. This sort of low-political deceit is why the public hold politicians in such deep contempt.

The Chief Whip said my resignation would disrupt the Party Spring Conference this weekend and asked me to reconsider, or at least to delay announcement. I refused.

He also asked me to meet with him, the Party Chairman, Chairman of the 22 Committee, and Dominic Grieve MP a Tory solicitor, and I did so this morning when they sought to get me to change my mind. I refused and at 12 noon today I informed Sir Michael Spicer, the Chairman of the 22 Cttee, that I was irrevocably set on resignation. I announced my resignation on the floor of the House this afternoon.

I remain a committed and principled Conservative and will continue to sit on the Tory benches.”

Extracts of an Email sent by Bob Spink on 11th March 15.47 to the Chief Whip Patrick Mcloughlin

Dear Patrick, It is not in the public interest for me to remain within a party that supports improper and criminal actions against an MP or democracy. I therefore intend to resign the whip….

If you wish, we can discuss how to handle my resignation, including publicity and the withdrawal of facilities.

Yours ever

Bob 11/3/08

Extracts from letter dated 12th March from the Chief Whip to Dr Bob Spink MP:

Further to your letter of resignation received by email yesterday afternoon, and our discussion today, I am writing to confirm the removal of the Whip with immediate effect.

‘The Chairman has counselled you strongly to await the Executive Council next week….’ 12/3/08

Guido suspects that Spink is going in a huff because he faced deselection by his own constitutency association who were not happy about him employing his lover / wife / lover’s daughter etcetera. This promises to be an enjoyable bun fight…

Pigs to Westminster, Home of the Pork

The news that today pig farmers are marching on Westminster presents a number of obvious punning targets along the lines of “coals to Newcastle”. There is certainly a lot of pork already in Westminster with £87 million of MPs expenses, plus subsidised dining and boozing all at the public’s expense.Not forgetting the no-receipts-required culture. We even have learnt in the last few days that the Speaker has authorised the shredding of past expense claim records. Just as the Stasi shredded the evidence of their guilt as the Berlin Wall came down. Oink! Oink!

The unpopular parts of the blogosphere are complaining about Guido’s comparison of the monies received by Tom Watson’s family and the amount received by Derek Conway’s family. None of them dispute that the Watsons suck on the teat of the taxpayer to a far greater extent than the Conways ever did. Not one has disputed the £300,000+ figure, they just weakly claim that the Watson family do more work.

Well Guido has some news coming folks… this is as they say “a developing story”. Guido has a track-record of leading on sleaze stories ahead of the dead-tree-press, ask Peter Hain.

Met Police Commissioner – We Are Waiting to Investigate Conway

Labour’s favourite copper has written to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to inquire about whether or not Conway is going to be referred to the Met. Guido is as keen as mustard on seeing Conway prosecuted, yet one can’t help wondering if Ian Blair would be so eager to investigate Geoff Hoon or David Blunkett, both of whom are guilty of fiddling large sums from the taxpayer.

The Commons Standards Committee, which investigated the case, has said there was not enough evidence to refer it. Blair hints that this is not the protocol that is supposed to be followed. Guido wonders if Sir George Younger is really qualified or motivated enough to conduct criminal investigations.

If Conway has done nothing wrong why was he suspended from parliament? Why are his wrong doings not ordinary matters for the criminal justice system? Do MPs think they are above the law?

UPDATE : Almost forgot, Duncan Borrowman, Conway’s LibDem opponent in Bexley and Sidcup wrote to the Commissioner in January.

Time To Wave Goodbye Mr Speaker

The resignation of the Speaker’s spin doctor over the “mis-briefing” of the £4,000 in taxi expenses for Mrs Speaker caps a bad week for Speaker Martin.

The charge-sheet is getting longer and the voices getting louder, if he had any sense he would stand down before a way is found to push him out.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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