The Commonwealth is facing a legal bill of over £1 million after its disgraced leader Baroness Scotland lost a second major employment tribunal case in under a year. That’s after already blowing vast sums of taxpayers’ money on bumper contracts for her friends and attempting to bill the taxpayer £450,000 to do up her grace-and-favour Mayfair home…
This time, Scotland’s Secretariat was found to have breached its contractual obligations on two counts towards its former Deputy Secretary General, Dr Josephine Ojiambo. Scotland initially failed in her obligation to consider the renewal of Ojiambo’s three-year contract, before attempting to stop Ojiambo from pursuing a grievance with a barrage of email ultimatums trying to force her into a contract extension of a mere 3.5 months – and only on the condition that she dropped “ALL” her other complaints. Unsurprisingly Ojiambo declined.
The tribunal awarded Ojiambo all legal costs along with compensation which is expected to run up to a quarter of a million pounds altogether, not including the Commonwealth’s own legal costs. The total damages and legal costs from the two cases could run to as much as £1.25 million – over 5% of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s annual expenditure. Taxpayers again picking up the tab for Baroness Scotland’s chronically unprofessional behaviour…
The Guardian sinks to new depths of sycophancy today with its hilariously soft-ball interview glorifying the shamed Baroness Scotland. Little more than an adulatory puff-piece, the article comes in the wake of a watershed series of IPSO rulings that entirely vindicated journalistic investigations into Baroness Brazen’s eye-watering expenses. The paper devotes no fewer than three pages to shilling for the Baroness, giving an unchallenged airing to her side of the story. Even though the piece claims to investigate the details of the refurbishment of her home – carried out at vast public expense – neither the print nor the online version are accompanied by any pictures of the interior. This is particularly amusing as the latter version is headlined: “inside Lady Scotland’s refurbished home”. An explanation is given for this glaring oversight:
“A request to publish pictures taken inside the house was refused.”
We paid for it, so why aren’t we allowed to see?
Throughout, the author entirely misses the point:
“To my surprise, there is no sign of anything that could reasonably be described as an extravagant upgrade.”
That’s because press scrutiny halted the egregious renovation works from taking place at all…
No mention is made of other criticisms of Scotland, not least the Baroness’s work for the Kazakhstan and Maldives governments. Did those questions go unasked?
Moreover, the Guardian clearly struggled to find defenders of the Baroness who would put their name to quotes. All that can be mustered are simpering lines from Scotland fan Lord Mandelson and Evan Harris, director of Hacked Off, who has a vested interest in damning IPSO on any account. Even The Guardian seems to admit no serious argument can be made in Scotland’s defence…
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.”
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…
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?
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…