Category Archives: Corruption

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds rent out £1.2m home – because the funding stream from Tory donors is drying up?

“Can I hide in your fridge”? At the rate he’s going, Boris Johnson (who once, infamously, did hide in a fridge to avoid scrutiny) will soon be living in one.

It’s a valid question.

In the midst of a huge controversy over the way Boris Johnson has funded changes to the Downing Street flat, he suddenly announces this:

Boris Johnson is preparing to rent out his £1.2 million townhouse to raise cash following his second divorce and the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat, it is reported.

Property experts told the Times that Mr Johnson, 56, and Ms Symonds, 33, could let the house for up to £4,000 a month.

The Prime Minister recently put his £1.2 million house near Thame in Oxfordshire up for rent. It was listed at £4,250 a month in April, and a lease was agreed this week, it was reported.

Johnson insists that he paid for the Downing Street renovations himself – but won’t say whether the money was given to him by one or more donors before.

The Electoral Commission has launched an inquiry into whether any loans or donations made in connection with the refurbishment work had been properly declared.

And it is with officials examining his finances that Johnson has started renting out not one but two buildings he owns.

I think it’s reasonable to conclude that he has suddenly run into cashflow problems – and we may reasonably question the reasons for them.

Source: Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds rent out £1.2m home – and they could make £4,000 a month – Mirror Online

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Is time running out for ‘evasion’ politicians like Nadhim Zahawi?

Nadhim Zahawi: this is from 2016, but relevant to today, when he appeared on TV to defend prime minister Boris Johnson’s weird financial arrangements in the run-up to local elections.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was on ‘morning media junket’ duty today (May 5) and duly toured the studios showing us how the BBC toes the Tory line rather than doing anything useful.

He made a big thing of the possibility that everybody over 50 could have a third Covid-19 vaccine injection by the autumn (I’m still waiting for my second, although I know autumn is still a long way away), but became the world’s biggest ignoramus when asked about anything else, such as Boris Johnson’s weird finances.

The performances – or rather,  the public reaction to them – suggested more than he wanted, though:

They suggested that time is running out for this kind of evasion. People are wise to it and, through the social media, we are making other people wise to it too.

Consider the following. Here’s how he started out:

And here’s the commentary on it:

Notice that Zahawi had an easy ride on the BBC in comparison with elsewhere:

Ultimately, all the minister achieved was to get people to examine his own record – and it was found wanting:

So it seems the game has been given away and Zahawi’s selfish politics is on the way out.

Or is it?

The only reliable yardstick of public opinion is the result of an election, and we have a huge series of polls across the UK tomorrow (May 6).

On the basis of what they have done, the Conservatives should go down like the proverbial lead balloon.

But will they?

Or are there still enough drones out there – who will vote for them no matter how corrupt they prove to be – to see them through?

I fear the latter. The BBC has to be preaching to someone, after all – and it has the lion’s share of the news audience.

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#PoorBoris part II: now he’s complaining that he *can* pay for his kids!

Money, money, money: but how much of it was donated by Boris Johnson’s Tory cronies, did it pay for the Downing Street wallpaper, and did Johnson want even more, so his donors paid for his children instead of him?

Don’t you wish Boris Johnson would make his mind up?

The reporters at The Times and The Sunday Times probably do.

Back in September, The Times reported that Johnson was complaining that he was hard-up as a result of achieving his lifetime ambition of becoming prime minister.

It had cut his income in half, the paper claimed, while he was still paying for four of the six children he accepts responsibility for.

Now it seems he is complaining that he is perfectly capable of covering his costs, after the Sunday Times suggested he had asked Tory donors to pay for a nanny.

(For one of his kids or for Johnson himself? Couldn’t Jacob Rees-Mogg have provided a decent reference? He knows nannies.)

Apparently,

Asked about the same issue during the Downing Street press briefing, Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The prime minister has covered the costs of all childcare.”

And here’s the serious part – because it puts this story on the same level as the Downing Street refurbishment.

Johnson said he had covered the cost of that as well – but he couldn’t tell us whether he asked (for example) Lord Brownlow to put up £60 grand for it first.

And this story was prompted, it seems, by

one Conservative Party backer saying they “resented” being asked to help foot the bill for Wilfred’s childcare.

(I’m presuming Wilfred is one of the four he actually pays for.)

So now Johnson’s childcare costs are on the same level of corruption as the Downing Street wallpaper – which I understand the Electoral Commission is probing.

Let’s hope it probes Johnson’s nanny as well.

My only problem with this whole corruption angle is the obvious one that has been raised by many people on the social media:

This is a man whose decisions have led to the Covid-19 deaths of more than 150,000 people. It seems wrong that he should be brought down for sponging off of his cronies.

But then, as other people on the social media have pointed out, Al Capone was brought to book (literally) over tax avoidance.

Source: Boris Johnson paid for all son’s childcare costs, says Downing Street – BBC News

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Who gave Boris Johnson the money to pay for Downing Street renovation?

Cheese Queen Liz Truss made a very interesting revelation to Andrew Marr about the renovation of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat.

But it wasn’t in what she said – it was in what she didn’t.

Referring to a claim by former prime ministerial advisor Dominic Cummings that Johnson encouraged Tory donors to help pay for the redecoration, she said he had funded the changes himself.

This is entirely in line with what Cummings stated. He said Johnson had planned “to have donors secretly pay for the renovation”. What better way for them to do so than by giving money to Johnson, which he could then pay towards the changes as if the cash had come from him?

You see, when This Site reported on the funding of the redecoration job last month, the issue was why Johnson had not declared the money that had been spent on it. I wrote:

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has been accused of having misled Parliament by failing to provide details of funding for renovations to his official Downing Street flat.

The allegation is that private donations to the Conservative Party totalling £60,000 have been used as part of £200,000 worth of refurbishments to the flat.

If so, it should have been reported to the Electoral Commission, because the Ministerial Code demands that “a statement covering relevant Ministers’ interests will be published twice yearly”. The last such statement appeared last July, eight months ago.

I went on to say it seemed clear that Johnson had knowingly breached the Code in failing to declare the sources of funding for the flat.

That in itself, for MPs, is a resignation-level offence.

If donors had provided the money for this purpose, that would also have put Johnson in breach of the Ministerial Code because it isn’t allowed.

But how would Johnson have been able to afford it, otherwise?

It isn’t very long since we heard Johnson was complaining that his prime ministerial salary wasn’t enough to pay for all his outgoings:

And he suddenly had enough in his back pocket to fork out (allegedly) £60,000 to wallpaper a government-owned flat?

Don’t mock my intelligence, Cheesy Liz.

Source: Boris Johnson covered Downing Street flat renovation from his own pocket, says Liz Truss – BBC News

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A family at war: after Johnson accused Cummings, former advisor blazes back

Spotted on the internet: and who knows how many more nasty little secrets Dominic Cummings will be able to release, just when they will do Boris Johnson the most harm?

I’m waiting for Theresa May to turn up and say, “Now, boys, play nicely!” Not that she’d have any effect at all.

It seems that Boris Johnson thought details of his text conversation promising tax breaks to James Dyson had been leaked by Dominic Cummings.

Denying this, Cummings has nevertheless come out with a different claim – that Johnson had planned a “possibly illegal” way to get Tory donors to pay for renovations to the Downing Street flat that the prime minister uses.

We knew that, didn’t we?

Cummings wrote in his blog: “The PM stopped speaking to me about this matter in 2020 as I told him I thought his plans to have donors secretly pay for the renovation were unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended. I refused to help him organise these payments.”

For good measure, Cummings has also denied leaking details of the UK’s second Covid-19 lockdown last summer – but he put an extra sting into this one.

He said Johnson had considered stopping an inquiry into that leak (that eventually exonerated Cummings) because (he reckoned) the evidence pointed to Henry Newman, a close personal friend of the prime minister’s fiancee, Carrie Symonds.

Cummings claimed Johnson was concerned that he would have to sack Newman, and this would cause friction with Symonds.

The official line from Downing Street is that Johnson has never interfered with any inquiries – but that’s not what Cummings claimed.

The claim was that Johnson had considered interfering – and this is entirely plausible after Johnson admitted promising to interfere with the tax system for Dyson, at Prime Minister’s Question on Wednesday. (Or did he? Will we have yet another clarification from “a Downing Street source” that he meant something completely – and implausibly – different?)

The result of the inquiry has never been published.

Cummings wrote: “I told him that this was ‘mad’ and totally unethical, that he had ordered the inquiry himself and authorised the Cabinet Secretary to use more invasive methods than are usually applied to leak inquiries because of the seriousness of the leak. I told him that he could not possibly cancel an inquiry about a leak that affected millions of people, just because it might implicate his girlfriend’s friends.”

He added: “It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves.”

Asked to comment on the matter, Johnson himself came out with what may be his only accurate words on any of the corruption allegations that are currently pelting his government. He said:

“I think people aren’t so much interested in who is leaking what to whom as the substance of the issue at hand.”

Yes indeed.

We want to see accurate, verified evidence showing whether Johnson intervened with HMRC to change tax rules of Dyson.

We want to see evidence showing whether Johnson was implicated in the Greensill lobbying scandal.

We want evidence on how Johnson funded his flat renovations.

We want to know why the inquiry into the lockdown leak wasn’t published.

And we want to see evidence on the accuracy of all the other corruption claims that have come out of the woodwork – and that are likely to emerge in the future.

And no – “a Downing Street spokesperson denied the allegations” will not be acceptable.

Source: Dominic Cummings launches attack on Boris Johnson’s integrity – BBC News

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Johnson didn’t have power to change tax rules for Dyson, says former Attorney-General. Was Major Corruption lying AGAIN?

Boris Johnson: he should hang his head in shame. Sadly, he doesn’t have the self-awareness – this shot is just of him checking his notes at a prime ministerial broadcast.

Boris Johnson’s claim that he arranged a tax break for James Dyson was impossible because he doesn’t have the power, according to former Attorney-General (the government’s top lawyer) Dominic Grieve.

Johnson defended himself during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday (April 21) after evidence emerged that Dyson had contacted him by texting his personal telephone, asking for tax breaks so Dyson staff who had relocated to Singapore after Brexit could return to the UK and build ventilators to tackle Covid-19 without paying tax penalties.

Johnson’s responses are shown in this tweet:

His responses in PMQs were that he refused to accept criticism for doing everything he could to ensure that the UK had the equipment it needed to fight the Covid crisis.

(This is risible when we remember that successive Conservative governments including Johnson’s had systematically weakened the nation’s ability to respond to a pandemic crisis, including selling PPE to China.)

In the end, Dyson provided no ventilators at all.

On the BBC’s Newsnight, former A-G Dominic Grieve made the legal situation abundantly clear:

So either Boris Johnson corruptly and illegally influenced the tax system so this industrialist, who campaigned for Brexit and then scarpered abroad to escape the consequences, could profit from a crisis…

… or everything he can do to secure help for the UK in a crisis is in fact nothing at all.

Major Corruption has shot himself in the foot, it seems.

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Johnson dubbed ‘Major Corruption’ as one-fifth of UK Covid contracts ‘raised red flags’

Boris Johnson: Major corruption.

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, as the saying goes, and Boris Johnson is finding that out for himself right now.

After he referred repeatedly to Keir Starmer as “Captain Hindsight”, a commenter on Twitter responded that Johnson himself must be “Major Corruption” – to rapturous applause:

Johnson is in no position to deny the claim that is implicit in his new nickname; today (April 22) new allegations landed, suggesting that 20 per cent – an entire fifth – of Covid-19-related contracts awarded to private organisations were “red-flagged” for possible corruption.

Here’s The Guardian:

Transparency International UK said a “seriously flawed” arrangement, whereby companies bidding for contracts were prioritised if they were referred into a “VIP lane” by their political connections, had “damaged trust in the integrity of the pandemic response”.

The group said it had identified 73 Covid-related contracts with multiple factors that would ordinarily be treated as red flags for possible corruption, such as the company being politically connected. Twenty-seven PPE or testing contracts worth £2.1bn were awarded to firms with connections to the Conservative party, it claimed.

The group said it had also identified £255m of contracts awarded to companies that had only been incorporated within the previous 60 days. The figure is surprising because the short lifespan of the companies suggests they cannot have had any track record of actual business.

The group said Boris Johnson’s government must urgently disclose the identities of companies awarded public money through the VIP lane, which was set up by the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health and Social Care in the early days of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, we have also learned that David Cameron was trying to get his grubby little hands on personal data belonging to NHS staff, while he was lobbying on behalf of Greensill Capital, in which he had a financial interest.

And the Twitter commentariat has been happy to supply multiple other examples of Johnson’s alleged corruption. For example:

One last observation: while it has been great fun calling Johnson “Major Corruption”, at least one observer has suggested that we are ranking him too highly:

As alternatives go, it is appropriate on many different levels – isn’t it?

Source: Fifth of UK Covid contracts ‘raised red flags for possible corruption’ | Coronavirus | The Guardian

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Lobbying corruption: Johnson caught promising Covid tax breaks to Dyson – who then provided NOTHING

Boris Johnson and James Dyson: could any of us have won tax breaks from the prime minister, if only we’d had his personal phone number?

Boris Johnson offered to “fix” the tax status of Dyson staff so they could work in the UK to provide ventilators in last year’s Covid-19 crisis – after Dyson sent a text message to the prime minister’s personal phone.

Dyson went on to provide absolutely no ventilators at all. Did his employees still get preferential tax status?

That is just one of the important questions that Johnson didn’t answer during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.

The revelation is the latest development in the lobbying-related corruption scandal that began when former PM David Cameron’s activities on behalf of now-collapsed financier Greensill Capital came to light.

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg reported that

the PM assured businessman Sir James Dyson that his employees would not have to pay extra tax if they came to the UK to make ventilators during the pandemic.

Sir James, whose firm is now based in Singapore, wrote to the Treasury to ask for no change in tax status for staff.

But the BBC has seen text messages sent in March 2020 that show Sir James then went directly to the PM, with Mr Johnson replying: “I will fix it.”

She added, in an opinion piece on the subject,

There are thousands of different circumstances in which having those discussions is perfectly valid.

What about however, when the most powerful politician in the country sends a direct message to an influential businessman promising: “I will fix it tomo”?

A good question – and one that Johnson was asked (if not in so many words) by Keir Starmer shortly after midday yesterday (April 21).

He asked: “What is the right thing to do if he receives a text from a billionaire Conservative supporter asking him to fix tax rules.”

Johnson replied: “I make absolutely no apology for doing everything I could to secure ventilators for the people of this country.”

The trouble is, of course, that he didn’t secure any ventilators, despite having fixed tax rules for his supporter.

He said he had done “everything I could” so we may conclude that he did change the rules for Dyson employees.

But – I reiterate – Dyson did not provide any ventilators:

So we need to know what Dyson did with the tax breaks his firm received and whether he still benefits from them now, despite not having done what he promised to do.

Or did Johnson lie about doing “everything” he could?

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Would this firm have won PPE contract if it wasn’t represented by an ex-Tory advisor?

Buddies: Boris Johnson with Samir Jassal, the “seller’s authorised representative” who is also a former Tory councillor and Parliamentary candidate, and a former advisor to 10 Downing Street.

The strands of Tory corruption are converging in this revelation.

Details have – unintentionally – come to light of a contract granted to a firm after the Tory government bypassed the competitive tendering system, showing that it happened after lobbying by a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate with strong links to 10 Downing Street.

There are several elements of note here:

Firstly, these details would not have been available if the Good Law Project had not proven in court that Health Secretary Matt Hancock had broken the law by withholding details of contracts with private firms.

The contract had been signed in July last year, but details were not published until March – after Hancock lost the court case. Even then, the names of those involved were blacked out.

Information showing that former Tory councillor, Parliamentary candidate and Downing Street advisor Samir Jassal was the supplier’s “contact” only came to light via a second document in which his name was listed, apparently after the government had failed to black it out.

Secondly, this is further evidence of members of the Conservative Party lobbying the Conservative government on behalf of private business, and (apparently) being granted exclusive access, similar to the way David Cameron lobbied the government on behalf of Greensill Capital.

Thirdly, we should be asking how this company came to bid for a £102.6 million contract to provide PPE to the NHS. Did it use the exclusive contact system that had been devised for friends and donors to the Conservative Party – the so-called “high priority lane”?

The government has refused to say whether this contract was processed as part of this system, which tends to indicate that it was (if it wasn’t, there would be no incentive to deny it).

Fourthly, the firm, Pharmaceuticals Direct Ltd, had won a £28 million contract previously. How was that arranged? Was Mr Jassal involved? Did the firm use the “friends and donors” route then, as well?

Remember: both deals were awarded to the firm without any competition.

Finally: was the contract honoured? Contracts signed by the government with Tory friends and donors, especially in the early days of the crisis, had an appalling tendency to go unfulfilled because the firms had no experience in providing the equipment.

Admittedly, a firm called Pharmaceuticals Direct Ltd, which I understand was formed in 1999 to provide wholesale distribution of medical material, seems likely to be able to provide the contracted gear. But in the light of other revelations, we need to see proof.

Taken as a whole, this seems to be further proof that the Tories have corruptly – if not illegally – used a national emergency as a pretext for diverting public funds to their friends, donors and party members. Doesn’t it?

Source: Revealed: £102.6 million to ex-No10 advisor – Good Law Project

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Why was Hancock given shares in sister’s firm right before it won Welsh NHS contract?

Matt Hancock: stupid, incompetent, or corrupt?

There seems to be a lot of disillusionment with politics in the UK at the moment – evidenced by a lack of interest in political news.

At least, that’s how it seems to this commentator on political news.

It doesn’t help that there seems to be only one story in UK politics at the moment: corruption.

And why not? you may ask. Don’t politics and corruption go hand in hand?

Yes indeed – according to an old cliche.

But there seem to be no other stories right now. Even if there were, it’s likely that we’d be able to find an element of corruption in them. It has become the trademark of Boris Johnson’s government.

It’s also why people are turning away. They don’t like it; they want to get away from it.

But it won’t go away by itself. We need people who are willing to wade in, roll their sleeves up and cut out the rot.

We do have such people – and they are champing at the bit in their keenness to get to work.

But they won’t be able to do anything while the general public is still voting people like Matt Hancock into Parliament.

People like Hancock benefit from the system as it is currently constructed, so they are not going to change it.

I mention Hancock because he is the latest Tory to be associated with a government contract given to a private company.

He recently became a shareholder in a shredding, storage and security firm called Topwood – right before it won two NHS Wales contracts worth £150,000 each to carry out waste disposal including the shredding of confidential documents.

Shares in that firm are now held by three people: Managing Director Thomas Gilruth has 40, his wife Emily has another 40, and the remaining 20 went to her brother – Matt Hancock – after previous shareholders Bob and Shirley Carter gave up their 10 each, earlier this year.

Do we know why they gave up these shares? And it seems Hancock was given them, rather than buying them – isn’t that unusual?

Then there’s the timing – he received these shares right before Topwood won these large contracts, and Topwood coincidentally secured its place on the NHS Shared Business Services framework in 2019, just months after Hancock became Health Secretary.

Doesn’t it seem at least… odd… to you?

Legally, it seems there is nothing wrong. As Health Secretary in the Westminster government, Hancock has absolutely no influence on the awarding of contracts by NHS Wales, and this one was handed to Topwood after a competitive tendering process was completed. His interest in the firm has been declared.

But it doesn’t seem right, does it?

It seems as though Hancock used his influence as new Health Secretary to get his sister’s firm onto the NHS Shared Business Services framework nearly two years ago, and it seems that, now that the firm has a big contract, she and her husband are rewarding him with a share of the profits.

Even if that isn’t true – and I should stress I have no firm evidence in either direction – the fact that this is the way it seems is damaging for Topwood, for Hancock, and for the Johnson Tory government at a time when corruption is hot political news.

Hancock – who has also been mentioned in connection with the Greensill scandal (he had discussions with David Cameron) – should have refused the gift of shares in order to avoid any suggestion of impropriety.

But he didn’t.

As a result, the Tory government’s former anti-corruption champion has laid himself open to suggestions that he is either stupid, incompetent… or corrupt.

I hope someone follows the paper trail to find out how Topwood got onto that NHS Shared Business Services framework. It might be the only way Hancock can clear himself.

Or it might not. Either way, we need to know.

But I can confidently predict that, whatever the outcome, it won’t stop the voters of West Suffolk from supporting him again at the next general election.

Source: Matt Hancock Holds Shares In Sister’s Firm Who Won NHS Contracts | HuffPost UK

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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