Category Archives: Corruption

#Carriegate: Downing Street admits demanding that The Times drop Carrie Johnson story

Why is Boris Johnson’s government so determined to be dishonest all the time?

Yesterday (June 20), Downing Street was adamantly refusing to comment on whether the government had intervened to force The Times to drop its damning story about Boris Johnson wanting to hire then-Carrie Symonds into the Foreign Office for £100,000.

Now the prime minister’s office has given up its pretence and

confirmed it contacted the newspaper on Friday night and asked it to retract the story.

But:

Contrary to online speculation, there is no superinjunction or specific legal issue preventing reporting of the story.

Handy, that – it means those of us who have been repeating the story left, right and centre won’t face reprisals for doing so.

But that leaves us asking: what was the point?

This Site and others have already mentioned the so-called “Streisand Effect”, whereby efforts to remove a story from the Internet only increase public interest in it.

Has this been an enormous “dead cat” story?

Source: No 10 confirms it asked the Times to drop Carrie Johnson story

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Carriegate: the new scandal Boris Johnson is trying to silence?

Streisand Effect: Carrie Johnson.

The claim is that Boris Johnson tried to hire his current wife as his chief of staff – with a £100,000-a-year salary – while he was foreign secretary and married to somebody else.

It said the idea had fallen apart when his closest advisers learned of it.

It was published as a news story in The Times, early on Saturday – but was suddenly withdrawn amid rumours of a high-level government intervention.

MailOnline rewrite has also been removed without explanation, and news aggregation sites have deleted their copies of this article.

But if Boris Johnson – or any of his aides – had hoped to suppress the story, they may now be reeling from the discovery that their heavy-handedness has had the opposite effect.

It is apparently known as The Streisand Effect: efforts to delete a story from the internet make the public much more interested in it.

So while

a No 10 source also said the story was untrue – and suggested it was sexist.

“This is a grubby, discredited story turned down by most reputable media outlets because it isn’t true. The facts speak for themselves.”

and the report’s original author, Simon Walters

told the Guardian: “I stand by the story. I went to all the relevant people over two days. Nobody offered me an on-the-record denial and Downing St didn’t deny it off the record either,”

the public are having a barrel of fun at the expense of the prime minister – and his wife:

Just look up #Carriegate on Twitter and you’ll see a lot of people having a lot of fun.

And of course the story raises questions that deserve answers.

If Johnson really did try to install the woman who was his then-lover into a high-paying job at his government department (which seems a common practice, looking at someone whose name sounds like Hat Mancock) while he was married to someone else, what does that say about his morals?

That’s why This Writer likes the tweet that suggests Johnson should just go the whole hog and appoint her as his new ethics advisor.

Source: Carrie Johnson and the curious case of the vanishing Times story | Carrie Johnson | The Guardian

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Whistleblower reveals that Corbyn could have won 2017 election until Tories leant on YouGov – Dorset Eye

Nadhim Zahawi: it seems the co-founder of YouGov intimidated the polling firm into changing its methods – falsifying poll results – to make it seem the Tories were more popular than was true in 2017.

This is shocking and Nadhim Zahawi should be made to answer some hard questions.

It seems polling in 2017 showed Labour overtaking the Conservatives – until the Conservatives (Zahawi in particular) intimidated leading pollster YouGov.

A whistleblower on Dorset Eye explains:

The first thing I would do every morning is download the overnight data, and each day the gap just kept getting smaller and smaller. On the morning of the Manchester bombing, we actually had Labour pulling level, although the poll got spiked because the campaign rightly paused.

And then we released the MRP*. This was probably the worst possible idea. The MRP was actually showing exactly the same thing as our standard polls would have, but it was the first time anybody had said “hung parliament”.

Nadhim Zahawi called up the CEO and said he would call for his resignation if he was wrong.

This meant our polling and coverage was a lot worse for the rest of the campaign. We did a fantastic debate poll in the hours following the debate that Corbyn took part in. The results were stark – Corbyn won by a country mile, and one in four Tory voters thought he was best. But despite having written the story and designed the charts, we were banned from releasing the story because it was too positive about Labour.

Similarly, there were a few “minor” methodology changes for the final poll which increase the Tory lead. This was done after pressure from high-ups (and despite protests from those of us who thought it wasn’t ok).

Was the 2017 election rigged because people were influenced by falsified opinion polls?

The evidence here suggests it was. We might never have had Tory Brexit, Boris Johnson and all the horrors of the last five years if YouGov’s founder had left its employees to do their job. And will you ever trust an opinion poll again?

*MRP stands for multilevel regression and post-stratification. This is a statistical method that produces predictions for small geographic areas even if a poll had few respondents from that constituency. Instead, census data, such as the age and income distributions of voters in that area, is put into the model with the national survey data.

Source: Whistleblower reveals that Corbyn could have won 2017 election until Tories leant on YouGov – Dorset Eye

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Boris Johnson’s anti-corruption champion quits – calls on PM to resign

John Penrose: when the Anti-Corruption Champion resigns because of the behaviour of the prime minister, it can only mean that he has found the PM to be corrupt.

Is this the killing blow against Boris Johnson?

The government’s anti-corruption champion has resigned, saying it is clear that Johnson has broken the Ministerial Code and the only honourable choice for the PM is to step down as well.

John Penrose, MP for Weston-Super-Mare, has himself suffered criticism related to corruption because he is married to Dido Harding who – as the person in charge of the government’s disastrous ‘test and trace’ strategy – wasted £37 billion of public money on a system that did not work at all.

But he has salvaged his reputation today by making it clear that he considers Boris Johnson to be unfit to lead the Conservative Party or the country – and that his reason for believing this is corruption.

In a letter to Johnson, published on Twitter, he stated: “It wouldn’t be honourable or right for me to remain as your Anti-Corruption Champion… nor for you to remain as Prime Minister either.”

He wrote: “My reason for stepping down is your public letter last week, replying to your independent Adviser on the Ministerial Code about the recent Sue Gray Report into ‘partygate’.

“In it you addressed the concerns over the Fixed Penalty Notice you paid, but not the broader and very serious criticisms of what the Report called ‘failures of leadership and judgment’ and its conclusion that ‘senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture’.

“You will know (and your letter to your Adviser on the Ministerial Code explicitly says) that the Nolan Principles of Public Life are absolutely central to the Ministerial Code, and that the seventh of them is ‘Leadership’.

“So the only fair conclusion to draw from the Sue Gray Report is that you have breached a fundamental principle of the Ministerial Code – a clear resigning matter.

“But your letter to your independent Adviser on the Ministerial Code ignores this absolutely central, non-negotiable issue completely. And, if it had addressed it, it is hard to see how it could have reached any other conclusion than that you had broken the code.”

Mr Penrose listed some of what he considered to be Johnson’s achievements, but then stated: “I hope you will understand that none of these can excuse or justify a fundamental breach of the Ministerial Code. As a result, I’m afraid it wouldn’t be honourable or right for me to remain as your Anti-Corruption Champion after reaching this conclusion, nor for you to remain as Prime Minister either.

“I hope you will now stand aside so we can look to the future and choose your successor.”

Damning words.

They make it clear that the government’s Anti-Corruption Chief considered Johnson to be corrupt according to the rules.

And they state that the prime minister should resign ahead of today’s vote on his future. Staying on to await the result of a ballot would be dishonourable and wrong.

Johnson now sits on the horns of a dilemma. Should he resign now, on Penrose’s advice? Or should he try to brazen it out and tempt the wrath of backbenchers incensed at being asked to support somebody who is dishonourable and corrupt?

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Are Tory MPs really going to let corrupt Boris Johnson stay in office out of cowardice?

Paranoia: Boris Johnson isn’t receiving a message about who’s submitting letters of ‘no confidence’ against him, new Tory MPs. Feel safe to hand them in – or get a senior Tory who has already voiced opposition to Johnson to do it for you.

It seems some Conservative MPs – particularly those from the 2019 intake – are reluctant to submit letters of “no confidence” in Boris Johnson because they fear Tory whips will be spying on the process and will victimise them in the future.

According to The Guardian,

They worry that the Tory whips will be spying outside the office of Sir Graham Brady, the 1922 Committee chair who gathers the letters, and do not trust emails not to be accidentally shared or viewed by staff who have access to the accounts.

But some senior Tories who have already voiced opposition to Johnson in public have offered to act as conduits, carrying letters to 1922 Committee chair Sir Graham Brady – so there’s no problem, is there?

Perhaps these Parliamentarians haven’t considered what might happen to them if their constituents find out they could have helped kick the corrupt Partygate prime minister out but instead are allowing him to remain – and do worse – because of their own cowardice?

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Can Johnson really claim he didn’t know Downing Street parties he attended were illegal?

Boozy Johnson: this is not an image of him at the Downing Street garden party on May 20, 2020 (it was actually taken in 2019) but it serves to suggest his behaviour there quite adequately.

The easy answer to the question in the headline is: no, he should have known his parties broke the law.

I say “his” parties because they were parties at 10 Downing Street, his home and place of work, taking place directly under his nose and that he attended in many instances. They were part of a “party culture” created during his watch.

And I say he should have known they broke the law because he announced to all of us what the law was – and it didn’t allow for social gatherings in a work setting, by the way. Furthermore, evidence in the Sue Gray report shows that his aides certainly did know that these events were legally questionable because they took steps to prevent the press from finding out about them.

Let’s discuss the party in the Downing Street garden on the evening of May 20, 2020 when Covid-19 regulations stated that “participating in a gathering of more than two persons in public was prohibited except where the gathering was ‘essential for work purposes'”, but had been amended to allow “meetings outdoors for exercise or recreation with one person from another household”.

Clearly an after-hours drinks event in the garden of 10 Downing Street, with more than 200 people invited to socialise with each other – even if socially-distanced – would have been a flagrant breach of these regulations.

It would have been a gathering of more than two persons in public that was not essential for work purposes, and it would have been a meeting outdoors between multiple people from more than one other household.

This did not stop Boris Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, from advertising it by email, while other officials requested that tables be put out by the “Internal Events” team – which This Writer would have thought clearly marks this out as an illegal social occasion.

Alcohol was available at the event – both supplied by officials and also via a request for attendees to “Bring your own booze!”

In total, around 200 staff were invited although it is believed attendance was around 40 – still a massive breach of the regulations at the time.

Here’s the punchline: those arranging the event – including Reynolds – knew it was against the rules because they went to lengths to hide it from members of the media who attended a press conference just before it was due to take place.

According to the Gray Report, a Number 10 special advisor sent this message to Reynolds:

Just to flag that the press conference will probably be finishing around that time, so helpful if people can be mindful of that as speakers and cameras are leaving, not walking around waving bottles of wine etc”.

Martin Reynolds replied:

“Will do my best!….”

The report continues:

A No 10 Director declined the invitation and told the investigation that they had raised with either Martin Reynolds or his office that it was not a good idea.

Lee Cain, the then No 10 Director of Communications (a special adviser), also
received the invitation. In response, he emailed Martin Reynolds, No 10 official (1),
and Dominic Cummings at 14.35 on 20 May 2020 stating: “I’m sure it will be fine –
and I applaud the gesture – but a 200 odd person invitation for drinks in the garden
of no 10 is somewhat of a comms risk in the current environment.” Lee Cain says
he subsequently spoke to Martin Reynolds and advised him that the event should
be cancelled. Martin Reynolds does not recall any such conversation. In addition,
Dominic Cummings has also said that he too raised concerns, in writing. We have
not found any documentary evidence of this.

Referring to the event itself, it is clear that – once again – Boris Johnson attended and participated fully:

The Prime Minister attended at approximately 18.00 for around 30 minutes to thank staff before returning to his office with Martin Reynolds for a meeting at 18.30.

So he was there with Martin Reynolds, who knew it was an illegal gathering. He should have known himself that it was an illegal gathering, being the government representative who had explained the rules to the rest of us. But he not only allowed it to happen but attended and spent 30 minutes with the 40 staff there.

The excuse that he only stopped by to thank staff for their work during the Covid crisis doesn’t make sense because it does not take 30 minutes to make a brief speech of thanks. It seems clear that Johnson was himself socialising with staff, adding his own household to all the others that should not have been mixing at that time, according to the rules that he had put in place.

How strange that the Metropolitan Police who investigated this event, and must have known that it was an illegal party attended by the prime minister, chose not to fine him for this flagrant law-breaking! How convenient for them that their Acting Commissioner was able to dismiss this omission simply by declaring that, as far as he was concerned, all the decisions were above-board!

Reynolds, who subsequently had a meeting with Johnson inside 10 Downing Street, sent a WhatsApp message to a special advisor later in the evening, which appears to be about a story in the press:

[Martin Reynolds] [19:36] “Best of luck – a complete non story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have got away with).”

In the light of all this evidence, it is not credible for Boris Johnson to claim that he had not fallen foul of rules in the Ministerial Code because he had not broken the law on purpose.

He should have known himself that the event broke his rules because he was the one who laid them down for us all.

His principal private secretary certainly knew that the event broke Johnson’s own rules, and attended the event with Johnson. Considering the contents of his electronic correspondence, it seems extremely unlikely that he did not mention to Johnson that the event was illegal.

Also, if the event was not against the rules, why was everybody involved so tight-lipped about it, to the point of hiding it from the media?

And this is just one of many such parties.

It doesn’t matter what Johnson says – the evidence exposes him as a liar.

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Johnson is dodging demand to explain why being fined doesn’t break ‘uphold law’ rule

Lord Geidt: he has said the only reason he didn’t offer advice to Boris Johnson on how to conduct himself within the Ministerial Code is he would have had to resign if Johnson didn’t take it. This implies that he expected Johnson not to, doesn’t it?

Boris Johnson’s desperation to hold on to power while exercising it in only silly and pointless ways is becoming increasingly blatant with every passing day.

The latest development is a demand by Johnson’s standards advisor, Lord Geidt, for the prime minister to explain why his fine for breaching Covid-19 laws by attending a party does not break the Ministerial Code duty to comply with the law.

Johnson’s only response is the legally illiterate claim that “paying a fixed penalty notice is not a criminal conviction”. Maybe not – but it is a criminal sanction. People don’t get fined if they haven’t broken a law – and the Code’s conventions demand that ministers breaking the law must resign.

In his annual report on ministers’ interests, Geidt said the Partygate fine meant “a legitimate question has arisen as to whether those facts alone might have constituted a breach of the overarching duty within the ministerial code of complying with the law”.

Even if Johnson thought there was no breach, Geidt stated that he “should respond accordingly, setting out his case in public.”

Do you think he will?

This is just the latest evidence that, as a recent Guardian editorial claimed, the UK is “not being governed seriously in very serious times”.

Anxiety that the UK is rudderless while Johnson desperately tries to bail himself out of trouble that he caused won’t be dispelled by current government policy, the writer claims – because it has been formulated purely to distract us from the prime minister’s illegal antics:

There can be no other purpose for the proposal to restore trade in imperial units. The tiny number of people who will be thrilled by the restoration of a right to exclude metric measurements from displays of goods will be hugely outnumbered by the people, including many Conservatives, who can smell the decay in such gimmickry.

Reports of a plan to lift the prohibition on expanding grammar schools belongs in a similar category, although it sounds weightier. This is a zombie policy that staggers on in the Tory imagination as a solution to problems of social mobility, despite ample evidence that selective education has the opposite effect. If Mr Johnson thinks his levelling up agenda will be enlivened by reviving discredited schools policy, he will be disappointed.

The same unoriginal impulse is being brought to ignite a proposed bonfire of EU regulation – the function of the “Brexit freedoms bill” announced in the Queen’s speech. Sunset clauses will be retroactively scattered across the body of retained European law, so that they expire regardless of whether a suitable replacement has been conceived. It is a wildly irresponsible idea, conceived in the delusional realm of Europhobic imaginations where every British economic problem has its origin in Brussels directives. In reality, it means legislating for deliberate uncertainty, as if the goal is deterring investment.

The writer goes on to make this bold statement: “the harder the prime minister scrapes the bottom of the policy barrel, the more desperate he looks.

“But the task of political survival is now consuming all of the energy that should be applied to running the country… Conservative MPs.. can have Mr Johnson as their leader, or they can have a functional government; not both.”

Sadly, even this is not true.

There is no evidence to suggest that a Tory government will function any more adequately without Boris Johnson than with him; considering the alternatives, they all have to go.

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Only crooks change the rules to save their own skin – as Boris Johnson has done

RIP democracy: how true, when Boris Johnson is re-writing the government code of conduct to allow him to act dishonestly and corruptly without any fear of punishment.

Angela Rayner is right – this really is the action of a “tinpot despot”.

Terrified that he’ll be forced out of office for breaking his own Covid-19 lockdown rules – and, more to the point, lying about it to Parliament – Boris Johnson has changed the Ministerial Code to eliminate forced resignation or expulsion as a penalty.

This wretched rat’s rewrite means that, from now on, ministers will not always be expected to resign for breaching the code of conduct. Under new sanctions, they could apologise or temporarily lose their pay instead.

The Guardian states that,

Johnson also blocked his independent ethics chief, Christopher Geidt, from gaining the power to launch his own investigations, and rewrote the foreword to the ministerial code, removing all references to honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability.

… because he has none of those qualities and does not understand what they mean, one presumes.

His spokespeople at 10 Downing Street have tried to justify the changes by saying it is “disproportionate to expect that any breach, however minor, should lead automatically to resignation or dismissal”.

Why?

UK government ministers should be expected to maintain the highest standards of conduct in the world. Any breach of those standards should be met with the sternest penalty.

If MPs like Johnson cannot accept that responsibility, then they should not have even tried to become members of a government, let alone leaders of it.

So let me suggest a response to Downing Street’s self-serving statement, as follows:

It is inappropriate for a serving prime minister to alter the rules by which his conduct will be judged, when his conduct is about to be judged.

Johnson has certainly lived up to Keir Starmer’s appraisal of the standard he sets for himself: “lower than a snake’s belly”.

We can all see that.

And I don’t think the general public will find it in the slightest way amusing.

If the Conservative Party keeps him as its leader, then it is heading for a landslide loss at the next general election – which, remember, is likely to take place after another two-and-a-half years of his corruption.

Some leading Tories have read the writing on the wall and are already calling for his removal.

Will the rest of them please develop backbones over the weekend so we can restore a shred of integrity to our legislature?

Source: Boris Johnson accused of changing ministerial code to ‘save his skin’ | Boris Johnson | The Guardian

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Partygate: Met Police Acting Commissioner pathetically tries to whitewash Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson: the prime minister is pictured participating in a party to mark the departure of Lee Cain from his Downing Street communications job – but according to Acting Met Police Commissioner Sir Stephen House, there is “no clear evidence” that he took part in the rampant Covid-19 rule-breaking there.

A police officer who witnessed “a large number of people” at a “crowded and noisy” party, where “some members of staff drank excessively” did not immediately take action over Covid-19 rule breaches because he was there for security and not to “police what goes on inside the building”, according to Met Police Acting Commissioner Sir Stephen House.

Have you ever read such nonsense? Police officers are sworn to uphold the law at all times, no matter what their stated duties are said to be. Would he have turned a blind eye to burglary, or rape, because he was assigned to “security”?

Apparently the same officer did not feel that a large number of drunken people in a crowded and noisy room breached Covid-19 regulations that strictly prohibited such social gatherings.

It’s no wonder this “acting” Commissioner’s other comments are also shockingly inadequate in the light of this.

House told the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee there was “no clear evidence” that Johnson had breached Covid-19 rules many times in Downing Street, despite the very clear photographic evidence of him participating in a party to mark the departure of Lee Cain from Downing Street on November 13, 2020.

This was not a “works gathering”. Far too many people were present and they were socialising and drinking alcohol – as was the prime minister, who gave a speech. The amount of time he spent there was immaterial because the rules in place at the time prohibited all such social events from taking place at all.

At least one attendee was fined for being at this event but there was “no clear evidence” that Boris Johnson was there or took part, according to House.

House also suggested that it was difficult for his officers to work out which gatherings were work-related and which were not. How daft! If alcoholic drinks were visible in the room, then they weren’t work-related. And in any case, if the room was packed with people, meaning they were not at least 2m away from each other in accordance with social distancing rules, they were breaking the law.

House said he was personally involved in the decision-making and was confident in the outcome of the police investigation. That should be enough for us to demand that he surrender his badge.

Is he selling us down the river so he can gain the favour of the top Tories?

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Sue Gray report in depth: how many times was Boris Johnson drunk in charge of a nation?

Boozy Johnson: it seems he spent most of the Covid-19 crisis drunk, along with many of the staff at Downing Street – and the Met Police, together with Sue Gray, have been trying to cover-up his wrongdoing.

Isn’t it a shame that Sue Gray’s report into the drunken party culture that prevailed at Downing Street from early 2020 until late 2021 (at least) is so uneven.

Parts of it are thoroughly researched, but other parts – especially, it seems, where Boris Johnson is concerned, are amateurish.

Consider the report’s entry about a gathering in the Downing Street flat on the evening of November 13, 2020.

Ms Gray states that after the announcement that Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain were leaving, a meeting was held in the Number 10 flat to discuss the handling of their departure.

It started at 6pm, involving five special advisors, and Johnson himself turned up at 8pm. Food and alcohol were available and the “discussion” continued into the evening with people leaving at various points.

This was not a works gathering – it was a party.

If it had been a works gathering, then it would have taken place in an office – not the flat. Alcohol would certainly not have been available – have you ever been to a work meeting where booze was being served up to all and sundry? I haven’t! People attend work events to work – not to drink. And everybody would have stayed until the meeting was closed by its chair, if it were a works gathering.

Johnson was getting drunk with his mates in his flat and they simply pretended it was a works gathering to diddle the rules, or so it seems to me. Doesn’t it look that way to you?

Ms Gray’s report states she had to halt her investigation because the police inquiry began, and did not re-start it when the Met had finished their dog’s dinner of a probe because she did not think it was “appropriate or proportionate” to do so.

Is this because she feared that she would expose her boss’s lawbreaking further than it already has been?

I’ve looked in detail at just three events so far. All were parties, and Boris Johnson participated fully in all of them. At those times, he was drunk in charge of the nation – and these were times when the nation needed a sober hand at the helm.

It was a flagrant abuse of power that both the Met Police and Ms Gray seem to have been doing their utmost to cover up. Shame on them – and shame on all of us if we allow them to get away with it.

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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