Category Archives: Corruption

High Court urged to overturn Johnson’s decision to overlook Priti Patel’s bullying

Do you ever wonder whether High Court judges get frustrated that any serious work they do is delayed by the misdeeds of government ministers (not to mention the bleatings of sensitive celebs – but that’s another matter)?

Civil service union the FDA is demanding a judicial review of Boris Johnson’s decision not to sack Priti Patel for breaking the Ministerial Code by bullying officers at the Home Office, Department for International Development and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Johnson rejected the findings of a report by Alex Allan that found Patel was guilty of bullying civil servants while a minister in three government departments.

He defiantly backed her to continue as Home Secretary when, according to the rules, she should have been sacked – and said he had “full confidence” in her.

The decision provoke Allan to resign as government adviser on ministerial standards last November, immediately after the prime minister announced his decision.

It also emerged that Johnson had spent considerable effort trying to rally support for Patel among other ministers. This became even more questionable when it was revealed that Patel’s loathsome behaviour appeared to have pushed one employee into attempting suicide.

Now the FDA is taking the matter to the courts – and about time too:

In a written submission, general secretary Dave Penman told the High Court that “civil servants should expect to work with ministers without fear of being bullied or harassed”.

Mr Johnson’s actions had “fundamentally undermined” the disciplinary process, he added, and the prime minister had “misinterpreted” the definition of bullying in the Ministerial Code.

Mr Penman said there was “bewilderment, dismay and anger among our membership” and there had been “serious detrimental effects to workplace relations and confidence in the process for dealing with complaints against ministers”.

He added that, if Mr Johnson’s decision was not “corrected” by the court, “his interpretation of the Ministerial Code will result in that document failing to protect workplace standards across government”.

This is a row that has been simmering for a year – since the resignation of Sir Philip Rutnam as Home Office permanent secretary in February 2020.

He said he had been the target of a “vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign” ringled by Patel.

And he is pursuing an employment tribunal claim for constructive dismissal.

This action can only be strengthened if the High Court supports the FDA’s application.

Source: High Court urged to overturn PM’s decision to stand by Priti Patel – BBC News

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Tories announce new scheme for buildings with ‘Grenfell’ cladding – while taking millions from builders who used it (allegedly)

Inferno: Grenfell Tower went up like a roman candle because it was covered in flammable cladding – killing an official total of 72 people.

The wrongness of this should be evident for all to see.

Firstly there’s the wrong of the new scheme to replace Grenfell-style cladding on tower blocks.

If you live in a block that’s taller than six storeys, your building will get a share of a £3.5 billion government fund to get rid of the flammable death stuff.

If your block is smaller – four to six storeys, then the government will stuff you with a loan, so you have to pay to strip off your own cladding. You get to pay it back at £50 per month, for “many years”.

Okay, they’re “low interest” but they’re also “long term”. Okay, they’re attached to the property – not the occupier – but that just means anybody in an affected block of four-six storeys is hammered with negative equity for – as good as – ever; new buyers would factor the loan into any decision on whether to buy and it is likely to lower prices.

Secondly, there’s the wrong of the £2.5 million allegedly donated to the Conservative Party – the political organisation running the government that has introduced these cladding replacement schemes – by the builders who installed the terminally-flammable cladding in the first place.

That’s right. The Tories stumped up £3.5 billion for one scheme, knowing they’ll tax that money right back*, set up a second scheme that takes cash direct from the people affected – and the people responsible for all the trouble, gave the Tories £2.5 million (allegedly).

*Apparently there’ll be a £200 million a year tax on the property industry to pay for all this – but you know the top bosses will just pass the cost on to clients rather than pay any of it themselves.

That’s great value for money – for the (allegedly) builders!

And that’s especially true when we remember that the firm that sold the cladding used at Grenfell Tower knew about the risk of fires in 2013, but continued to offer a flammable version of it.

And there’s even more wrong!

There was no announcement … for people in buildings of three storeys or less, who it appears could still be hit with eye-watering cladding bills by their freeholders.

There was also no new answer to who will pay for expensive “waking watches” – wardens who patrol buildings to check they are not currently on fire. Mr Jenrick referenced a £30m fund to replace waking watches with fire alarms, that was already open.

We also don’t know when the new support will launch or when we will get more detail about it.

And we don’t know if the £50-a-month loans for people in low-rise blocks will ever be written off. If they’re not, the announcement indicates a flat that faced a £50,000 bill could be paying it off for more than 80 years.

Some have condemned the Tory government’s behaviour as “incompetence” but let’s try to be honest about it, shall we?

If they really did take money, it’s corruption.

Source: Fury at new cladding scheme – how it works and why it ‘betrays’ flat owners – Mirror Online

Tory tax avoidance advice firm had £145m Covid contract unlawfully, says lawyer

The ‘Big Four’ accountancy firm Deloitte is being pursued in the courts over a claim that a £145 million consultancy contract related to Covid-19 was handed to it unlawfully.

There’s also an issue over the fact that the Conservatives failed to announce details of the five-month contract until after it had expired.

Deloitte is well-known to the Tory government. One of the main accountancy firms involved in creating tax avoidance schemes, it also advised the Cameron government on – guess what? – tax avoidance.

This Writer has a feeling there may have been a conflict of interest there…

Now, Deloitte is being criticised after it received 25 Covid-related contracts, totalling £193.3 million, courtesy of Tory peer James Bethell, the government minister in charge of test and trace. Of these, five – worth £170.5 million – were awarded directly with no competition.

Lord Bethell previously ran a lobbying company that represented Deloitte as they won over £700 million of government contracts on Chris Grayling’s Work Programme schemes for the unemployed.

This Writer has a feeling there may have been a conflict of interest there, too…

The most important issue here is the misuse of public money.

In the Mirror article, Jolyon Maugham of the Good Law Project makes a good point:

“It’s like we set up a whole new Government department, but instead of civil servants paid £40k a year, it’s run by hundreds of private consultants for whom we pay £40k a month.”

That is not responsible use of public funds! Yet the Tories keep presenting themselves to us as the Party of Economic Responsibility.

It simply isn’t true.

They create money by the billion, shovel it out to their cronies and chums, and then tell those of us who don’t use Deloitte’s tax avoidance schemes that we have to pay for it in our tax bills!

It is corrupt; it is a perversion of government. It is exactly the kind of behaviour we have come to expect from Boris Johnson and his people. And it is right that it should be challenged.

Source: Lawyer says £145m Covid contract given to private company with Tory links ‘not lawful’ – Mirror Online

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If Boris Johnson wants to give cash to firms run by his cronies, why should we foot the bill?

Cronies: Dominic Cummings with Boris Johnson, whose government gave hundreds of thousands of pounds to a firm run by a former associate of the former and a woman who co-wrote the latter’s 2019 Conservative election manifesto.

Squirm as it may, Boris Johnson’s government cannot deny giving a hell of a lot of public money to Conservative Party cronies, bypassing the usual tendering system by claiming it is under emergency procedures.

So it cannot suggest it is unreasonable for the courts to investigate whether the process was used properly and the money given to professionals who could carry out the necessary work correctly.

In the case mentioned by the Mirror, it may prove hard to support a claim that the cash was handed over in a proper way.

It went to a firm run by a now-former associate of Dominic Cummings and a woman who co-wrote the Conservatives’ 2019 election manifesto.

And it is said that more than a quarter of a million pounds of public money was handed over to Public First on the basis of nothing more than a handshake.

According to Cabinet Office records, there seems to be some confusion about what the work entailed, as some of it is stated to be related to Brexit rather than Covid-19.

Public First was also involved in the fiasco in which an algorithm was devised to dictate the grades that ‘A’ level students would receive rather than taking the exams, after being granted a contract that, once again, was not put out to competitive tender.

The algorithm artificially boosted the results of pupils who attended private schools, while state school pupils’ grades plummeted – even in the most promising of cases.

Ofqual boss Sally Collier later resigned – apparently over the decision to provide the contract to Public First.

Prima facie evidence would suggest that there are questions to be asked about the firm’s competence.

And that leads This Writer to the following urgent question:

Given what we know about the nature of money – that it is created by the government and paid into the economy for particular purposes before being taxed out of it again, why should the public as a whole pay back in taxes the cost of an example of Tory Party cronyism that appears to have caused more harm than good?

Source: High Court ‘set to hear from Dominic Cummings’ over controversial Covid contract – Mirror Online

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Better late than never? Labour demand end to Tory ‘crony contracts’ SEVEN MONTHS after they were reported

Should we be applauding Labour’s demand for the Conservative government to stop handing contracts to firms with links to the Conservative Party?

If so, it should be the slow, mocking handclap that denotes disapproval. This move comes no less than seven months after the so-called Tory ‘chumocracy’ was revealed to the nation.

Did Rachel Reeves have to wait for a focus group to say it was okay to talk about this?

I think so.

And her words ring hollow.

She has said that a Labour government would overturn government outsourcing, bringing contracts back into the public sector, reform Freedom of Information rules to include companies who are awarded government contracts, create an ‘Anti-Corruption and anti-cronyism commissioner’ as a check on government contracts.

But we don’t have a Labour government. And the earliest we can now expect to get one is December 2024.

By then, knowing that Labour is now ruled by focus groups and by politicians who might as well be Tories themselves, we must expect all the policies to be different; Starmer Labour changes to reflect whatever it thinks will get it into power.

If Labour really cared about £2 billion of public money going into the hands of amateurs who did nothing with it, Reeves (or whoever) would have spoken out about it last July, when I did.

Doing it now only lays bare the cynicism at the hollow heart of Starmer Labour.

Source: Labour call for clean up of ‘crony contracts’ as £2bn in deals handed to Tory pals – Mirror Online

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Tory plan to save tower block residents from cost of fixing unsafe cladding is to charge EVERYBODY

The ruin of Grenfell Tower: thousands of other tower blocks are covered in cladding that is just as flammable, endangering many thousands of people’s lives. Their owners bought it because it was cheap. Now, it seems the same owners will dodge the cost of rectifying their potentially fatal mistake. Why should they?

What spectacular stupidity.

Many thousands of flat owners and tenants are facing huge bills for fire safety work to replace cladding on their buildings, after the Grenfell Tower blaze of nearly four years ago.

Despite the fact that they did not commission the unsafe cladding, residents are likely to have to pay to have it removed and replaced – at huge cost – under current conditions.

The cost is likely to run to billions of pounds.

The Labour Party rightly said that leaseholders and taxpayers should be protected from the cost, and the government should pursue those who were actually responsible for the “cladding crisis”.

Its Commons motion to that effect passed unopposed because the Tories didn’t turn up. We may conclude that Boris Johnson feared another public relations disaster if he opposed it. The result is not binding on the government.

But the last thing the Tories want to do is force businesses to pay for the problems they have caused. They have spent more than three years trying to protect them from that.

So now the plan is to force the taxpayer – everybody in the UK – to pay for the fatal cost-cutting of a few greedy businesses by stumping up government money for the work.

The government has decided to allocate extra funding, possibly running into billions of pounds, to speed up the removal of unsafe cladding.

An announcement is expected within weeks as negotiations between the housing ministry and Treasury are reaching a conclusion.

Something needs to be done, obviously. People have been living in unsafe housing for three and a half years since the Grenfell fire killed so many people – and other fires caused by flammable cladding have happened in the meantime (fortunately with no fatalities).

But we have a government that simply won’t lay blame where it is due.

Instead, these gutless Tories would rather force everybody else to pay the price, even though we never incurred it.

Unjust.

Source: Ministers plan extra cash to remove unsafe cladding – BBC News

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If Johnson makes Dacre chair of Ofcom he’ll be betraying the BBC – and the facts

As editor of the Daily Heil, Paul Dacre spent decades misleading the general public with an increasingly right-wing slant on the news, for a sadly increasing proportion of the public with increasingly stiff right arms.

That’s This Writer’s opinion. If Boris Johnson appoints him to chair Ofcom, the communications watchdog organisation, then he will have an opportunity to impose his bias across all of the UK’s media organisations.

I know. Ofcom is supposed to be impartial. But that’s in a properly-run United Kingdom and ours is being run by Boris Johnson. A majority of people wanted it and the rest of us have to just get used to it while we wait for the chance to get rid of it.

According to The Guardian, his first task – handed down by Johnson – will be to target the BBC, despite the fact that Auntie has bent over backwards for him and the Conservative Party since it slithered back into public office in 2010.

It will be a betrayal of the public service broadcaster. But what did anybody at the BBC – even its new Tory-donating chairman – expect? A news organisation with even the briefest brief to actually inform the public impartially is anathema to a political party that survives on propaganda and outright lies.

Remember: seven-eighths of the Conservatives’ election campaign in 2019 was found to be lies.

There is a lot wrong with the BBC, it’s true – but that is mostly caused by the overt Tory influence exerted at its highest levels. Impose impartiality and these problems may disappear.

But that will never happen under a Conservative administration.

Instead, your BBC is likely to be dismantled; your licence fee divided between Tory-donating businesspeople.

That is what appointed Dacre to chair Ofcom means. To me.

And I don’t think I’m alone:

There is only one way to stop this – and all the other elements that mark out Boris Johnsons wholesale corruption of public life.

He hates adverse publicity.

If you think this should be stopped, then get on the social media and say so. Write to your local (and national) newspapers and say so.

You could even try to get yourself on Points of View, Any Answers or Question Time – Richard Sharp (he’s the Tory-donating BBC chair I mentioned above) will hate you for doing it but you have every right to!

Or you could just sit back and sink into lockdown-derived depression. It’s up to you but personally I’d rather try to do something than be blamed for apathy by the future.

Source: Johnson poised to appoint Paul Dacre chair of Ofcom | Ofcom | The Guardian

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#FreeSchoolMeals scandal: ‘£30’ shopping basket provides just ‘£5’ of food because the Tories outsourced provision

Let’s not beat around the bush: your lovable Conservative government led by cuddly Boris Johnson deliberately starved schoolchildren by outsourcing free school meals to a very expensive company – because it was part of the so-called ‘chumocracy’.

The government had promised to provide £30 to feed children for periods lasting 10 days.

But rather than giving vouchers to parents so they could buy the food themselves, or even tasking local authorities to do it, the Department for Education outsourced the job to private, profit-making firms.

One of these firms is called Chartwells. It seems it won the contract as part of the so-called ‘chumocracy’ – it is part of the food service giant Compass Group whose former chairman, Paul Walsh, was once a member of David Cameron’s business advisory group.

Instead of putting all £30 into food hampers for hungry children, it seems Chartwells provided just £5.22 worth of food and kept the remaining £24.78 as profit.

Food parcels have been brought in to replace £30 vouchers given to parents to spend in supermarkets as schools close for remote learning. But one mum valued the contents of her parcel at no more than £5.22, if bought from Asda.

She was given two jacket potatoes, a can of beans, eight single cheese slices, a loaf of bread, two carrots, three apples, two Soreen Malt Lunchbox Loaves, three Frubes, some pasta and one tomato.

Chartwells has protested that it followed Department for Education guidelines – which throws the blame back towards the Tories – but has also admitted that details of the contents of its hampers do not conform with its own specifications.

Whichever way you slice it, someone has been creaming cash from this scheme and allowing children to starve – and the only reason they’ve managed it is because of the Tory obsession with privatisation.

It is a ridiculous state of affairs. Everybody in the Tory government, from Johnson down, knows that giving a contract to a private company means it will keep some of the cash for itself.

So a claim to be providing £30 to feed children is a lie. They were always providing £30 to their friends in food companies.

Sadly, many of the parents whose children are now being forced to starve on pennies-worth of food per day actually voted for this treatment in December 2019.

The question has to be asked: why weren’t vouchers provided to parents?

Was it because another Tory – Ben Bradley – put out a false claim that they would squander the money on “crack dens” and “brothels”, even though the vouchers that existed at the time specifically prohibited their use for such purposes?

It only takes a piece of fake news like this from one influential source to influence large numbers of people into believing the lie, and I wonder whether this was what enabled the Tory government to starve children in the way it has.

Think of it this way: Isn’t it odd that many people get outraged at the (faked) possibility of someone spending a fraction of a food voucher on alcohol (more likely than Bradley’s choices but still impossible) – but don’t bat an eyelid when private firms take 80 per cent of food vouchers for their own profits?

Perhaps the most pertinent comment on this whole shabby affair is the following:

Sadly, it would have been necessary for millions of people to have voted a different way in 2019 for that to have happened. And something stopped them:

Source: Free school meals firm with Tory links shamed over £30 shopping basket | Metro News

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The Tory gravy train is rolling on with new contracts awarded to party chums

  Spot-on satire from @dayvidart.

There’s a weird kind of communism going on in the Conservative Party during these times of Covid-related hardship.

Members of the Tory government have closed ranks and are working together to ensure that public money is handed out only to organisations and individuals who have close ties with their organisation.

They don’t care that we have noticed. This Site has published several articles pointing out that the Tories have used the emergency system for procuring government services to bypass proper tendering procedures and hand money straight to Tory donors and Cabinet ministers’ spoilt chums –

It has been dubbed “the Chumocracy” –

and I’m not alone. But still they continue:

No wonder satire sites like the brilliant @dayvidart are suggesting that they might branch out beyond Covid-19 procurement.

The image at the top of this article suggests a lucrative new income stream in environmentally-harmful pesticides that kill pollinating insects like bees and poison the ecosystem by getting into the water supply.

Who can deny that the scene it depicts may have happened, considering what we all know about the Conservatives, their government and the so-called prime minister at its head?

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If the Brexit deal is so wonderful, why are Tories like Jacob Rees-Mogg blocking scrutiny of it?

Jacob Rees-Mogg: not only does he look shifty – he’s acting shifty too.

It seems the Tories set up a committee to examine their Brexit trade deal, before it was signed – no doubt in a bid to reassure the nation that we would have a chance to check whether it is any good.

Now we see them reneging on that promise.

Are we to draw the logical conclusion – that is isn’t any good and we really need to examine it, line by line?

The government has been accused of undermining parliamentary scrutiny of Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal after Jacob Rees-Mogg ordered the shutdown of the cross-party committee examining Britain’s relations with the EU.

The move blocks a planned six-month inquiry into the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), grilling key players in televised evidence sessions at parliament before producing an authoritative report assessing the merits and flaws of the deal in rigorous detail.

And it means there is no Commons committee with a specific remit to monitor the implementation of the deal and the activities of the plethora of partnership councils, committees and working groups which it has created.

Committee member Joanna Cherry said the 21-member panel was being disbanded because “the government don’t want to hear the truth” about Mr Johnson’s deal.

Source: Government accused of undermining scrutiny of EU trade deal, as Jacob Rees-Mogg shuts down Commons Brexit committee | The Independent

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