Tag Archives: corruption

Let’s not accuse Gove of Housing corruption prematurely

Michael Gove: he has taken a lot of money from property developers and now he is Housing Secretary. But we should not shout “corruption” until there is actual evidence of it.

This Site is all in favour of accusing Tory ministers of corruption when they do something wrong.

But we need to give them a chance to actually commit an offence before we start criticising them.

Michael Gove is a deeply dodgy character for many reasons – some of which have been discussed in detail on This Site.

And it is true that in the run-up to the announcement that he would become the new Housing Secretary in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle, he took £120,000 in donations from property developers. That amounts to 87 per cent of the donations he has taken in 2021 so far.

Some people have claimed that this creates a conflict of interest, and it certainly does make it possible.

However:

Gove’s first act in his new job has been to suspend work on controversial planning reforms that were accused of giving “too much power to developers”.

Try as I might, I can’t fit that into any narrative that puts him at their beck and call.

Of course, suspension is not rejection, and if he reinstates the scheme, or comes up with one that offers more opportunities for the businesspeople to make cash, then he will deserve all the brickbats we can throw at him.

So let’s reserve judgement for now.

And hope that Gove gets the message.

It is this: we’re watching you, Michael.

Source: Michael Gove: UK Housing Secretary Took £120k From Property Developers

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Johnson’s crony Con club: his government ignored 171 other candidates to employ his chum

Laughing at us: Boris Johnson appointed his former Bullingdon Club colleague to Parliament’s sleaze watchdog, over 171 other applicants. It seems clear he did it to ensure that he would never be found guilty of the many corruption accusations made against him.

We all screamed “foul” when it was revealed that Boris Johnson’s government had appointed his Bullingdon Club chum Ewen Fergusson to Parliament’s sleaze watchdog.

Was he put in the Committee on Standards in Public Life to rubber-stamp Johnson’s offences as being within reasonable standards of behaviour, we asked (or at least, This Writer did).

Now we have more evidence, and it suggests that he was.

Why else would Johnson’s government have appointed his friend over 171 other applicants who were not directly and personally linked to him – in the face of objections that the connection should disqualify Fergusson altogether?

As The Independent puts it,

The longtime friend of the prime minister was appointed to scrutinise him.

By the way: final say on who got the job went to Boris Johnson. He chose his friend for the position.

If you wanted an honest verdict on your own actions, would you appoint a personal friend to provide it? I wouldn’t. My friends would tell me if they thought I was going wrong, but they’d never voluntarily say so to strangers.

And this was pointed out by the Labour Party (even though it shouldn’t have to be):

Labour said friends of the prime minister should be disqualified from the role on the Committee on Standards In Public Life, given the nature of its job scrutinising members of the government, including Mr Johnson.

“Being Boris Johnson’s chum from the Bullingdon Club does not qualify you to sit on the watchdog that is supposed to crack down on sleaze and cronyism in our politics. In fact, it should disqualify you,” deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner told The Independent.

“This appointment is an utter joke, and out of 173 applicants of course the Bullingdon Boy fits the job description of marking the prime minister’s homework.

It is a joke. And next time Johnson gets accused of corruption, and his Bullingdon chum green-lights it, he’ll be the one laughing at all of us.

Source: Government passed over 171 candidates to pick Bullingdon Club ‘chum’ of Boris Johnson for sleaze watchdog role | The Independent

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WHY YOU NEED ME: Johnson’s government is out of control and the mass media are his cheerleaders

It’s not just Vox Political that you need – any social media commentary site that actually criticises the government rather than acting as its stenographer will do.

Professor Simon Wren-Lewis has put the situation in a nutshell with his own latest blogpost on Mainly Macro.

He states that Boris Johnson’s dictatorship is beyond Parliamentary control, and he has the mainstream media in his pocket.

He uses the decision to cut aid funding to foreign countries from 0.7 per cent of GDP to 0.5 per cent as an example:

A large number of Conservative MPs were unhappy with this, and wanted to use parliament to reverse this cut. The parliament’s speaker ruled their attempt invalid, but requested the government to allow a vote on the issue. The government refused.

The executive increasingly views parliament with contempt.

We knew this government thought little of parliamentary sovereignty when it closed it down, illegally, before the last election. The courts forced it to retract that measure, so now the government is intending to pass laws that would prevent the courts doing so again.

Of course, Parliament could pass a motion of “no confidence” in this dictatorship – but Prof Wren-Lewis rightly points out that “that is never going to happen while Johnson looks like winning the next election. As a result, parliament has no effective control over what this government does.”

Yes, it’s corrupt. But it’s the system we have.

Prof Wren-Lewis goes on to mention a series of scandals involving Johnson’s ministers: Michael Gove, Matt Hancock, Gavin Williamson, Priti Patel, and Robert Jenrick.

Did he sack any of those ministers for corruption and dishonesty? Of course not – and Prof Wren-Lewis puts his finger on the reason: “They are his people, and nothing bad is going to come from keeping the ministers he chose in the job… The key is that this government is totally unaccountable, and does just what it likes.”

And the reason it can do what it likes – more than any other – is the fact that Johnson controls the UK’s mass media. And that means he can control what you think about him:

For a large part of the press, Johnson is their Prime Minister. They became propaganda outlets to persuade people to vote for Brexit, and they have remained propaganda outlets supporting the government ever since.

The extent to which the right wing press has become the propaganda arm of the right in the Tory party has steadily increased over the last few decades.

Prof Wren-Lewis rightly narrows his focus down to the BBC. The corporation has a huge, 70 per cent, share of the current affairs information that gets into your home and into your head:

The big change, begun by Thatcher and Cameron and completed by Johnson, is to tame the BBC. This is hardly surprising, when party donors are appointed to key positions and the government keeps attacking the BBC’s outputs, income and even its existence.

The BBC does not push propaganda, but they do not take it on either, giving the press a largely open field for their propaganda to work.

They avoid the truth if it embarrasses the government, and when its reporters do tell things straight, they are put down by the BBC’s leadership.

Because of the way the BBC fails in its reporting, even things that do have a large impact on voters, like tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths, will never be described in those terms.

That lack of media accountability allows Johnson to ignore his scientists, and put personal ‘freedom’ above saving lives and the economy. This is what happens when the government becomes unaccountable. It is allowed to make mistakes costing lives, and pays no price for these mistakes.

What does this mean for you – the news viewer/reader and voter?

See for yourself:

The only accountability that has any influence on this government is the electorate. But because of its natural advantage in the media, and unfortunately an opposition that seems pretty ineffective beyond PMQs, that influence on the government is partial and weak.

Issues most voters will not notice, because their only sight of them is a news item towards the end of a bulletin (like the government breaking the law on contracts), can be safely ignored by the government.

That means your attention is diverted away from criticism of the Johnson government’s many failings.

You are told that everything is running swimmingly by the government’s front man, whose upbeat turn of phrase and mop of deliberately-messy blond hair hides his “duper’s delight” smile that says he is lying to you.

You believe him when he tells you the vaccination programme is keeping you safe, even though cases of Delta Variant Covid-19 infections are skyrocketing.

You don’t believe he has screwed up the economy with his duff Brexit trade deals, or that he has jeopardised the peace in Northern Ireland, or any number of other idiocies for which he is responsible – because you simply don’t know about them.

That’s where I come in.

Vox Political has provided consistent criticism of the UK’s politicians for very nearly 10 years.

That means when Daniel Kawczynski apologised for bullying, I was able to put it in context and point out it is not a minor incident.

It means when Priti Patel supports football fans who boo protests against racism, I can point out all the incidents in her career that show she is a racist too.

It means I can highlight Tory corruption whenever it surfaces.

And that means the UK’s electorate should be reading Vox Political – right?

But only a tiny fraction of the politically-oriented public does – because the mass media ignore the work done here (for obvious reasons – they support the Tories and don’t want to publicise anybody who doesn’t) and the social media platforms push sites like this one down your newsfeeds so you don’t realise we’re here.

The ultimate aim is to starve us out of business so there’s nobody left to object when they spoonfeed you their Tory-approved falsehoods, anaesthetising you into supporting Johnson’s crowd while they strip you of all the hard-won freedoms your ancestors gained over the last hundred years and more.

As I say, Vox Political isn’t the only critical social media site available. But times have been hard over the year (and more) of Covid-19. Readerships have fallen and some of us are in danger.

So, please do yourself – and everybody you know – a favour.

Give us a boost, every chance you get.

Promote us to your friends and family members when we highlight the facts that contrast so strongly with the fairy stories you see on the BBC News.

The only way to change people’s minds is one at a time – but that can’t happen if everybody is ignoring the facts and turning down the chance to explain them.

Source: mainly macro: A government out of control

Tory corruption: how many Covid-19 contracts went to party donors?

The image above tells a shameful story.

And it’s one the Tory government seems very keen to cover up.

Frances Stanley is said to have been handed a PPE contract worth £14.4 million of public money by the Tories after her husband donated £5,000 to Matt Hancock’s office.

She had no previous professional experience of providing such equipment and subsequently failed to fulfil the contract.

She handed back the government’s £7.2 million deposit – but the episode wasted valuable time when people were dying of a deadly disease for lack of protective equipment.

We don’t seem to know whether her application was handled on the so-called “fast lane” provided to Tory donors in order to help them jump the queue for these lucrative contracts.

But we do know that she is the wife of a Tory donor who received millions of pounds to provide a service she was unqualified to do, and whose failure is likely to have cost many lives.

And it is time we knew exactly how many of these duff contracts have been handed out.

We need a list of all contracts that have been handed to people connected to Tory donors, stating clearly whether these contracts were handed out via the “fast lane” system, how much money was handed over, and whether the contract was fulfilled.

Then we’ll be able to start working out the depth of corruption to which your government sank while your relatives and friends were dying.

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Lord Geidt clears his employer Boris Johnson of ministerial code breaches. He would, wouldn’t he?

We all know the Tories think we’re stupid; accept this nonsense at face value and they’ll know it’s true.

A Tory peer, Lord Geidt, has apparently carried out an internal party review of the way refurbishment of the 11 Downing Street flat (occupied by Boris Johnson) was funded and found that Johnson – who is his boss, let’s not forget – was innocent of any wrongdoing.

And nobody should believe a word of it.

Geidt said the Cabinet Office paid the costs and charged them to the Conservative Party, on the understanding that a trust was being set up to provide the funds.

This trust was never set up and the bulk of the cash came from Lord Brownlow, a Tory donor and former vice-chairman of Johnson’s Conservative Party from 2017 to July 2020 – as had been claimed in press reports.

With regards to the flat, [Geidt] said: “It is clear from the record that while a serious and genuine endeavour, the trust was not subjected to a scheme of rigorous project management by officials.

“Given the level of the prime minister’s expectations for the trust to deliver on the objects he had set, this was a significant failing.

“Instead, the prime minister – unwisely, in my view – allowed the refurbishment of the apartment at No 11 Downing Street to proceed without more rigorous regard for how this would be funded.”

In other words, Johnson claimed ignorance of the situation – but ignorance is no excuse.

Besides, he told us he had paid for the works himself, and that is plainly a lie.

He gets £30,000 a year as an allowance for such works – more than most of us earn in full-time work – and it still wasn’t enough. Reports suggest that the changes to the Downing Street flat cost around £200,000 in total.

Still, the Electoral Commission has launched its own investigation.

The commission said it was “satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspect than an offence or offences may have occurred”.

At the end of the day, it wouldn’t have matter what Geidt found, as power to decide whether a breach of the ministerial code has occurred rests with the prime minister – Johnson himself.

Knowing how corrupt he is, we know that he was never going to admit an offence that may require him to resign from his job.

We are left with several conclusions:

That Johnson is guilty as sin, that the government is utterly corrupt because he is leading it, and that Geidt and Brownlow have implicated themselves in that corruption by whitewashing their boss.

Source: Boris Johnson was ‘unwise’ to allow flat refurbishment ‘without more rigorous regard for how this would be funded’, report finds | Politics News | Sky News

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Fury as Patel interferes with independence of report into private detective’s murder

Daniel Morgan: Priti Patel wants to interfere with a report into the murder of a man who had been investigating police corruption. Now, why would she want to do that?

Nothing screams “cover up” quite so loudly as a Home Secretary interfering in the publication of an independent report – especially when it is on the murder of a detective investigating police corruption.

This Writer has been reporting on the murder of Daniel Morgan, practically since I started working on newspapers, and the lack of progress in his case indicates either a monumental failure – or monumental obstruction.

His body was found in a south London car park with an axe embedded in its head in 1987.

The motive for the murder has not been established. Some believe it resulted from a business dispute but following a fresh investigation the Met announced in 2007 that the motive for the murder was probably that Morgan “was about to expose a south London drugs network possibly involving corrupt police officers”.

There are claims that corruption in Rupert Murdoch’s News International media empire is also linked to the case.

The independent Morgan panel was set up in 2013 to investigate “the incidence of connections between private investigators, police officers and journalists at the former News of the World and other parts of the media, and alleged corruption involved in the linkages between them.”

Its terms of reference included “police involvement in the murder; the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder … and the failure to confront that corruption”.

And now Priti Patel, the government minister responsible for the police, is refusing to allow the report of an independent inquiry into his murder to be published until she has vetted it, despite not having the right to do so.

It seems she wants to black out any part of the report she says might affect national security or human rights obligations.

The Morgan panel, responsible for the report, has issued a statement attacking the intervention in the strongest possible terms.

It said it had been told the report would not be made public until it agreed to the pre-publication review by government, which breaches the understanding it has about its independence.

The panel claimed the Home Office wanted the right to black out any part of the report it considered may breach “national security” or human rights obligations.

“The Panel was informed yesterday (Monday 17 May) that a publication date will not be agreed until the home secretary and Home Office officials and lawyers have reviewed the contents of the Panel’s Report,” its statement said.

“A review of this nature has not been raised previously in the eight years since the panel was established in 2013.”

It added: “The panel believes that this last-minute requirement is unnecessary and is not consistent with the panel’s independence.”

It said: “The panel is disappointed with this position and hopes the matter can be resolved in adequate time for its report to still be published in May while parliament is sitting.”

And it said a senior team from the Metropolitan police had already checked to ensure there was nothing in the final report that jeopardised security.

The Home Office statement on the matter is contradictory.

It states: “The home secretary … has an obligation to make sure the report complies with human rights and national security considerations. This has nothing to do with the independence of the report and the Home Office is not seeking to make edits to it.”

But if Patel is planning to alter the report – in any way – before the public can see it, then she is seeking to edit it.

Daniel Morgan’s brother Alistair has said the panel should take a case to the High Court, to protect its independence.

Let’s hope it does. This case has been going on for long enough that another slight delay won’t make much difference – and resisting Patel’s interference could make the difference between finally having a conclusion and suffering another grubby cover-up.

Source: Anger as Patel delays publication of report into private detective’s murder | Police | The Guardian

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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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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

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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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.

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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