Tag Archives: Ministerial Code

Mark Field breached ministerial code by grabbing protester. What is his punishment?

Abusive: Mark Field said he acted in the belief that a peaceful, female Greenpeace protester might be about to do violence. But – in this image – who is attacking whom?

How nice. We now have proof that Mark Field went too far when he did this:

Now: what punishment has he received?

None?

Not good enough. He behaved atrociously and should be punished appropriately. Right?

A former Tory MP breached the ministerial code by using force against a climate protester at a black-tie City dinner, a government investigation has found.

Mark Field, who stood down from parliament after being suspended as a Foreign Office minister, grabbed a Greenpeace activist, Janet Barker, by the neck and forced her out of the event.

After reviewing footage of the incident and the comments of interviewees, the prime minister’s independent adviser on ministerial standards, Sir Alex Allan, found “that the actions Field took, and the force he used, were not consistent with the high standards of behaviour expected of ministers and with treating Barker with consideration and respect. As such it was a breach of the ministerial code.”

Source: Mark Field found to have breached code by grabbing protester | Politics | The Guardian

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Is she habitual? Priti Patel accused of breaching ministerial code for second time

Priti Patel: She has an extra-Parliamentary job but didn’t tell the proper authorities, it seems.

What we need to remember is: Priti Patel knows the rules. She must – she has already been caught breaching them before, and lost her cushy cabinet job because of it.

Now it seems she landed another cushy job, before Boris Johnson called her up, and it seems suspicious from the start. Who pays someone £1,000 an hour for five hours’ work per month?

Still, the relevant part is that Ms Patel failed to seek guidance from Acoba (the advisory committee on business appointments), and therefore breached the ministerial code (allegedly).

Already the wits have been having fun. One wag asked if BoJo will respond – by abolishing Acoba.

The new home secretary, Priti Patel, is facing allegations of breaching the ministerial code for the second time in her parliamentary career for accepting a lucrative position with a global communications firm before receiving the all-clear from an anti-corruption watchdog.

Patel has been working for Viasat, a California-based company with a UK base in Farnborough, for the past three months as a strategic adviser on a salary of £5,000 a month for five hours’ work – or £1,000 an hour.

The ministerial code states former ministers must seek guidance from the advisory committee on business appointments (Acoba) on taking up any business appointments within two years of leaving the role – and must not take up the position until advice has been received.

Patel did not approach Acoba to seek advice on the Viasat appointment until June 2019 – a month after she had started the role, in which she was advising on unspecified matters relating to India. She did not receive any guidance from the committee until earlier this month, by which time she had already earned £10,000.

The Essex MP was forced to resign from the cabinet in November 2017 as international development secretary when she was accused of breaching the ministerial code over unauthorised meetings with Israeli politicians. Patel conceded in her resignation letter that her actions fell below standards of transparency and openness required.

Source: Priti Patel accused of breaching ministerial code for second time | Politics | The Guardian

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Double miracle as BOTH Skripals are now said to be recovering from deadly nerve agent attack. How?

Caught lying: Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

Isn’t it interesting that, despite allegedly being clobbered by a nerve agent that should leave them seriously ill for the rest of their tragically-shortened lives, both Yulia and now Sergei Skripal are said to be on the mend?

Russian news agencies have released a transcript of a telephone conversation they allege took place between Ms Skripal and her cousin Viktoria, earlier today (April 5). According to BBC News, it runs as follows:

Viktoria: Hello?

Alleged Yulia: Hello. Do you hear me?

Viktoria: Yes, I hear you.

Alleged Yulia: It is Yulia Skripal.

Viktoria: Oh, Yulka [diminutive of Yulia] it is you! I recognise from your voice that it is you but cannot understand. So, they gave you a telephone, didn’t they?

Alleged Yulia: Yes, yes.

Viktoria: Thanks God! Yulyash [diminutive of Yulia], is everything okay with you?

Alleged Yulia: Everything is ok, everything is fine.

Viktoria: Look, if tomorrow I get a (British) visa, I will come to you on Monday.

Alleged Yulia: Vika, no-one will give you the visa.

Viktoria: Well I thought so too. Oh well.

Alleged Yulia: Most likely.

Viktoria: If they give it, I need you to tell me whether I can visit you or not, tell me that I can.

Alleged Yulia: I think no, there is such a situation now, we’ll sort it out later.

Viktoria: I know it, I know it all.

Alleged Yulia: Later, we will get it sorted later, everything’s fine, we’ll see later.

Viktoria: Is it your phone?

Alleged Yulia: It is a temporary phone. Everything is fine, but we’ll see how it goes, we’ll decide later. You know what the situation is here. Everything is fine, everything is solvable, everyone (he and her father) is recovering and is alive.

Viktoria: Clear! Is everything ok with your father?

Alleged Yulia: Everything is ok. He is resting now, having a sleep. Everyone’s health is fine, there are no irreparable things. I will be discharged soon. Everything is ok.

Viktoria: Kisses, my bunny.

Alleged Yulia: Bye.

The Metropolitan police has released a statement from Yulia, apparently in response to the Russian television report – but it does not mention the telephone conversation. The Guardian reported it as follows:

“I woke up over a week ago now and am glad to say my strength is growing daily,” she is reported as saying in the statement. “I am grateful for the interest in me and for the many messages of goodwill that I have received.

“I have many people to thank for my recovery and would especially like to mention the people of Salisbury that came to my aid when my father and I were incapacitated. Further than that, I would like to thank the staff at Salisbury District Hospital for their care and professionalism.

“I am sure you appreciate that the entire episode is somewhat disorientating, and I hope that you’ll respect my privacy and that of my family during the period of my convalescence.”

Note that she does say “when my father and I were incapacitated” [bolding mine]. Does this indicate an admission that he isn’t incapacitated any more?

The paper reported that, “If Mr Skripal is “fine”, it will be a remarkable turnaround from the previous detailed prognosis that emerged.

“A high court judgement related to the case and published following a hearing across 20, 21 and 22 March revealed that both Skripals were heavily sedated.

“’The precise effect of their exposure on their long-term health remains unclear, albeit medical tests indicate that their mental capacity might be compromised to an unknown and so far unascertained degree,’ the judgment said.”

Blogger and former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, whose observations on the case have been far more reliable than those of the UK government, had this to say:

I have just listened to the released alleged phone conversation between Yulia Skripal in Salisbury Hospital and her cousin Viktoria, which deepens the mystery further. I should say that in Russian the conversation sounds perfectly natural to me. My concern is after the 30 seconds mark where Viktoria tells Yulia she is applying for a British visa to come and see Yulia.

Yulia replies “nobody will give you a visa”. Viktoria then tells Yulia that if she is asked if she wants Viktoria to visit, she should say yes. Yulia’s reply to this is along the lines of “that situation will not happen”, meaning she would not be allowed by the British to see Viktoria. I apologise my Russian is very rusty for a Kremlinbot, and someone might give a better translation, but this key response from Yulia is missing from all the transcripts I have seen.

What is there about Yulia’s situation that makes her feel a meeting between her and her cousin will be prevented by the British government? And why would Yulia believe the British government will not give her cousin a visa in the circumstance of these extreme family illnesses?

Looking at the transcript, it seems likely that he is making an alternative translation of the part where Yulia Skripal states: “I think no, there is such a situation now, we’ll sort it out later.”

It seems clear, either way, that she is saying the UK authorities will not allow anybody from Russia to visit the Skripals. Mr Murray is, therefore, justified in asking why.

It is just one of many questions about the UK government’s behaviour that Theresa May and her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson need to answer – but they seem resolutely silent.

Labour MP Chris Williamson appeared on Russia Today to confirm what This Site stated yesterday – that the UK’s international reputation is in tatters after the Tories made such a huge mess of the Salisbury poisoning affair:

His words about Mr Johnson, in particular, were supported by these commenters to The Guardian:

 This has arguably been Boris Johnson’s first real, serious test as the UK’s leading diplomat, and he has failed it spectacularly. In normal times, what we have seen over the last few weeks would be more than enough to sack him.

YorkerBouncer

They made accusations which they have not yet been able to adequately back up with facts and evidence, which just makes them look incredibly foolish and incompetent. Truly embarrassing for the UK.

nemossister

Finally, there is the small fact that Mrs May and Mr Johnson have both broken the Ministerial Code.

At section 1.3.a, the Code states: “It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity. Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.”

It seems that both Mr Johnson and Mrs May have knowingly misled Parliament.

When may we expect their resignations?


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Theresa May’s reshuffle was so badly managed she even broke the Ministerial Code

(From the left) CCHQ Vice Chair for Local Government Marcus Jones, CCHQ Vice Chair for Communities Rehman Chishti, Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis, Prime Minister Theresa May and Conservative Deputy Chairman James Cleverly standing outside 10 Downing Street, London.

It’s a clear breach of the code, and it would be welcome to see the Cabinet Office admit it.

(This is not as remote a possibility as it may once have seemed, as Damian Green’s resignation came after he was found to have breached the code.)

Section 6 of the code states that Government property should not be used for “party political activities” – but this is precisely what Theresa May, who, as prime minister, should know better, has done with a silly publicity photo.

Here’s the pic, courtesy of airheaded Tory PR boss Carrie Symonds:

I’ve added another pic from the same shoot at the top of the article, just in case the tweet disappears for some reason.

If all these people had jobs in the government, it would have been permissible – but only party chairman Brandon Lewis has a government post.

The others are all newly-appointed to positions in the Tory Party hierarchy – and that’s not on.

The decision to pose for a pic in Downing Street will have been Theresa May’s, so she must take responsibility.

This could be fun.

Theresa May is facing fresh reshuffle embarrassment amid claims that she breached the Ministerial Code with her Downing Street PR stunt to promote the Tory party’s new top ranks.

Labour has written to the Prime Minister to complain that she was in clear breach of rules which forbid the use of any Government and taxpayer-funded property for party political purposes, HuffPost can reveal.

May led a parade of Conservative party chairmen and vice-chairmen in Downing Street on Monday as she started her shake-up of ministerial ranks.

The Conservative Party subsequently retweeted the picture on both their main twitter account and the Conservative Press account.

But just one of the appointees, party chairman Brandon Lewis, was given a Government post and the rest were all party jobs.

Section 6 of the Ministerial Code – which was updated only this week – says that Government property should not be used for “party political activities”, a strict rule that carries sanctions if breached.

Source: Theresa May ‘Breached Her Own Ministerial Code’ With Tory Party Reshuffle Stunt In Downing Street


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The RAF should not be David Davis’s private airline, no matter what the Cabinet Office says

[Image: @StrongerStabler on Twitter.]

The Cabinet Office is defying logic with its claim that concerns about David Davis spending tens of thousands of pounds on foreign junkets are “politically-motivated”.

He threw away £2,526 on one flight, on which he brought two other officials – a trip that would have cost less than £200 by Eurostar.

It is all very well to say RAF flights provide “security, flexibility and value for money, especially when travelling in large groups”, as a Brexit Department spokesperson suggested in the Independent article quoted below – but the government cannot seriously expect us to believe this of trips that involved just three people.

And on one occasion, Mr Davis was criticised for having no documentation during the meeting he was attending. Where was the need for security on that occasion?

Mr Davis certainly does appear to have breached the Ministerial Code, which requires MPs’ travel arrangements to be cost-effective.

And the Cabinet Office, if it wants us to accept its decisions, needs to address the issues raised – not try to brush us off with easily-deflected protestations of political motivation.

The Cabinet Office has ruled out an investigation into trips taken by Brexit Secretary David Davis after his department spent tens of thousands of pounds jetting him around Europe.

Newly released data shows his officials spent almost £50,000 in less than a year for 11 trips that involved RAF flights to shuttle Mr Davis to European capitals.

[The] data shows that between December 2016 and September 2017, the Brexit Secretary and his team used RAF planes during 11 trips.

The most expensive was a trip to Brussels, Madrid and Rome for policy discussions in June costing more than £9,000 for Mr Davis and three officials to travel.

Then in July of this year he flew to Brussels with two officials on what was described at the time as a “lightning” trip, ahead of the second round of Brexit talks.

It cost £2,526 for all three to fly, though a return ticket on the Eurostar can at times be booked for as little as £65 per person.

A Cabinet Office source said: “There is no question of an investigation. This is a politically motivated attack without substance.”

Source: Cabinet Office rule out investigation into David Davis trips involving RAF flights | The Independent


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Will we ever hear back from the inquiry into Damian Green, pornography and inappropriate behaviour?

First Minister – and de facto deputy prime minister – Damian Green has been accused of making inappropriate advances [Image: Carl Court/Getty].

On the day a member of Damian Green’s office staff reportedly approached the Cabinet Office inquiry into his behaviour to support his accuser Kate Maltby, it must be worth asking why that inquiry has taken almost a month and a half to report its findings on an open-and-shut case.

Sue Gray, head of propriety and ethics at the Cabinet Office, launched her inquiry on November 1. This Writer understands it is asking whether Mr Green broke the Ministerial Code in his behaviour towards Ms Maltby, who has alleged that incidents took place in early 2015 and May 2016, and in having pornography on a computer in his office, found by police conducting an inquiry into a separate matter in 2008, weeks before the kind of material present was due to be classified as illegal.

The trouble, as This Writer sees it, is that Mr Green was not a minister at the time of any of the incidents, therefore I don’t see how the Ministerial Code applies.

However, if he was making persistent unwanted overtures of a sexual nature to Ms Maltby, then he cannot be said to be innocent of any offence.

And, as it now seems clear that a large amount of extreme pornographic material was indeed found on a computer in a Parliamentary office for which Mr Green was responsible, it seems clear that he should have faced the penalty that any other office worker would have undergone in the same situation: The sack.

I am concerned that the Conservative government, by considering whether the Ministerial Code was breached, is investigating the wrong issue – in order to find that he did not breach the Code and close the matter there.

Questioning about the alleged sexual harassment and the computer porn could then be met with an assertion that these matters were investigated, and Mr Green would effectively get away without having to account for the improprieties alleged against him – or atone for them, if the allegations are accurate.

So it is time for clarity from the person at the top of this inquiry.

Is Sue Gray investigating whether Mr Green harassed a journalist and had porn on his computer?

Or is she engaged in a wild goose chase about a breach of the Ministerial Code when Mr Green wasn’t a minister?

Let us have some answers now – before the inquiry report blows smoke in all our faces.


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Cameron’s ‘preferential treatment’ offer to council leader breached ministerial code – claim

Wednesday really wasn’t a good day to be David Cameron.

First he was labelled stupid, for failing to realise what his cuts to local government funding actually meant.

Then he was called a hypocrite, for claiming that Oxfordshire County Council – his own local authority – should not cut particular services; services that were only endangered because of his cuts.

Now – most seriously – he has been accused of breaching the ministerial code, by offering help to the same authority that could only be provided by the prime minister, while corresponding with its leader in his capacity as a constituency MP.

There is a strict rule that ministers may not use the resources afforded to them as members of the government to provide preferential treatment to others – such as special access to top advisers.

David Cameron has been accused of offering a Conservative council chief special access to No 10 advisers as a way to resolve a disagreement about proposed budget cuts.

The prime minister is facing questions about his conduct after he wrote to Ian Hudspeth, the leader of Oxfordshire county council, chastising him for considering cuts to day centres, libraries and museums. Cameron’s own constituency of Witney falls within the area.

In the letter, Cameron extended an offer for how to help to manage the cuts, saying he would be happy to “initiate a dialogue” with the No 10 policy unit about the possibilities of devolution deals and suggesting that Hudspeth contact his aide Sheridan Westlake, who used to work in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Jon Ashworth, a shadow Cabinet Office minister, has written to the civil service chief Sir Jeremy Heywood asking for advice on the propriety of Cameron offering extra help for Oxfordshire.

He points out that the letter appears to have been written by the prime minister in his role as a Witney MP, even though the ministerial code states that he must keep separate his government and constituency role.

“Is it the case that if the prime minister has made this offer of ‘further dialogue’ available to the leader of his local county council, similar offers should be made to all the leaders of other councils?

“Surely the leader of the prime minister’s county council should not be given preferential treatment?” Ashworth writes.

Source: David Cameron ‘offered Oxfordshire council leader access to advisers’ | Politics | The Guardian

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David Cameron should check his facts properly before spouting nonsense in PMQs

Debbie Abrahams in the House of Commons: Her performance at PMQs this week showed very clearly the weakness of our current Prime Minister.

Debbie Abrahams in the House of Commons: Her performance at PMQs this week showed very clearly the weakness of our current Prime Minister.

This Tory fiction is getting old very quickly.

Today, David Cameron spat out the current Conservative Government line about the people who have died while claiming incapacity benefits. He was responding to Debbie Abrahams, who has been a superb campaigner on the subject. Here’s her question:

“Two weeks ago, the Work and Pensions Secretary’s Department not only admitted to falsifying testimonies in leaflets, but published data on the deaths of people on sickness benefit, which showed that they are four times more likely to die than the general population. That was after the Secretary of State told the House that these data did not exist. Given that, and his offensive remarks earlier this week—referring to people without disabilities as “normal”—when will the Prime Minister take control and respond to my call for the Work and Pensions Secretary to be investigated for breaching the ministerial code?”

Everything in her question was accurate. The DWP has admitted falsifying testimonies in leaflets. The DWP’s data does show that people on incapacity benefits are four times more likely to die than the general population. Iain Duncan Smith had told MPs that this information did not even exist.

She drew no conclusions from these facts, other than that Iain Duncan Smith should be investigated for breaking the ministerial code.

So why did David Cameron go off on a tangent about “people being wrongly assessed as fit to work”? Ms Abrahams never even suggested that!

He said: “First, let me deal very directly with the publication of this data. This data was published because I promised at this Dispatch Box that it would be published, in a way that it was never published under any Labour Government. That is the first point.”

Point-less, in fact. And a lie. The data was published because the Information Commissioner had upheld my appeal against the DWP’s refusal to provide me with the information. It had nothing to do with any promises he made at the Dispatch Box.

“I also think we should be clear about what this data shows. It does not show people being wrongly assessed as fit to work. It does not show people dying as a result of their benefits being taken away.”

Pointless, again. Nobody is disputing that. It does, however, raise serious questions about whether people are being wrongly assessed as fit to work or dying as a result of their benefits being removed – questions that the DWP has failed to answer.

“If you listen to the organisation Full Fact, it has said—[Interruption.]” Whoever interrupted was quite right to do so. Nobody should pay any attention to Full Fact on this matter. As mentioned previously on This Blog, the article is drivel that is unfit for use as toilet paper.

Pressing on with his non-existent point, Cameron droned: “I have to say to [the] hon. Gentlemen shouting that two newspapers have printed that and had to retract it, so I think that people should actually look at the facts. A fact-checking organisation says: ‘It was widely reported that thousands of people died within weeks of being found ‘fit for work’ and losing their benefits. This is wrong.’ Perhaps the hon. Lady should read that before asking her next question.”

Perhaps Mr Cameron should learn the full facts about his own government’s benefit system before spouting such nonsense. The DWP’s statistical release states quite clearly that 2,380 people with a WCA decision of “fit for work” flowed off-benefit with a date of death at the same time, meaning (if one checks the small print) “those whose date of death is up to 14 days after the claim end date for ESA”. Claims are ended immediately when people are found “fit for work”, therefore these people passed away within two weeks of being found ‘fit for work’ and losing their benefits.

Or perhaps Mr Cameron is a liar.

Having taken the time to address three issues that had not even been mentioned, the Prime Minister then failed to answer the one question he had been asked.

So, when will Iain Duncan Smith be investigated for breaching the Ministerial Code?

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fighting for the facts.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook