Tag Archives: ministerial

Boris Johnson broke ministerial code on by-election trip – because he can?

He loves it: the overgrown schoolboy that some of us put in charge of the country thinks it’s a terrific wheeze that he can flout the rules in our faces and get away with it.

This is typical of Boris Johnson and his government.

They deliberately break the rules by which we all have to live, just to show us that they can.

If Boris Johnson wrongly used public funds to make a party political visit to Hartlepool ahead of this year’s by-election there, it wasn’t an accident.

Of course, a row has sprung up after the Conservative Party’s spending return did not include the cost of the trip – which was by private jet, let’s all remember:

Johnson flew by private jet from London Stansted to Teesside International Airport, travelling in a motorcade to Middlesbrough, where he conducted official government business promoting a rise in the minimum wage at the DIY store B&Q.

He was then driven to Hartlepool, where he met with the Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer for a visit to the local company Hart Biologicals, supporting her campaign in the constituency.

The pair then visited a nearby housing estate for doorknocking, leafleting, and speaking to residents, the Hartlepool Mail reported.

That afternoon, Johnson flew back from Teesside International Airport to Stansted.

None of the costs of Johnson’s travel by plane or car appear to be included in the spending return, which says the candidate spent nothing on transport.

The Labour Party has demanded an inquiry into the breach of spending rules, which is also a breach of the Ministerial Code (government ministers must not use public money for party political business).

This Writer doesn’t understand why she didn’t take it straight to the police – unless this is tacit acknowledgement that MPs are above the law and the police simply wouldn’t lift a finger.

I wonder also why the Electoral Commission has not become involved, as election spending is a matter for that organisation and failure to declare it properly is also a criminal offence.

Perhaps this is a reason Labour is going so easy on the matter:

That Jeremy Corbyn. How dare he show everybody else up by being honest!

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Why is James Cleverly refusing to talk about UK weapons being used against Palestinians?

James Cleverly: He was once described as “the Tories’ go-to eejit when they need someone to tweet absolute nonsense or defend the indefensible”. Now it seems he’s not even bothering to say anything at all.

Here’s another story that should be all over the BBC’s prime-time news but, for some reason, seems to have been missed by the mostly-Tory news team there.

The information comes from Declassified UK, an independent investigative site run by Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis. This Writer follows Kennard on Twitter and I am impressed by the information he provides and the opinions he puts forward. Therefore I think his site is trustworthy.

Here’s what it says:

Middle East Minister James Cleverly may be breaking the Ministerial Code by failing to answer questions put to him in the House of Commons. The Code demands that ministers have a duty to “be as open as possible with parliament” and to “give accurate and truthful information”.

The questions were about whether military equipment from the UK was used in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in May – which killed 66 Palestinian children.

The best response anybody appears to have received – to 14 questions that Declassified has identified – is that the UK “takes its export control responsibilities very seriously”. That is not an adequate answer.

There is an obvious conclusion to be drawn from this – and I’m sure you don’t need me to spell it out for you.

But Cleverly certainly won’t spell out the facts for all of us unless he is forced to do so.

And, given the huge prominence the Israel-Palestine conflict received in the news during May, the absence of such pressure from mainstream media outlets like the BBC is deeply disturbing.

Britain’s Middle East minister James Cleverly is regularly refusing to provide answers to written questions posed to him by members of parliament, especially on UK arms exports to Israel, contravening House of Commons rules.

Source: Foreign minister James Cleverly accused of breaking UK…

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After Lord Geidt’s whitewash, Labour wants INDEPENDENT probe on Downing Street flat redecoration

Good advice: Boris Johnson can say what he likes about his alleged breaches of the ministerial code, but nobody in their right mind would take only his word for it.

Labour will be like a dog with a bone over Tory corruption.

You know why?

The party can’t attack the Tory government over its incompetent hnadling of Covid-19 because Keir Starmer supported every duff decision Boris Johnson made (until the evidence revealed those choices to have been homicidal).

And Starmer can’t criticise the Tories over Brexit because his choice of policy contributed to Labour’s spectacular loss of the 2019 general election. He would just be inviting ridicule.

But Tory corruption is a different matter.

And the controversy over the redecoration of the Downing Street Flat occupied by Boris (and Mrs) Johnson, dubbed “Wallpapergate” due to the enormous cost of the wallpaper they chose – more than £800 per roll – was only ever likely to get worse after the prime minister was cleared of wrongdoing by a man who is his employee.

And Labour has found a way to make this an actual Double Whammy.

Not only has Labour reported Johnson to the independent Parliamentary standards commissioner, but it has pointed out that he was warned to face stronger sanctions after a previous transgression.

He had failed to declare shares in a property by the deadline required for it to appear in the relevant register of MPs’ interests.

At the time, standards commissioner Kathryn Stone had reprimanded Johnson. She also warned that any further breaches may warrant “more serious sanction”.

Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, reminded Ms Stone of this in her letter requesting an independent investigation into Johnson’s failure to register a donation by Tory donor Lord Brownlow to pay for the flat redecoration.

She wrote: “Far from learning the lessons of his previous transgressions, the prime minister has continued with his attitude of treating basic standards of integrity, openness and transparency with contempt, and behaving as though there is one rule for him and another for everyone else.”

And she said the fact that Mr Johnson told Lord Geidt he became aware of the donations for the works on the flat in February this year but did not settle the invoices personally until March 8 suggests he is in breach of parliamentary rules on declaring donations that all MPs must follow.

Ms Stone is already investigating whether Mr Johnson properly declared a £15,000 holiday on the Caribbean island of Mustique with his now-wife Carrie.

Johnson is also facing two other inquiries into the flat refurbishment.

The Electoral Commission is investigating whether the Conservative Party broke the rules on declaring donations over the Downing Street flat and has the power to issue a fine of up to £20,000.

And Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, the UK’s top civil servant, is also examining whether donations were properly declared.

And it will only get worse for Johnson because he won’t stop breaking the rules. It seems he genuinely thinks he’s above the law.

Still, it’s great for political commentators like This Writer. It guarantees me stories for years to come.

As for you… if you like that sort of thing, I recommend you buy popcorn – in a regular supply.

Source: Labour demands further probe into Boris Johnson’s flat revamp – BBC News

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Hancock breached ministerial code with his shares in firm that has NHS contract. Why is he still health secretary?

Matt Hancock: you wouldn’t trust him to pick up a prescription from the chemist, but Boris Johnson made him health secretary. No wonder hundreds of thousands of people have died of Covid-19.

Here’s a great example of Tory corruption: the independent advisor on ministerial standards has announced that Health Secretary Matt Hancock has breached the ministerial code. It’s a sacking offence, so why does he still have his job?

Answer: because standards have slipped to such a low standard under prime minister Boris Johnson that cabinet ministers can get away with anything.

This case concerns a firm called Topwood, run by Hancock’s sister and brother-in-law. It managed to get onto NHS Shared Business Services framework in 2019, just months after Hancock became Health Secretary.

Hancock was then given – it seems he didn’t pay for them – a 20 per cent share in the shredding, storage and security firm, right before it won two NHS Wales contracts worth £150,000 each to carry out waste disposal including the shredding of confidential documents.

His failure to disclose that he has shares in the firm was described as a “technical breach” of the ministerial code by Lord Geidt – who has also given Boris Johnson a clean bill of health over the funding of refurbishment work on the 11 Downing Street flat.

Hancock was characterised as having been unaware that he needed to declare this conflict of interest. But ignorance of the law is no excuse – as you or I would soon find out if we were to fall foul of similar rules.

You see the problem?

Labour’s Angela Rayner does. She has pointed out that the decision not to penalise Hancock sets a precedent that cabinet ministers do not have to follow the rules.

She said:

“I have asked Lord Geidt whether he agrees that this precedent of a Cabinet minister being found by an independent investigation to have broken the ministerial code and then not resigning sends a very clear message that the rules don’t apply to Cabinet ministers, with this case therefore damaging public trust in our politics, fundamentally weakening the ministerial code system and giving carte blanche to other ministers to break the ministerial code safe in the knowledge that they will not face sanctions.”

In fact, this has already happened.

Priti Patel was found to have broken the ministerial code in a serious way – she had been bullying civil servants in the various government departments she has darkened with her presence, including the Home Office.

But prime minister Boris Johnson, who has ultimate power to decide whether a breach has taken place, let her off.

The decision prompted former independent advisor on ministerial standards, Sir Alex Allan, to resign.

The Cabinet Office has tried to laugh off the controversy by saying that new guidelines suggest that ministerial code breaches should be attract a range of different sanctions according to their seriousness, and this was the first case to be examined after the change.

How convenient.

All this shows is that the Johnson government has deliberately let the corruption in.

The removal of a minister after any breach of the code at all was intended to be a strong deterrent – to ensure that ministers stuck strictly to their duties, because even the slightest deviation would attract the harshest penalty.

But now deviants like Hancock are being told they can do what they like.

It is a scandal and you should not put up with it.

But you do, because there is no mechanism within the law by which you can put a stop to it.

Now, who do you think put that system in place?

Source: Letting Matt Hancock keep job after breach ‘gives ministers licence to break rules’ | Evening Standard

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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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Anyone who knowingly misleads Parliament should resign. So why hasn’t Johnson gone?

The double-standards in this story are atrocious.

On one side, we see Nicola Sturgeon. The First Minister of Scotland has been found to have misled Parliament by giving an inaccurate account of meetings with Alex Salmond in 2018.

If an inquiry finds that she knowingly uttered falsehoods, then that is a resignation offence for an elected minister of any government, according to the Ministerial Code, and she should go – without question.

On the other side, we see Boris Johnson. 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.

It seems clear that Johnson has knowingly breached the Code in failing to declare the sources of funding for the flat.

So he should resign – right?

But within Parliament there has been no pressure for him to do so, while Tory calls for Sturgeon to take a hike have been punitive in their decibel level.

Labour’s Keir Starmer, despite being a lawyer, has claimed Sturgeon should go whether she knowingly misled Parliament or not – which is another indication that he should not be in politics, let alone running a political party.

10 Downing Street says all appropriate codes were followed, but this rings hollow. What does Allegra Stratton, Johnson’s press secretary, mean by “appropriate”? Something different from the dictionary definition, one would guess.

That’s how Downing Street has explained the other ways Johnson has recently misled Parliament, as I mentioned in a previous article:

After he said there would be no funding cut for the body tasked with improving transport in the north (he’s taking away 40 per cent of its funding), Downing Street tried to suggest he had been talking about transport generally for the north of England.

And after he claimed all Covid-19 contracts had been published and were “on the record” – only to be contradicted by the High Court – a minister said all CANs – Contract Award Notices – had been published. They are not the same thing.

Today’s howler was his claim, in Prime Minister’s Questions, that Keir Starmer had voted against a promise of a 2.1 per cent pay rise for nurses – that his own government is breaking.

The plan was in the NHS Funding Bill last year – which passed without a formal vote because all the main parties supported it. Starmer didn’t need to vote, but if he had, he would have supported the Bill.

Johnson (or rather, Stratton – he’d done his usual runner) eventually came out with a claim that he had been saying Starmer voted against the Queen’s Speech – but the plan wasn’t mentioned in it.

The document Starmer had been waving around at PMQs – and to which he had been referring – was the NHS long-term plan, which was a policy document and not a piece of legislation on which he could have voted.

So it seems clear that Johnson had knowingly misled Parliament but the issue also seems to have gone away because nobody is calling for his resignation over it.

If you’re wondering who did fund the renovation, here‘s openDemocracy:

The Daily Mail has reported that Downing Street allegedly sought to plug the gap in the six-figure refurbishment of the prime ministerial flat using Conservative Party funds. After the party initially paid for part of the refurb, the Mail reports, Conservative Party donor Lord Brownlow gave it £60,000 last autumn to make up the difference.

The Mail also claims that party officials have since been looking for ways to keep the donation anonymous by returning it, and then repeating it through a new ‘Downing Street Trust’ that would conceal the original source.

Lord Brownlow, who served as vice-chairman of the Tory party in 2017-20 and was made a peer in 2019 by Theresa May, is expected to head up this new non-charitable trust.

So the person who allegedly provided this dodgy donation is set to head the organisation dedicated to hushing it up. More corrupt cronyism?

Let’s face it: nobody involved in this is going to come out smelling of roses.

It’s just that Boris Johnson, more than anybody else, is going to be smelling of faeces.

And it will take more than a Union Flag to wipe them away.

Source: Election watchdog quizzes Tory party over funding of PM’s flat makeover – BBC News

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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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‘Richie’: Sunak’s referral to ethics watchdog over wife’s vast wealth won’t address the real problem

The paper trail: financial holdings of Rishi Sunak, his wife Akshata Murty and her family are explained in this image, originally published by The Guardian.

How can a man as insanely rich as Rishi Sunak is – through the wealth of his wife and her family – honestly have any understanding of the struggles normal people are suffering as a result of his many decisions to cut their income?

He can’t.

That is the concern that we face after the revelation that the Tory Chancellor did not declare wealth larger than that of the Queen in the register of ministerial interests.

It won’t be addressed by Lord Evans, chair of the committee on standards in public life, because there is no rule requiring him to.

So the referral to the ethics watchdog by Labour’s Tonia Antoniazzi and James Murray may be seen as a pointless waste of time.

Here are the facts, neatly summed up in a couple of tweets:

More information is in the Guardian stories here and here.

According to the second of those stories, the Labour MPs’ referral to the ethics watchdog arises because they are concerned that Sunak’s wife’s holdings may create a potential conflict between his public and private interests.

But the Treasury has already said that Sunak “followed the ministerial code to the letter” in his declarations.

It seems he met the government’s then head of propriety and ethics, Helen MacNamara, to decide what needed to be declared before he joined the Treasury.

However: as This Writer learned only last week, a person can comply with the letter of the law and still be doing something wrong.

It doesn’t surprise me that Labour MPs are trying to tease out the nature of any wrong-doing by Sunak, because it was Labour that mistreated me.

Despite adhering to the letter of its rules on investigating anti-Semitism allegations against me, Labour ignored the requirements of its actual procedures in order to falsify a case against me, and manufactured an incorrect verdict. I had to go to court to have the facts revealed.

Will anything come of an investigation into Sunak? Doubtful. There’s no law against being ignorant of the way the other half live.

But if we know that Sunak is so far removed from the rest of us, we may also draw logical conclusions about his ability to create policies for everybody in the UK, no matter how deprived – or his lack of any such ability.

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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