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Thursday, 5 June 2008

Expenses Again

You may be interested the following extracts from Guido Fawkes' blog.

Incidentally, Giles Chichester has now resigned as Leader of the Tory MEPs.

"+++ Another "Whoops-a-Daisy" Tory MEP +++

"Guido treads warily with this one since Den Dover MEP got The Sun (at the hands of Carter-Ruck) to apologise for accusing him of expense fiddling. Clearly Den Dover is very sensitive to suggestions that he is an expense fiddler.

"He is the chief-whip of the Tory MEPs led by Giles Chichester, who has himself been caught "whoops-a-daisy" paying £445,000 of public funds to a company of which at one time only he and his wife were remunerated directors. So what of his colleague Den Dover? Here is an extract from his recently updated declaration of interest (full document here)
click to enlarge

"It was updated shortly after Open Europe's Transparency Initiative started asking him questions about his expenses. Den Dover said repeatedly he had nothing to declare in the past, but mentioned this time for no apparent reason, in passing, that his wife and daughter work for the company that he pays out of his expenses. Fancy that!He didn't mention that as well as paying his wife and daughter some £376,916 in salary, the company in question is based at his home address. The company has spent £32,462 on "repairs". Presumably repairs to a property. Guido wonders which property could that be getting repaired at the taxpayers expense?Did Guido mention that the family firm has had £56,411 in motoring expenses off the taxpayer as well? Finally, and this takes the euro-biscuit, the family firm makes five figure profits. Whoops-a-Bloody-Daisy....Why is his wife's family firm profiteering out of his expense claims? Shouldn't the claims and payments be made on a costs basis, rather than a profiteering basis? The family is troughing enough at the taxpayers expense already without rubbing our noses into it and profiteering.The profiteering factor from bills from his wife, authorised by him, to a business based in the family home is worse than Derek Conway. In total he has authorised payments of £758,143 to his family's firm since he joined the Euro-gravy train...The silence from Labour and the Lib Dems on this issue is revealing - top Tory MEPs are fiddling the system and they have nothing to say? Guido has tried to get comments from the Labour and Liberal Democratic Brussels press offices. Why would they be so silent? Could it be that they are all at it? Guido is coming for them too...The only on the record comment Guido got was from UKIP's Nigel Farage "Mr Cameron said he wanted to 'clean-up' British politics but so far Chichester has only been summoned to the bridge. He needs to take tough action if he doesn't want to be a hypocrite." Exactly..."

"He Says "Whoops-a-Daisy", We Say "Corrupt"

"Tory MEPs are led by Giles Chichester, who has been caught paying £445,000 of public funds to a company of which at one time only he and his wife were remunerated directors. Now he has been caught red-handed profiteering from public monies and only after days of calls for him to go, what does he say? He told West Country ITV last night:
...whoops-a-daisy I am shown up to have made a mistake. OK, hands up, mea culpa and I am putting it right.

"Not "whoops-a-daisy", not a "mistake", Giles Chichester deliberately and disgracefully used a front-company to profiteer from his own expense claims. That is unethical, dishonest and a resignation matter. He is supposed to be fighting waste and EU-fiddles - not designing them.He is now trying the Peter Hain ruse of reporting himself to the authorities, after he has been caught, no doubt he will go on to apologise for his "errors", claiming that is was somebody else's fault that he mistakenly profited from taxpayers funds in a shady under-the-counter arrangement.He is not the only Tory MEP blatantly profiteering. Guido will be revealing another "whoops-a-daisy" later this morning.. Dave has made an issue of transparency, promising that his expenses will all be made public and that he will insist on his MPs doing everything above board. The MEPs in Brussels, more used to the continental ways, are proving to be opaque and less than open about their dealings. 13 Tory MEPs have refused to make public their expenses. So public money is spent unaccountably by politicians who are supposed to be holding the EU Commission to account. Much of the cash is known to end up in the bank accounts of people close to the MEPs themselves.

"At the European Parliament yesterday afternoon they held a hearing on the proposals from the Commission to limit access to information. Kevin Dunion, the Scottish Information Commissioner, was there and gave evidence. The most interesting thing he said was that when he ruled that all MSP's expenses had to be publicly declared, the result was a 30% drop in the total expenses bill. He suggested the same might happen if the MEPs had to be open about their expenses.
"Do you think that if the Tory MEP leader Giles Chichester knew that voters would be able to hold him to account for his expenses that he would have fiddled £500,000 through his family firm?. Stinks doesn't it?Incidentally if you are wondering why LibDem and Labour MEPs are not attacking Chichester, the answer is obvious. They are all at it."

I will say two things:

1. Paying money into companies in which they have an interest as Chichester and Dover have allegedly done minimises their tax burden. This is a nice one since the tax scam only works because they receive money which has been paid out in tax by the good people of Europe.

2. Labour has commented. My colleague Richard Corbett, EPLP Deputy Leader, is now on the Guido Fawkes blog site. For those of you who may think we are all at it, I can assure that is not true. The misdemeanours of a few spoil it for the many.

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