Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Jacqui Smith may not get away with it after all...

A few months ago I lamented on here that despite what appeared to me to be the possibility of fraud having been committed by the then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in relation to her second home claims, that the media and the authorities were basically going to let her get away with it.

Then more recently the police indicated that they were not going to investigate her. I always thought this was very suspect and the anecdotal evidence I have seen from neighbours etc. would suggest to me that her sister's home was not her main residence. Frankly it beggars belief that a box room in her sister's house could ever have been considered her primary residence when she had a proper house in Redditch.

Anyway, Guido announced today that he is donating £5,000 to fund for the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics which is gathering evidence for a private prosecution against Ms Smith. I support this action as I think this particular example needs to be tested in court properly as it seemed so blatant a contravention of the spirit and possibly the letter of the rules. I cannot afford to give anything like £5,000 but I will give a little bit to this and hopefully many others will so that they can get to the £100,000 they think they will need to launch this prosecution.

I am well aware that Guido helped set this centre up. He has been accused in the past of being partisan although he claims he is against all "sleazy" politicians and I therefore hope that it does not just focus on Labour but that they also look closely at some of the Tories who have been implicated in serious wrongdoing. Bill Wiggin for example would seem to be a prime candidate for an investigation of this nature also.


Anonymous said...

The Fees Office is 110% responsible and answerable for any alleged 'fraudulent' authorization of expenses.

According to media reports, corruption is rife in the Fees Office.

Mark Reckons said...

So no MP is responsible for anything then by your standards (in fact looking at your maths, -10% responsible). They can sub it all out to the fees office and not have to take any responsibility for having claimed thousands of pounds for what in any other walk of life would be considered fraudulent purposes?

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

The Fees Office may have acted in the role of accomplice to embezzlement but the breach of the rules was done by the various MPs. It must be they who stand in the dock and the Fees Office should not be used as some sort of ex-post facto air-raid shelter to screen the guilty.

Recall the system provided that the signature of an MP on an expenses claim was deemed as evidence that the very strict test, taken from tax legislation, of “wholly, exclusively and necessarily” was met. That test properly applied in fact excludes a very great deal of the publicly reported claims that have been paid out. And if that were ever not sufficient to make them “illegal”, being in contravention of the rules, many claims nonetheless would be out-with the rules through the over-arching requirement to avoid luxury and operate honourably.