Posts Tagged ‘UK government corruption’
In “Don’t Get Fooled Again” I argue that lying in public office should be made a criminal offence. But it seems that within the existing system, an ennobled British politician convicted under such a law (or indeed any other) would still be able to vote in the House of Lords. The current stock includes a convicted fraudster, a perjurer and an arsonist. George Galloway in the Daily Record has more:
And then there’s “Lord” Mike Watson, a former New Labour MSP. Not only does he still sit in the Lords following his prison term for arson – setting fire to the curtains of a hotel full of people because the staff had refused him any more strong drink.
But Lord Watson turns out also to be a Parliamentary lobbyist!
Now leave aside what kind of companies would want to hire a drunken ex-convict arsonist – the Acme fire alarm company, perhaps – the point is the House of Lords is full of crooks.
Lord Conrad Black, former owner of the Daily Telegraph, is still a Lord even though he is currently banged up in a US penitentiary.
Lord Jeffrey Archer is another ex-con on the red benches.
New Labour once stood for the abolition of this farce; now it stuffs its mediocrities in to stuff their faces and keep their mouths shut, except when they have to say Yes.
Privacy International gave Experian its “Big Brother” award for the company’s intense lobbying campaign to preserve its access to electoral roll data. Last year agencies such as Experian were banned from taking details off the electoral roll after a High Court judge ruled that a council taxpayer in Wakefield would have had his human rights violated if the register was passed on to organisations for commercial gain. But the ban was lifted after the agencies protested that the fight against terrorism and money laundering would be hampered if banks and the police were not able to verify the addressess of customers opening accounts.
From The Telegraph:
Lord Taylor: “Experian are the company. They have a terrific amount of intelligence and information. They are the people who advise banks on your credit worthiness and so on. For example I’ve been working with them on amending a statute that’s coming out, or was coming out, because I’ve got it delayed now, whereby it was going to be difficult for them to get certain information and so on. So I’ve got that amended and you do it quietly behind the scenes you see.”
Join the Facebook group
“I’ll pledge £5 to bribe a peer to table a rule-change outlawing corruption in the House of Lords, but only if 24,000 other people do the same.”
The Sunday Times this week revealed that members of the UK House of Lords are available for hire behind closed doors to help get our laws changed. Prices range from £24,000 to £120,000, depending on seniority, and proximity to government ministers.
The good news for those seeking to buy their own little piece of democracy is that there seems to be little in the rules to stop this from happening. The bad news for everyone else is that this means that arms dealers and corporate snoops are free to use hard cash to go behind the backs of our elected representatives, and buy themselves special favours from our government.
It’s time that this process – previously available only to the rich and cash-happy – was opened up so that ordinary people can participate. By banding together to hire our very own “consultant” in the House of Lords, we can seek to get the law changed in ways that benefit all of us.
For just £120,000 a year, we can buy ourselves a top-quality Lord with a direct line to government ministers, and a proven track record of getting legal changes fast-tracked on the quiet. But the evidence suggests that even as little as £24,000 could make a huge difference. The work can already begin in earnest if just 4,800 people join this pledge – but the more people join, the more we can achieve!
Sunday Times exposes UK government corruption: Labour members of the House of Lords agree to take cash for backing legislation changes
From the Sunday Times
When the Labour peer Lord Taylor of Blackburn was forced to apologise last year for improperly asking a question in the House of Lords on behalf of a paying client, the Sunday Times Insight team decided to investigate further. Undercover reporters posing as lobbyists contacted 10 peers; five Labour, three Conservative, one Liberal Democrat and an Ulster Unionist, to seek help in amending legislation on behalf of a client.
The results reflect badly not only on the House of Lords but also on the Labour party. Of the 10, four were prepared to do business with our “lobbyists” for fees of up to £120,000 a year. All four were Labour and two were former ministers.
Lord Taylor boasted that he could pick up the telephone and arrange meetings with Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, and that he had succeeded in changing legislation on behalf of Experian, the credit reference company. Lord Truscott, a former energy minister, said he had helped to change the energy bill on behalf of a company selling so-called “smart” electricity meters.
All four Labour peers – the others were Lord Snape, a former Labour whip, and Lord Moonie, another former minister – offered to help secure legislative changes by putting in a word with ministers, civil servants, or with the relevant members of parliamentary committees. One boasted of the huge amount of such business done in the Lords.
From the Taxpayer’s Alliance, April 2008
The Noble Lord Snape, former railwayman and MP, has rushed to the defence of speaker Michael Martin, calling the inquiry into his wife’s £4,000 taxi bill a “load of fuss and nonsense about nothing”.
From The Guardian, May 2005
Two former ministers, Alan Milburn and Lewis Moonie, were fast-tracked by a government appointments watchdog to take up work with a Labour donating lobbying company which ignores a voluntary code of conduct not to pay or employ politicians. Lord Moonie became an associate director and consultant for the lobbying company, Sovereign Strategy, last December, having stood down as defence minister in July 2003. He said yesterday: “My job will be to teach clients how to lobby government, not to lobby government for clients.”
From Craig Murray, April 2007
Straw’s links with BAE are partly conducted through Lord Taylor of Blackburn, the former leader of the Blackburn with Darwen Council that includes Straw’s Blackburn constituency. Lord Taylor, an archetypal New Labour apparatchik from Straw’s constituency machine, has lived off the taxpayer in Labour Party appointed posts all his life. He is now chiefly known as the second highest claimer of expenses in the House of Lords. In 2005 Lord Taylor claimed over £57,000 of tax-free expenses, over three times the average claim of under £19,000. he spoke 15 times in the year.
But he doesn’t really need that public money anymore, as the grasping creep Taylor is the primary conduit between the defence industry and New Labour. He has been a highly paid “Consultant” to BAE for over a decade. He also has used some of that money to make major contributions to Jack Straw’s election expenses in his Blackburn constituency, declared by Straw in the Register of Member’s interests. Lord Taylor also regularly makes large contributions to fund Blackburn New Labour. When I stood against Straw in Blackburn at the last election, Taylor was present with Straw at a black tie event hosted by BAE in the constituency said to be “unrelated to the election”.
Interestingly, this year in the House of Lords’ Register of Members’ interests, BAE has disappeared from Taylor’s list of eleven paid consultancies and two paid directorships. It might be interesting to dig for links between these companies and BAE. Some are certainly arms firms – including the highly sinister Electronic Data Systems.
EDS is another of the arms companies that has made many billions from the Iraq war. Among their many current defence contracts is a $12 billion project on electronic systems for the US armed forces. Presumably a well-plugged in New Labour apparatchik like Lord Taylor was of no hindrance to EDS in March 2005 when they landed a �2.5 billion contract from the UK MOD for a similar project. Indeed, if Lord Taylor cannot help swing that kind of contract, why are EDS paying him?
I do not have power of words sufficiently to condemn the institutional sleaze of a system where a scumbag like Lord Taylor can be put, unelected, by Blair into a seat for life in the national legislature. There, while a legislator, he can act as a well paid and highly connected lobbyist for the arms industry.
Bugs, strip-searches and gagging orders – The bizarre story of Her Majesty versus Sally Murrer… (and some even more bizarre claims from Private Eye)
The press freedom organisation Reporters Sans Frontieres doesn’t usually have too much to say about abuses against media workers here in Britain, but their latest report details some worrying cases – none stranger than the ongoing trial of the Milton Keynes local journalist Sally Murrer.
In May last year, Murrer was arrested by eight police officers, strip-searched and charged with “aiding and abetting misconduct in public office”. She was then accused of paying police officers to supply her with information for stories she could then sell on to the national press, a charge which she firmly denies. The police told her that she had been under surveillance for weeks, and played her recordings of telephone conversations she had had with her friend Mark Kearney, a Thames Valley police officer, which they said proved the case. Murrer was told that they already had enough information to send her to prison for life, and that the police need only show that she had heard information deemed ‘sensitive’ in order to convict her. Kearney and a former police officer Derek Webb (now a private investigator), have also been charged in the same case.
Then in February this year, it was revealed that Mark Kearney had been involved in the secret bugging of the Labour MP and lawyer, Sadiq Khan, during his visits to a childhood friend, Babar Ahmad, who has been detained without charge for several years, pending extradition to the United States (where he is accused of involvement in terrorism). Kearney claims that he repeatedly raised ethical and legal concerns about the work he had been asked to do. He and Murrer believe that the case being brought against him – and Murrer – was a somewhat clumsy attempt to prevent him from blowing the whistle.
Now the print edition of the magazine Private Eye reports an even more bizarre twist. The Eye claims that the detective-turned-private-investigator Derek Webb had been carrying out surveillance operations for the tabloid press against a number of high-profile public figures suspected of having affairs. These reportedly include two un-named (due to the usual legal gagging orders) cabinet ministers, together with the infamous former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, and the director of public prosecutions Ken Macdonald - the man in charge of the department overseeing the case against Webb, Kearney and Murrer. The police seized Derek Webb’s diaries (in which he details his surveillance work) as evidence to be used in the case case against him. Now the crown prosecution service has reportedly declined requests by Webb’s defence team for access to the diaries, claiming that it no longer has them…