If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Peers' Expenses - More Disgrace

The Times is reporting on the collapse of criminal inquiries into the expenses claims of Baroness Uddin and Lord Paul:

THE HOUSE of Lords has used parliamentary privilege to hide the details of a ruling that caused the collapse of criminal inquiries into the expenses claims of two Labour peers.

Officials blocked the release of a secret memo outlining the reasons for the changes in expenses rules that made it impossible to prosecute Baroness Uddin and Lord Paul.

The memo, written by Michael Pownall, clerk of the parliaments, proposed a peer’s main home could be somewhere they visited as little as once a month. His proposal was passed in January by the leaders of the Lords on the house committee.

However, when The Sunday Times used freedom of information rules to discover the reasons for the new definition, Pownall signed a privacy certificate blocking disclosure of his memo. On Friday Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, said Pownall’s new definition was the reason for the collapse of the Uddin case.

So they are happy to take expenses from the taxpayer by claiming that a property they do not and never have lived in (in one case an empty housing association property, in the other a flat in a hotel that was already occupied by the manager) was their 'main residence', thereby making themselves eligible for an attendance allowance, worth £100,000 to Uddin and £38,000 to Paul. Bear in mind that these are already rich people.

Then they change the rules to ensure that they can't be prosecuted for this extortion.

Then, when we ask why, they claim Parliamentary privilege and refuse to tell us. Us, the people who pay for it all.

Reminder: Lord Paul is a billionaire who gave £400,000 to Labour, and £45,000 to Gordon Brown's leadership campaign. Totally unconnected to this, he was made a peer in 2006 and a Privy Councillor in 2009, despite the allegation that he was spectacularly unqualified for either role.

It's like a banana republic. Wrinkled Weasel takes it all apart better than I can, so I will leave it to him. I am speechless.

This weekend the Taxpayers’ Alliance and Sir Paul Judge, who runs a campaign for independent MPs, said they may fund private prosecutions.

I wish them every success. Surely someone, somewhere has the guts to release this memo in the public interest?

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