Tory MP Sir Henry Bellingham, a former Africa minister, is paid £30,000 a year to chair Clifton Africa.
The code of conduct for MPs says members must register financial interests “within four weeks”. Bellingham took eleven months.
In the intervening period he secured private meetings for colleagues with senior British diplomats in Ghana and Ivory Coast as they pursued government contracts and explored goldmining in the region.
Bellingham is one of the highest earning MPs with an annual income of £192,000. Knighted under David Cameron for political services, he has roles in sectors as diverse as mining, banking and fishing.
The only project on Clifton Africa’s website to date has been a plan to build affordable homes in Ivory Coast. The deal collapsed months ago and no homes have been built.
As that contract collapsed, Bellingham wrote emails to the heads of the British high commission in Ghana and the British embassy in Ivory Coast, requesting an audience for his colleagues with diplomats.
Clifton Africa now has a £110 million deal to build homes for the Ghanaian state and a £50 million contract to build barracks for the Ivorian army.
The team at Clifton Africa includes Roger Passfield who was jailed for four years in 2001 for creating a “phoney” investment firm and swindling clients out of £600,000. Bellingham is trade envoy to Libya, but has yet to visit the country.
He has promoted trade elsewhere in Africa, however.
Last summer he brokered a meeting between Kim Richardson, chief executive of Clifton Africa, and officials at the British high commission in Accra, the capital of Ghana, including Peter Courtney, its head of trade.
Richardson, a hunt master and polo player based in West Sussex, said nothing came of it.
It is not the first time Bellingham’s business dealings have attracted interest.
In 2014 it emerged that he was earning up to £1,300 an hour from Pathfinder Minerals, a mining company on whose behalf he had lobbied as Africa minister.
He runs the parliamentary group on the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven he has described as a “model to other countries” and a “shining example of transparency”.
£3million to do up the royals’ new pad
Royal scroungers Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new home in Windsor will cost up to £3 million to renovate.
The total bill for Frogmore Cottage will be even higher than the £1.5 million that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are believed to have spent on renovating Anmer Hall, their home in Norfolk.
The conversion work will be funded by us.
While waiting for the decorators to finish, Duchess Meghan Markle has been spending time “helping women get back to work”.
Markle, estimated to be worth at least £5 million, is giving out clothes and fashion advice to women using the Smart Works charity. It was a break from the series of fancy dinners she usually spends her time attending.
But a royal insider said Markle is finding life “incredibly stressful” as she “has so much on her plate”.
More patients on trolleys and more managers
Nearly 560,000 more patients languished on hospital trolleys waiting for beds last year than when the Tories came to office.
That’s a 667 percent rise since 2010.
Some 641,963 patients had to wait in A&E for a bed for over four hours in 2018.
In 2010 that figure was just 83,743.
The number waiting over four hours in A&E to be admitted, transferred or discharged last year hit nearly three million—up 510 percent since 2010.
There has also been a 33 percent jump in admissions through A&E as patients found it increasingly difficult to see their GPs.
lThe number of managers in the NHS has risen by 15 percent since Tory health reforms, apparently designed to cut bureaucracy, were introduced seven years ago.
- Already looking for something to give Valentine’s Day an extra touch of romance? Then imagine a romantic dinner for two lit by a Boris Johnson Brexit candle.
These fine precious items are available for a mere £17.60.
There is absolutely no truth in the suggestion that the candles splutter offensively and loudly for a while before fizzling out.
- A Labour MP has tried to stop aid from Britian paying Palestinian teachers. British aid helps 24,000 children in the West Bank. But Dame Louise Ellman, vice-chair of the Labour Friends of Israel, put a motion to parliament to to stop the cash “poisoning” young Palestinian minds.
Serco asylum housing fail
More than 70 percent of inspections on properties housing asylum seekers in Glasgow found conditions to be non-compliant with basic Home Office standards.
Just 28 percent of accommodation assessed last year passed. Between December 2017 and November 2018 there were a total of 426 inspections carried out by the Home Office on asylum seeker accommodation.
Only 118 passed what is a fairly low bar to meet the regulations.
This accommodation is provided as part of a Home Office current contract with Serco, which last year housed almost 4,000 people across Glasgow.
In total, 308 of examinations uncovered defects with more than 20 percent requiring action within 24 hours.
Schools mired in more debt
Over 30 percent of secondary schools were in deficit last year. The figure hit 30.3 percent—compared to 8.1 percent in 2014.
The Education Policy Institute (EPI) said the average debt is £483,569. One in ten schools have deficits that add up to over 10 percent of their income.
EPI figures also showed that some 8 percent of primary schools are in deficit.
The EPI said that 80 percent of school deficits could be eliminated if councils redistributed reserves.
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