At least 16 individuals with close ties to the Tories, including donors, peers and former MPs, have been given lucrative oversight jobs in key Whitehall departments.
This comes after former health secretary Matt Hancock was revealed to be having an affair with Gina Coladangelo, who he appointed last year as a non-executive director at the Department of Health and Social Care.
It paid £15,000 for 15 days work a year. Research by OpenDemocracy found others in similar roles include former Conservative vice-chairman Dominic Johnson. He was appointed by the Department of International Trade.
He is also Jacob Rees-Mogg’s business partner, and has donated more than £172,000 to the Conservative Party.
He joined one-time Tory and Ukip MP Douglas Carswell, who is also a non-executive at the department. Henry de Zoete, who was the Vote Leave campaign’s digital director, and Gisela Stuart, who chaired the official Leave campaign, were both appointed as non-executive directors in Michael Gove’s Cabinet Office.
The department’s lead non-executive director is Lord Nash, a Conservative peer who has donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the party.
Gove also appointed prominent Vote Leave supporter Henry Dimbleby to the role of lead non-executive director at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in 2018. Dimbleby, who is an Old Etonian, reportedly spent the night of the Brexit referendum at Gove’s house.
Defra’s non-executive directors also include Ben Goldsmith, the brother of Conservative peer and former cabinet minister Zac. Ben Goldsmith has also donated tens of thousands of pounds.
Other non-executive directors include Doug Gurr, Amazon’s former head of Chinese operations. He is said to have “deep” ties to figures within the Conservative Party and now has a role in the Department of Health.
Nick Campsie, a non-executive for the Ministry of Justice, says on his LinkedIn page that he “campaigned on behalf of the Conservative Party during the EU referendum and has made donations in support of the party’s activities”. Records show that he also donated to Chuka Umunna when he was a Labour MP.
And Theresa May’s former joint chief of staff, Nick Timothy, is now a non‑executive at the Department for Education.
Murdering soldiers let off
Families of those killed on Bloody Sunday are furious at the collapse of the trial of Soldier F, saying they will challenge the decision in the High Court.
Soldier F murdered James Wray and William McKinney on 30 January 1972, when troops opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in the Bogside area of Derry, killing 13 people.
The ex-paratrooper was also accused of the attempted murders of Patrick O’Donnell, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon and Michael Quinn.
Separately, the prosecution of a former soldier for the murder of 15 year old Daniel Hegarty will not proceed, the solicitor of his family have said.
A statement from the families said, “Anyone who suggests that Soldier F has somehow been vindicated, or cleared in relation to his actions on Bloody Sunday by today’s decision must engage with the known facts.”
“He shot dead a 17 year old boy, Michael Kelly, who presented no threat to anyone. A bullet taken from Michael Kelly’s body was scientifically traced to Soldier F’s rifle.
The statement added that Soldier F shot “William McKinney and Jim Wray as they ran from Glenfada Park seeking the safety of Abbey Park and wounded four others.
“He shot Paddy Doherty, a 31 years old father of six children from behind, as he crawled to safety in the area of the Rossville Flats.
“As Paddy lay dying, Bernard McGuigan, a 41-years-old father of six went to his aid waving a white handkerchief.
“Soldier F reacted to this remarkable act of bravery and humanity by shooting Mr McGuigan through the back of his head, the bullet exiting through his eye.
“These are incontrovertible facts. Soldier F did not mount any legal challenge to these findings of the international Tribunal of Inquiry, which was the Bloody Sunday Inquiry”.
- Good news for outsourcing giant Serco. It has signed a new deal worth up to £322 million with the health department to run Covid-19 testing sites for another year. A report from the National Audit Office recently highlighted poor turnaround times for the test and trace system over the winter. It found some 600 million at-home lateral flow tests had not been returned or logged, and were ”unaccounted for”. And it said the largely privatised scheme was “wracked with problems.”
- The government is refusing to publish a full list of all the firms that received furlough cash, despite calls from the MPs’ Public Accounts Committee. There has been widespread fraud by firms. The department for business has said the Bounce Back Loan Scheme could cost the taxpayer £27 billion in fraud or credit losses.
Sunak delivers more gifts for share dealers
The Tories are pushing through new rules to benefit banks and share dealers—and it’s already paying dividends for corporate traders and dealers.
Last week chancellor Rishi Sunak secured an exemption for financial services from new global rules on taxing multinationals.
This ensures that the City of London’s largest banks do not pay more tax on their profits in other countries.
The Treasury wants to allow “more flexibility” for investors to trade outside the usual stock exchanges. This will favour “dark pools”, where fund managers buy and sell large blocks of shares without disturbing the price on the market.
All this hard work in favour of the super-rich has been gratefully noted by top bosses.
London has reclaimed its position as Europe’s largest share trading centre after it was dethroned by Amsterdam in the wake of Brexit.
Shock as oil company lobbyists lie again
Lobbyists for ExxonMobil have described the oil giant’s backing for a carbon tax as a public relations ploy to stall serious measures to combat the climate crisis.
And one openly admitted it was about profits coming first.
Two senior lobbyists based in Washington, United States, made the admissions to an undercover reporter for Unearthed, the investigative journalism branch of Greenpeace.
They disclosed how they had worked to undermine president Joe Biden’s mild plans to limit greenhouse emissions and other environmental measures in his infrastructure bill.
One of the lobbyists also admitted that Exxon “aggressively” fought against climate science and funded shadow groups to deny global heating.
Keith McCoy, a senior director in Exxon’s Washington government affairs team, was recorded on video in May. He said that the company backs a carbon tax “as an easy talking point” and an “advocacy tool” because “there is not an appetite for a carbon tax.”
‘The Sun had known about the Gove-Vine separation for months but didn’t mention it because he is a MOM (Mate Of Murdoch)’
Former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie on how the press works
‘In any objective sense, unfit to be PM’
Dominic Cummings, former chief adviser to Boris Johnson, claims all his other advisers didn’t think he should be prime minister
‘We also knew that he knew too, since he’d told us’
Cummings explains that Johnson also thought he wasn’t up to the job
‘I think they got 1 percent. That is pathetic. They obviously deserve much more than that’
Tennis player Andy Murray on NHS pay
‘Labour’s coming home’
Labour leader Keir Starmer recycles a Tony Blair cliche