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The Tory expenses on the bus go round and round

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Issue 2504
A Tory party battlebus in happier times
A Tory party battlebus in happier times (Pic: flickr/EDDIE)

While many an MP likes an expense to claim, it seems a few are less keen on declaring them.

More than two dozen Tory MPs failed to declare help received from activists on the Tory battlebus during the general election.

Then there are tens of thousands of pounds in undeclared hotel bills.

Lincolnshire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and West Mercia, and Devon and Cornwall police forces have all said that they are involved in investigating the claims.

The Electoral Commission had to go to the courts to get the Tories to hand over the paperwork on the election last week.

Costs could have pushed a fair few Tory MPs over their local spending limit of around £15,000 if the battlebus is included.

The battlebus and its accounting was signed off by senior party members. It had “the full financial and practical support” of Tory HQ.

The battlebus was approved by chairman Lord Feldman, ex-deputy chairman Stephen Gilbert and election guru and dog whistle blower Lynton Crosby.

The scandal could lead to enough by-elections to cost the Tories a majority.

And what is the connection between Tory activist Elliott Johnson’s death last September and the potential abuse of expense allowances?

The answer is Mark Clarke, who was behind the Tories’ RoadTrip 2015 operation. He is now expelled from the party.

Clarke faced allegations that he bullied, blackmailed and sexually assaulted fellow activists during his RoadTrip2015 campaign.

Johnson had written letters accusing Clarke of bullying. A tape emerged of Clarke interrogating Johnson.

Clarke is the media’s main source for the election spending allegations. That Clarke is the source does not mean the information is wrong.

There is more to come from this grubby tale of how the Tories win elections.

Yes for £1 bin bags, no for £2 tea bags

Family members hired by MPs earn thousands of pounds more than other staff and are seeing their salaries rocket.

Their pay is on average £5,600 higher, and going up at twice the rate of other staff in parliament.

Over the last parliament, one in four MPs hired a family member.

In that period, the total cost soared by nearly a quarter to a total of £4.7million a year.

The fat cat Tory MP Geoffrey Cox, who had his knuckles wrapped for failing to declare £400,000 of outside earnings on time, has claimed £1 on expenses for bin bags.

But his claim for £2 worth of tea bags was knocked back.

Climate change secretary Amber Rudd put in a claim of 27p for a 0.6 mile car journey.

Millionaire health secretary Jeremy Hunt claimed 27p on a car journey of less than a mile.

A deserving winner took the prize of £50 Tesco vouchers at the Royal Windsor Horse Show last week.

The renowned poverty-stricken queen nabbed the prize—and apparently “laughed uproariously”.

Gawd bless she deserves a bit of good fortune after a life of waving and sieg heiling.

South Yorkshire Police can’t stop themselves

A court case is investigating whether a South Yorkshire Police (SYP) helicopter has been used for “inappropriate filming”.

Two serving police officers are among five men on trial at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court.

Allegations have been made that they used the camera on the police helicopter to film people who were naked or having sex.

The others on trial are a retired police officer, a current pilot and a retired pilot.

All are charged with misconduct in public office relating to alleged incidents between 2007 and 2012.

The case continues.

Detective Constable Christopher Maitland, 40, was part of the Met’s sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command.

He was sentenced to five years and four months after pleading guilty to two counts of sexually touching a child under the age of 13. He also admitted making indecent images.

The Shred is cleared at last

Fred “the shred” Goodwin was stripped of his knighthood for his role in the financial crisis. He was Royal Bank of Scotland boss in 2008 when the bank asked shareholders to give it £12 billion.

Months later the value plunged by 90 percent and the government spent £45 billion of our money bailing RBS out.

But Fred the Shred has avoided any criminal charges. For nearly five years the Crown Office—Scotland’s equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service—has been investigating Goodwin’s actions.

Last week it said there is “insufficient evidence” to prosecute him.

Banker bashing baseball fraud was ‘old school’

Jonathan Mathew is one of the bankers at Barclays who participated in the Libor price rigging fraud.

His boss, senior Barclays trader Peter Johnson, used to hit him with a miniature baseball bat on the back of the head and the knuckles.

Mathew said he had learned a great deal from Johnson who, in October 2014, admitted fixing Libor rates.

“He was old school, a hard taskmaster and in the same respect he was a good teacher as well.”

Streeting’s bleatings

Wes Streeting is nominally a Labour MP.

Brother Streeting tweets, “It is just a bit frustrating to see days when Parliament isn’t sitting presented as ‘days off’.

After coming back from a holiday this week, MPs are off 26 May to 6 June and from 15 June to 27 June. They’re off from 21 July to 5 September. Back off 15 September to 10 October. Then a week off in November to get ready for Christmas

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