Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Could Ian Gibson Take Labour to Court?

So Labour's Star Chamber has swung the axe, albeit after all four victims had already beheaded themselves. Messers Chaytor, Moran, Morley and Gibson have all been thrown on the political scrapheap and been told they won't be allowed to stand as Labour candidates again. The first three were open and shut cases, but I can't help thinking that there are quite a few Labour MPs who have done far worse than Ian Gibson. Non payment of taxes counts in my book as a far more serious offence than selling your flat to your daughter at a cut price rate. The former involves a breach of the law. The latter does not. If Ian Gibson is not fit to stand for the Labour Party, is Geoff Hoon? Is Tony McNulty? Is Hazel Blears? Is Alistair Darling? Last Saturday, I wrote about Ian Gibson in my regular column for the Eastern Daily Press...
The expenses scandal has provided a major boost for many struggling local and regional newspapers. They have been able to follow up the Telegraph’s revelations and hold their own MPs to account. In the EDP’s case, however, it proved to be the other way around. Labour MP Ian Gibson thought he was pulling a good political stunt when he volunteered to give the EDP the opportunity to publish his own expenses. But he reaped a very unfortunate reward when the Telegraph decided to compare Gibson’s published version with the information they held on him. They revealed some highly questionable conduct regarding the sale of his London flat to his daughter at half the market rate. Ian Gibson has always enjoyed a reputation as someone who doesn’t take orders from the whips and is a man of independent spirit. Like Julie Kirkbride, I would never have thought he would be caught up in this scandal. As one of his constituents said to me: “Well if Ian Gibson is involved in it, it must mean they’re all at it.”

Gibson has said he will stand down if local people want him to. What he hasn’t explained is how he will judge that. By his postbag? By the EDP letters page? By the reaction of his own local Labour Party? I think we should be told.

Mr Gibson is now said to be "considering his options". I am not surprised. I suspect his only option now is through the courts. I do wonder about the natural justice in this. Does anyone really think this would be happening if it was Ed Balls in the frame? Gibson has been a thorn in the side of the Labour whips for years, and there will be few tears shed in Labour Party HQ about his fate.

But rest assured, there will be more than a few Conservatives watching his next move with great interest.

40 comments:

dearieme said...

What was the point of selling the flat to his daughter at half price? Is it an Inheritance Tax fiddle? Sorry, I don't mean "fiddle", I mean "stratagem".

backbenchwarrior said...

Say goodbye to New Labour. It's going to be a painful end.

Batteredstrat said...

My first instinct was that he was being targeted for removal because he was not lobby fodder for the whips. Darling, Hoon, Purnell and Smith are all still there...

But I think we as Conservatives should be looking a bit closer to home. Cameron has had my full support up until now. He says he wants backbenchers to be more independent, the legislature more powerful. He makes a hypocrite of himself with his treatment of Bill Cash who has been a strong Eurosceptic with an independent streak.

Cameron is treating Cash differently from other MPs who have committed much more serous offences, Cash has not broken the rules as they stand.

Compare his treatment with the support given to Julie Kirkbride, who I think was probably involved in a claim for AHA with her full knowledge which was fraudulent.

Is Cameron really what we hoped he would be or is the kind of politician who dispenses with principle for advantage, just like the rudderless unprincipled man he wishes to replace?

Anonymous said...

This turd said his constituents were inbreds. Coming from a Scot, that's very rich indeed, especially one who was photographed for his website, wagging the Scottish flag. You know this already though, Ian.

Ian Gibson also once said he wished he could go back to Scotland, now that they had their own Parliament. It was fitting that a nation governed itself, but at the same time, he said England should never be allowed its own Parliament.

Well, now that his gravy train has come to an end, he has no reason to stay here. The sooner England gets rid of these treacherous little McShites, the better.

Anonymous said...

Could he be so annoyed with the Labour Party that he went now ( I think its called applying for the Chiltern hundreds ?)

He could stand as an independant and call himself Real Labour.

What a delicious prospect.

Lord Lavendon said...

Are we to be surprised about any of this given that the panel deciding these matters has been dubbed a 'star chamber’? Says it all. Guilty and innocent will both go to the guillotine.

Anonymous said...

Not sure about the legal proceedures involved ... probably one for 'my learned friends' ... but the possibility of a spirited and determined response from the independent minded Dr Gibson is simply delicious.

Whatever happened to the 'iron fist' discipline of the early Blair years. If the country were not in such a dire mess it would be funny.

Martin Day said...

Whilst i would never vote Labour - Gibson hates Brown!

He was afterall shouted at in a supermarket!

Whilst he may have been wrong in the court of public opinion for selling his flat cheap to his child.

I do not hold it against him - he was not enriching himself and i wonder what the price was when he bought it? What i like about Gibson even though it was at the taxpayer expense he helped his child. He did not help himself - that is different to tax avasion that some Labour MPs have done.

It is a different case entirely and i am sympathetic to him despite his alleged wrongdoing. Ian believes in Socialism, whilst i do not i think that his case is interesting because he did it to help his child.

Far worse is the dodgy people enrishing themselves! On that account Ian is marginal and i can think of many more Labour MPs who should go in the cabinet!

Fausty said...

"Ian Gibson has always enjoyed a reputation as someone who doesn’t take orders from the whips and is a man of independent spirit"That's probably why he was discarded. He's expendable.

The same applies to Conservative 'embarrassments'.

Thomas Rossetti said...

I personally think it's a good thing the Labour party has done this. As has been pointed out by numerous people before, if you're caught cheating your company out of money you can't just say, "Okay, I'll pay it back" and expect everything to be okay. They normally fire you and call the police in.

Why can't politicians be treated in the same way?

http://twitter.com/thomasrossetti

Morus said...

Well that means a very happy Conservative candidate in Norwich North...

Carl Gardner said...

Health warning: I've done no research so am just reacting instantly to your post. But I think it's difficult to imagine successful court action.

He might sue in contract; but only if he could show a breach of Party rules. And it seems a bit weird, anyway.

More realistically, he could try a judicial review. But for that, the Labour party's decision would have to be of a public nature. Well, arguably, it is, if it stops someone being an MP. But it doesn't, strictly, does it? He could be reelected, just for another party, or as an independent. I doubt he gets over this hurdle.

Tommy Graham threatened JR when he was expelled in 1998 - but did that get anywhere? I can't find a record of a judicial review case actually taken by him against Labour.

Bryan Dunleavy said...

Brown is going to put his enemies to the sword before his friends - although that day may come. That still does not exonerate Gibson. He should go, and I say that about ny MPs I like and have admired who have been tempted to fiddle the system.

trevorsden said...

i think you will find its Cash who has made a fool of himself by his actions.

Armed Forces minister Bob Ainsworth is another who when he dies we will find the word 'Artex' engraved on his heart.

Come on Mr Anonymous - tell us your true feelings.

Loki said...

Sorry I'm at a bit of a loss regarding this post! I agree that as a non-member of the golden circle he'll be treated differently but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be being treated the way he is! After all he used our money to buy and refurbish a house which he then rented and subsequently sold to his daughter at a fraction of the price. No doubt (although I don't know) this was his "first home" so he'll have paid no capital gains tax and as the house was sold so cheaply his daughter will have paid much less stamp duty. So a potential treble defraud on the taxpayer! He has no defence, just the same has Balls, Purnell, Darling, Blears, Hoon et al!

Peter D said...

Why are these MPs of all parties being allowed to 'not stand at the next election'. Surely by-elections should be called to replace them as soon as possible. I realise there will be extra cost involved but I for one would rather pay to get rid of them now.
It might 'lance the boil' so that a general election the electorate were voting on policies rather than expense accounts.

Gareth said...

Gibson didn't just sell the flat to his daughter and her boyfriend at approximately half the market value, the couple lived there rent free for several years beforehand as well.

On the matter of taxes as far as I can tell he gifted the flat to the couple with them taking over what was left of the mortgage, if the value of the remainder of the mortgage was below the Stamp Duty threshold there would be no stamp duty liability for the couple.

For inheritance tax purposes he needs to live more than 7 years after gifting the flat to be certain there will be no inheritance tax liability.

Chances are there will be a coverall clause in the membership rules that gives Labour to eject whoever they like. I'd guess the only chance Gibson could have of successful legal action is if he could demostrate the Party knew of his arrangements and condoned them until now.

Salmondnet said...

Gibson, like Cash, is getting worse treatment because the leadership of his party views him as a member of the awkward squad. That said, anonymous 8.55 has got his number. Let him return to his beloved Scotland. We don't need him.

trevorsden said...

Gibson's Constituency Chairman was hopping mad and very emotional on BBC news just now. The word 'scapegoat' was used. Not a happy man, not happy with the 'star chamber' that is.

So justified or not, and I really do not know - the whole expenses scandal is being devalued by sensationalised reporting, this is clearly leaving some activists well a bit annoyed.

Mirtha Tidville said...

Mixed feelings on Ian Gibson. I think there are others (Hoon and Blears to name just 2) who have done far worse and are still there..

As for Bill Cash, I`m personally delighted Cameron has kicked his ass out. For those old enough to remember this Bozo was one of a small clique including Tony Marlowe and Theresa Gorman who made John Majors life hell ( Bastards he called them) and helped towards his downfall and allowed this shower of shit to misrule us for so long..

Good riddence Cash you`ve finally got your come uppance..delighted

Sandy Jamieson said...

Re Carl Gardner @ 9.05 p.m Bearing in mind Tommy Graham was the MP for a Renfrewshire constituency, the matter would be dealt with in the Scottish legal system. He could have sought an Interim Interdict (anglice Injunction)-he didn't

But the basis of Judical review is not the same in Scotland as it is in England. However bearing in mind Tommy Graham was just another West of Scotland Labour politician, who cares.

Norfolk Turnip Grower said...

He is Old Labour, but still a SPIV. The voters of Norwich should hang their heads in shame for electing such a charlaton. Has any one examined his claim to call himself Docter? It might be a PHD in media studies or social engineering.

Anonymous said...

In view of the fact that Ian Gibson did a lot of good work in promoting the interests of UKs Nuclear Test veterans I am genuinely sad about this. I think that he did wrong but I think he at least should have been allowed to put his case to his cinstituents.
The fact that he has not perhaps demonstrates more to do with fact that he has upset someone higher in the Labour Party machine.
I wonder now who will take on the cause of UKs Nuclear Test Veterans?

IainM

Norfolk Blogger said...

And to think I beat you to this story by more than an hour Iain !!!

I agree with what you say though. Labour have chosen to make an example of him to look tough and protect those closest to Brown.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Norfolk Turnip Grower, you make yourself look very stupid by making such accusations.

Dr Gibson was, before entering parliament, one of the countries leading experts in cancer research. One argument some Tories were using in 1997 was "Don't elect and he might cure cancer".

Anonymous said...

This is just the tit-for-tat [oo,er] dutch auction which is now going on with a competition between Gordon and Dave over who is most macho, as measured by political sacrifices...

Where will it end ?

Alex said...

Peter D said...
"Why are these MPs of all parties being allowed to 'not stand at the next election'. Surely by-elections should be called to replace them as soon as possible."

Because since these MPs have been elected they have the right to stay in parliament until the next election. Moral: be carful who you vote for because you will be stuck with them for up to 5 years.

A party cannot force an MP to stand down, and frankly Gibson's selling a property to his daughter is a private matter between them. If the Labour Party want to say that they won't nominate him as their candidate, then that is a matter between him and the Labour Party.

Johnny Norfolk said...

He is moraly corupt in what he has done and should go. The Labour party has made the right move.

Anonymous said...

"Now is the time for a futile gesture.."

Tom Paine said...

"The former involves a breach of the law. The latter does not."

I do wish you would stop issuing inaccurate legal opinions, Iain. Whether there was a breach of the law depends on his intent. If, for example, he intended so to manipulate the system as to acquire and enhance a flat for his daughter on the cheap (rather than for his legitimate use as a second home necessary for the performance of his duties as an MP) then every expense claim declaring that it was the latter was a fraud.

King Athelstan said...

He wouldn't be the first to turn on the Liebour hierarchy and win now would he?

jonnyargles said...

But Gibson was right about Norwich; it's a simple fact of isolation and lack of opportunities a few hundred years ago. In fact it's said that the population would be entirely inbred were it not for the invention of the bicycle. I used to live in Peterborough, and people whose parents lived there actually did have webbing between their fingers and toes.

Also, I think he's been hard done by. As far as I understand, he's just sold a property - which under current rules is his own, anyway, at a rate he was happy to charge.

IF either the idea of constituency and Westminster homes, or Clegg's idea of paying back all Capital Gains to the taxpayer was in play, then yes, it would have been trying to save his daughter money at the expense of the taxpayer, but provided that there's no benefit in kind involved, I don't really see what he's supposed to have done wrong. If he lives for seven years afterwards, then she gets it tax-free. If he carks it soon, then it gets thrown into the pot as part of his estate. My parents - I think - could happily sell me their house below market rate without raising HM

wildgoose said...

Scotland has a much smaller (and more widely dispersed) population than England and historically had far less opportunities - hence the steady migration into England of their brightest and best.

Which would leave their lower-IQ brethren to slowly become more and more inbred. But somehow I can't see Ian Gibson making this kind of comment about his fellow Scots even though he was happy enough to describe his own constituents in that fashion.

In other words, just another Anglophobic bigot. Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

I think many people are missing the point and falling for Dr Gibson's and his party chairman's attempts to make this appear as if he is being victimised. He not only sold a flat to his daughter at below market rate - that flat had been claimed for for years, along with all utility bills, to keep his daughter and her partner at the public's expense.

I don't get why people think this is excusable. If a member of the public stole to benefit their children financially, we wouldn't be exempted from the legal consequences because we didn't benefit personally. Why should the public pay all the bills for an MP's adult child and partner?

And Dr Gibson's attempts to make it appear that he had nothing to hide by challenging his fellow Norfolk MPs to post their expenses online now seem a bit stupid. If you check the expenses he himself posted, they all seem to be in remarkably rounded figures, and there seems a lot of variation in utility and Council Tax bills too. Charles Clarke's expenses, on the other hand, do at least seem like real sums of money in that they seem consistent and aren't neat multiples of £10 and £50 etc.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we should also note that Ian Gibson voted against the bill to try to reform the second homes allowance last year - which surely doesn't suggest someone who genuinely thought he had nothing to hide?

I think some people are confusing "maverick" with "squeaky clean" if they don't understand the severity of what he's done wrong.

I can't however blame Norfolk people for being confused as local TV and newspaper coverage has been far from neutral, treating this case as if journalists can't understand what he has done wrong either. Some coverage has almost made it appear that his next step won't be to go to court, or to stand as an independent, but to be sanctified instead. Maybe they just can't face up to the disappointment of finding out that their maverick MP who they thought was better than more whip-abiding members, was no better than anyone else. Or maybe it's because they won't be able to use the man known locally as "rent-a-quote" on a daily basis anymore.

David Lindsay said...

Very good luck to him, say I.

Who is Labour going to impose on the constituencies of Elliot Morley, Margaret Moran, David Chaytor and Ian Gibson? We can no doubt guess the type, even if not the individuals.

Norwich North may be a bit marginal for Georgia Gould, like a seat in either Bury or Luton. She seems more likely to be given Scunthorpe. Fill in the blank: "Georgia Gould, Putting The .... Into Scunthorpe".

But I hope that she is put up in Dr Gibson's constituency. I cannot for the life of me see what he is supposed to have done wrong. And he would beat her hands down.

Anonymous said...

I've done several family trees for Norfolk families. They are not inbred.
Unlike Scotland, Norwich was a major city, with a large, flowing population and has been so for many hundreds of years.
A Scot saying Norfolk people are inbred, is pathetic. The evidence does not back him up. He's just displaying his ignorance and anti-English sentiments.

I suggest he studies Beowulf and weeps at his own stupidity. Scotland could never top England's history. Never.

Gongdonkey said...

I agree Iain,, although the costings seem to be a "liberal" usage of expenses, the selling of a flat at below market rate is a personal decision, not a criminal one.
I would willing do that - providing that it was a financial step that I could take (n.b. without taxpayers' input) - just to give them a 'leg up' in an uncertain world.

Gongdonkey. said...

A further comment - it was said earlier regarding M.P.s regarding resigning/being sacked over this episode, that they are technically self-employed as far as tax etc., etc.. was concerned - so who is he going to sue. He can stand again quite easily - but as an independent ( i.e. no party support.) therefore he cannot sue for unfair dismissal, I would have thought.

Gongdonkey said...

Sorry. Just re-read those two postings of mine .... I can only plead one glass too may of the damned fine bottle of red for causing the missing words and bloody awful semantics.
Mea ( and the red wine) Culpa.