Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Memo to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner

To: John Lyon
From: Iain Dale
Re: Jacqui Smith

I understand you have written to the Home Secretary asking her to provide more details of the number nights she stays at her sister's house in South London. This follows evidence provided by her neighbours.

May I suggest that there is a simple solution to this. Perhaps you should ask her to ask her security detail to provide you with a record of exactly where she spends the majority of her time. If the response is that providing such information to you would jeopardise national security (or her own) it would surely smack of hyprocrisy from the woman who wants all of our details on any number of databases.


Unknown said...

I didn't think of that. Good idea Iain!

The documents relating to her security detail will either prove or disprove her claims to everyone's satisfaction.

If she's been lying however, then I expect the police will march into Parliament and arrest her and ransack her office looking for more evidence won't they? After all, she was keen the point out that the police have "operational independence" and "no-one is above the law".

We'll see..........

strapworld said...

Iain, What was Special Branch would never give this information. BUT the local police station which provides the uniformed guards outside her own and her sisters house will have the records!

It is as simple as that!

Then, Mr Smith might look and wonder where was his wife on those dates that do not tally!!!

All things lead to other issues!

Mazza1230 said...

(Vaz), Asked his view on John Lyon’s request for Jacqui Smith to explain her use of expenses he said, “I’m surprised because I have read the statement of the Home secretary. I am sure she has done absolutely nothing wrong.

"Only a fortnight ago when these allegations surfaced Jacqui Smith said she had done nothing wrong – that’s good enough for me. But let's let the Commissioner get on with the investigation.”

Well. That's alright then.......

Hamish said...

Another key question is the nature of the advice Ms Smith sought from the authorities.
Did she say "These are the facts - tell me which is my main home?".
Or did she ask a leading question?
And did the authorities say definitively that she could not claim her Redditch home as her main residence?

Mirtha Tidville said...

Unlikely that any reply would be forthcoming me thinks..

Bryan Dunleavy said...

A timely note. National security will be the first line of defence, privacy next, followed by being too costly to produce the information, followed by "lost on a train".

Plato said...

Exactly - the neighbours even made a point of this in their DMail interview - 'you know what day it is as by the coppers outside and don't see them for weeks in the summer'

Trend Shed said...

It is probably worth a flurry of Freedom of Information Requests:

1. Jacqui claims she sought advice over her arrangements. Who / What / When?

2. Which dates the police stood guard outside the sisters home?

3. Which dates were police stood outside the Redditch home?

Inspector Morse said...


Brilliant. No further questions or comment necessary.

Weygand said...

It is interesting to note that this change of heart by Lyon follows two recent articles in national newspapers.

One, by Peter Oborne, was a closely argued rebuttal of the 'no case to answer' brigade in which he condemned Lyon for being an "establishment stooge".

The second by Rachel Sylvester mentioned how civil servants are pulling back from the Labour administration, as they fear contamination in the eyes of the new order, when it inevitably takes over.

Lyon may be no Filkin (and the Conservatives have plenty of skeletons in this cupboard) but perhaps he sees that Cameron is unlikely to support his reappointment, if he turns his back on this.

May be the dead tree media still have their moments.

john problem said...

Please don't make the lady change her current accomodation arrangements. We now know where to find a policeman when we need one.

William Gruff said...

Good point Mr Dale.

Hugh Jorgen said...

There will be a great fudge about whether her whereabouts only counts where Parliament is sitting or whether it is the whole year. She'll probably just about make it if it is Parliamentary sessions only, but still a very dodgy gambit to maximise tax-free cash from public funds - and no interviewer has managed to find out why a free grace and favour flat is unacceptable, and why it is OK to rack up another 200K on police guards at her sister's place.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Refuser said...

Surely if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.

Anonymous said...

Don't see how this horrible minister can fail to be hung out. And after her Darling?

What an execrable shower of pocket liners.

What's so sad is that there are some decent people in parliament, all being stained by association.

Hacked Off said...

Alastair Darling, widely rumoured to be something to do with the Treasury, has been caught taking advantage of the generous fiddles available to all MPs.

He has claimed over £70,000 of tax free bunce for his million pound mansion in Edinburgh by pretending that his main residence is a fold down bunk bed in Margaret Beckett's caravan.

"It's a very cosy caravan," he said, "and Margaret makes a lovely cup of tea."

Jack Straw claims his main home is a bed in a dormitory at the YMCA in Bermondsey.

David Blunkett claims his main residence is a kennel at Battersea Dogs Home which he shares with Sadie.

The Penguin.

bustop said...

The 'security risk' defence would be laughable. For goodness sake she chooses to lodge with her sister! How secure is that? Why put her sister at risk, if risk there be? And if there is risk why not take the grace and favour apartment? Anyway as someone says above no dates/times are needed just the number of nights she was there over the period concerned.

Further to posters on the earlier entry. This, for me, is not a Party Political issue. The fact is that there will be many MP's on all sides doing a 'Jacqui' and they all need to be exposed.

This is the home secretary behaving like one of the 'knock off Nigels' we are asked to report. She is a Secretary of State - she should not need a Civil Servant to tell her what is right or wrong.

Mazza1230 said...

The other interesting aspect is that Smith's claim that her sister's flat in London is her primary residence is the precise OPPOSITE of the precedent established recently by the Balls/Coopers.

We can anticipate some interesting tortology from Mr Lyon to get himself out of this one!

Anonymous said...


Good point.

Anonymous said...

I don't like what JS seems to have done, but it is time we looked a bit wider. The old rules are not appropriate to the current situation.

Women are being accused at a rate well above their representation in the house. Part of that may be sexism in action, but it also looks as though there is an assumption in the system that everyone lives the life of a bachelor or a not very devoted family man. If JS just stayed in London drinking on Thursday nights she wouldn't have this problem. Women who try to wrap the rules around to cover them as effectively as they do a man's life get hammered. (Nanny no, chauffeur not a problem; home to kids no, night drinking in London fine as you don't have to work to get the allowance). You could argue that women MPs just break any and all rules more than men, but can you really claim that with a straight face?

The other point that is overlooked is how much the internet has changed things. A minister may be chained to their paperwork, but not to their physical desk. A grace and favour residence is not much of a reward for a minister who can sleep at the family home more often.

[Anyone else finding OpenID a total pain?]

Bill Quango MP said...

Love the picture. She looks as if she has just sat on a tazer.

JuliaM said...

"Women are being accused at a rate well above their representation in the house. Part of that may be sexism in action.."

Eh...? Is this a serious comment?

"You could argue that women MPs just break any and all rules more than men, but can you really claim that with a straight face? "


yarnesfromhorsham said...

"Something for the weekend Mr.Smith?" "No not this weekend not this weekend no not this weekend no not this weekend thank you"

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

But Iain, she doesn't 'want all of our details on any number of databases.'

Celebs, luvvies and Members of the Politburo will, of course, be exempt.

whufcpj said...

It is quite simple - stop all expenses and have a hall of residence for ALL MP's.

This will put a stop to this abuse of taxpayers money. Whether ot not is is in the rules it is wrong.

If you or I were found to evade tax we would be prosecuted yet these people can bleed us dry within the rules!

Mr Mr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mirtha Tidville said...

Newsnight are leading with this story tonight......God if THEY ever seriously turn against Nu Liebour they really are sunk..

Mr Mr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Post Codes are funny beasts.

As for it all down to her being a woman and sexist - thats baloney.

How can a spare room in her sisters house - even for 4 nights a week be a 'home' - when she has a long standing HOUSE in her constituency where her children sleep 7 nights a week??

Cynic said...

An anthem for new Labour

Piggies by The Beatles

Have you seen the little piggies
Crawling in the dirt
And for all those little piggies
Life is getting worse
Always having dirt to play around in.

Have you seen the bigger piggies
In their starched white shirts
You will find the bigger piggies
Stirring up the dirt
And they always have clean shirts to play around in.

And in their styes with all their backing
They don't care what goes on around
And in their eyes there's something lacking
What they needs a damm good whacking.

Yeah, everywhere there's lots of piggies
Playing piggy pranks
And you can see them on their trotters
Down at the piggy banks
Paying piggy thanks
To thee pig brother

- everybody: -
Everywhere there's lots of piggies
Living piggy lives
You can see them out for dinner
With their piggy wives
Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon.

One more time!

cassandra said...

I see that commissar Smith is conflating her visits to london with time spent in her sisters box room.
Smith gets use of a ministerial car to take her from her real home in Redditch to westminster then back to Redditch NOT stopping at her fake main residence(box room), then commissar Smith can claim that her days commuting to London and back to her real main home PLUS the odd night in the box room can be counted as days/nights spent at her fake main residence(box room), see the conflation here now?
She commutes via her ministerial car without visting the box room and then tries to justify the theft of expenses by joining the two together!
By trying to pretend that the police records of guard duties outside the fake main residence are unreliable she is clutching at straws, she is guilty and she knows it, by scrabbling around in desperation for any excuse like some common criminal she shows us all just how sleazy she is!

Pretty desperate and pathetic and just the excuse the watchdog is looking for to sweep the whole grubby episode under the bulging carpet at the Westminster expenses department!

Dick the Prick said...

She makes a nice cup of tea tho

davidc said...

how does js 'justify' the b & B money when parliament isn't
sitting or does she make a 'holidays time' holding payment on the boxroom ?

given the number of days m.p.'s have as official time off (not including bunking off early on thursdays- yes it's you we are looking at mr. speaker)it is difficult to see how she can claim more time spent in her 'main residence' than in redditch !

Roger Thornhill said...

Just get her mobile phone records, which will clearly show which masts it was using.

Again, she will be hoisted upon her own petard...and then for the long drop I hope.

Old Holborn said...

She's also a company director, yet I fail to see this in her register of interests

wv squit.

Anonymous said...

May I suggest a new second home?

Word verification is MOUNT - good grief!

Anonymous said...

I do know that there has been a complaint made to the Standards Commission and it is not from the Taplins. Perhaps it is this other complaint that the Commission is following up.

Mr Mr said...

Ben Wallace is has has sent an excellent letter to PCS quotong the commissioner's own findings into the Ed Balls Yyvette Cooper scam. It is hard to see how the commissioner will argue the exact oposite in Jacqui Smith's case. Of course it will be whoever told Miss Smith that she was doing no wrong who will get the ultimate stick.

Mr John Lyon CB
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
18 February 2009

Dear Mr Lyon,

I write further to my complaint of 10 February and the telephone call my Office made to your staff on 17 February 2009.

Having looked in depth at the original complaint made against Ed Balls MP and Yvette Cooper MP it is clear that you instigated an Inquiry on similar or less evidence than was presented to you by the Mail on Sunday on 8 February. In addition you will, of course, be aware of the evidence provided by Mr and Mrs Taplin, Jacqui Smith’s neighbours in London, which was published by the Daily Mail on 16 February. In the light of these events I ask that you re-examine my complaint and begin an investigation into whether the Home Secretary has abused the allowance system by claiming money for her main residence. In establishing where her main residence is I would ask that you take into account Police records of when she has been present at her London address, Council Tax discount applied at London or Redditch and the recent statement by her neighbours in London.

I also ask that you bear your findings of the investigation into Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper and claims they had made through the Additional Costs Allowance. I believe the following observations to be of particular relevance to this case:

"If a Member has his or her family living permanently in their constituency home and has modest accommodation in London big enough only for themselves, and which they use only when Parliament is in session, then it would clearly seem to be a matter of fact that that Member’s main home is in the constituency."

"In the case of Ms Cooper and Mr Balls, however, they maintain two properties sufficient for them to conduct their family life in both London and in Castleford."

"When there is genuine doubt about a main home and the considerations are evenly balanced, then the Member and the Department should give particular weight to ensuring that the home the Member designates as their main home results in a smaller claim on the Additional Costs Allowance than would be the case if they designated the other property."

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,


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Dick Puddlecote said...

That is class!

Nothing to hide ...