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Nick Robinson | 16:42 UK time, Thursday, 5 June 2008

So Giles Chichester has done for members of the European Parliament what Derek Conway did for MPs.

Giles ChichesterHe's resigned after it was revealed that he broke the rules on expenses when thousands of pounds were paid into a family firm of which he was a director.

Mr Chichester was, would you believe, not just the leader of the Tory group in Strasbourg but the man charged by David Cameron with ensuring that the rules were observed. Team Cameron didn't share his view that this was merely a "whoops-a-daisy" moment.

Understandably, Team Brown cannot resist observing that, once again, it is a Conservative who's been found taking a less than entirely rigorous attitude to paying themselves the public's money.


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  • Comment number 1.

    You mean he resigned before he was sacked. Well done DC.... Unlike Labour who have kicked all their improprieties into the long grass under the smokescreen of a "review"

  • Comment number 2.

    Who revealed it Nick?

  • Comment number 3.


    No doubt there will be plenty of tit for tat over this, but tragically I don't think either party can take the moral high ground. In the 90s the Tories were beset by sleaze scandals which seemed to mainly focus on their inability to stop sleeping with prostitutes / each other / etc. In the last ten years the sleaze allegations that have beset Labour MPs have tended to be financial. But in reality goodness only knows what certain Tory MPs got away with financially when they were in power.

    I'd like to see them all get paid more as a basic salary, and then just cut away all the "expenses" and outside interests. If they are sitting members of a Parliament then that is all they should be doing.

  • Comment number 4.

    Interesting post, more in-depth comment at Guido's

    I think there is more to be revealed here. Keep us posted Nick.

  • Comment number 5.

    Did Dave give him his free tupperware on the way out or do you have to go to one of the roadshows for that? Maybe Dave will give him a "K" or a "Qango". Dunno what a "K" is but I could do with a Qango to mow the grass.

    *sniff* Don't matter. I hear George "Double the Difference" Osbourne will dish out some graft. Yeah, cuz the Euro thing said sumfink about paying cash back. Dat sounds better now even dah nobs are getting squeezed.

    Oh, moley. £445,000. That's a lottery win!

  • Comment number 6.

    On the one hand well done DC for dealing with this promptly and not trying to cover it up. On the other hand did he have a choice as the media would have ripped him had he not attended to this.

    The sad thing is that this demonstrates that where money is involved you have to have checks via an external oversight. Pay should not be determined by MPs and expenses should be hived off to the Audit Commission or some such grouping.

    I worked at the European Parliament years ago and little has changed so far as I can see. Many MEPs used to turn up at Strasbourg and claim their generous expenses - and then leave immediately without doing a stroke.

    I think they also used to need an Audit Commission to check up - don't think they have one yet?

  • Comment number 7.

    Nick, I am just watching the first Cameron direct on the Conservative party website.
    Since you missed most of it, perhaps you could watch it at your leisure and then re-write you previous blog entry!

  • Comment number 8.


    It is still Labour MEPs who are resisting the most basic questions about their expenses for the 'open europe' survey.

    This episode shows (as does the uk parliamentry expenses FoI issue) how important it is for public access to this information.

    Who guards the guards?

    We the public must - but we need the tools and information to do so.

  • Comment number 9.

    #3 colinefb - once again I find myself in complete agreement, except that I think you may have forgotten some brown envelope issues from the 90's, and at least two cases of sexual impropriety in this century.

    Nice to see Blair in action again today btw. A great guy doing a big (some will say impossible) job that he certainly didn't have to do, and doing it for nothing except the opportunity to serve his country and the world.

  • Comment number 10.

    Oh What a surprise. The Tories bleat on about repecting taxpayer's money and bemoan the way Labour Governments waste Taxpayer's money. But if they believe that nobody will find out about their fiddles, the snouts go into the trough and stay there. You would have thought that a Party that hates the EC would have been more careful. It would be a nice change if David Cameron was actively questioned by John Humphries about how this was allowed to go on for so long. Cameron accuses Brown of being responsible for everything that goes wrong, even the Global Credit Crunch caused by American Bankers. But in this case the Conservative leader must accept responsibility for the action of his appointed MEP leader. I doubt it will happen though. Just like drugs and traffic offenses Dave will not be subjected to a Humphries Inquisition.

  • Comment number 11.

    Has he stood down as Leader or has he resigned as an MEP? There is a difference. Conway is still being paid a salary and presumably expenses as an M.P. and will do so till the next General Election. Not much of a punishment there then. If Mr Chichester was an Honourable man surely he should resign his seat now and Camoron should insist on this.

  • Comment number 12.

    I can imagine what would happen if this excuse was used for a 12 year old mis claimed housing benifit . Has anyone in politics any credibility left?

  • Comment number 13.

    Yes Cameron has acted promptly and well done for that however there is something strange about the EU in the sense that it corrupts everyone who comes into contact with it. Whether politician, judge or civil servant, or journalist, they become infected.

    The symptoms are: They become far too clever and knowledgeable to even think of trying to explain what the EU is about to "ordinary citizens". They then want a post with the Brussels Plutocracy which is never audited and public money = "my pocket money"

    Worse than that, with 80% of our laws now being dictated to us from Brussels, our local MPs (Westminster Town Hall clerks) have also become infected with similar corrupt practices, the first commoner or Speaker Martin being the first one to put his trotters in the trough - latest prize a substantial Pension but, they are all at it.

    We need to leave the EU and repeal a lot of pointless legislation so that all public servants are accountable before British Courts with no right of appeal beyond these shores. Look upon it like the time a few years back when British Soccer fans were banned from Europe, it helped sort out that problem !

  • Comment number 14.

    Was the comment about Team Brown really needed, or was it more party political?

  • Comment number 15.

    Many more MEP's are in the same boat. They will be leaked soon.

    With all the trouble with expenses at Westminster, we now have to demand publication of all expenses, MP's and MEP's

  • Comment number 16.

    the-real-truth - "Who guards the guards?"

    Well, that is all of us, in that they (MPs, MEPs, etc.) are working on our behalf. Of course, "is " and, "are" have to be replaced with, "should."

  • Comment number 17.

    Even after this Dave gets congratulated for acting so swiftly. What choice did he have after all the accusations and blame he lays at others feet.

    And lets be honest it wasn't difficult cos I doubt if many people had even heard of the bloke. He didn't act so swiftly over the issue of Osbournes Office expenses donations beind camouflaged through Tory Central Office.

    I can see why his party love him cos of his apparent abillity to give Gordon Brown and Labour a tough time with the goading at PMQs, but in power that particular "skill" is redundant and you suddenly have to make decisions. Recent examples from Dave, 2005 manifesto, Economic advisor to Lamont!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    I can imagine what would happen if this excuse was used for a 12 year old mis claimed housing benifit . Has anyone in politics any credibility left?

    That was pretty much my point along with a question of Cameron's surface swiftness to act. There's a certain arrogance and spin about the thing. Then again, people at the bottom have issues of their own that they need help fixing.

    I'm generally supportive of an incomes policy. The upper and lower deciles are nuts. Nobody can live on what the lowest get paid and anything about 10 times over the lowest income is dubious. Plus, expense and tax dodges have to end.

    Maybe, it's wishful thinking again but I'd like to see this as another opportunity to develop positive consensus. I'm sure the Prime Minister would welcome Cameron standing "shoulder to shoulder" with him on ending this madness.
  • Comment number 19.

    £445K banked and he resigned because he was found out. He's been doing it since 1996. Would he have resigned if he had not be found out...of course not! So now all is forgiven and DC can say he has a honest party.

    Though this episode surely brings into doubt Mr Cameron's judgment!

    It shows how corrupt politicians have become especially the conservatives who seem to do it on a different scale.

    Will Giles Chichester give back this money which is after all our taxes?

  • Comment number 20.

    Nick, Your colleague, Mark Mardell, said: "I think the biggest effect it [Mr Chichester's stepping down] will have on the European Parliament is to lower it even further in the esteem of people who feel it's nothing more than a gravy train."

    Absolutely. And anything that further discredits MEPs and the corrupting influence of the corrupt EU is all for the good.

    Team Cameron may be embarrassed - and rightly so, but Team Brown should not crow: whenever a Nu Labour MP (or MEP) is found wanting they cling to their office with a rictus grip and need to be pried off with crowbars (think Peter Hain, etc.)

  • Comment number 21.

    As the BBC News website says: "He will continue to be a Conservative MEP for South West England and Gibraltar."

    Why? As you said Nick he is the EU equivalent for the Tories as was Derek Conway for parliament. David Chameron forced DC to stand down for the next election. So why not in this case? Double standards from David Chameron, I think.

  • Comment number 22.

    What a lot of nonsense popskihaynes (no. 13). A tory politician does what many of his kind have done before and all of a sudden it's the EU (and by implication those johnny foreigners) to blame, and we have to leave to expiate the sins of the few. Nonsense.

    The "Brussels plutocracy", by the way, is alot smaller, more audited and democratic than its UK equivalent. In terms of your "pocket money", more has been spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, without even mentioning the Olympics. 1% of the EU budget (to which the UK contributes far less than others) goes towards the administration.

    "Public servants accountable before British Courts", like Derek Conway, eh?

    Btw, the hooligan problem was sorted out so efficiently simply because we wanted to get back into European competitions!

  • Comment number 23.

    jimbrant @ 9 wrote: "Nice to see Blair in action again today btw. A great guy doing a big (some will say impossible) job that he certainly didn't have to do, and doing it for nothing except the opportunity to serve his country and the world.

    I'm surprised he has the time now that he's declared himself God's representative on earth.

    I suppose it may help sell a few more copies of his wife's book.... Cynical? You bet! The man's a charlatan.

  • Comment number 24.

    Actually, this man should be sacked for total incompetence - £400,000 over 12 years is really pathetic, Balls/Cooper do £300,000 a year in expenses between them from the UK Parliament. This MEP lacks the ambition to be a successful rouge and the necessary guile to get away with it.

    So Null Points for Chichester, he didn't try hard enough. Why didn't he talk to the Kinnocks ? I bet they could have advised him better !

  • Comment number 25.

    What is so strange, everyone knows the European Parliament is the biggest gravy train on the planet?

  • Comment number 26.

    Yes Team Brown but what about Harriet Harman resigning? Surely impropriety there as well.

    I don't know the system in Europe but it all needs over hauling and an independent group of accountants/business people giving out the money and judging if expenses are appropriate, and how they are dished out. Currently we are spending fortunes keeping all these MPs and MEPs whilst our soldiers earn a pittance. It is a disgrace and we should all be ashamed of our political system.

  • Comment number 27.

    #3: colinefb

    Can I say that I entirely agree with your comments.

    And these are the beggars who crank out laws for us mere mortals.

  • Comment number 28.

    On a related point, Nick, you quite correctly stated in an earlier radio report that Chichester is not a household name. [Until now..] But why?

    No MEP is a 'household name' and I feel it is not an accident, but almost by design..

    They seem to be kept remote from us, with little knowledge about where their 'patch' is and what remit they have. Would any of us have a clue about how to lobby them to stop farm subsidies, say, or threaten to vote for somebody else if they didn't change policies on climate change ?

    The reality is we are kept in the dark about how the EU functions, we aren't encouraged to find anything out about it, and they seem to operate by the 'if voting changes anything, then abolish it' diktat.

    This is the tip of the iceberg - people have twigged that we are bed led up the garden path by these people, with no opportunity to boot them, and their sinister cabals, out in the way we have with Westminster politicians.

    And now that people are waking up to the truth about the lack of democracy in the law making process in the European Union, then Pandora's box will not easily be closed.

  • Comment number 29.

    #23 ScepticMax:

    I agree with you that it's a shame that Blair has gone all superstitious on us, and I've said so previously on here. But the rest of your post is a bit silly. The man gave up hundreds of thousands of salary when he was PM, and is now doing a big international job for nothing. Charlatans don't do that. Disagree with him if you like, but unsubstantiated name calling doesn't get anybody anywhere.

  • Comment number 30.

    Apalling behaviour and this man deserved to be sacked.

    Staying with the subject of corruption, Nick, I wonder if you could pursue as a matter of urgency exactly what Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC went into 10 Downing St to talk about on Monday?

    Some are suggesting that he has been brought in to use union funds to clear Labour's £7.5m debt (of which it appears Gordon is personally liable) which falls due at the end of this month? Further, some have suggested that this money may have made a round trip from the taxpayer through the "Union Modernistation Fund" (sic) administered through the DTI?

    I look forward to a detailed blog on this very subject.

  • Comment number 31.

    Lucky Dave. This gets him out of that stupid Eurosceptic armlock he was in. This will ofcuscte the issue for a couple of years...

    Dave's doesn't need to have his snout in the troff because he's a toff..

  • Comment number 32.

    Take a reality check. Cameron can only remove the Conservative whip, He cannot force him to resign as an MEP.

  • Comment number 33.

    23# and 29# re the unsubstantiated name calling.... and why is this such a trait of the Conservative and anti-labour posting on here, it's so noticeable. What does it say I wonder when you can't express an opinion without name calling, it reminds me of school.

  • Comment number 34.

    Why is anyone suggesting that 'Dave' is embarrased in any genuine way? I have just seen the TV spin slot - it is all active-seeming , tough-sounding, non-speak.

    For goodness sake. The man in question is either lacking in the basic nous to be trusted with senior level responsibilities or he is just one of the long line of people of that ilk who just stuff their snouts in the trough without any sense that any rules apply to them.

    A more important point. When is the BBC going to get past the 'do you have any messages to share with our listeners/viewers' type interviews with the New Lab..(sorry Conservatives)?

    No doubt the 'they all object so we must be doing something right' cannard will come to mind. However this is complacent drivel.

    Why should we not hear Labour Left (when it is not just an excuse for attacking the Labour Government)? Same thing with the Lib-Dems. Where are those Conservatives who are vocal and have non-Dave Spin views, but who never seem to be reported?

    Presumably the Conservative Party are more disciplined as they sniff power. But is that any excuse for journalists? How lazy are you?

  • Comment number 35.

    This is the tip of the iceberg - people have twigged that we are bed led up the garden path by these people, with no opportunity to boot them, and their sinister cabals, out in the way we have with Westminster politicians.

    People make mistakes and have difficulties so things like this happen. There's been enough manufactured outrage kicking around lately. I hope the Prime Minister can be understanding and magnanimous as is befitting someone of his gravity. Of course, if he is then Cameron's really stuffed.
  • Comment number 36.

    jimbrant @29. Having an 'unpaid' international post raises his profile (or, more correctly, keeps his profile high) which is of substantial value to his employers JP Morgan (who are said to be paying him $1 million per year). Additionally, while his post is unpaid, his expenses are generous by any standard.

    Additionally, I don't think that many people would consider that calling Tony ("I'm a pretty honest kinda guy") Blair a 'charlatan' - dictionary definition: a flamboyant deceiver - to be unsubstantiated.

    As for "it's a shame that Blair has gone all superstitious on us" - he always was a superstitious type (religious, superstitious, same difference). Surely those who voted for him all those times should have known that.

  • Comment number 37.

    Would it not be great for us all to be able to have a £400,000 "whoops-a-daisy" every now and again. This clown should be taken to court and charged as a thief. He has clearly robbed us all to feather his own nest. If you and I had done something similar you can bet your feet would not touch the deck. It is becoming clear that being an MP is not about working for the people who voted you in. The big kipper smile they have and the rubber hand they extend to get your vote is not a feeling of joy for you but the knowledge that they can now live like a king out of the perks. Gone are the days of the MP who has a pride in what he does for the people. We, Joe public are no better as we do nothing about them when they trip over the scam and have to stand up and say they had a "whoops-a-daisy". I take it he has paid the £400,000 back before someone looks to closely at what else he has donated to himself. Is it any wonder the country is in such a state when the people who are elected to run the country only run it for them and the family business.

  • Comment number 38.

    another person who needs a reality check. When I read this, i didnt know whether to laugh or cry.

    "I hope the Prime Minister can be understanding and magnanimous as is befitting someone of his gravity. Of course, if he is then Cameron's really stuffed.

    I'd like to hear you re-post that after Labour are trounced. David Cameron has done what he had to do. Gordon pushed all the Labour sleazel in to the long grass by means of a review. Cameron did what needed to be done ... pretty much immediately.

  • Comment number 39.

    "21 - Take a reality check. Cameron can only remove the Conservative whip, He cannot force him to resign as an MEP."

    No32: Are you seriously suggesting that David Chameron is unable to prevent a MEP from representing/standing again for his party at the EU elections?

    Looks like the Police will need to be called in to do the job that Chameron won't do. Of course who asked GC to make sure "that the rules were observed"? Splendid judgment on that person's part.

  • Comment number 40.

    At 7:20 pm on 05 Jun 2008, Charles_E_Hardwidge wrote:

    "That was pretty much my point along with a question of Cameron's surface swiftness to act. There's a certain arrogance and spin about the thing. Then again, people at the bottom have issues of their own that they need help fixing."

    I'm sorry Charles, but what if it was a Labour MEP? ALL parties have MPs/MEPs with the same problem over expense claims.

    I've always believed that MPs/MEPs should not hold any other job (except established Charities) while they are serving. The Tories were right to deal with him quickly. Would Labour have done the same thing?

    Perhaps you would like to comment on Wendy Alexander's recent "donations".

    I'm not making any excuses for Mr Chichester - he should resign as an MEP. He trots out the same excuses as every other one - Labour/LibDem/Conservative - who gets found out. "Oversight" is a feeble excuse given for people who run the country or Europe.

  • Comment number 41.

    the blair clone/clown cameron asks his leading mep to step down,because he was FOUND OUT,the hypocrite lib-lab-con parties slated ukip meps.
    yet we have kicked out 2 meps for dubious expenses .
    i enjoy the quislings destroying our democracy being exposed.
    as fpr ravenseft laughable claim ''the eu is more audited than westminster'' really????
    perhaps you would like to contact mep paul van buiten or auditor sacked by lord kinnock,marta andreasen?
    the accounts have not been signed since 1994,
    Maybe it was only UKIP imagining the 2billion pound italian olive oil fraud or similar billion pound greek tobacco scandal,or the fact meps have literally just bought a 186m
    train to shunt between bruxelles and strasbourg,or meps will have private school for their children courtesy
    Biofuels directive is pushing food prices

  • Comment number 42.

    It is odd to me that people get prosecuted for stealing a tin of baked beans and no action is taken against someone who has stole thousands of pounds from tax payers.
    He should be prosecuted and jailed.

  • Comment number 43.

    What I fail to understand is the lack of agreement and consensus between us, the general public, to hold to account our political SERVANTS - yes, servants...those elected to represent our best interests.
    Be they Labour, Tory, LibDem, Green, Indy - whatever!
    Whether it is the MEP's using the system they vote for and perpetuate to coin in as much as possible, to MP's hiding behind the rules they set to warrant claiming expenses for second homes, council tax, food, new kitchens and the rest... They are all totally removed from reality!
    It is simply the fact that they do it without any shame or guilt and then try and justify it when caught out --- Either " whoops a daisy " I made a mistake ( yeah right ) or Mrs Martin's Taxi fares.

    My wife can not claim expenses of my employer when she assists me, just as I can not claim expenses for my council tax - so why is that all us bloggers keep tit-for-tatting each other instead of aiming our contempt at those who deserve it.
    None of these so-called moral guardians (who tell us how we must live our lives) has the slightest idea of the need to show guidance to encourage the population to do the right thing.

    I am truly sick of the lot of them. To the labour supporters out there, you must accept that taxes have risen too high, and that services have not improved as a result. Tory supporters, you must accept that your poll ratings are not because of DC but because GB is making such a hash of things.... I don't want to come across as childish, but we AS A COUNTRY need to kick some collective asses and make this country great again!

    Politics is a great thing.... let's all make things better and have a collective voice that counts.

  • Comment number 44.

    Democracy is fine in theory - it prevents us having no option but to slaughter people when we want to get rid of our 'leaders' (see Iraq etc.) - however the individuals concerned are human like the rest of us and full of frailty.

    Unfortunate for the individual, but like John Profumo ( the 45 anniversary of his disgrace was, I believe, this week) let us hope that Mr Chichester dedicates the rest of his life to good works.

  • Comment number 45.

    Of course I am not suggesting that. If he is found to have broken the rules (and he hasn't yet been found to have, even if it looks ominous,) He would have NO CHANCE of serving as a Conservative MEP next time round. As far as I understand it, he cannot be forced to resign as an MEP by Cameron. .

  • Comment number 46.

    “Would any of us have a clue about how to lobby them to stop farm subsidies, say, or threaten to vote for somebody else if they didn't change policies on climate change ?

    The reality is we are kept in the dark about how the EU functions, we aren't encouraged to find anything out about it”

    Hang on a minute, you’re not encouraged to find anything out about it? Surely that is your own initiative? You’re commenting on an internet blog so I assume you have some knowledge of the web? Haven’t you thought to look at websites about MEPs? Or to email them and find out what they do?

    MEP constituencies are vast - London (7 million or so people); Scotland - a pretty large constituency to have to travel around and hold surgeries. There are many bad MEPs in the UK, but I would defy anybody to try to cover areas of that size and have a good profile, particularly when the media (or anybody else) has little interest. If the political parties and the Government had been doing a better job explaining how the EU works (or not) maybe there would be a little more scrutiny of the dubious crowd kicking their heels in Brussels.

  • Comment number 47.

    #9 - yes, apologies, I was typing my initial post in haste. I don't doubt that the Tories had their share of financial scandals in the nineties as well - my dismay extends across all the parties.

  • Comment number 48.

    Yet another politician behaving more like a lager lout than a member of one of the most privileged classes in UK.

    Will Chichester keep his hefty pension? I bet he will. Perhaps politicians caught with their hands in the public purse should lose their entitlement to taxpayer funded, golden pension pots?

    At least he had the decency to resign, though I suspect it was a case of go before you're shoved. Good riddance.

  • Comment number 49.

    "Understandably, Team Brown cannot resist observing that, once again, it is a Conservative who's been found taking a less than entirely rigorous attitude to paying themselves the public's money. "

    And neither can you, Nick.

    Nice to see you continuing to do free media communications for the near-bankrupt Labour Party. Shame to see we're paying for it. "Once again"? This could be a Team Brown press release.

    PS When the recent FOI information came out showing mostly Labour greed for free kitchens and HDTVs and very, very expensive window cleaners I didn't see you make any party-specific points. Plus ca change.

  • Comment number 50.

    @3chrisbowie (#30),

    Oh you're so might as well ask Gordon Brown to send his kids to Eton.


  • Comment number 51.

    Is it perhaps time for the Conservative party to reinvent itself? It could rebrand itself and try to lose all the "baggage" its has collected since the 1960s. Labour has pinched that best selling word "new", so the word "fresh" comes to mind. "Fresh Conservatives" perhaps (possibly too sleazy), or "Re-freshed Conservatives" (but suggests digging into party funds for champagne) perhaps "Re-formed Conservatives" would be the answer.

  • Comment number 52.

    I'm sorry Charles, but what if it was a Labour MEP? ALL parties have MPs/MEPs with the same problem over expense claims.

    I was thinking that life has got too complicated and pressured for everyone, and people at the top have to rehab their ego as much as people at the bottom. Rules are rules but how we behave and treat other people may be something worth reflecting on. If politics is to become more "enlightened" then a more "enlightened" spirit has to start somewhere. Now is always a good idea.

    "Fresh Conservatives" perhaps (possibly too sleazy), or "Re-freshed Conservatives" (but suggests digging into party funds for champagne) perhaps "Re-formed Conservatives" would be the answer.

    1. Sounds like a TV ad for socks.
    2. Sounds like a pair of socks.
    3. Sounds like a bunch of old socks.

    Some more suggestions to rip down:

    Conservative 2.0. ("Upgrade" for half price.)
    Conservative 2008 (Oops. Shades of Vista).
    Conservative 21 (Thunderbirds are go!).

    I'll take a cheque, "Dave".

    It is odd to me that people get prosecuted for stealing a tin of baked beans and no action is taken against someone who has stole thousands of pounds from tax payers.
    He should be prosecuted and jailed.

    People find it difficult to parse size or indirectness, so authority and, say, a smarmy comment is never challenged but something small and to the point is because it's "easy". That's just a rough observation. I think, you're right to mention it as it gets to the heart of many issues.
  • Comment number 53.

    megapoliticajunkie, what is it about Cameron Direct which you wish to defend.

    I too have watched the video and Nick's post is 100% justified - it seemed a relatively constructive meeting but really nothing very new and certainly pretty uncontroversial.

    Please stop posting this partisan rubbish, there is plenty of space on less respected blogs for that.


    NB: my username is a football rather than a political reference!

  • Comment number 54.

    Dear Nick. " Its all the Establishment."
    This yet another example of power corrupts, and it is rife amounst our so called Peers, They think they can get away with fraud,,sponging off the state, and living a life style that appears to be holyer than thou, so to speak.In essence it is a class war, a game of "i am untouchable because i am an MP"
    I was once told that MI5 are not their to protect the public, but to protect the establishment FROM the public, so would it not be an interesting propostion, that they investigate our Peers, and see how many really are cosure.
    "and it not just a few!

  • Comment number 55.

    "It shows how corrupt politicians have become especially the conservatives who seem to do it on a different scale."

    I agree, The scale of sleaze between labour and tories are poles apart.

    The tories only ever manage financial impropriety in the thousands of pounds, Labour do it in the millions. After all I cannot concieve on one policy that changed over the 2,000 pound cash for questions, but I do remember the outcry from labour and the media and the country. Yet within months of becoming elected the labour leadership accepted a 1.5 MILLION pound bribe to exempt formula1 from labour's then flagship NHS policy of banning tobacco advertising. There have been many many many examples of large scale financial dodgyness and sexual infidelity, by labour, ever since.

  • Comment number 56.

    I would add that of course the tories have their bad apples, and if they were to be in power for more than two terms, they would corrupt the party even further, but where it is a few bad apples in the Tories, in Labour it seems to be the norm. according to the recent expenses furore.

  • Comment number 57.

    Very sadly, the frailties of human nature are all too apparent in the people who we elect to lead us. There seems little point in trying to construct a scale of who is "least worst" at this type of thing, it cuts across all party boundaries, and my feeling is that there is a whole lot more of it going on which simply has not been uncovered.

    Rather than expecting our politicians to rise above these temptations and being continually disappointed when they don't, surely a better answer is just to remove the temptations in the first place? Get rid of these "perks", expense accounts, etc and just pay them a flat (higher) salary.

    There are only 650 (ish - can't rememer the exact number) of them in the Commons - so the biggest problem (accomodation) can't be that hard to solve.

    Finally, I don't really care about the personal lives of politicians - they can sleep with who the like. It's the financial stuff that really upsets me. The obvious caveat to that is if their personal antics (a) jeopardises our security (Profumo, etc), or (b) exposes them as hypocrites (John Major, back to basics, etc).

  • Comment number 58.

    Rather than expecting our politicians to rise above these temptations and being continually disappointed when they don't, surely a better answer is just to remove the temptations in the first place? Get rid of these "perks", expense accounts, etc and just pay them a flat (higher) salary.

    Plenty of businesses, company directors, and celebrities suffer from a sense of "entitlement" and access to smart accountants who shave the law. Much wants more? Bad company? They're no different to anyone else.

    People at the bottom have their own issues with lack of confidence, economically blighted areas, and frustration. It's just swapping one cage for another cage. This is where, I think, more understanding and less demonisation are good principles.

    In America, if you say you can deliver they'll give you a shot. In Japan, senior people don't get cocky because in the layer beneath them everyone else is just as capable. Over competitive behaviour and cost cutting has squeezed that out of Britain. Bringing it back may be a good idea.

    This disaster is an opportunity.
  • Comment number 59.

    Total disgrace. Should be kicked out of politics never mind the Tory party.

    Come back Bambi Blair and Lord Cashpoint all is forgiven. Or maybe not

    An alternative punishment for this miscreant MEP is he should be made to tour the country defending the NewLabour 10p tax on wheels. He should visit all NewLabour constituencies and explain in detail how they can claim back the increase in VED next year on income tax credits. Let's see how long it takes for him to be pelted with tomatoes.

    Then he should explain to all those facing repossession form their Northern Rock bootleg morgages how the NEwLAbour machine has mortgaged the future of the entire country so that the OECD now thinks we are 'acutely vulnerable' to the global slowdonw rather than 'very well placed' as the Blessed Ditherer has it.

    All hail the Blesssed Gurner! (Normal levels of incompetence restored)

  • Comment number 60.

    Politicians and money!

    Expenses for MPs, MEP, Scottish and Welsh members all needs overhauling and transparency.

    After that - I know I'm dreaming here - but wouldn't it be good to have a body stuffed full of forensic accountants and business brains, to hold politicians to account for the value for money they achieve with our money.

    We could strip away layers and layers of needless adminstration and quangos and inject money directly into the frontline, schools, hospitals, police, and those poor guys who fight our wars without the necessary kit.

  • Comment number 61.

    This incident tells us as much about Mr Cameron as it does about Mr Chichester.

    Following the Dereck Conway affair Mr Cameron held a media event to assure the public the he was putting into place codes of practice to ensure that Conservative Party members expenses and allowances were ligitimate. Mr Cameron then appointed Mr Chichester to this job in respect to MEPS. Why did he not first check that he was a fit person to carry out this task or was it a case of getting on the tele as soon as possible and talking the talk?

    This seems to be a case of Mr Cameron's spin catching him out because he didn't do his homework. Style not substance as Mr Brown would say

    Re comment 49, If I remember rightly the FOI also revealed that Mr Cameron claimed about £20,000 mortgage payment for his second home in the country.

  • Comment number 62.

    Just how much more of this is going to come to light. The politicians of today have seriously lost the plot. I know the link is tenuous but are these people seriously going to decide if this shameful parliament is going to pass a law allowing detention without charge for 42 days. If this is passed then shame on them all.
    What requires more publicity is the raid on the company where there are safety deposit boxes. Now this needs serious publicity, I think that this is going to have 'legs'. We have lost any moral authority that we had and can anybody tell me how this is any different from the bribery and corruption in third world countries.
    The problem is we are constantly being asked for evidence and to be a whistleblower if you find something going on which is 'illegal'. We have Quangoes where people are paid huge sums and yet we, the taxpayer, have no democratic control over the people employed. It is no wonder that there is such low employment with so many benefiting from the under pressure taxpayer. I am getting angry about people saying we have to meet contractual obligations or that 'things' are within the rules. Who sets the rules?
    Enough is enough, soldiers are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan and yet more young people are dying on our streets. it is time for change.

  • Comment number 63.

    Team Brown cannot resist observing that, once again, it is a Conservative who's been found taking a less than entirely rigorous attitude to paying themselves the public's money.

    Accounts happening speak for themselves.

    Quite right you are Nick. Quite right.

  • Comment number 64.


    someone else peddling the Nick Robinson/BBC Labour Bias garbage. Nick Robinson has been an active member of the Conservative party but now a journalist, somehow i doubt if his political leanings have changed to Labour but he does have to show some objectivity. The reason he pointed out that yet again it was a conservative helping themselves to expenses in an "against the rules" way is simply because it is a fact and demonstrably the TRUTH.

    This would be the real truth as opposed to the "trusty sword of truth" as quoted by Tory Johnathon Aitkn before he committed purjery. I wonder if he bumped into Archer whilst in the nick. Perhaps best not to wage party political arguements from the blue bench where honesty is concerned

  • Comment number 65.

    Who was it that said labour scandals are financial, tory ones sexual?

    Bit of snap gone out of the celery there Dave eh?

    Well it's Friday

  • Comment number 66.


    Blaming the Government as you appear to be doing for individuals who have NR mortgages who now have problem paying them makes about as much sense to me as blaming the conservarive Govt for the Storm damage in October 1987.

    If bad things happen it is just conceivable that its not the governments fault and perhaps if personally overstretched financially on mortgage or credit card you may be in part responsible yourself.

    One thing is for sure most financial hardship isn't caused today by unemployment at staggering levels as in the past but you just ignore that.

  • Comment number 67.

    #65, I think I said that in #3. what I should have said is that something like, "the scandals that have come light". I have few doubts that there were / are numerous financially scandalous activities linked to the Tory party which simply have not yet been uncovered.

    I expect this is true of Labour too. I really don't think there is much party political capital to be made here, this week it is a Conservative, next week it could as easily be a Labour MP...

  • Comment number 68.

    I tend not to congratulate the Conservative Party for its honesty, but on this occassion, I'll lower my standards.

    There is nothing new in this story.

    Conservatives are Conservatives, after all.

    Conservatives do what Conservatives do.

    Giles Chichester is 'Re-distributing wealth' in a way that is easily forgotten. Does anyone need any other form of convincing what the Conservatives will do to tax credits, if Crewe and Nantwich is rolled out across the Shires?

    Dave is Dave but his philosophy is his party's natural instinct to look after itself.

    This is why it is imperative that good old fashioned Socialism is allowed to continue into a fourth term.

  • Comment number 69.


    the government made the Bank of England independent and created the Tripartite structure which led directly to the lack of oversight of the financial system and the collapse of Northern Rock.

    Prior to the Tripartite system all banks were obliged to report the extent of their leverage to the Bank of England at the end of each working day. This level of borrowing and leverage would have set off alarm bells some five years ago when they beagn their headlong rush to provide all their customers with 125% mortgages.

    Make no mistake - Northern Rock got out of control and went bust because of lax regulation set in place by the previous chancellor; the current indecisive incompetent occupant of number 10 ClimbDowning Street.

  • Comment number 70.

    #68, I think that might be a bit naive.

    Voting for a party because you believe in their policies is, of course, the right thing to do.

    Voting for a party because you think it will be squeaky clean is a recipie for severe disappointment. As I have (rather boringly) repeated a few times in this thread - my opinion is that the whole system of how they get paid / expenses / outside interests etc needs reform.

    Geting into a tit for tat argument will simply lead to Conservative supporters trotting out a whole list of Labour misdemeanours, and Labour supporters doing the same for the Conservatives. I'm not going to try and tot it up on my head, but I don't think either list would be particularly short!

  • Comment number 71.


    Whilst what you say is perfectly true, you do seem to dumping all the blame at the government's feet. Do you not think the banks were in any way culpable?

    Just because they found out they could do all these deals, legally, within the government's regulations, does that really absolve them from all blame?

    They should have known what was a safe level of lending and adjusted their business model to suit.

    (and the government shouldn't have been as short sighted in the first place and let them get away with it)

    It's a case of six of one, half a dozen of the other in my (largely worthless) opinion.

  • Comment number 72.

    69# Not for the first time people express their strongly held opinion as if fact.

    In any case my point was that your attempt at humour in sending Chichester around the country to explain to INDIVIDUALS who had trouble with their extended borrowing was perhaps ignoring the INDIVIDUALS personal responsibillity in their predicament.

    Personal responsibility is something Tories preach and often hate the "nanny" state's interference into an individuals choices UNTIL of course it suits you in an arguement and then you can blame the government for not controling an individuals choices. Cake and Eat it springs to mind.

  • Comment number 73.


    Certainly not a worthless opinion. I think the govt does need to share some of the blame here, but one cannot absolve the banks or the people taking out the loans from blame.

    Personal resonsibility seems to be a very unfashionable concept these days!

  • Comment number 74.


    Unlike the Conservative paper you probably read which spoils you by always telling you what you want to hear. The BBC is meant to be impartial and inform people of all political persuasions and none.

    I have reacted like you to Nick Robinson in the opposite direction, but not so far as writing an angry letter of complaint to the BBC. Many like you seem to have said they will do just that. None conservatives who have argued bias don't tend to say they will do this.

    If a reporter can not say anything against the Conservatives without having to deal with complaints procedures. It could lead to an unintentional Conservative bias in my opinion.

  • Comment number 75.

    Hmm... so he resigned (wasn't sacked) although we are talking about 500,000 pounds!

    Surely points to Cameron's inexperience, poor judgement and inability to take the future of this country's relationship with the EU seriously, in that he appointed Chichester in the first place....

    ...and also points to Tories sense of entitlement to a certain lavish lifestyle at the expense of the rest of us.

  • Comment number 76.

    Frankly this whole system of perks, back handers, nepotism etc should be ended. Does it reflect badly on the tories? Yes it does. But New labour have nothing to gloat about here either. All too often our political class treat public money as private money. This happens across all the parties, and it makes me sick. We need a root and branch reform of these matters in westminster and the EU.

  • Comment number 77.

    Its no use trying to switch the subject to banks. This is about a conservative MEP being caught out. An MEP that was supposed to making sure the rules were carried out.
    Some of you might be thinking that I will bite on this particular NR hook. but I wont.

    I know Conservatives go out of their way to avoid talking about themselves. But this constant inability to do so without diverting back to labour is getting a bit annoying.

    This proves the Conservative party with its Xenophobic supporters, don't take Europe seriously. They still sadly think we have influence over the world on our own. I think Europe does many things better than us and we could learn from their example. Europe is our future! Conservatives represent our past and are holding us back.

  • Comment number 78.

    #77. I thought this was all about a person who couldn't keep his sticky fingers out of the sweetie tin. I don't think it has anything to do with Europe, the problem is equally applicable to domestic politicians. Maybe I'm missing something, though.

  • Comment number 79.

    67 re 65

    Thanks for the mention, but with respect someone actually did say this a bit memorably, a while back.

    Anybody know?

  • Comment number 80.

    So they've found another corrupt politician. Wow. (Next they'll tell us that the sun rises in the east...)

    OK, so he's a Tory. Labour MPs won't make too much noise about this latest find - after all, their stable ain't too clean either (Diane Abbott confirmed this last night on 'This Week' with the phrase "people in glass houses... ").

    Perhaps, if when their crimes were uncovered, these venal politicos were summarily shot then there would be some chance of reform....

    To be honest, though, I'm more worried about the damage done by 'honest' conviction politicians who seek to enforce their ideals, than by the corrupt variety who seek only self-enrichment. (There are, of course, the really horrible ones who combine oppressive ideology with self-aggrandisement - most of them New Labour archetypes.)

  • Comment number 81.

    This makes me so angry. It is outrageous that politicians seem to get away with fiddling large sums of taxpayers money with no fear of consequences.

    It's really about time we saw some high profile prosecutions to make them think twice about it.

    Oh, and wouldn't it be fun if they could be locked up without charge for 42 days while the fraud was being investigated?

  • Comment number 82.

    I love the last comment:

    "Asked if it looked "dodgy" to voters he replied: "It may do but I put it to you that there are an awful lot of MPs and MEPS who are employing their own family members."

    Translates to: "I know it's dodgy, but everyone else is at it, so I deserve a slice of the pie as well."

    Utterly shocking. MPs/MEPs, regardless of political affiliation have shown that they just can't be trusted to 'police' themselves.

    There needs to be immediate reform of the MPs expenses - if they want any form of credibility from the electorate back.

  • Comment number 83.

    Posters will recall that the Ecclestone Affair came soon after NL swept to power in 1997.

    I think that all those people who voted for NL at the time simply could not accept that there was anything 'dodgy' going on.

    Of course, as time went by, it became blatantly obvious that Ecclestone was a canary in the mine.

    So, if you think of this episode as a Conservative 'pre' canary in the mine then you will not end up being disillusioned.

  • Comment number 84.

    Of course, as time went by, it became blatantly obvious that Ecclestone was a canary in the mine.

    As a supporter of small independent parties, you may like to consider many of them tend to use EU expenses as a source of party funding. And before anyone bangs on about "hard working" families, how many self-employed folks pull similar tricks?

    I tend to agree with earlier comment that the focus should be on the standards not raking over the past or personalising it. It just gets in the way of getting the job done and bringing people together.
  • Comment number 85.

    # 84

    I would prefer smaller independent groups (I am not very keen on parties per se) to try and raise their funds 'the Obama way'.

    That is, by enthusing their supporters such that they go forth and actively encourage further support and so on.

    In my humble opinion, it is not at all healthy for political groups to obtain ANY of their funding from Government/EU sources because they are then compromised.

    I agree with the point about self-employed folks, which you could also extend to businesses, especially large businesses, which often pay remarkably little tax overall.

    That is the fundamental reason why I am in favour of a very simple flat-rate tax system, with appropriate indexed starting thresholds - it is either black or white - you are either paying it - or evading it.

    There are no more shades of 'avoidance' grey.

  • Comment number 86.

    As we know the whole expenses issue is awful and if any member of the general public behaved in this manner we would be locked up, never to have a mortgage etc. I disagree with the whole system whereby you do not have to supply evidence of expenditure. Why slate Cameron for getting rid of people who abuse the system and fail to mention that the speaker of the house is busy making sure that we do not have the details. No, they should not be paid more, they have huge opportunities which they take to earn extra money and frankly if you tune in to BBC Parliament on most days the place is nearly empty. We need less MPs as we are simply rubber stamping things from Europe.

  • Comment number 87.

    I can find a lot of common ground with what you say.

    I've found polticians can be dorks and spend too much time looking over their shoulder at their party. If you're not time served or attract 'graft', you might as well not count. That probably puts off a lot of potentially good people.

    The funding barrier is a pain for everyone as organisation costs money whether you're large or small, or if politics relied on better but less entrenched politicans keeping a job open is another issue. Maybe, there's a middle way on this.

    I'm with you on the flat tax thing, and favour an incomes policy or, at least, some sort of sensible standard. In Japan, tax law is much more simple. You pay your percentage whether you like it or not. There's no get-outs.

  • Comment number 88.

    Cameron has shown he is a very weak leader. A strong leader would have booted Chichester out of his party. But Cameron prefers to turn a blind eye and let him represent his party at the next election.
    When Cameron gives us the tough on the crime speech, he should add, we will be tough on crime apart from those inside my party who steal from the taxpayer, as that is ok.

  • Comment number 89.

    In message 80 Diane Abbot is mentioned if you check up on this Mps other jobs and visits overseas I dont know where she finds time to do the job she is paid plus expences to do

  • Comment number 90.

    #83 John Constable.
    There is a world of difference between the Ecclestone affair and that of Chichester.
    The former was about donor's money and voluntary donations.

    Whilst the latter is about tax-payers money and the tax-payer who is completely oblivious as to how honestly this is claimed back in expenses and downright dishonesty.

    I would never make light of anything to do with the filthy weed fags, as I know they kill, but they are legal.
    People do have enjoy freedom of choice whether they wish to commit suicide or not by smoking this poison.
    Whereas the electorate voted MP's into these jobs in all good faith, with their eyes wide open, only to be sadly decieved by the likes of Chichester and Conway.
    I hope nobody even compares the Peter Hain saga with this one, for once again we are talking tax-payer money and private money.
    World of difference between the two in my opinion although neither (if proven to be so in Haine's case) would be either right or correct.
    Even then on the scale of things the Conway/Chichester debacle is by far the worst of the two evils.

  • Comment number 91.

    What about the Labour Mp's who claim for a second house when their main residence is only 30 minutes from Westminster? Let's face it virtually all MPs regardless of political persuasion have their faces in the trough and are happy to claim every allowance going.

  • Comment number 92.

    Oh and welcome back Kiwilegs... the forum is so bland without you!

  • Comment number 93.

    The man has been sacked and fairly quickly at that. For the moment he has lost his livelihood because of his indiscretion. He has certainly paid heavly for his demeanour and is unlikely to have any kind of political career in front of him. It doesn't tar his colleagues with the same brush. End of Story.

  • Comment number 94.

    Many thanks stephenni 1971. Unfortunately it is a quick in and out as we have other pressing engagements, which must take numero uno ( hope that is correct but you get my drift) priority.
    Blog site is a bit of light relief.
    Be back ASAP.

  • Comment number 95.

    93 mutleyspup, the man resigned, he was'nt sacked,you have another one to make excuses for today, so lets hear the excuses pour out for this one.

  • Comment number 96.

    So, David Chameleon this time manages to masquerade as an 'honest John' because this chap has resigned - but Chichester has only resigned as leader of the MEP's, and he hasn't had the Conservative whip taken away from him. So the Chameleon may have changed colour to suit the situation, but it remains a lizard at heart.

  • Comment number 97.

    I can't believe what is going on. First Chichester, then Dover and now Spelman. Ignorance by Tories is no excuse. I demand a full police enquiry followed by a full public enquiry. Nothing less will do. Whatever next from these nucons.

    They have never changed. I was going to back Cameron but not now. I am going back to Labour and I feel many will over this. What hypocrits they are!! Cameron has attacked Brown over much less. This is really serious, pure Fraud in my book. Where are the press, they are giving the Tories a soft ride over this. If it was Labour, it would be leading the news for weeks.

  • Comment number 98.

    It appears that Caroline Spelman MP is the latest cconservative to have a doubt cast on her expences, in payments to her 1997/ 1998 nanny/ secretary. This has been reffered to to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.
    On the face of it there seems to be a case to answer, however it could be just mere speculation. In Caroline Spellman's case I chose to believe there is no impropriety, and will assume her innocent until a proper investigation has established all of the facts. I have faith in in Caroline Spelman's integrity and hope and expect her to be exonerated.
    Having said that I was 100% sure of Derek Conway's intergrity and I was sadly mistaken about him.

    I was also completely certain of a Conservative leaning young man on this very blog-site., how stupid could I be?
    They say that there is no fool like an old fool, this young man had me completely and utterly fooled. Until he confessed to playing mind games with me.
    He was more interested in mockery and and ridiculing me than he was in serious debate.
    However like a lot of these things, it comes back to haunt people.
    It came back to meet him with a vengeance, more than he will realise, as he and another lost all respect and credible support, from poeple who had taken them at face value and supported them.
    This is what is known as poetic justice.
    And it gives one a warm feeling to realise that fairness is still alive and kicking in this Country even although at times we may have to wait for it..

  • Comment number 99.

    95 and 93# In fact nor has he given up/lost his livelihood he, like Conway remain on the taxpayers payroll as MP/MEP.

  • Comment number 100.

    It would appear that being an MEP is the direct route to the gravy train. There's massive amounts of fraud and has been for some time. Here's an article from The Times online from Feb 2008:


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