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Thursday 2 February 2012

Verity Murphy | 16:18 UK time, Thursday, 2 February 2012

Last night we broke the news that the Student Loans Company's chief executive Ed Lester received his £182,000 pay package without deductions for tax or National Insurance.

Tonight we have a follow up report in which we reveal which ministers and senior officials knew about the arrangement.

Tim Whewell looks at the political dimension to the deadly football clashes in Egypt.

And we examine the call from almost 100 Anglican clergy based in London for priests to be allowed to follow their individual conscience on whether to hold civil partnership ceremonies in their churches.

And ahead of a major National Portrait Gallery retrospective of the work of Lucian Freud, Steve Smith has been talking to one of the artist's daughters, Esther Freud.

All of that with Emily at 10.30pm on BBC Two.


  • Comment number 1.

    looking forward to Tim's report from Egypt but from coverage I have seen it seems the militia got payback which is deplorable,,,,,

  • Comment number 2.

    'Tonight we have a follow up report in which we reveal..

    Often I find what's not even more revealing.

  • Comment number 3.


    Why has England no Ron Paul or Vaclav Havel? Have we driven them all mad?

    Westminster - 650 ciphers.

    Nuff sed

  • Comment number 4.

  • Comment number 5.

    Anyone else taking bets on Chris Huhne not getting charged? Am sure the DPP would not be giving a press conference if charges were being laid. Think they are having the press in to give us some long-winded explanation about why they're not charging him.

  • Comment number 6.

    I think your slant on the Lester story is a bit misplaced. You cannot call it tax avoidance unless you know for sure that Mr Lester has not paid the relevant tax and NI, as required by tax regulation IR35. Just because it wasn't deducted at source under PAYE doesn't mean it is not due and has therefore been avoided. Also, although the SLC have avoided paying employer's NI, Mr Lester's company will have been liable for this instead. You need to bone up on IR35 before tonight's programme.
    Is Mr Lester's company registered for VAT? It should be.
    In my view the opprobrium falls upon the SLC. Whatever its strict legal status the SLC is a public body. It is certainly improper for a public body to remunerate its CE as if he were a consultant. I doubt ministers know enough about tax law to override advice from the SLC and departmental officials and HMRC (you report) approved the arrangements.
    In the interest of fairness, you should also address whether any BBC "employees" enjoy similar arrangements. John Birt famously did. Perhaps some of today's "talent" does too.

  • Comment number 7.


    Will St Tony be charged after Chilcot? Or Goldsmith be properly questioned? Or any of the remaining Westminster ciphers who 'paid the money back'?

    Will the Chagossians get their homeland back, and the responsible MPs be charged? Will the MPs complicit in use of Diego Garcia for rendition be questioned - including the Straw Man? Will the ten MPs who sit, in spite of deploying a false instrument in the 2010 Election, to gin votes, be confronted, and this Parliament declared void? Will Dave have to answer for the production and printing of the Liar Flyer? Will his implausible poster in that election be called 'deception' as it should? Will his vilification of Nick in the AV referendum be declared unlawful? (Nick will never complain - will he!)

    So much dishonour. Will integrity ever reign in Westminster?

    Pigs already fly - maybe that's the problem?

  • Comment number 8.

    Empire as you will not see on the BBC or at school.

    Empire: From Conquest to Control - Professor Richard J Evans FBA

    funny there have been no docudrama series showing that at the heart of the British [and other] Empires was the belief in racial superiority and the policy of racial extermination and that monarchy was the symbol of empire?

    And people wonder why honours with the word empire are refused?
    Most people do not know their own history or why so many parts of the world have recent cause [family traditions] to hate us?

  • Comment number 9.

    how can justice be delayed for football? who does that serve? who benefits?

  • Comment number 10.


    The Queen does as she is told, and is allowed to continue thereby. Perversely, and paradoxically, as I have indicated before, all the power of the 'ruling classes' is still anchored in the monarch, THOUGH SHE HAS NO POWER. I do not doubt there is an allegorical novel out there somewhere that illustrates the theme. It certainly illuminates the juvenile state of mind prevalent in this nation.

    It could all be soooo different.

  • Comment number 11.

    #8 jc wrote:

    "funny there have been no docudrama series showing that at the heart of the British [and other] Empires was the belief in racial superiority and the policy of racial extermination and that monarchy was the symbol of empire?

    And people wonder why honours with the word empire are refused?
    Most people do not know their own history or why so many parts of the world have recent cause [family traditions] to hate us?"

    The Monarchy were chronically interbred.

    Do you note any observations about those that refused "empire" honours. Think classifications and/or sub-groups.

    "and the policy of racial extermination"

    Please specify.

  • Comment number 12.

    #7 bs

    I wish you could be on R4's "Thought For The Day" piece in the mornings instead of the sychopants that are wheeled out every sad and sorry day.

  • Comment number 13.

    and the policy of racial extermination"

    Please specify....

    did you watch the lecture?

  • Comment number 14.

    sahara to expect snow first time in over 30 years.

    "One person is dying every five minutes due to cold weather this week, as Britain reels from a winter death rate twice as high as some of the world’s coldest countries, according to the Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer. "

    time to hand the carbon tax back with interest from those who took it.

  • Comment number 15.


    Might the quiescent 99% finally realise we have been lied to - ripped off - duped - disenfranchised? Might they then realise that the threat of Terror looks EXACTLY like the threat of Carbon? And the threat of Communism - Islaam - other people's bombs - germs - water - food etc? Might the worm turn BEFORE IT CAN BE GENETICALLY MODIFIED? I bet the shape shifting Lizards are sleeping badly.

    Interesting times.

  • Comment number 16.


    "did you watch the lecture?"

    I can't watch Youtube at's blocked. I'll watch it later.

  • Comment number 17.

    When are the BBC going to commission Dominic Littlewood to do a prime time seres called,

    'The voiceless and The dirty, rotten, filthy, lousy, undeserving, tax avoiding, multiple property owning, stinking, horrible, pontificating, bonus fetished rich scoundrels?

    I know the BBC with it's reputation for being unbiased on such matters would do a good job wouldn't they?

    And yes, it is right and pertinent that comparisons are drawn between tax avoidance and benefit cuts no matter how skillful Newsnight presenters think they are being when jumping on such comparisons and turning the debate away from such comparisons toward the 'mythical middle income' whatever that is. It is an insult to pretend that people in receipt of benefits don't watch Newsnight. And along with Philip Green, Emily, they aren't there to defend themselves either. But unlike Philip Green this isn't out of choice I shouldn't wonder.

  • Comment number 18.

    "Why has England no Ron Paul or Vaclav Havel? Have we driven them all mad?"

    Oh barrie!

    You really didn't take in any of what JJ/tn/st/bd said, did you!

    Libertarians are far right Neocons/Neoliberals...there really is no difference. They are pro egalitarianism (think PC, think race equality, sex equality etc). Libertarians are for the markets, they are for globalisation, they promote caveat emptor at the expense of the less cognitively endowed, they are Trotskyite internationalists... think cosmopolitans. Libertarians adhere to the Von Mises school of economics (think the Austrian and Chicago/Frankfurt schools of economics). Who...think of a minority... have been the staunchest proponents of these economic doctrines? Who benefits (Cui Bono) from these capitalist ideologies the most?

    Thatcher (Joseph by proxy), Kinnock, Major, Blair, Mandelson, Gould, Brown, Balls, Milliband (various) etc. etc. are all libertarians. Miliband D even wrote a piece yesterday supporting this doctrination in The NewStatesman (chip off the old block eh?).

    Ron Paul is a libertarian...even Dr Paul C Roberts says that Paul is misdirected with regard to his deluded libertarian doctrine.

    And as for Havel, he was the archetypal libertarian (think of a humanities biased narcissist) if ever there was one. He was the absolute traitor to socialism.

  • Comment number 19.

    #18 cont.

    So, we have more than our fair share of Ron Paul's or Vaclav Havel's for our own good.

  • Comment number 20.

    # museV

    Anarcho Capitalist Trotskyites, festering " Permanent Revolution " for corporate financial gain, promote false economic growth which in turn increases the financial apartheid between rich and poor !

  • Comment number 21.


    I knew this day would come - I said as much on here: CLEVERNESS is going to bring down CLEVER LAW. And WISDOM has left the building.

    All this 'looking into' the brain is showing addicts are not criminals just duff robots, and what we REALLY ARE thinking, will kill Political Correctness stone dead. There goes Homo-'phobia', Hatecrime, Paedophilia et al.

    The only escape is total social breakdown. Doh!

  • Comment number 22.

    'And we examine the call'

    And we can't get enough of Giles Fraser in such matters.

    He should have his own daily slot. Along with Ms. Penny. Not sure where Prezza has gone, mind.

    All qualified, uniquely, one is sure, to offer views that the Uk public needs to absorb.

    '6. At 19:25 2nd Feb 2012, vstrad
    In the interest of fairness, you should also address whether any BBC "employees" enjoy similar arrangements.

    Questions are not being asked. Wrong kind of critics saying on certain iPhone lines.

    Not sure 'fair' has ever been in the lexicon.

    Speaking of fair, as for Mr. Huhne, with my confidence in the politico-media establishment on what they get very interested in vs. what not in terms of 'them vs. us' multiples of standards, I am prepared to be surprised. If doubtless disappointed.

  • Comment number 23.


    The ten MPs sit in Parliament, but not one element of 'Westminster Functionality' (nor, indeed, Oxfordshire Police) will address the matter of the Conservative Liar Flyer. Y?


  • Comment number 24.

    "Tonight we have a follow up report in which we reveal which ministers and senior officials knew about the arrangement."


    Hypocrite, Labour wastrel Hodge must have known about is as the practice has been rife in govt/public sector for at least 11+ years.

    I myself was interviewed for a public sector position several years ago by a 'recruitment agency' that recommended that I set up a limited company to be self employed to offset tax as the recruitment agency tried to position and pressurise itself as the go between employer as collect an ongoing agency fee cut of the proposed salary as a 'middle-man' parasite arrangement.

    Naturally, I rejected the arrangement and by doing so excluded myself from being a candidate - but I don't think that this type of arrangement to be in the 'public interest' (whatever that is, as no one seems to know?) as getting the best candidates for public sector positions and on efficient and satisfactory terms of employment, in the interest of the taxpayer.

    In my opinion, no public sector worker should ever earn more that the Prime Minister of UK (£142,500? pa + generous perq's) and many of these pay issues in the public/private sector are caused by greedy parasite 'recruitment agencies' as well as 'brodie-crat', civil servant inefficiency.

    In any event it is or can be 'sleaze' as encouraging arrangements to offset tax for different reasons and we certainly don't need a lecture from hypocrite Hodge on the tax loopholes that were encouraged and refined by the rotten New Labour govt.?

    There are many aspects to this 'sleaze'

  • Comment number 25.


    But occasionally that sweetly winning smile SNAPS OFF - like a glow-worm run over by a steam-roller. And a tremor runs through The Force.

    She is one (of many MPs) to whom I have sent the Liar Flyer. No reply speaks for itself.

  • Comment number 26.

    "And we examine the call from almost 100 Anglican clergy based in London for priests to be allowed to follow their individual conscience on whether to hold civil partnership ceremonies in their churches."


    I can't believe that the 'Church' is still in such a mess reagrding the issue of gay marriages.

    All the Church has to do is to ask couples who wish to marry, whether their marriage is to be:-

    1) A hetero-sexual marriage

    2) A homo-sexual marriage

    Thereby, allowing the wording of the marriage ceremony to be altered slightly for homo-sexual marriages:

    Do you ??? (a man) take this (man) to be your lawfully married partner etc

    ... and say no more about it ... and just get on with it.

    If a particular Church or insititution has a position on not conducting gay marriages then it should be required to make this public so that 'gay people' can get married in another 'Church' that does recognise a 'gay marriage'.

    That is all - that is all that is required and say no more about it - whether a particular Church like e.g C of E recognises and chooses to hold e.g. 'gay marriages' is for e.g. that Church of England/Scotland to decide, itself as a matter of interepretation & judgement of THEIR OWN scriptures/ belief system.

    It is not for the Church to comment on people's own position - it is for the Church to make it clear whether it will respect their 'gay marriage' and sanction it for what it is - a 'gay marriage' and say no more about it.

    The debate has got ridiculous and some of the Church Institutions are to blame for not having a proper debate on how deal with gay marriages as either a Yes/No - or sanctioning 'gay marriages' as 'gay marriages' and calling them what they are - as a matter of fact.

    People are not stupid and can understand why a 'hetero sexual' marriage is different to a 'homo-sexual' marriage - if marriages are properly & publicly called either a 'heterosexual marriage' or a homosexual marriage' then there is & can be no discrimination as both are being described correctly both in/under Man's & God's law.

  • Comment number 27.

    Arab springs into Incompetence

    democracy institutionalises incompetence. get used to it.

  • Comment number 28.

    secular fascism

    strange that secularists 'demand a right' to be 'married' in religious buildings? why should religious groups be dictated as to their ceremonies by political diktak?

  • Comment number 29.

    Always interested to see how the stances being taken (to 'analyse' with specially selected 'guests') is formulated..

    @theJeremyVine Jeremy Vine Today's stories @BBCRadio2, see you at noon!

    'Why should a bloke approved of be'... vs. 'when are folk we don't approve going to go and why are they being more kicked than we can manage already?'

    Bit blatant in the double standard dept., even for you, Aunty?

    Or are we seeing a new era, and better precedents to be set in future.

    No more 'are you going to resign?', taunts?

  • Comment number 30.


    God, the all wise, in his wisdom, did not see fit to fit the male of the species with a vagina. Whether 'made in his image' impinges at all, I shall pass over. We are confronted with a theological dilemma that dare not 'confront its appellation'.

    Nuff sed.

  • Comment number 31.

    '29. At 11:50 3rd Feb 2012 -
    Always interested to see how the stances being taken (to 'analyse' with specially selected 'guests') is formulated..

    Also noted that Mr. Vine has taken to 'joking' about Mr. Terry's as yet undefined culpability in a misdeed even as the rest of his entire colleague base appear to be throwing evert toy into the pram in defence of Mr. Huhne.

    Oddly variable loyalties at play? Lucky views on twitter, even pages littered with employer logos, URLs and refs, etc,.. 'don't count'. Apparently.

    Interesting if pols tried that.

    But then, today is a great day for precedents being set, reset, broken, etc.

    All in all... unique.

    '@kevinbakhurst Great to see @bbcnormans out at the key veues on the #Huhne story - and congrats to him + team on getting the story 10 mins ahead of most'

    Not sure if I care much if it comes fast if it isn't worth it when it arrives at any stage, mind.

  • Comment number 32.


    A small point: are we to infer he was heading for the limit in license points?

    Have earlier points expired in the interim, I wonder?

    Is that what we want in a Minister of the Crown?

    Nuff sed

  • Comment number 33.

    32. At 13:32 3rd Feb 2012, barriesingleton -
    A small point: are we to infer he was heading for the limit in license points?

    It would seem all the more foolhardy to risk what has happened without the temptation, which many must surely have resisted, of facing a driving ban otherwise.

    But frankly, as some, not as adept at getting 'good deals' as turbines rotate mainly under power to avoid seizing, quietly suffer in the cold, I think he was heading for the limit in patience for most with clueless arrogance of those in 'power'.

  • Comment number 34.


    To the BBC, 'global warming', 'CO2 pollution', 'carbon footprint', and all the associated tosh, are 'GIVEN REALITIES'. They get the Piers Corbyn Prize for LACK OF AWARENESS. And that, in a news-gathering organisation, OF WORLD RENOWN, does not bode well for the coming of the Apocalypse.


    This sort of thing gives us Flat Earthers a bad name.

  • Comment number 35.

    CORRECTION (#34)

    This sort of thing gives us Flat Earthers a GOOD name. (:o)

  • Comment number 36.


    The dumb Coalition will now take even longer TO REALISE CO2 WARMING IS A BIG LIE - as imaginary as money. (Huhne probably knew . . .)

    And when are they going to take seriously, the provision of safety railings for the edge of the Earth?

  • Comment number 37.

    Last nights NN discussion on the tax avoidance story was pretty incoherent for this blogger or maybe I was just tired and could not take it in.

    I tend to look for the root reasons for why things are as they are and in this case, generally speaking, it seems to me that despite the occasional Government rhetoric about encouraging people to 'be independent', 'stand on their own two feet', 'start their own business', in reality, the Government utterly depends upon the steady cash-flow income from NI and Income Tax revenue streams via the PAYE system and it would be a catastrophe for the Governments finances if millions of workers really did decide to 'be their own boss'.

    Not only that, independent people tend to be less herd-like and therefore harder to control, even if only subliminally, whereas those who are being 'bossed' in their daily work lives are more likely to conform to norms and politicians like that, it makes their job a bit easier.

  • Comment number 38.


    Remember St Tony's ringing cry: "Ask me what are my three priorities. I tell you Education Education Education." He did not explain that the plan was to educate for ignominious dullardship. It was and is a success.

  • Comment number 39.

    barriesingleton @ 38

    As I mentioned in the previous post, I tend to look for the root reasons why things are as they are, and in the case of education, a root reason for the decline is that politicians are involved at all e.g. Tony Blair has admitted that, whilst he was PM, he was regularly berated by people over the declining PISA rankings.

    Politicians need to get out and stay out of our childrens education.

    All they are doing, in practise, is perpetuating a system whereby the glided elite (the 1%) maintain their positions because the 99% are broadly getting a sub-standard education from the politicians State monopoly.

  • Comment number 40.

    Yesterday I mentioned that it is extremely risky for a small business to employ anybody, citing as one reason, the risk of an adverse employment tribunal outcome.

    Indeed, some 60% of small businesses in England are one-person-bands, possibly for this reason in many cases.

    Today I read in The Times that a retired couple who employed a carer for their disabled daughter have found out the hard way, just what this means, as the carer took them to an employment tribunal and has been awarded £10K, which it is reported, will have to come from the disabled daughters fund.

    All the parents needed was sound advice, i.e. use a carers services via a Personal Service Company with an appropriate contract, pay that company as-and-when and simply terminate the contract when required.

    No PAYE, no holiday, no pension, no employment tribunal hassles.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm still not totally convinced that a failing non departmental public body (I believe that's how you described it) can not have a trouble shooter sent in to get it functioning as intended.
    As for “short-term” contracts , what is the legal definition of such a word in such a context ?
    Is there any evidence which suggests that Mr Lester or his company did not pay due tax on there income ?

    As for the suggestion that people should avoid paying lower taxes , I find that extraordinary. But there again I can remember the popularity of cruises across the channel for duty-free goods. Very popular with people it was too, until some government signed a bit of white paper claiming they has cured a social ill and we should all be jolly thankful to them for doing so.

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm not sure I agree with Professor Richard J Evans theory, that the German Empire of the 19th century led to the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazis) perpetrating the holocaust in the 20th century.
    Because there was some new ideological theories produced in the 19th century that must have had an effect.
    Darwin's theory of evolution for example, which I have always assumed was the reason why Churchill accused the Nazis of perverting science (misinterpreting science (deliberately)).
    And of course there were also some Germans in the 19th century that were looking to square their new political theory by answering what should happen to those “societies” who were two stages behind capitalism and who could not join in the revolution. I believe that some answers to this was suggested in 1849 January's edition of Neue Rheinische Zeitung. (sorry no link)

    I would like to hear why such influential thinkings of that age would not effect Professor Evans theory.

    A few contexts for a few of his lecture references , Zanzibar and the Sudan .

    I think your being a bit zero or one on the issue if you don't mind me saying.
    I take it you've heard of the Sumerset case.
    In the summing up the judge refers to the “Laws of Nations”, that law was not owned by the British,it had been built up from the tradition of nations and “empires of old” trading and fighting each other over the previous two thousand years (give or take a few hundred years).
    By all means criticize our ancestors for their ignorances , but do not try and blame all the world ills upon them, nor judge them by a different standard than you would another of their age. Doing so, I suggest, may be seen as hypocrisy.

  • Comment number 43.

  • Comment number 44.

    At 11:24 3rd Feb 2012, barriesingleton wrote:


    Yes - Very astute of you!

  • Comment number 45.

    some people think even today that the earth is flat....the same one's that believed Blair and his WMD rant....

  • Comment number 46.

    hi,i would like to watch the programme again, where steve smith talks to esther freud on bbc2 on 2nd feb.
    where can i find it?please help.


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