Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayers £50,000 "

Having burnished his credentials as a minister on cost-cutting and transparency, Eric Pickles stands accused of wasting tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on legal advice and then attempting a cover-up. The DCLG is thought to have paid for external legal advice after Electoral Commission chair Jenny Watson was smeared by a source within the department.

Given the astronomical fees charged to government for legal services, the sum allegedly expended by DCLG has been subject to significant speculation both inside and outside Whitehall. Pickles is currently cowering behind a Freedom of Information loophole but Scrapbook understands the figure may be more than £50,000.

The guilty party has already been fingered by the Local Government Chronicle (£) as one of Pickles’ own special advisers: either former CCHQ staffer  Sheridan Westlake (pictured) or Giles Kenningham. Still, no one can say the pair don’t have a sense of irony. A recent departmental press release carried a quote from Pickles which presumably bears the fingerprints of Messrs Westlake and Kenningham:

The sunlight of openness may be uncomfortable for some, but it will expose how taxpayer’s money is being wasted.



  1. Posted January 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    You should really credit Tom Watson if you are just going to re-print all his stuff verbatim.

    Betcha the £50 the cost of the “legal advice” turns out to be nearer zero than £50,000.

  2. Posted January 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    So £24,995 then? £10,000? If advice was sought then it will run into thousands, all because a SpAd smeared someone. Very happy to correct our figure if Eric Pickles, that paragon of transparency, would provide one.

    You’re on for the £50 by the way.

  3. matthew fox
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    @ Guido Fawkes

    I bet you where fined more than £50 for your drink drive conviction. How much of the tab did the taxpayer pick up for you arrogance?

  4. Posted January 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Actually I was fined exactly £50 and the taxpayer didn’t pick up the tab, I bought all my own drinks.

  5. masterth
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    looks like you owe Guido 50quid then!

  6. Posted March 4, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Indeed. Thank god for inverted commas, eh?

  7. John Hall
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    “I wish to use this opportunity to put on record a short comment. Pursuant to my answer to the hon. Member of 4 November 2010, Official Report, column 937W, no expenditure has been undertaken on legal fees on potential defamation cases relating in any way to that whole topic.”

    So, will you plead guilty to the libel charges that could arise as you unquestioningly post smears from Labour spindoctors?

  8. Posted March 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

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