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.

Quite.

8 Comments

  1. NEW –> Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayer £50,000" http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  2. LabourList says:

    RT @psbook: NEW –> Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayer £50,000" http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  3. RT @psbook: NEW –> Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayer £50,000" http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  4. RT @psbook: NEW –> Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayer £50,000" http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  5. RT @psbook: NEW –> Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayer £50,000" http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  6. Lescromps says:

    RT @psbook: Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayers £50,000 " http://bit.ly/hflVWb

  7. RT @psbook: NEW –> Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayer £50,000" http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  8. RT @psbook: NEW –> Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayer £50,000" http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  9. 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.

  10. @EricPickles ' special adviser's public smear of Jenny Watson, has reportedly cost taxpayers £50,000 in legal advice http://bit.ly/h8Im6R

  11. RT @psbook: NEW –> Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayer £50,000" http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  12. RT @psbook: NEW –> Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayer £50,000" http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  13. L DTUC says:

    RT @psbook: NEW –> Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayer £50,000" http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  14. RT @psbook: Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayers £50,000 " http://bit.ly/hflVWb

  15. RT @psbook: NEW –> Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayer £50,000" http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  16. @NatalieWilliams have you seen this story about our favourite SPAD? http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  17. RT @psbook: NEW –> Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayer £50,000" http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  18. 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.

  19. RT @psbook: NEW –> Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayer £50,000" http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  20. Another side to this story; £50k for advice amounting: you libelled, hope she don't sue & keep yr mouth shut in future http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  21. So, @EricPickles, could you clarify how much DCLG spent on this? http://bit.ly/hCuPFY We have £50 riding on this with @guidofawkes

  22. RT @psbook: Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayers £50,000 " http://bit.ly/hflVWb

  23. fionamc says:

    RT @psbook: So, @EricPickles, could you clarify how much DCLG spent on this? http://bit.ly/hCuPFY We have £50 riding on this with @guido …

  24. c c says:

    RT @psbook: So, @EricPickles, could you clarify how much DCLG spent on this? http://bit.ly/hCuPFY We have £50 riding on this with @guido …

  25. RT @psbook: So, @EricPickles, could you clarify how much DCLG spent on this? http://bit.ly/hCuPFY We have £50 riding on this with @guido …

  26. RT @psbook: So, @EricPickles, could you clarify how much DCLG spent on this? http://bit.ly/hCuPFY We have £50 riding on this with @guido …

  27. RT @psbook: NEW –> Smear by Eric Pickles' special adviser "cost taxpayer £50,000" http://bit.ly/hCuPFY

  28. matthew fox says:

    @ 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?

  29. [...] our post on Friday claimed the cost of smears against the chair of the Electoral Commission “may be more than [...]

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

  31. [...] something he didn’t want to hear -  who has established quite a track record – witness his smearing of the head of the Electoral Commission, reputed to have cost the Government £50,000 in le…; his recent need to issue a humiliating policy after joining the EDL bandwagon against councils [...]

  32. [...] made the comments.  It is unlikely that either could survive such a revelation given reports DCLG may have spent tens of thousands of pounds on legal advice regarding the potentially libellous [...]

  33. [...] “thousands” on legal advice because of the case, though Guido was confident enough to bet the editor of Political Scrapbook £50 that the figure was closer to [...]

  34. [...] Political Scrapbook dived on the story and have been hammering it for weeks. Guido smelt bullshit earlier and bet the PS team £50 that the actual sum was more likely to be closer to zero. And guess what? [...]

  35. masterth says:

    looks like you owe Guido 50quid then!

  36. Indeed. Thank god for inverted commas, eh?

  37. [...] the going rate for such legal work would be in the region of £50,000, a figure we blogged in the New Year, the belated response from DCLG was that “no expenditure has been undertaken [...]

  38. John Hall says:

    “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?

  39. [...] But it seems to me to be part of a trend – in fourteen months of office Coalition Ministers have been caught out time and again by a lackadaisical attitude to governance.  I’ve blogged before about the apparent lack of grip on the machinery of Government, but there are plenty of other incidences – Michael Gove allegedly misleading Parliament over the level of interest in Free Schools cavalier attitude to statistics, the allegations that Eric Pickles’ special advisers  smeared the head of the Electoral Commission… [...]

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