Tag Archives: ed davey

What cost-of-living crisis? Ed Davey adviser jokes on food inflation

Chris Nicholson with Ed Davey

With heating bills at the centre of the financial challenge facing stretched families, energy secretary Ed Davey has been thrust into the limelight on cost-of-living issues. Here’s an insight into how seriously his team take them, courtesy of his special adviser Chris Nicholson:

The tweet prompted a grass roots Lib Dem member to remind Nicholson that food inflation was “not a joke for us plebs”. He also has form in this area — as a leading proponent of moves to slash Winter Fuel Allowance.

Perhaps something to reflect on as you wonder how to pay your fuel bill.

Chickens coming home to roost for ‘expenses saint’ Ed Davey

Ed Davey and Kingston Lib Dems office

Scrapbook is pleased to see that the mainstream media and Guido have nearly caught up to us when it comes to the dodgy arrangements in Ed Davey’s office, with the cabinet minister long overdue some heat during what is now being dubbed a “new expenses scandal”.

Here’s a taste of our previous coverage:

On the topic of Kingston Lib Dems’ building — which is rented back by the taxpayer for use as Davey’s office – Guido wonders out loud:

“So how is he is claiming not just a proportion of the property cost for rent, but more than the entire property costs to mortgage?”

The answer is because this has been assessed as a commercial rent by a surveyor, as mandated by IPSA rules for a building owned by a local party:

ipsa-rent-from-party-rule

And while Guido notes that the office is also used by the local party, the heavily redacted valuation report (PDFScrapbook obtained earlier this year shows that the lease has been cleverly chopped up between a number of tenants, including Ed Davey as MP, the local Lib Dems and the secret printing company they have been using to game electoral spending limits. So the high rent Guido is complaining about is actually for a sub-set of the whole office.

Davey’s local party seem to have developed something of an inverse Midas touch lately, with their former council leader being jailed over child abuse and bestiality images.

Out of the frying pan …

Former Liberal Democrat council leader gets two years for child porn

Derek Osbourne

A former political ally of cabinet minister Ed Davey has been sentenced to two years in prison for maintaining a massive library of child and animal porn, which he shared with other paedophiles. The ex-leader of Lib Dem Kingston Council kept images — including pictures of people having sex with an “unknown dead animal” — in a highly organised system of USB drives.

Judge Alistair McCreath told him:

“Those who by choice occupy a position of authority in public life have a duty to the public to behave in the highest of standards, and you did not.

“I acknowledge and recognise the effect on your family of what you have done, and the effect on them, innocent as they are, of the sentence I must impose on you.”

Osbourne has also been subject to a separate police complaint after Political Scrapbook exposed possible breaches of election law during a by-election for which he was the agent.

SEE ALSO:

Ex-council leader faces charges over ‘child and bestiality porn’

Derek Osbourne

The former Liberal Democrat leader of Kingston Council has faced a preliminary court hearing charged with possessing an extensive library of child and bestiality pornography. Derek Osbourne — a close political ally of cabinet minister Ed Davey – is alleged to have amassed collection including 50 images at level 5, the most extreme category.

Osbourne has also been subject to a separate police complaint after Political Scrapbook exposed possible breaches of election law during a by-election for which he was the agent.

Osbourne will give a plea to the charges at Southwark Crown Court on 1 October.

SEE ALSO:

Ed Davey claimed expenses for £6,000 repairs to party building

Ed Davey lease

As Scrapbook alluded last week, the enterprising arrangements in Ed Davey’s constituency office don’t stop at election printing (the matter is now in the hands of the Metropolitan Police). The secretary of state for climate change rents his south west London office from Kingston Liberal Democrats, who trouser the proceeds while Davey claims it all back on expenses.

To stop MPs fiddling the taxpayer with inflated rents to their own local parties, the IPSA rule book demands MPs must have a valuation from a surveyor to cover such an arrangement.

ipsa-rent-from-party-rule

Scrapbook has got hold of a copy of the report covering Davey’s lease from Kingston Liberal Democrat Property Co Ltd  – and all is not well. While the document rates Davey’s office as worth £12,000 per year in rent, the chartererd surveyor is not impressed with the lease:

“The tenant [Davey] is responsible to keep the interior of the premises ‘neat and tidy’ and it is specifically noted that neither landlord [local Lib Dems] nor tenant is responsible for internal repairs (apart from redecorations). The lease is defective in this respect.”

If the lease is “defective” because it doesn’t specify who is responsible for internal repairs, why did Davey and his local party charge the taxpayer for £4,240 for replacement of a floor, carpets and other internal maintenance work?

  • £2,610 — floor replacement
  • £1,196 — carpets
  • £434 —  plumbing and other maintenance work

But even with a commercial lease stipulating generous maintenance contributions from the tenant, the taxpayer is surely not responsible for repairs to the exterior of a building owned by the Liberal Democrats and apportioned between four different leases? Au contrair! Davey claimed back £2,089 for exterior maintenance, including the erection of a scaffolding tower to repair rotten timbers.

The so-called “expenses saint” has refused to answer any of Scrapbook’s questions regarding his office arrangements.

He won’t have as much luck stonewalling IPSA.

SEE ALSO:

Cabinet minister’s office referred to police over election expenses

  • Ed Davey’s office may have breached law over by-election
  • Firm owned by Davey’s wife produced ‘non-commercial’ invoice
  • Professional £24,000 campaign organiser not declared

Ed Davey and Kingston Lib Dems office

The office of cabinet minister Ed Davey has been referred to the Metropolitan Police over election expenses, Political Scrapbook understands. The complaint from Labour backbencher Thomas Docherty, relates to concerns – first raised on this blog last week – about arrangements in Davey’s office, which he shares with Kingston Liberal Democrats and a secret printing company which does not advertise to the public.

With election laws placing strict limits on campaign spending, the letter to New Scotland Yard sets out how an invoice with arbitrary pricing of election literature may have been used to game expenses limits for a by-election in February. The problem for Davey is that Berrylands Printers Ltd is run from his office by, errr, his wife, parliamentary aide and the president of the local Lib Dems.

The news comes on the day the local party are fighting another by-election — caused by the resignation of council leader Derek Osbourne after a child porn arrest. As the legal election agent for the contest with the dubious invoice, Kingston Lib Dems will be queuing up to use Osbourne as a human shield over any breaches.

But as Docherty’s complaint sets out, arrangements in Davey’s office may also implicate the managers of the printing company, who set the low prices on the invoice submitted to the Electoral Commission. Kingston Liberal Democrats also failed to account for staff spending — which was claimed to be zero despite a £24,000 per-year professional organiser boasting of how she “managed” the campaign.

Davey’s office arrangements sits somewhat awkwardly with the Nick Clegg’s professed motivations for new laws covering election spending:

“The Government has decided to proceed with sensible and necessary improvements to the controls on third parties which campaign at general elections to ensure that they are fully transparent and not allowed to distort the political process.”

With a police investigation looming over Kingston Liberal Democrats, celebrations at this evening’s likely by-election victory may be decidedly mute.

SEE ALSO:

MORE ON ED DAVEY’S OFFICE ARRANGEMENTS TOMORROW.

How many ‘printing societies’ do the Liberal Democrats have?

Photocopiers

Scrapbook’s coverage of the arrangements in Ed Davey’s office has certainly set the fox loose in the Lib Dem chicken coop, with campaign organisers descending on the comments in what looks suspiciously like a rebuttal operation co-ordinated from Great George Street.

While agents boasted of the cheap printing deals used to saturate letterboxes with unsolicited material, they seem less willing to discuss detail — like how it was possible for Davey’s operation to source (pricey) coloured envelopes for 0.7 pence each.

Another bone of contention is the near-institutionalised role of ’printing societies’ in Liberal Democrat campaigning. Despite being run by local party officials solely for campaigning purposes they are deliberately kept at arm’s length in order that they are not subject to the same reporting and transparency standards as local parties.

This sits somewhat awkwardly with Nick Clegg’s ministerial statement on new legislation which was published yesterday:

“The Government has decided to proceed with sensible and necessary improvements to the controls on third parties which campaign at general elections to ensure that they are fully transparent and not allowed to distort the political process.”

And despite running a whole blog dedicated to election law, prominent Lib Dem figures seem loathe to discuss whether printing societies should be regulated “Third Parties” under the PPERA Act — meaning they would be subject to the same standards of transparency as everyone else:

PPERA and printing societies

The Electoral Commission demands that any organisation spending more than £10,000 on campaigning in the year before a general election is supposed to register as a Third Party. So why shouldn’t this apply to printing societies whose raison d’etre is such activity? Section 75 of the Representation of the People Act also places limits on spending in local elections by non-party actors.

It’s getting very messy. The worms are going everywhere and it’s Nick Clegg holding the tin opener.

Cabinet minister and secret company ‘used to hide election expenses’

Ed Davey and Kingston Lib Dems office

  • Office of climate change secretary Ed Davey has secret company
  • ‘Berrylands Printers’ is owned by his wife and office manager
  • Legislation affecting election printing published this week

Cabinet minister Ed Davey has a secret printing company operating from his constituency office, Political Scrapbook can reveal. Electoral filings obtained by this blog suggest that the vehicle may have been used to hide the true cost of election expenses in what would constitute a breach of electoral law.

The news comes as the government prepares to publish its lobbying and third party funding bill, which it is expected to place restrictions on political funding and ‘donations in kind’ — including printing costs.

Berryland Printers Ltd, which is based within Ed Davey’s constituency office in south west London (above) provides services exclusively to Liberal Democrats. Established in 2011, the company is owned by the climate change secretary’s wife, Emily Davey, and his office manager, Elizabeth Mayes-Reid, while the president of the local party is listed as a director.

With existing electoral laws placing strict limits on spending, services provided at a discount of more than 10% from market rates must recorded as ‘notional expenditure’ — which counts towards spending caps. But analysis of spending returns (full PDF) for a recent by-election — spun as a show of Lib Dem resilience in the media – show that the company operating from Davey’s office offered the local party discounts of up to 85% on those provided by commercial firms.

4,500 A3 copies of a leaflet were billed at £122.30, a discount of over £400 on quotes sourced by this blog; while 4,200 blue C6 envelopes were itemised at £30 — around £170 less expensive than the cheapest quote Scrapbook could find online.

Lib Dem agent Derek Osbourne — who quit as the local council leader after his arrest on child porn allegations last month – told the Electoral Commission that the notional spending for the by-election was £35.10.

Berrylands Printers Ltd invoice

The determination of the Ed Davey to hang onto the seat cannot be underestimated, as paid organiser and by-election manager Roisin Miller has set out:

“Berrylands is symbolic for Edward Davey; it is right in the centre of his constituency and is where the office is located.”

Provided with the full documentation, Miller refused to offer a detailed explanation of how her campaign could account for the official returns to the Electoral Commission, saying simply:

“The party complies with all relevant regulations regarding these issues, as set out in the appropriate legislation and administered by the Electoral Commission and other relevant bodies.”

With a network of similar Lib Dem ‘printing societies’ across the country — operating at various levels of transparency — local campaign organisers may not be thanking Nick Clegg’s office for this bill.

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