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.

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  8. 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.

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  17. 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.

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  26. @ 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?

  27. “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?

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