Right-wing thinktank deletes offer of access to ministers for donors

From The Guardian: One of the UK’s most influential rightwing thinktanks has deleted passages from its website promising access to government ministers in exchange for donations after the Guardian began making inquiries about its funding.

The Adam Smith Institute, a neoliberal thinktank credited with inspiring some of the most controversial privatisations of the Thatcher and Major governments, offered invitations to “power lunches and patrons dinners with influential figures, including politicians, ministers, journalists and academics” to anyone donating £1,000 a year.

The regulator, the Charity Commission, said on Friday that it had started examining the institute’s accounts for “potential areas of non-compliance” with accounting rules.

It is the second rightwing thinktank whose conduct is being examined by the commission for possible breaches of the rules.

Earlier this year the chief executive of the Institute of Economic Affairs was filmed by an undercover reporter appearing to promise a potential donor access to a minister in exchange for funding a report on agribusiness. The group says it is “spurious to suggest that the IEA is engaging in any kind of ‘cash for access’ system” and denies wrongdoing.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Tory minister faces questions over landlord donor

From the Morning Star: Tory Scottish Secretary David Mundell has trousered almost £40,000 in donations from a Singapore-based businessman who hailed the last recession as a “massive wealth-building opportunity in disguise”.

Mundell is facing questions after he provided property magnate Brian Gillies with a business reference which praised his “integrity and personal probity.”

Three companies linked to Mr Gillies, a wealthy Scot who relocated to the Far East, have donated £38,500 to Mr Mundell’s office and local Conservative association since 2011.

In an interview with the Scotsman’s business section in 2009, Mr Gillies said: “A recession is a massive wealth-building opportunity in disguise. What you can do now is take advantage of a market where you can buy the properties you want to buy and you can buy them very cheaply.”

Labour shadow Scotland secretary Lesley Laird branded Mr Gillies’s comments “absolutely sickening.”

In a reference published on business website GlobalEye, Mr Mundell said: “I have known [Mr Gillies] personally for three years and I have found him to be a person of the highest integrity and personal probity.” Mr Mundell said Mr Gillies had “a significant involvement with the Conservative Party”.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

29 Tory MPs have accepted lavish free trips from the murderous Saudi Arabia regime since 2015

From Evolve Politics: A list has emerged detailing a staggering number of MPs who have accepted lavish all expenses paid trips to the head-chopping state of Saudi Arabia.

Since 2015, the government of Saudi Arabia has spent at least £222,000 jetting UK MPs out to the oil rich middle eastern country.

Details of these trips are listed on the website of the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. The purpose of the register is to provide information of any financial interests or benefits an MP receives which could be seen as influential on their work as a Member of Parliament.

33 MPs have taken all expenses paid trips to Saudi Arabia since March 2015 – 29 of them Conservative.

Tory MP Leo Docherty seems to be a frequent flyer. He visited in 2015, 2017 and 2018. He is now a member of the Committees on Arms Export Controls.

For Docherty to even be appointed to that Committee is worrying in itself considering the high number of arms the UK licences for export to Saudi Arabia.

[Read full article (with list of the 29 MPs) on Evolve Politics…]

MPs’ interests in betting industry are the reason for Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals regulation delays, says former Tory minister

From the Morning Star: Tory ministers’ links with the betting industry are the reason for the delays in new restrictions being placed on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), says former sports minister Tracey Crouch.

The Chatham MP resigned from her post after Chancellor Philip Hammond said the cut in maximum stakes to £2 would not come into force until October 2019. Users can currently bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on the high-speed and high-stake electronic casino games.

She told BBC Radio 5 Live that it was a fact that some ministers are “very interested in the bookmaking industry.”

Ms Crouch said she had been working under the assumption that the new £2 maximum stake would be introduced in April 2019.

“There have been conversations that have taken place with many members of Parliament with different interests and, on this occasion, clearly I wasn’t as persuasive as some of my other colleagues,” she said.

Campaigners say FOBTs allow users to lose money too quickly, leading to addiction and social, mental and financial problems. Every day, two people will take their lives because of gambling-related problems, Ms Crouch noted in her resignation letter to Prime Minister Theresa May.

The machines generate £1.8 billion in revenue a year for the betting industry, according to the Gambling Commission.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Boris Johnson accepted £14k worth of hospitality from the Saudis days before Khashoggi’s death

From the Morning Star: Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson accepted £14,000 worth of hospitality from the Saudi regime, only days before Jamal Khashoggi’s death, it was revealed this week.

Andrew Smith, media co-ordinator of Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: “Politicians should not be taking money from authoritarian regimes or dictatorships like the one in Saudi Arabia, which has an appalling human rights record and has inflicted a humanitarian crisis on Yemen.

“The Saudi regime is not spending money on hospitality for Boris Johnson because it cares about his views on education. It is doing it because it knows that he’s got ambitions for Downing Street and it wants to buy influence.”

Labour’s shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett said it was another reminder of how far the Tories’ “cosy relationship” with the “murderous” Saudi regime extends.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Revealed: The oligarchs who fund the Tory project

From Morning Star: The Tories have “serious questions to answer” over lavish donations to the party by the wife of a former Putin associate, say Labour.

The Conservatives received £4.7 million in donations in the first three months of 2018, more than three times the £1.49m pulled in by Labour between January 1 and March 31, data from the Electoral Commission has revealed.

But £100,000 of the Tories’ total came from Lubov Chernukhin, whose husband Vladimir was Russia’s deputy finance minister during Vladimir Putin’s first term as president, before settling in London in 2006.

Ms Chernukhin has now donated over £620,000 to the Tories since June 2012, including a payment of £160,000 in July 2014 to play tennis with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and £30,000 this February to have dinner with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

She also tried to donate £10,000 to the party in April 2012, but was deemed an “impermissible donor” by the Electoral Commission.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister John Trickett called on Theresa May to “explain what checks have taken place, and why her party has accepted money from individuals with links to Putin’s regime, despite her promises.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg unrepentant about earning commission on investments in Russian oligarchs

Via The Daily Politik: Andrew Marr challenged Jacob Rees-Mogg on his company, Somerset Asset Management’s links to Russian oligrachs.

Mogg reckons we should be, “much tougher on Russia. I think we should impose the level of sanctions that America has imposed on Russia” BUT it’s OK for Mogg to make money from people who make money from Russia, “by second degree”.

It's OK to Make Money from Russian Oligarchs –

Marr challenged Jacob Rees-Mogg on his company, Somerset Asset Management's links to Russian Oligrachs this morning. Mogg reckons we should be, "much tougher on Russia. I think we should impose the level of sanctions that America has imposed on Russia" BUT it's OK for Mogg to make money from people who make money from Russia, "by second degree".And he's the bookies favourite to be our next Prime Minister – #ToryBritain

Posted by The Daily Politik on Sunday, May 27, 2018

The top 50 political donors

Click the image to enlarge…

A list of the top 50 political donors and which parties they donate to. It won’t shock you to learn that 47 of them donate to the Conservative Party…Source: Sunday Times

Posted by The Daily Politik on Sunday, May 13, 2018

Theresa May’s husband’s Capital Group is largest shareholder in BAE, shares soar since Syrian airstrikes

From RT: Philip May, husband of the UK prime minister, works for a company that is the largest shareholder in arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, whose share price has soared since airstrikes in Syria.

The company, Capital Group, is also the second-largest shareholder in Lockheed Martin – a US military arms firm that supplies weapons systems, aircraft and logistical support. Its shares have also rocketed since the missile strikes last week.

The fact has not gone unnoticed by some on Twitter, who agree that BAE Systems has done very well out of the UK-US-France allied airstrikes on Syria, which were sanctioned by Theresa May. It has been reported that the UK’s contribution to military strikes was to fire eight ‘Storm-Shadow’ missiles at an alleged chemical weapons facility, each of which cost £790,000 ($1.13 million) – totaling £6.32 million ($9 million). The missiles were manufactured by BAE Systems.

Theresa May’s husband has worked as a relationship manager for the research investment company Capital Group since 2005. The Tory-BAE links go even deeper, however. The former chancellor of the exchequer and present editor-in-chief at the Evening Standard, George Osborne’s other employer Black Rock is the fifth-largest shareholder in BAE Systems.

The latest news comes on the back of a recent deal agreed by BAE Systems and the Saudi government for the provisional sale of 48 Typhoon jets to the kingdom. The deal was welcomed by the relevant government officials from the UK and Saudi Arabia, who say it would help safeguard jobs. However, it was criticized by arms campaigners worried about the ongoing war in Yemen.

[Read full article on RT website…]

PM among cabinet members earning money as landlords

From The Guardian: Nine cabinet ministers, including the prime minister, are making more than £10,000 a year by acting as landlords, a Guardian analysis has found.

Following Jeremy Hunt’s failure to declare the purchase of seven luxury flats that he subsequently rented out, an analysis of the parliamentary register of MPs’ interests shows eight other members of the cabinet own property that is rented out for a five-figure annual sum.

The health secretary was forced in to an embarrassing apology on Friday after it emerged that he had failed to declare a business interest with both Companies House and the parliamentary register of MPs’ interests.

Hunt has amended the register, which now shows that he has a half share of a holiday home in Italy, a half share in an office building in Hammersmith and seven recently acquired apartments in Southampton.

Theresa May and Philip Hammond, who both live in Downing Street, rent out their personal homes in central London. Communities and housing secretary Sajid Javid also rents out property, while Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, rents out two properties, according to the register

The foreign secretary Boris Johnson, the international trade secretary Liam Fox, the minister without portfolio Brandon Lewis – who is also the Conservative party chairman – and the Welsh minister Alun Cairns also own and rent out a property, according to the register.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Russian minister’s wife donated £160,000 to Tory Party for game of tennis with Boris Johnson

The wife of a minister in Vladimir Putin’s government donated £160,000 to the UK Tory party for a game of tennis with Boris Johnson.

Andrew Marr says to Boris Johnson in this video: “Labour says that part of the hesitation in this is that you as a party have been taking far too much Russian money.”

Russian money for government access?

I wonder who won? 🎾

Posted by Momentum on Sunday, March 18, 2018

Westminster Council deputy leader stands down amid investigation over gifts

From The Guardian: The Tory deputy leader of Westminster council has stepped aside after the Guardian revealed he had received hospitality or gifts 893 times over six years, frequently from property developers seeking planning permission.

Robert Davis, who chaired the Conservative borough’s planning committee for 17 years, said on Wednesday night that he was giving up all of his roles as deputy leader and cabinet member for business, culture and heritage while the authority and an independent QC investigates his conduct.

Davis was entertained by and received gifts from property industry figures at least 150 times since the start of 2015 – a rate of almost once a week. His entertainment was paid for by some of the country’s wealthiest property developers including Gerald Ronson, Sir Stuart Lipton and Sir George Iacobescu, the chief executive of Canary Wharf Group.

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3 former Conservative cabinet ministers have been caught selling Brexit information to a fake Chinese company

From Business Insider: Three former Cabinet ministers have been secretly filmed and exposed trying to make money from giving out information on Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Andrew Lansley, Peter Lilley, and Andrew Mitchell were caught trying to profit from providing “intelligence” on Brexit negotiations to a Chinese company, according to a joint investigation by The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches.

Undercover reporters then invited a number of former ministers to interviews for a job on the advisory board of Tianfen, a fake Chinese company.

Lord Lansley, who served as health secretary under David Cameron, was filmed being offered tens of thousands of pounds. He also said the deal could be kept secret from authorities if he was employed through his wife’s company, Low Europe. Lansley said he was already making €5,000 a day (around £4384) by giving Brexit advice to his pharmaceutical clients. He spoke about his connections at the top of government, such as Prime Minister Theresa May and Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade.

Peter Lilley, who was the Tory party’s deputy leader between 1998 and 1999, also expressed interest in approaching key ministers for Tianfen.

The MP Andrew Mitchell was willing to give paid advice to the company for £6,000 a day and said he would work up to 10 weeks a year. The Times reported he already gets paid nearly £75,000 for his job as an MP. “My constituents don’t mind what I’m paid,” he said while being filmed.

[Read full article on Business Insider…]

Fire station closed by Boris Johnson to be turned into luxury flats by Tory donor

[Meme from Wear Red – Stand Up and Be Counted]

One of 10 fire stations shut by Boris Johnson while he was Mayor of London is to be converted into luxury flats – by a company whose directors include a Tory donor. Belsize fire station was closed in 2014 after 100 years of service to the local community.

Vulcan Property Ltd, which bought the grade II listed building from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) for £7.8 million, was given planning permission for the flats this week.

Electoral Commission records show one of the company’s three directors, William Richard Woodward-Fisher, made a £2000 donation to a Conservative association in 2005.

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