Posts Tagged ‘Mansion Tax’

Private Eye on Libel Judges and their Connection to the Tories

March 15, 2016

In their issue for the 2nd – 15th May 2014, Private Eye ran a piece on the way several prominent judges had been allowed to judge a libel case by the Tories against the Sunday Times exposing a lobbying scandal, when those judges were either themselves members of the Conservative party, or had close family members who were.

In the Courts
It’s a Family Affair

How many judges on the libel bench have family connections to the Tory party, and why don’t they declare them when hearing political cases?

The Eye asks because the libel action by former Tory treasurer Peter Cruddas against the Sunday Times is unearthing a family tree of judges’ brothers and sons who work for, stand for or give money to the Conservative party.

Cruddas sued after he med Jonathan Calvert and Heidi Blake, Sunday Times undercover reporters who were posing as agents of foreign financiers in 2012. The headline “Tory treasurer charges £250,000 to meet PM” followed their meeting.

Mr Justice Tugendhat hit the Sunday Times with a damning judgment. Blake had told the court she found it “quite shameful for the prime minister to tout himself to businesses who pay to have their photograph taken”. Tugendhat used her words to conclude that she had a motive to injure Cruddas.

The paper was guilty of libel and malicious falsehood for saying that Cruddas was a corrupt man, who offered opportunities to influence government policy through meetings with ministers in return for foreign donations, knowing that payment of the money would breach UK electoral law.

Tugendhat did not declare that his son, Tom Tugendhat, was committed Conservative, who has been selected to stand in Tonbridge and Malling, one of the safest Tory seats in the country. Nor did the judge mention that his brother, Christopher Tugendhat, is a Conservative peer and former MP. Nor did he declare that Michael Ashcroft, the former Tory chairman and a prominent supporter of Cruddas, had hired him when he was still a barrister and praised Tugendhat as “arguably the greatest legal expert in the country on privacy”.

The Sunday Times applied for the right to appeal. In November last year, Lady Justice Sharp refused to allow the application. The Sunday Times pressed on and asked for a hearing. Lady Sharp was due to hear the case last month, but just before it began, word spread among journalists and lawyers of Tugendhat’s family connections.

The day before the hearing, Lady Sharp contacted the paper and said it may want to know that, like Tugendhat, she also had a brother who was a prominent Conservative.

And so she does. Richard Sharp is a former head of private equity for Goldman Sachs. He is on the board of a right-wing think tank, the Centre for Policy Studies, which campaigns against a mansion tax for wealthy homeowners and in favour of zero-hours contracts for poor workers.

Last year, the Wall Street Journal estimated that Richard Sharp’s personal fortune was £90m. Sharp has personally donated tens of thousands to the Tory party and Tory politicians. Sharp has personally donated tens of thousands to the Tory party and Tory politicians. In 2007, he moved from Goldman Sachs to chair the lobbying and PR firm Huntsworth Plc, which also donates to the Tory party.

The chancellor, George Osborne, appointed Sharp to the Bank of England’s financial policy committee in 2013. Baroness Sarah Hogg was the Treasury’s representative at his interview. She is the wife of Douglas Hogg, a Tory MP, and was an adviser to Ken Clarke when he was Tory chancellor. Sharp is the first committee member in the Bank of England’s history to have been a party donor.

Richard Sharp and Dame Justice Sharp’s father was Eric Sharp, whom Keith Joseph, the then Conservative industry secretary, appointed as chairman of the newly privatised Cable and Wireless in 1980. The Thatcher government gave him a peerage in 1989.

Offering advice on when judges should stand down (“recuse themselves”) because of conflicts of interest, the appeal court said in 2006 that “if in any case there is real ground for doubt, that doubt should be resolved in favour of recusal”.

At the last minute, Sharp offered to stand down after she had already heard one appeal, an offer the Sunday Times gratefully acceped. Mr Justice Tugendhat never offered to stand down, and did not tell the Sunday Times about his family connections. No doubt he didn’t think he needed to under the law as it stands-which explains why many feel the law should be reviewed.

Instead of going before Sharp, the Sunday Times’ appeal was heard by Lord Justice Maurice Kay and Lord Justice Laws on 16th April. Laws said the Sunday Times had to persuade the court that Tugendhat “went wrong on the facts to a radical degree. That is a tall order on any view, and it is right to note that the trial judge in this case [Tugendhat] has a wealth of experience in the field of defamation.”

For all that, Laws found the Cruddas case “unusual and in some ways troubling”. There were “some singular features” about it.

It was clear that the journalists, posing as representatives of foreign financiers, made it plain their interest in approaching the respondent was entirely commercial, Laws said. He had “an uneasy sense” that Tugendhat might not, “despite his painstaking treatment of the case”, have confronted the realities of the exchanges between the journalists and Mr Cruddas.

The Eye’s artice states that the trial was continuing.

This article does indeed suggest that the Conservative party, or at least its individual members, are not above sitting in judgment in cases where there is a clear conflict of interest and their own political views may cause them to give an unjust judgment. This could be easily construed as another Tory attack on freedom of the press.

Apart from the libel case, there is also the matter of George Osborne’s appoint of a Conservative donor, Richard Sharp, to the committee of the Bank of England. If you’re looking for another parallel with Fascism, the Nazis set up vast corporations in order to control and ‘coordinate’ industry with Nazi policy. The boards included members of the Nazi party.

Kris Hopkins, the ‘Slimy, Nasty’, Unrepresentative Representative for Keighley

March 24, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political continues his exposes of the nastier Tory MPs now occupying marginal constituencies. In his post, Keighley’s chance to end the hypocritical claims of Kris Hopkins, he attacks Kris Hopkins’ lies and hypocrisy, particularly about the current state of housing in Britain. Hopkins is housing minister, and has boasted of the numbers of new homes the Tories have built, without also mentioning that this is the lowest since before the Coalition took power. Mike also notes the way he claimed the government had helped hardworking people, despite the fact that this Christmas, 80,000 children were homeless. His reaction to that was simply to shrug it off, stating that the government had given a billion to local councils to tackle the problem, and he was confident that they had met their statutory obligations. Or some such verbiage.

Mike’s article begins

Even one of his own Tory colleagues has described Kris Hopkins as one of Parliament’s “slimiest, nastiest MPs”, so voters in his marginal Keighley constituency should relish the chance to kick him out in May. Right?
Before becoming the Coalition’s housing minister, Hopkins’ only previous claims to fame were allegations that “gangs of Muslim men were going around raping white kids” (thanks to Johnny Void for that one) and a Twitter spat with the equally-odious Philip Davies.

Hopkins called for Conservatives to unite behind David Cameron in 2013 – to which Nadine Dorries (who was responsible for the “slimiest, nastiest” comment) responded, “pass the sick bag”.

As housing minister, he has claimed that more than a third of a million new homes were built between 2010-13, including 150,000 affordable homes – but neglected to mention that this is the lowest level than in any period prior to the Coalition Government. Vox Political reported it as “not an achievement. It is a disaster”.

“Our policies on housing are working,” said Hopkins in a press release. “Housebuilding is growing at its fastest rate for 10 years, and the tough decisions we’ve taken to tackle the deficit have kept interest rates low and are now delivering real help to hardworking people.”

Oh really? And what was his response to the revelation that 80,000 children were homeless due to Coalition Government policies on Christmas Day, 2013, mere months after he had taken up his post?

He couldn’t care less. “We’ve given councils nearly £1bn to tackle homelessness and to support people affected by the welfare reforms,” he sniffed. “I am very clear that they should be fully able to meet their legal responsibility to house families in suitable accommodation.”

When his voting record is examined, he is a fanatically pro-rich and with same bitter, punitive spitefulness towards the poor and less well off as Nick de Bois and Anne Soubry.

He opposes increased taxation for the rich, including the mansion tax, doesn’t want corporation tax increase, but does support increasing VAT.

He also supports the piecemeal privatisation of the NHS and the bedroom tax. Mike also points out that he is an opponent of localism, and actually voted to reduce funding to local authorities. He also supported cuts to all the welfare benefits, the benefits upratings cap, and like Soubry and de Bois he wanted to make sure councils had the responsibility for making sure their residents could pay the council tax, and reduced the amount of money paid to council to ensure they could.

He is also massively in favour of further privatisation, supporting the privatisation of the Royal Mail, the sale of the forests, and private free schools and academies. He also voted in favour of raising tuition fees and ending financial support to 16 -19 year olds in education.

And like much of his grotty party, he support further military action overseas and nuclear weapons.

He was another supporter of the government’s plan to extend injustice further by restricting legal aid, and setting up secret courts, as well as the snooper’s charter that allows the government and security services to tap our telecommunications without warrant.

And he’s also in favour of the badger cull, unregulated gambling and allowing the rail fares to rise unchecked. Clearly he’s unconcerned about the poor quality of the service on the railways, which came in with privatisation, and couldn’t care two hoots about the dangers of gambling addiction.

Nadine Dorries was right to refer to him as one of the ‘slimiest and nastiest’ politicians.

Mike’s article is at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/03/23/keighleys-chance-to-end-the-hypocritical-claims-of-kris-hopkins/

Read it and make your own decision.