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Nadine Dorries – Latest expenses raise more questions


3:14 pm - February 4th 2010

by Unity    


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Today’s publication of the Legg report has, naturally, pushed the whole expenses issue back to the top of the news agenda.

We have, of course, had a bit of look for ourselves. And given past history you won’t be surprised that our attention naturally gravitated towards the expenses claims made by our old ‘friend’, sparring partner and Conservative MP for Mid-Narnia, Nadine Dorries…

…and, also unsurprisingly, we’ve got a few questions for Nadine for which we’d really like some answers.

Dorries’ Website/Blog

You may, for example, recall that some time ago – May 2008, in fact – we raised a few issues with the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner about her personal website and blog.

At the time, the blog appeared to be funded from her parliamentary expenses and breached several of the rules governing the use of MPs websites when funded from the public purse.

In September 2008, a significant portion of that complaint was upheld, after it was investigated, by the PSC, and Dorries was forced to issue an apology and make a number of cosmetic alterations to the appearance of her website/blog.

What I didn’t say at the time was that we were somewhat less than convinced that the PSC had properly understood the full scope of our complaint. Some of the technical aspects of the site suggested to us then it was set up in a manner that was – and still is – inconsistent with parliamentary rules and the measures put in to ‘fix’ the problems raised in our complaint were far from adequate and failed to address those issues.

I’d like to stress that we’re not trying to shut her blog down. What we were after then – and now – is a clear assurance that her blog is not being funded from her expenses.

We find today that Dorries’s expenses records include three payments to her webhost, Acidity Ltd, in the years 2008/9 and 9/10, amounting to the princely sum of £3,434.87 and all claimed against her communications allowance.

Her parliamentary website has, however, has not been updated with any new content since the last entry in its news section on 13 Jan 2009.

In total, we count a total of 37 news items added to the site in the two years covered by these payments, none of which were made in the last year.

By way of a comparison. Dorries has added 12 blog posts to the site in the last month alone.

So the questions are:

– What exactly has Dorries spent more than £3,400 on in the last two years?

– Is the blog being paid for out of expenses?

Dorries’ Staffing Expenses

We are also more than a little curious about something we found under the heading ‘staffing expenses’.

Between September 2008 and June 2009, the official records show a total of seven payments to a Midlands-based Public Relations and Marketing Company called Marketing Management (Midlands) Ltd, totalling £24,065, all of which are recorded under the heading ‘staffing expenses’ as payments for agency staff.

In September 2008, Dorries also paid the same company, £6,544.75, although on this occasion the payment was booked in under the Communications Allowance as ‘general running costs’.

We did try to track down a website for this company, but it doesn’t appear to have one.

However, we did manage to track down a site for the man who set the company up, Andy Skinner of Andy Skinner and Partners, whose website provided us with this brief description of both his background and the relationship between the two companies.

On staffing allowance, the Green Book is perfectly explicit in stating that any expenses claimed must be “wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred for the purpose of performing your Parliamentary duties”.

The staffing allowance is there to pay for things like secretarial and administration staff, researchers and assorted other bag carries, constituency case workers and, of course, the occasional spouse – or, in Dorries’s case, two of her daughters who’ve both found their way onto the parliamentary payroll, albeit at different times.

The only other individual we know to have been  employed by Dorries during this period is a Catriona Rowen of whom almost nothing is known.

What we can say here is that…

– Marketing Management (Midlands) Ltd is a marketing and PR company, and not an employment agency. It’s SIC code at Companies House is 7440, which is advertising.

– This company is, however, based in the village of Batsford in the Cotwolds and this puts it no more than about 10-15 minutes drive away from Dorries’ rented property in the Cotswolds.

This is the same property that Dorries has registered as her main home, which has allowed her to claim the second home allowance on her constituency home, a practice for which she’s already found herself in hot water

So, unless she’s failed to declare a member of staff on the Commons register of interest then it would appear that Dorries has either:

– been hiring own daughter via a PR firm based near her main home  (and the timing of the payments would indicate Philippa rather than Jennifer), or

– she’s hired the only member of staff she has who isn’t not related to her from a PR firm, and put it down on the official record as an agency?

In the latter case, that prompts questions about why she’s hiring staff from a PR company and what that has to do with her work as an MP?

Either way, this is also a company that trousered £6,500 from her Communications Allowance in the same month that the staffing arrangement came into effect.

One way or another, this all seems to fall a long way short of being an open and transparent arrangement, and that makes it one that Dorries need to clarify if she’s not to find herself facing yet another investigation into her expenses.

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About the author
'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Westminster

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Reader comments


Dorries has also been using the expenses affair to present herself as whiter than white…

A quote from her on Any Questions, 23rd October 2009:

You know can I just say before I begin cos I feel I need to say this always now. My name’s Nadine Dorries. I’m an MP. I’ve never claimed for mortgage on my expenses. Therefore I have never flipped. I have never benefited in any way. I’ve never claimed for a cleaner or a gardener, a duck house, a moat or anything. I don’t own a company that I pay funds into. I’ve never claimed for petty cash or for food … And I feel I need to say that now to every person that I meet. And my expenses were poured over by the scrutiny and I do not have to pay a penny back in misclaimed expenses. [APPLAUSE]

Catriona Rowen has a relevant education (good BA and MA related to politics) unlike Philippa (piss poor BA Ancient History) and Jennifer (catering college “Hospitality”). I’d wager that it would be worth asking Ms Rowen and Ms Dorries, P whether they were for instance at school together. At Ampleforth perhaps? The relationship to which school as a parent – coincidentally with a big RC Baroness and then selection monitor – coincided with Ms Nadine Vanessa Bargery-Dorries Mum-P’s conversion from being a heathen pro-choicer to being a born-again “Jesus is my hero” abortion-denier.

It may be the case that BOTH Dories daughters ARE working for Mum-P just now as PS Dorries has apparently run out of cash and come back to refuel on the tax-payers’ teat whereas JL Dorries will not be departing on her “paid-off-much-of-my-debts-thanks-to-the-taxpayer” celebration world tour until April.

Nice touch from Mum-P has been forcing the latter to get her travel jabs from family doctor, still located in the Cotswolds, near the decoy “main home” somewhere else perhaps. As if this rather than other various records of this and that and neighbours twitching curtains and indeed her own testimony that she spends way more time in Woburn that anywhere else will in fact prevail over much evidence pointing at her “main home” being no more than a mail drop and bijou holiday spot.

Re-posted Qs 1-100 overnight – http://bit.ly/nuts2date – catches them; this time in reading order. Have a lot more to add. Anon. Including probably posting most of the answers.

Seems to me that a pro-rata amount of the Website production cost MUST be refunded. the same applies to another MP I’m about to bubble for a similar offence. he has apparently refunded two quarters. But the correction – woefully inadequate – was only made about eight weeks ago.

This isn’t caught in the mentions above:

ChrispLOL tweets:

True @Unity_MoT though if MSM stand up whopping stories they’re nursing this’ll be least of @nadinedorriesmp‘s (& #Cam) worries #deadmeat

If nothing else, she’s being ripped off for her hosting. At my (quite expensive) place, 3.5k would pay for hosting for 29 years!

re 5. You’re not kidding. That’d buy an impressive 47 years of hosting on one of my servers.

7. Dick the Prick

@Chris Paul – hee hee hee. Good work Sir, good work indeed.

Is it me, or are loads of Tory MPs on the make in this Expenses scandal?

Look at the top 15 demands for refunds by value and most are Tories. And most stories relating to nepotism seem to relate to Tory MPs.

The latest head-empty on the Nadine Vanessa Bargery-Dorries Mum-P blog-site (funded by the taxpayer by the look of it) is absolutely remarkable.

Rings a bell in its prose style with something I’ve heard or read or experienced before somewhere or other. Perhaps a Gloucestershire County Council thing by some time Conservative Councillor Paul David Dorries? Perhaps not.

But it’s not her usual chatty “voice” now is it? And beyond that quirk – and basically asking for contributions to £30,000 legal fund – it’s not far short of stark raving mad -> in the colloquial sense naturally. Unlike Nadine LOL is not “medically trained”.

>>>> http://blog.dorries.org/id-1556-2010_2_Corruption_.aspx <<<<

Has someone's trading account been used by a naughty big boy who has run away?

Tory rehabilitation of Eugenicist blogger is complete

http://wwwjohn-m-ward.blogspot.com/2010/02/bloggers-reception.html

Slightly barking up the wrong tree I’d say, and that patience is a virtue:

http://bit.ly/clK8Zl

“If a financial journalist or blogger would like a copy of the statement which identifies all parties fully, please call my office.”

If only she knew a reputable blogger who could be trusted with a serious story.

13. Frederique P

The facts re the above are as follows
Nadine Dorries also rents a ‘third’ property in the village of Batsford three doors away from her lifelong friend Lynn Elson who is the sole worker/director in the PR company Nadine is using. Lynn Elson does not recruit people, she runs events as a solo player.
Nadine and Lynn holiday and socialise together.
The clarification needs to come from exactly what Lynn Elson has done for Nadine. She is far removed from a recruitment agency.

There is corruption on all sides, but only one party who does it best. Let’s look at the figures:

Repayments

Conservative (193 MPs) £ 2356 per MP
Labour (346 MPs) £ 1295 per MP
Liberal Democrat (63 MPs) £ 682 per MP

Take repayments above £5000 and the difference between Labour and Conservative goes up to a factor a 3 without hardly any Lib Dems!


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  8. Holford Watch

    RT @Unity_MoT: @ ChrispLOL – Nadine Dorries – Latest expenses raise more questions http://bit.ly/cJ5EZC – bears closer examination, methinks…

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    RT @Unity_MoT: RT @libcon: Nadine Dorries – Latest expenses raise more questions http://bit.ly/cJ5EZC – like did she hire her daughter via a PR firm?

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  65. ccccsee

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