LC Investigation: Dorries claimed £70K for PR company services in 2½ Years


2:17 pm - February 8th 2010

by Unity    


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A detailed examination of expenses claims submitted by Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, indicates that she submitted almost £70,000 in expenses claims for services provided by two public relations companies in the 2½ years from November 2006 to June 2009.

These claims include more £20,000 for services provided by a PR company, set-up by a former Tory spin doctor in 2004, relating to Dorries’ controversial anti-abortion campaign, which failed to secure a change in the law cutting the upper-time limit for abortions from 24 to 20 weeks.

Dorries has also claimed more than £30,000 for services provided by two other ‘research’ companies with close ties to the Conservative party since becoming an MP in 2005.

Dorries’ official MPs website has also been found to have cost the taxpayer almost £9,000 since 2005 despite it not having been updated at all in the last twelve months.

Responding to reports that his company, Media Intelligence Partners, had received more than £66,000 in payments claimed against MPs expenses, ex Tory spin doctor Nick Wood told the Telegraph that MPs would typically pay for research, and then received PR advice from his company free of charge.

There should be, at least, a full investigation into the use of these companies, on expenses, by Conservative MPs.

Media Intelligence Partners

Between November 2006 and September 2008, Dorries submitted nine expenses claims totalling £21,927.50 in relation to services provided by a PR company called Media Intelligence Partners. The company was set up in 2004 by Nick Wood, a former media advisor to both William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith during the periods in which they served as Leader of the Conservative Party.

When challenged to explain these payments by the Daily Telegraph, last May, Wood told the newspaper that the company that it has sought “advice” on abortion from an “expert in America” on Dorries’ behalf.

Dorries told the same newspaper that her claims were for her campaign to reduce the upper legal limit for abortions from 24 weeks to 20 weeks before adding that, “It is impossible as a backbencher to run a campaign of that size out of your office unless you have additional help.”

A controversial Channel 4 documentary, ‘In the Name of God’, which aired in May 2008, shows Dorries receiving extensive advice and support for her campaign from British-based lawyer and evangelical Christian campaigner, Andrea Minichiello Williams, raises some questions however .

(see video footage below)

Williams is the director of the Christian Legal Centre, which has been behind a significant number of high profile cases of religiously-inspired litigation, a practice that Carl Gardner, who blogs as ‘Head of Legal’ has dubbed “religitigation”.

She is also the founder of the Christian pressure group ‘Christian Concern for Our Nation”, which was found to have provided Dorries with her anti-abortion campaign website, a fact that Dorries failed to disclose when launching ‘her’ campaign.

Although this campaign attracted a significant amount of uncritical and supportive media coverage, including 65 articles in Daily Mail, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, her campaign website seems to have attracted a mere 7,000 pledge of support.

Although parliamentary rules prohibit MPs from claiming on expenses for advice on self-promotion or PR for individuals or political parties, Dorries’ anti-abortion campaign relied heavily on personal attacks on political opponents, including Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris and a number of female Labour MPs who has received very modest sum of financial support from Emily’s List before becoming MPs.

While serving as member of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, during its 2007 review of scientific developments relating to abortion law, Dorries attempted to use a so-called ‘minority report’, published as an addendum to the committee’s main report, to smear the science journalist and blogger, Dr Ben Goldacre, by claiming that he’d been covertly passed evidence relating to a submission by anti-abortion doctor, John Wyatt, by another, unnamed, member of the committee.

The allegation collapsed into high farce within hours of its publication after Dr Goldacre responded by pointing out that he’d obtained the information, which he used as the basis for an article for his ‘Bad Science’ column in the Guardian, from the SciTech committee section of Parliament’s official website.

Marketing Management Midlands Ltd

Last week, we revealed that Dorries had submitted expense claims totalling £24,065 between September 2008 and June 2009 for services provided by a Gloucestershire-based PR firm, Marketing Management Midlands Ltd. Payments for these claims were met from Dorries’ staffing allowance, which is typically used by MPs to fund salaries for office staff, researchers and/or constituency case worker.

On Friday, the Daily Telegraph identified one of the company’s two directors as Lynn Elson, who is described by the newspaper as a ‘close friend’ of Mrs Dorries. Elson’s company is based in small village near Moreton-in-Marsh in the Cotswolds, close to the location of the rented property at the centre of an ongoing investigation, by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, into Dorries’ £18,000 a year claims for rent on a second home in Woburn, in her Mid-Bedfordshire constituency.

Dorries has already publicly apologised to her constituents for providing them with misleading information about her living arrangements after it was found that she had registered a property in Cotswolds with the Parliamentary Fees Office as her main home, despite announcing on her website, in 2005, that she and her family would ‘settle in Woburn’.

Our own detailed examination of Dorries’s expenses claims has now uncovered a further £12,000 worth of expenses claims submitted in relation to services provided by Marketing Management Midlands Ltd between July 2007 and June 2009, bringing Dorries’ total amount of claims submitted for services provided by her ‘close friend’ to £47,497.25 in just two years.

Claims totalling £37,509,75 were submitted during the period from September 2008 to June 2009, after Dorries discontinued her relationship with Media Intelligence Partners. During this period two issues, the so-called ‘smeargate’ emails exchanged by Derek Draper and Damian McBride and Dorries’ expenses claims, have accounted for the majority of the press coverage in which Dorries has featured.

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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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Reader comments


Bravo. My 100 Qs for Nadine coined in November 2009 and early December 2009 are collected at http://www.bit.ly/nuts2date and there is a further great big prick tease – posted with love – at the top of the blog.

—> EXCLUSIVE http://bit.ly/9udBAt <—

More very soon. Curse that mainstream media and their ways.

I’ve cut the article down and edited it. The rest may come in a second part…

Excellent stuff.
Lot’s more to come out on this kind of topic…

http://www.hurryupharry.org/2010/02/08/what-we-will-never-be-told-about-mps-expenses/

Erm. Sorry to jump in the way of a bandwagon here, but if an MP wants to spend their staff fees on external researchers, why not? It’s apparently not against the rules, as they got paid. And if she selects someone she knows as her researcher, is that wrong? Because I’ve got contracts through word of mouth before now, and I’m not sure that is wrong. I like to think it is because I do a good job, but friendship could come into it.

More to the point, this vendetta (see Dizzy’s excellent article: http://dizzythinks.net/2010/02/n-for-vendetta.html) is not helping anything. So you (and I) disagree with Ms Dorries over abortion – there is no need to try and pick on the fact that she selects researchers who are more likely to support her position (and less likely to leak information to opponents), which is common sense. Attack her where she is wrong – on her beliefs, or possibly on her homes. Another front where there has been no wrongdoing is not a good idea.

Watchman, the difference is taxpayers money is involved – which means there is a duty for the contract/work to go through a fair tendering process and value for money to be obtained. Otherwise its simply passing money to one’s mates. If this was a left wing MP doing this, the taxpayers alliance would be all over it.

More to the point, this vendetta (see Dizzy’s excellent article: http://dizzythinks.net/2010/02/n-for-vendetta.html) is not helping anything. So you (and I) disagree with Ms Dorries over abortion

I do love the fact that when we say anything about Dorries’ expenses, all these right-wing bloggers get all hysterical about how it’s a vendetta. I have an idea. Why not accuse Guido of running a vendetta against GB?

Sunny,

I accuse Guido of running a vendetta against Gordon Brown. But I think he’d probably agree with us that he is, considering all the evidence, and the ‘one to go’ comment a while back after Messrs McBride and Draper were brought down was a distinct clue in my opinion.

The supposed vendetta is by the Telegraph, not you. It is the content of the article I suggested reading, not the headline. If you want to wage a vendetta against say Rob Liddle I’m all in favour of it (actually I’m ambiguous), as it’s your blog and your choice, and that’s the joy of being a public figure. I’d be a bit less happy if you launched one against me obviously…

Go away Watchman.

Nobody on here gives a flying fig what you think. We are not interested in what you think of Guido or Brown or anything else. You are just another tory troll who talks hypocritical bullshit. If this was a labour MP you would be giving us lectures about cutting state spending and self reliance. Funny how these free market, stand on your own two feet tories can never stop themselves from dipping their hands in the state cookie jar.

As for Dorries, how wonderful to see another tory scrounging off the state. They do love themselves some welfare these tories don’t they?

Watchman @ 7

the ‘one to go’ comment a while back after Messrs McBride and Draper were brought down was a distinct clue in my opinion.

I took that to mean Tom Watson.

I can’t help it, every time I read “Nadine,” I think of Chuck berry singing Maybelline:

Oh Nadine, why can’t you be true?
Oh Nadine
Why can’t you be true?
You done started doing the things
You used to do.

I know its not strictly within the comments policy guidelines but I needed to share it.

11. Gareth Penn

“‘The last 24 hours, I believe, have shown the instincts of the Conservative Party, when it comes to this issue about expenses, are in tune with the public mood, are in the right place, and Labour’s are not.”

Has she been given the boot then?

As long as the tory party is funded by Ashcroft, no one with a brain takes them seriously about sleeze.

Watchman – if your problem is with the Telegraph’s so-called vendetta (I don’t think it is, I think it has a biggeer vendetta against trade unions and Labour) then fine – but I’m not sure what relevance it has to us. I only replied because Dizzy whines about us as well. This from the man who was obsessively following what the Downing Street shop was selling…

14. Donut Hinge Party

Maybe Mrs MP just pulled the money out of her bra?

“Oh, it wasn’t for me; it was going to be a gift for the children.”

Thanks for patronising and maternalising the people you’re supposed to be learning about living in austerity from – it’s not the F*cking Secret Millionaire, making you feel all warm and fuzzy for letting the poor people kiss your ring – it’s supposed to be a programme where those who have done sod all have their noses rubbed in the sh*t that they’ve put others through due to their political inertia.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/tower-block-of-commons

That said, Oaten and – after a shaky start – Austen are coming out of it fairly nicely; both of them trying to get their hosts involved in the political process.

She is a crook
Tried to scam a TV programme, too.

Adam the Libertarian


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Ian Gilbert

    @tim_nicholls you'll like this one: http://bit.ly/be9O2x

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    @CllrIanGilbert I like very much! Thank you! Going to have to repost the link in case people haven't yet seen it http://bit.ly/be9O2x

  3. Chris Paul

    Have posted a quick comment at http://bit.ly/bDVAIs (@Unity_MoT/@LibCon re Nadine Dorries MP #GoNads @nadine4mp/@nadine4ub40 Cameron knew)

  4. Unity

    @Kevin_Maguire – D-Cam may have good reason to go cool on the idea of opening up a front on expenses – http://bit.ly/bDVAIs

  5. Tim Ireland

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  7. James Chapman

    arf 🙂 @Nadine4mp is swimming in shitty piss over her alleged 70k in expenses claims http://bit.ly/dDl8dH

  8. Rossanna Trudgian

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  9. Matt

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  11. Chris Paul

    RT @Unity_MoT: RT @libcon: Special Investigation: Tory MP claimed £70K for PR company services in 2½ Years – now with URL http://bit.ly/bDVAIs

  12. Elrik Merlin

    Tory MP claimed £70K for PR company services in 2½ Years (LibCon): http://bit.ly/aw1OeQ

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    RT @Unity_MoT: RT @libcon: Special Investigation: Tory MP claimed £70K for PR company services in 2½ Years – now with URL http://bit.ly/bDVAIs

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  15. Political Scrapbook

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  16. Quietzapple

    RT @AdamBienkov: RT @libcon Tory MP Nadine Dorries claimed £70K for PR company services in 2½ Years http://bit.ly/aRDTlN

  17. Gareth Allen

    RT @AdamBienkov: RT @libcon Tory MP Nadine Dorries claimed £70K for PR company services in 2½ Years http://bit.ly/aRDTlN > Money well spent?

  18. Chris Coltrane

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  19. Andrew Tindall

    RT @AdamBienkov: RT @libcon Tory MP Nadine Dorries claimed £70K for PR company services in 2½ Years http://bit.ly/aRDTlN

  20. Luke Richards

    RT @esbagshaw: RT @libcon Tory MP Nadine Dorries claimed £70K for PR company services in 2½ Years http://bit.ly/aRDTlN

  21. Adam Bienkov

    RT @libcon Tory MP Nadine Dorries claimed £70K for PR company services in 2½ Years http://bit.ly/aRDTlN

  22. Ana ??????

    RT @libcon Tory MP Nadine Dorries claimed £70K for PR company services in 2½ Years http://bit.ly/aRDTlN

  23. Luke Walter

    RT @AdamBienkov: RT @libcon Tory MP Nadine Dorries claimed £70K for PR company services in 2½ Years http://bit.ly/aRDTlN

  24. Elaine Bagshaw

    RT @libcon Tory MP Nadine Dorries claimed £70K for PR company services in 2½ Years http://bit.ly/aRDTlN

  25. Ryan Bestford

    RT @Unity_MoT: Dorries' 10k claim – http://bit.ly/9qPAYT – is only part of the £70k she spent on PR as an MP – http://bit.ly/atue4m #sackdorries

  26. earwicga

    RT @Unity_MoT: Dorries' 10k claim – http://bit.ly/9qPAYT – is only part of the £70k spent on PR as an MP – http://bit.ly/atue4m #sackdorries

  27. Chris Paul

    RT @Unity_MoT: Dorries' 10k claim – http://bit.ly/9qPAYT – is only part of the £70k she spent on PR as an MP – http://bit.ly/atue4m #sackdorries

  28. Humphrey Cushion

    RT @Unity_MoT: Dorries' 10k claim – http://bit.ly/9qPAYT – is only part of the £70k she spent on PR as an MP – http://bit.ly/atue4m #sackdorries

  29. Neil Ravenhill

    RT @Unity_MoT: Dorries' 10k claim – http://bit.ly/9qPAYT – only part of £70k she spent on PR as an MP – http://bit.ly/atue4m #sackdorries

  30. Tim Ireland

    RT @Unity_MoT: Dorries' 10k claim – http://bit.ly/9qPAYT – is only part of the £70k she spent on PR as an MP – http://bit.ly/atue4m #sackdorries

  31. Able Dick Talent

    RT @Unity_MoT: Dorries' 10k claim – http://bit.ly/9qPAYT – is only part of the £70k she spent on PR as an MP – http://bit.ly/atue4m #sackdorries

  32. Justin Baidoo

    RT @Unity_MoT: Dorries' 10k claim – http://bit.ly/9qPAYT – is only part of the £70k she spent on PR as an MP – http://bit.ly/atue4m #sackdorries

  33. Nadia Kamil

    Backwards&corrupt! Dorries' 10k claim http://bit.ly/9qPAYT is only part of the 70k she paid for PR as MP http://bit.ly/atue4m #sackdorries

  34. Unity

    Dorries' 10k claim – http://bit.ly/9qPAYT – is only part of the £70k she spent on PR as an MP – http://bit.ly/atue4m #sackdorries





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