Dizzy in a tizzy over MP’s invoice


3:39 pm - March 18th 2010

by Unity    


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From the file marked ‘are you fucking stupid or what?’

A few days ago Dizzy Thinks spotted an oddity in the expense claims of Hull North Labour MP Diana Johnson:

At the end of the detailed, albeit censored claims, provided on the Parliamentary website, is an invoice to the tune of £1,654 for “delivery of a leaflet in Hull North Constituency during September and October 2007?.

Looks legit doesn’t it? However there’s is an oddity about it. You see, there appears to be no such company as J W Shipley Distribution, either solvent or dissolved, listed on Companies House. An advanced search for all companies with “Shipley” also throws up nothing. Curious!

There is, however, an “independent” member of Humberside Police Authority called John Shipley who happens to be a local Labour Party activist in Hull, who also stood for the Labour Party in Hull during the 2002 elections.

I tried to contact Mr Shipley yesterday for confirmation that the invoice was from him but as yet have had no response.

So is a Labour MP claiming Parliamentary expenses to pay a Labour member to deliver leaflets? Well, although he may not have responded, I’ve been speaking to Liberal Democrats in Hull who confirm they personally saw Labour activist (and frequent election agent) John Shipley out delivering the leaflets in question.

Rum indeed. Investigations are, as they say, continuing…

Tell you what, let’s save both LDV and Dizzy the time and effort of making even bigger arses of themselves by pointing out a few screamingly obvious facts.

1. The invoice from ‘JW Shipley Distribution’ does not include a company number nor does it appear to use the words ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’, hence Dizzy’s inability to find any reference to it at Companies House.

2. As a sole trader, John Shipley – it this is indeed him – entitled to use just about any business name he likes when carrying out trading activities, as long he doesn’t misrepresent the legal status of his business or use any of the restricted words or phrases set out in company law.

3. According to a statement given to the Yorkshire Post, who picked up this non-story yesterday, the invoice relates to the “distribution of a non-party political Parliamentary report to 40,000 households in Hull North in autumn 2007.”

Typical costs for a solus distribution of a leaflet or newsletter run to around $50 per 1,000 leaflets, which puts the amount listed on the invoice- £1654 – well within the usual ballpark which would, for a 40,000 delivery run – come in at around £2000.

In fact, if you look at the price here then it seem apparent that what JW Shipley Distribution have done is knock off the VAT that would have been payable had the leaflets gone out via an established distribution company, saving the taxpayer £350 in the process.

Unless either can provide evidence to show that the leaflets weren’t delivered or that the payment was not declared to HMRC as income then there’s nothing more to be said here.

Even if a Labour activist did get paid for delivering these leaflets, its of absolutely no consequence whatsoever.

In the days when I used to produce community newsletters for distribution to upwards of 17,000 households I used to farm out the delivery side of things to a local Scout troop and pay them the same amount that I would have done had I gone through a commercial business. I got the newsletters delivered – and usually much more reliably than I would have done by ‘going commercial’ – and they got their utilitiy bills nicely covered with a bit on top for additional equipment and extra activities for the kids.

It’s called localism and it works.

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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


What’s more, if you google “J W Shipley Distribution” (with quotes or without), this is the first post that comes up!

Mysterious… or, ahem, not.

2. Brian Robinson

I’m a bit puzzled by your claim that: “it seem apparent that what JW Shipley Distribution have done is knock off the VAT that would have been payable had the leaflets gone out via an established distribution company, saving the taxpayer £350 in the process”.

Isn’t VAT a tax? That’s what the ‘T’ stands for, doesn’t it? So the £350 would have come from public funds (which is your point) but then gone back to public funds? Or am I missing something?

As mentioned over email to Unity, can we change the headline to something like “Dizzy gets all fizzy” or perhaps “Dizzy wizzy, lets get fizzy”? I’m just thinking about the originality aspect of the headline you see.

4. Flowerpower

It’s called localism and it works

Nah, it’s called cronyism and it stinks.

This is public money were talking about FFS. I doubt if you’d be so indulgent if a Cameron government were to start awarding contracts on the basis of knowing the supplier from Eton.

To Brian- it depends if the sole trader is VAT registered. There are guidelines on HMRC’s website about this but its perfectly legal not to be VAT registered and a sole trader (it depends on the number of taxable supplies that you make in a given year)- it looks like in this case that the sole trader is not VAT registered.

Flowerpower- how the hell do you know its cronyism? Ultimatley so far all we’ve got is MP employs a sole trader to distribute a leaflet legitimately- the sole trader charges about the normal market price and invoices MP for it who pays it legitimately from her expenses- please explain why this is illegitimate- or maybe why you so casually spring to judge a situation you know nothing about revealing yourself to be a fucking idiot in the process.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Unity

    RT @libcon: Dizzy in a tizzy over MP's invoice http://bit.ly/96Zemb – Put it this way, it ain't a fucking Duck House

  2. Kevin Arscott

    RT @Unity_MoT: RT @libcon: Dizzy in a tizzy over MP's invoice http://bit.ly/96Zemb – Put it this way, it ain't a fucking Duck House

  3. Square One

    Liberal Conspiracy » Dizzy in a tizzy over MP's invoice http://bit.ly/9W2cMK

  4. Liberal Conspiracy

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