Thursday, November 13, 2008

This is good for the European Parliament and trust in politics

Says Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies in reference to the news that Tory MEP BenDen Dover is going to have to pay back half a million pounds and is no longer a Tory Party MEP.

He was accused of paying about £750,000 in staff and office allowances to a family owned firm HP Holdings, thus directly benefiting his wife and daughter.

It emerged on Wednesday that an investigation by the secretary general of the European Parliament concluded that Mr Dover's behaviour had constituted a conflict of interest.

The case has been referred to the European Parliament's fraud unit.

Of course, he's still an MEP claiming £61,000 a year at a time when the country is in a recession and people are losing their jobs every day.

And let's not forget Giles Chichester:
revious leader of the Tories in Brussels, Giles Chichester, quit the role earlier this year after admitting he broke expenses rules.

Mr Chichester paid thousands of pounds in staff allowances to a firm of which he was a paid director.

He broke the rules but the European Parliament didn't find him guilty of wrongdoing and actually apologised for taking so long to give him the all clear. But as I have said before, these are the people who cleared Tom Wise of any wrongdoing even though he was kicked out of his own party who knew he was a wrong 'un.

As Bruno Waterfield wrote at the time:
A letter has been sent from Harald Rømer, the powerful euro-fonctionnaire who runs the Parliament's administration, to the former Conservative leader here in Brussels. In it, Mr Rømer apologises to Mr Chichester (er, wasn't he the one who had broken the rules?) for "the delay in bringing this matter to a positive conclusion".

"I can inform you that I have come to the conclusion that although your contract with that company constituted a potential case of conflict of interest, you have had no personal financial benefit from that contract, and that no conflict of interest has ever materialised," writes Mr Rømer (my emphasis).

"It is clear that all the allowances received have indeed been used to pay the salaries and fees of your employees and related overhead expenses."

"In view of the above, I am content that there was no personal gain arising out of a conflict of interest in breach of the relevant rules and that the use of the money received from your parliamentary assistance allowance has been fully justified by the extensive documentation that you have presented." (my emphasis).

At least he won't be getting a nice cushy job as he's now deselected, (unless some pal makes him a director of a company or two) but what about the others? And here's not forgetting that he's had years of a nice income which could have enabled him to make money from the interest, increase his investment portfolio, maybe his daughter was able to buy a house when the rest of us are struggling to save up a desposit. It's still rotten but of course the party he was elected for and the people he was elected by do not have the power to kick him out now.

So whilst Chris Davies might talk about wanting to clean up politics, his comments show me that he's happy to paper over the cracks because his true love is not fairness and transparency but an EU state.

What did we expect from a man who, according to UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom "seems unable to grasp the fact that public spending comes from the tax payer."

Nuff said.

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