Guardian cover-girl

I’m on the front cover of today’s G2.

Is this the apex of my campaign? My 15 minutes of fame might now be coming to a close if the Commons actually comes clean, gets rid of the corrupt and institutes a new transparency regime. That actually looks as though it might now happen.

I’m in such a generous mood I feel I ought to invite Speaker Michael Martin out to lunch just to say ‘thanks for making my career.’ I couldn’t have done this without him.

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119 Responses to “Guardian cover-girl”

  1. mark says:

    great work, great article Heather, Nigel Hawthorne and Paul Eddington will be affording themselves a wry smile this side of heaven.

  2. Watch the receipt, he’ll want it for expenses…

  3. trevorc says:

    excellent guardian article, and many thanks for your hard work over the years. the manner and motive of your investigation speak for themselves, and you should be feeling very proud of your achievement this week. the telegraph may have won with a cheque book what you were winning with hard work and a clear sense of right and wrong, but i feel the achievement here is yours. no-one can take away your place in the campaign to bring the concept of accountability to our public servants, and i am very grateful to you.

  4. timothy klus says:

    heather – congrats on a brilliant & dogged ‘campaign’.
    i doubt this is your professional apex, nor an ephemeral 15 minutes; i believe history may very well look on you as a seminal catalyst in shaking a musty parliamentary culture of sleaze and privilege.
    as far as julian lewis et al is concerned, we have’t expected ‘professionalism’ nor honest accountability for a long long time. you’ve created what can only be described as a political avalanche. again, well done!

    t klus
    amsterdam

  5. John Rennie says:

    Terrific article, and one which scoured from me any vestiges of sympathy for complaining MPs. Yes, most of them ARE clean, and much of the Telegraph coverage uses guilt by association (he’s a claims crook and an MP; this guy’s also an MP and he claimed for this; ergo he’s also a crook). I can also accept that the claims system is an opaque mess not even understood by some of the MPs, so some of them WILL have made genuine mistakes and misjudgements (though Elliott Morley’s craven mea ex culpa of ‘it’s a really complicated system guv, so I didn’t know you couldn’t claim for mortgages that don’t exist’ is pushing it a bit). But this has been rumbling for years – how many of those who are now complaining were demanding more transparency when they started getting prodded through ROI requests.

  6. Allan says:

    Well done and thank you for persevering in the face of such tightly closed ranks, prevaricators and downright liars. You’ve a lot of backbone and determination.

  7. Ally says:

    Well done indeed and thank you for your perseverance and courage.

  8. Neil says:

    Well done Heather, you are an inspiration to many of us who make FOI requests. We all face brick walls sometimes when it comes to getting info in this way, but yours is the perfect example of how not to let go and how never to accept exemptions/refusals. Challenge everything and don’t accept anything short of full disclosure. Public bodies rely on ignorance of the detail of the Act and the unwillingness of some to pursue requests to get away with holding back information.

    And sometimes that information is just dynamite.

    Best wishes,

    Neil
    (GP, Hampshire)

  9. Lynn says:

    Congratulations Heather. Never ever responded to a press story before – but an outstanding achievement and great to see it acknowledged this morning. I’ve twice been on the receiving end of the dark forces at work in politics…..but it’s a rare thing to be able to chisel your way through as you have done and to get such fantastic results. 100 per cent credit to you. Don’t stop now……………….

  10. Bruce Reynolds says:

    Hi Heather
    You are a star. Well done for having battled your way through the lies and smokescreens. The arrogant attempts at shutting out an outsider to the old boys network would be laughable if they were not so similar to what is going on in Italy and elsewhere. How dare the MPs attempt to change the law to cover up their crimes? It’s beyond contempt. A haven of democracy? I think not..

  11. Richard Hunt says:

    I’d like to add my congratulations and thanks to you Heather. I live in a country (Czech Republic) where standards of both journalism and transparency in public life are well short of those we have (or expect, at least) in the UK. You are a fantastic inspiration. Maybe we should try to get you over here to talk about it.

  12. Richard says:

    Well done Heather, ‘Our girl Friday’. Yes agree with the above, great work.

  13. Alan Pearce says:

    Well done indeed. You make me proud again to be a journalist.

  14. Ian Pitch says:

    ‘I think in order to begin the clean-up, it is necessary to get rid of those who created the mess in the first place. Only then can we have a parliament of which we are proud.’

    Absolutely, Heather. And congratulations for all your persistence and hard work. Despite the Telegraph’s intervention, the triumph is still yours – you’ve got the bastards on the run…

  15. Patricia Robinson says:

    Well done Heather. Fantastic that you were not worn down by the intimidatory tactics and procrastination. Have no fear that you will be around for a while because, unfortunately, our politicians will always provide you with work. As regards Speaker Martin, if the House of Commons gets it’s way, he will soon be available to take up your lunch offer on any day that suits you!

    PS: If you ever need a free pair of hands just drop me an email.

  16. Jo Armstrong says:

    I’d like to personally thank you for doggedly pursuing this to the end. What a well earned victory for justice and truth.

  17. Maggie S says:

    Heather, you are brilliant. Through every adversity lies the see of greater benefit. You have managed to crack the walnut,your type of campaigning journalism is a dying art but what a success resulting in a spring clean of parliament, and alerting the taxpayer to a host of dirty tricks submitted by politicians. What a brave young woman you are. And such a beastly misogynist bunch you had to deal with too.

    We all suspected there was alot going on, and the seed bed of all of this is also lying side by side within the regional selection committees with the same type of attitude. What sheer arrogance politicians have, and they are so dismissive of the rest of us, especially the effect they have on confidence in in local government politics. Local councillors HAVE to stick to Standards procedures.

    Good heavens, do all these educated MPs have a bent streak? Does a degree in polics , philosophy and economics/history mean so very little ?

    You have shown that example is led by precept. Well done, Heather.

    What a tragedy the Torygraph didn’t fix their energies to them in the first instance, or support you whoeheartedly five years ago.

  18. Francoise Close says:

    A big thank you.
    Please could there be 4 lists established in due course by journalists on the evidence produced: a list of the fraudsters, one of the ruthless opportunists acting disingenuously ‘within the rules’, one of those MPs who claimed acceptable expenses (by the standards of everyone else but the Commons, and a list of the whiter than white MPs.

  19. Jon says:

    Brilliant stuff, well done.

    There has been a feeling for years and years that things were not right now we begin to have the prove. Thanks. Keep at it , Its such a sad state of affairs really but its something that has to be done.

    How can we be governed by people who have so little integrity ?

  20. Kevin says:

    Heather, I wish the British press had a few more decent, determined journalists like you.
    The country would be a lot better for it.
    Thank you.

  21. Alex H says:

    TrevorC says it all for me in comment no.3. You’re a hero.

  22. Lolita says:

    I have worked with news people (and had ambitions to be one) for a few years now, but the more I learned about the ‘industry’ the more I saw how many of those involved lived by the ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ news mentality that I absolutely hate. Lazy and pointless. I’m watching the old beast of broadcasting die a slow and sad death because not enough news folks care about putting in the effort for their readers/viewers rather than feathering the nests of their careers or those of their bosses. I’ve been SO cynical about it all and then you and your campaign turn up…and the only reason I discovered your name was via blog comments on the Guardian….and I can’t really put into words just how much my faith in journalism has been restored. Thank you so very very much, good work and you deserve all the credit and every opportunity that comes out of all this.

  23. james says:

    wonderful work, heather. inspirational stuff.

  24. jack says:

    will you marry me?

  25. Richard Waite says:

    Fantastic article; well done in your efforts.

    Some more digging for you; how did Tony Blair’s expenses come to be ‘accidently shredded’ and what we’re they hiding ?

  26. Heather. You have my thanks for exposing a corrupt and rancid regime. I hope that after all the hard work that you have done that your career blossoms as well it should.

  27. Edmund says:

    Fantastic work – campaigners like yourself are what protect our democracy from our leaders. Thank you for sticking to your guns.

  28. fize-roussel says:

    magnificent!As a French citizen and an admirer of English journalism
    I congratulate you on your work though it’s apity that the Telegraph gets all this publicity because they have the big bucks.
    Wish we had some journalists like you here in France since apart from the “Canard Enchainé” which does a good job,lots of things get consigned to the bins of History!

  29. Marti says:

    Well done, check out my interactive map of key MP expenses at http://home.btconnect.com/martibiz/mpexpenses.htm, or all 600+ MPs for 2007/08 at http://home.btconnect.com/martibiz/mps.htm.

  30. fize-roussel says:

    My comment has not been duplicated!It’s an errorI’m not going to write everything again.I merely wanted to congratulate Heather

  31. Paul Drysdale says:

    You’ve done so many of us an enormous service with your dogged determined research. You’ve really shown the character of the people that govern us.

    The way they tried every dirty trick in the book (and a few that weren’t) even to the point of passing a law just to protect their avaricious porcine butts clearly shows they knew they were in the wrong and badly so.

    Yet even with that knowledge, it has taken them weeks to apologise or take action, grudgingly repeating the same tired mantra “it’s within the rules”.

    All of it just goes to show that our political masters can not possibly be called “honerable” again.

    I’ve been involved myself in a battle with the establishment. I know how hard it can be and what force they can bring against you. So I must really congratulate you on your determination and on the results you have finally managed to deliver!

    Paul

  32. nazar says:

    Brilliant article and Heather has every right to be very proud. Presumably the disc that the Telegraph received was data that was being prepared as a result of her FOI request. So really the major credit goes to her.

    What is very galling is how the MPs are falling over themselves to blame the system (having found to have abused it). Yet they were the ones trying to suppress this information coming out in to the public domain. They knew along what was happening in the system, they had the power to change it all along. It is only because of the public reaction that they’re changing their tune. Who knows how many more years this set up would have continued had it not been for the leaks and the High Court judgement.

  33. Steve Wood says:

    Well done – you are a bloody hero!

    I hope that you and we get a chance to examine the next scandal – their ex-parliamentary fees, directorships and consultancies.

  34. Jonathan Thrift says:

    Thank you for the article. Thanks even more for the meticulous, brave work that you have put in lo these many years. I can understand your er, irritation with the Telegraph, but have no doubt, you’re the one who’ll be remembered as the real author of this triumph.

    Move over Hildy Johnson!

  35. Paul says:

    I came here via the Guardian article.
    As a 20 year old who is otherwise completely uninterested in politics, I have to say, your enthusiasm for this case is breathtakingly inspiring.

  36. Claire Nolan says:

    Well done! You should be very proud of all your hard work and of your achievement! I’m extremely impressed.

  37. Nick Booth says:

    Wonderful piece, which I really enjoyed reading. Thanks for having so much determination.

  38. Heather,

    You’re a star!

    In addition to the shake up of MPs’ allowances, does not this whole episode suggest that it nis also time for a shake up of the Freedom of Information regime in England & Wales? In Scotland we are generally pleased with the effectiveness, efficiency and even-handedness of Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion and FoI is working pretty well. South of the border things do not seem to be going as well.

  39. Elizabeth Robillard says:

    Heather, WOT ^ they said ! And please lets get the shredding of (handwritten especially)minutes of meetings in councils and in the houses banned- all shredders banned- file every written and spoken word as recorded and filmed? Make them recorded by cctv and sound throughout the duration of their working day, they shouldn’t object if there’s nothing to hide should they? They need to be watched closely now, don’t you think?

  40. Not a lot to add except – excellent work. At a time when the very future of the journalist profession is so up in the air it reminds us all what a vital job so many of them do.

    Congratulations.

  41. Nick says:

    Don’t worry, Heather. For some reason, the Telegraph doesn’t seem to have run a story about the expenses claimed by Telegraph columnist Boris Johnson, when he was an MP. Looks like you’ll get the chance to dig into that one at least, when the details are finally published.

  42. Dr David Lowry says:

    I would very much like to add my huge congratulations to Heather. I was involved as a researcher for years trying to get the FOI Act established before 2000. Despite its many procedural imperfections, unjustifiable exclusions and appeal process hurdles – which Heather describes so well and with good humour today in G2 – with untamed persistence and dogged determination, positiive outcomes can be won. Just to demonstrate some positive good coming out of the mired morrass into which MPs and their (over)privileged Parliamentary system has got many of them, I have posted below a new Early Day Motion that will appear on Monday’s Commons Order Papers, tabled by Dai Davies, independent MP for Blaenau Gwent, for whom I do some research.
    Dr David Lowry

    EDM – Windfall Fund and assistance to poorest communities
    That this House proposes a Windfall Fund be created by the repayment of monies by Honourable and Right Honourable members following excessive expenses and allowances claims in recent years; believes this fund should be used as a matter of urgency to assist the poorest communities in the country, to assist small businesses and voluntary organizations survive during the extremely difficult economic conditions being faced; and calls upon the appropriate authorities to put such assistance into action at the earliest date

  43. congrats Heather, first time visiting this site after reading the fascinating G2 article. Enlightening to read about the real reason this is all out in the open now. Will have to read your book now to find out more..

  44. Rachel says:

    Thank you Heather Brooke.

  45. Mike Ferdinands says:

    Warmest congratulations – the exposure is so long overdue and so very, very entertaining..

  46. Pamela Leggatt says:

    I do notthink the media are behaving rationally. I don’t think “Well done”. Pay M.P’s a good salary with no expenses claims and provide flats where necessary. What are your expenses claims Heather somebody has to be paying them…. Share Holders?
    Do we want to get back to only wealthy people becoming M.P’s?
    You are doing a great dis-service to democracy because most people will not think beyond the headlines and will not vote .
    The press have to sell newspapers so they are very pleased to get on the band wagon
    Please if you have to dig for dirt can you do so to fellow journalists T.V. and radio presenters.

  47. James says:

    Thank you so much for all of your hard work. You are a terrific person.

  48. Anonymous says:

    I would be delighted if someone could post the raw data to Wikileaks and allow the collective eyepower of the Internet to audit each and every claim.

  49. Jackie Schneider says:

    Thank you.

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