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. Neil says:

    Thank you for the sheer determination that brought all the scum to the surface. However, my experience of UK politics over the last 60 years tells me not to hope for some headlong rush to true democracy. We’ll more likely see enquiries, smokescreens and distraction, with the possibility of a couple of high profile heads rolling, and a bit of tinkering with the system. Otherwise known as the ‘Famous British Compromise’. Or fudge, to use acceptable vernacular.

    Looking to the near future, these MPs who are now so vocal in their complaints, will soon have far more to feel uncomfortable about – when they are sharing the benches with the MPs of the BNP, which will surely happen, and will be a situation entirely of their own making. The news on the 5th of June could be a portent of the big match to come.

  2. Shawn says:

    A quick congrats from across the pond, in Canada.

    Bravo! M’lady Bravo!

  3. David Evershed says:

    Many thanks for all your great work on Freedom of Information.

    Time to add your name to the title on the web site now you are becoming well known.

    You deserve some payback with your own branding.

  4. Richard says:

    Heather you absolutely rock. I’ve despaired over the past few years and to watch that foul shower of MPs be arrayed in the stocks has done my heart good. You deserve all the press awards going. And you’re really hot! Thank you.

  5. David says:

    Much as Michael might appreciate your offer once he’s out of a job, perhaps we’re the ones who should be inviting you for lunch, as it wouldn’t have happened without you.

    Congratulations on this success, and thank you for your efforts.
    I hope it’s the start of a new era in British democracy.

  6. Ravi says:

    I have just learned of your efforts – I think you have made an outstanding contribution to UK politics and have brought much needed credit to journalism. I hope some of your fellow journalists start following you lead.

  7. Richard says:

    Great article Heather. Well done on your persistence and courage. I cannot believe how these MPs – some of whom I have admired, campaigned for – and defended – over the years can behave like this. The small mindedness is astonishing. The Telegraph may have started all this pursuing a political agenda to unseat Brown but now it has got bigger and bigger. I stupidly thought that Labour MPs would have a higher moral code – how wrong I was!

  8. solopolis says:

    Don’t be happy with a mere 15 minutes of fame. You’ve doggedly kept plugging away at this. Don’t stop now.

    You are finally getting the recognition for all of your hard work. Now you have to stay there. Don’t disappear now that you’ve got this shower of bastards on the back foot.

    Maintain your tenacity, keep digging, and uncover as much as you can.

    🙂

  9. Andrew Lale says:

    All these people who think shooting fish in a barrel make you a FANTASTIC JOURNALIST… astonishing. In 2007-2008 financial year, the UK government spent 557,400 million pounds. The total cost of paying MPs and ministers was 366 million pounds. That is 0.06 % of government expenditure. But we aren’t talking about the 99.94%. No no. Because you’ve managed to start this moronic crusade. Most reasonable people would say we have the most honest politicians on the planet. Hounding them over a few thousand pounds of expenses is not just trivial, it is harmful. The main effect will be to make poorer people less likely to risk becoming an MP. A secondary effect will be to ruin the careers of perfectly honest people over pittances. Fantastic. You are a genius.

  10. Molly says:

    Excellent Heather. Keep up the good fight for the public’s right to know.

  11. jerome says:

    well done, good work. the best part of it is that after Britain then other countries in Europe will have to follow suit.

  12. Guy Fawkes says:

    Thank-you Heather,
    for your determination exposing these abusers of public monies,now can you also expose the Lobbyists and Banksters that also fund these corrupt parasites with large brown envelopes stuff with cash just like the crooked peers that have been suspended recently.

    You deserved to be made a Baroness.

  13. Steven Jarvis says:

    Congratulations on your excellent work. 2004 seems so far away now, when Perth and Kinross council officials regarded my requests as an affront to civilization as we know it. Thank goodness for your dogged determination in pursuing this and the culture change that will result. I hope we see an end to the feudal attitude taken by so many public servants who prefer to see themselves as “public authorities’ and cloak their work in secrecy.
    Speaker Martin epitomised this approach. Well done you for sending him on his way.

  14. Sally C says:

    Congratulations Heather, I read the G2 article with incredulity at how long and hard you had to battle, when summarised like that it is amazing that you persevered for so long.

    You and your legal team deserve to be honoured with a life peerage or something similiarly appropriate 🙂

  15. David Morris Jones says:

    Great job! A really tremendous saga of sheer tenacity, guts and determination.

    You deserve the gratitude of the nation for showing us just what sort of immoral and unprincipled people walk the corridors of Westminster.

    …Now how about doing a similar job on Government quangos and uncover what’s really going on in local government and in the rest of Britain’s public organisations.

  16. Janet says:

    well done for all you excellent hard work, you have shown that the truth is needed for real democracy to work, not the sham that has been British politics for many a year

  17. Richard says:

    Thanks Heather, you have provided a massive service to the British people, should be knighted!!
    The pressure must be kept up through the European, Local and next General Elections so we (the public) do not forget what has happened.

    I find it difficult to put into words how I feel about this whole issue. My retired father is still paying tax on his pension!

    Thanks again.

    Richard.

  18. Steve says:

    Well done Brooke for all your hard work. it couldn’t have been easy but now the time and effort must really be paying off. These MPs deserve to go, not only for their colourful expenses claims in the first place but for the manner in which they’ve tried to hide them. Diolch yn fawr. And may i add that you’re an exceptionally attractive woman as well. Keep up the good work.

  19. Robert Putt says:

    Heather, I have been severely critical of the news media for some years. I am old enough to recall daily radio news bulletins giving the nation coverage of home and world news plus a complete run down on WW2 on 15/30 minute radio slots about six times a day. I could never understand a TV coverage that had anchorpeople for every topic being mentioned. The anchor (or two) starting the story then transferring to ‘our correspondent in Westminster, Baghdad, Washington, the Isle of Wight you name it. I have lost count of the number of sports, weather, political, foreign, regional and ‘expert’ correspondents there are on Sky and the BBC 24/7. This is without CNN, Russia Today, Fox News, etc. Following your recent excellent work I am now happy that we have all this. Will you now be looking at the expenses claimed by journalists?

  20. Wo says:

    Just wondering what is your career? I have fought unnecessary poverty in Africa. Injustice in the criminal system, ripping apart families. Helped people fight a fascist regime. Helped fight elections for different parties at different times that I thought were best for the country. You have put all your energies into this campaign to find out what TVs our MPs buy. I’m sorry, I don’t understand. More people have got more angry about these pathetic expenses claims than about wars, hunger, poverty and injustice put together. This is not a defining moment in our political history. This is the revenge of the unambitious, small minded and puritan. I implore you, put your energies into something more positive, please.

  21. Paul says:

    I wasn’t even aware of how or why this whole “scandal” happened until reading an article on the bbc site this morning. Well done for sorting out the UK politician expenses.

  22. C. Baxter says:

    Excellent work, Miss Brooke. We owe you a debt of gratitude. It is a pity that the British press, the BBC and the “clean” MPs didn’t themselves draw the public’s attention to the potential (never mind the actual) abuse of the allowance system. In my mind they are all guilty by omission.

  23. Carolyn says:

    Well done you. You have done a phenomenal job and I can only imagine how hard it must have been to keep fighting in the face of MPs’ determination
    to maintain the cover-up. Thank you. You should be recognised for what you have achieved, but no doubt your contributions to party funds are not sufficiently generous…

  24. Colin Dowse says:

    I salute you – a lesser person would have given up

  25. gyges says:

    So, what sort of FoIs should we be asking of our local councillors?

  26. ray ridge says:

    CONGRATULATIONS on your fine pieces of journalism and dogged persistence in the FOI news story.

    Do not allow those preening, corrupt, venal and in a very few cases, dangerous, Members of Parliament to put you off serving the Public Interest with integrity and genuine concern: Attitudes to your work which it appears a large number of MPs have forgotten entirely is the purpose of holding Public Office.

    Be very aware that henceforth the knives are very definitely out for you; what may have seemed the heated and acrimonious world of ‘american politics’ is nothing compared to the Westminster Village as you will discover in the next year or so.
    Unlike in the States these MPs, Peers and Civil Servants still expect to rule, believe they should rule and of course with no written Constitution are able to self-perpetuate their powers in any and all circumstances.
    Whilst you laudably believe this is the turning point for a new, better ‘democracy’, it is unlikely to occur in the United Kingdom: How else do you think it possible after 3 of the Nations belonging to the ‘Union’ have taken Devolved powers the 49,000,000 English Citizens are still ruled by a Scottish Prime Minister!?

    No, unfortunately for the average UK Citizen, these 650 MPs and their fellow-travellers the Peerrs of the Realm and Senior Civil Servants will close ranks and frankly, with no laws or rules etc. already in place how will any genuine Reform be possible when those affected do not actually have to make any such change. You may think Public pressure will force improvements: You will find a Royal Commission lasting anything from 9 to 18 months will take copious evidence from all over and come back with recommendations which all will greet with alacrity and nothing else!

    That’s Democracy in the 21st Century UK!

  27. Ged Haywood says:

    Please accept my thanks for what you’ve done. If the Speaker doesn’t take you up on that meal, I’ll be glad to – and I’ll pay for it.

  28. APL says:

    Dear Heather,

    Well done.

    Do you think there may be one or two vacant seats in Parliament. Have you considered standing?

    We will need a lot more honest people in Parliament in future.

    What do you think?

  29. Revd Graeme Hancocks says:

    That these appalling practices have been exposed is only right. Iam depressed and dismayed with our elected reps. So for that well done. However, I dont think what os going on is anything new. I think Stephen Fry made an important point when he said the UK media are on the whole the most venile and repulsive bunch when it comes to integrity. If the salaries and expenses and lifestyles of journos were published I think we would soon realise that most of the media establishment in this country is pretty corrupt itself. Worst, they have no longer report the news they create it. Worst still we swallow it hook, line and sinker. I am not sure that all this will inevitably lead to greater democracy and greater democratic involvement. It could lead to utter disillusionment and apathy and open the way for something worst.

  30. Ian Deller says:

    Sorry heather just read you article on the BBC website and I have to say you present a reasoned argument on the strengthening of democracy that this expense fiasco will lead to. However you leap to assumptions and make generalities that I have to say weaken your whole argument. I dont think there is any connection between failed IT projects and MPs ability to manage their expenses, but I accept that I have not analyzed this in detail. However for a start many government IT projects are successful and most are at least as successful as those in the private sector. So please if you are going to argue that we need to know the details of MPs expenses before we can trust them to govern us, back this up with evidence or at least correlated facts rather than speculation and assumptions.

  31. Neil says:

    For those criticising Heather’s determinedness and the Telegraph’s decision to publish the data:

    The information was going to be released in time, but with addresses redacted. So we would not have known about “flipping” or second/third house claims or all the other stuff. The “security” claim was a smokescreen to hide all this.

    If the claims were reasonable, understandable, justified and above board then why is there such a massive outcry? Because many of them were utterly unacceptable. Heather didn’t “dig for dirt” – she simply sought to find out how tax payers’ money is being spent, which is what many FOI requests are about.

    And why did MPs try so very hard to block release of their expenses? Now we know.

    Well MPs, when it comes to your expenses, and as you so delight in telling us citizens again and again (as you try to collect more and more personal data about us), if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear….

  32. Nick Gordon says:

    Well done. Hildy Johnson would be proud.

  33. Donald says:

    Good. Now examine the lobbying firm connections between clients of former aide to Tony Blair, Lord Philip Gould, and the appointment to the OGC of so-called “independent” planning consultants commissioned without tendering by local authority planning officers who work under Westminster delegated powers, over which John Prescott was reported to have said “it would seem conflicts of interest are not uncommon”. Then ask Norman Lamb, Lib Dem MP (a good guy as far as I know) what this has to do with the Royal Town Planning Institute, and why they failed to implement their code of conduct which would otherwise have regulated the uncontrolled development of supermarkets resonsible for the destruction of small town centres and much of the social decay around us. While you are at it, ask Jack McConnell why he replied “I could end up in all kinds of trouble if I answered that question yes or no” in response to “Do you consider it appropriate that private firms of planning consultants, whose clients include international supermarkets, should be commissioned by planning officers to write so-called “independent” reports where local councils are in receipt of planning applications by the very same clients, yes or no?” And finally, of our council in Dumfries & Galloway, ask why when presented with a trained solicitor’s opinion on what actually constitutes a conflict of interest, they now consider all correspondence on the matter to be closed. Have I said enough?

  34. Mark Howard says:

    It makes me laugh that there are still comments from people who cannot understand the severity of this situation. like their castle is on fire and they are still trying to get someone to clean their moat or hang their chandalier. Can’t they smell the smoke! Heather should be given a place in government. The Minister for Honesty.

  35. Alan F says:

    Firstly, congratulations and well done in getting this in the public eye.

    In reponse to Ian Deller, the prominent example is the NHS NPflT programme. Progress has been pursued by, notably, Computer Weekly and they have been met with the similar obfuscation and resistance to publishing details as the MP expenses. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmhealth/422/422we18.htm
    There are private IT projects that have wasted money but the real difference is that none have ever been allowed to grow so large and the taxpayer is not funding them.

    Finally, what are we going to do about it? Is there real potential for a new ‘white suit’ party that can set out the rules clearly and stick to them?

  36. Gordon Erasmuson says:

    Just want to thank you for uncovering the truth about our career politicians, this information is not trivial it is an essential insight into the character ( or lack of ) of our elected members. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching arrogant greedy sociopaths ( MPs ) try to justify their greed to the country. This can only serve to strengthen democracy, I look forward to a New Parliament and an elected second chamber. This has been a great week for British politics, heart felt thanks Heather it could’nt have been easy for you, but you stuck it out and gave us ordinary folk hope for the future.

  37. Jake says:

    Hi Heather,

    Bravo for the quality and tenacity of your investigation! British journalism today, at all levels and in all media, needs many more like you.

    I particularly liked the start of your piece on the BBC News site: “Britain trades on a mythical reputation of democracy. The more you dig into the reality, the less you believe that myth.”

    You are absolutely right, and the whole issue of freedom of information in Britain (compared to Sweden, for example) amply demonstrates the refusal of the ‘rulers’ to be accountable to the ‘ruled’.

    Keep up the good work, because the Westminster “club” still has plenty of other opaque areas that need the searchlight of public interest.

  38. Ken. Hayes says:

    Dear Heather.
    Well done! It took a lot of guts and patience to do what you have done. As for those who criticise your efforts, especially on the grounds that there are far more important things to care about, whether it be wars, famine, etc. Doesn’t it occur to these people that to bring an end to ANY injustice in the world a start has to be made somewhere – however innocuous it may appear to some, and by showing the world how venal many of our elected representatives are you have made a start. I only wish that the rest of the British media would give you the credit you deserve.

    Ken.

  39. Eric says:

    This article is a wonderful piece of work and you are to be congratulated upon your fantastic investigative journalism. You have every right to be very proud. You certainly set the ball rolling and look what is happening now!! Well done on behalf of all exasperated tax-payers.

  40. Inspector Gadget says:

    Perhaps now you can start on the hidden crime detection figures, senior police officer bonus payments and the scandal of “non validation” of crimes within 72 hours? You know it makes sense. Well done for exposing the truth about the Westminster fraud.

  41. PJ says:

    Delighted to see your efforts yielded such results. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance indeed.

  42. Adam says:

    I read your piece on the BBC website and you say this is a chance to revolutionise British politics.

    I hope not.

    The press, public and politicians are frothing at the mouth with righteous indignation about the expenses and this, for me, is a ‘BIG WARNING’. We’ve had this arm-waving hysteria before. In the past, when politicians have been forced into a corner over an issue (like the Dangerous Dogs Act), they have enacted rushed and bad laws. They have reacted to the furore of the moment and not looked beyond.

    I am in no way excusing the behaviour of slippery politicians, but there is an echo from the disintegration of past governments. Generally, the seemingly unimpeachable governments, that came to power on the ticket of eliminating sleaze, end up falling snout-first into the pig trough.

    Regulation is required, and this may include a simple lump sum allowance for these ducking and diving MPs. They have clearly had too much room for manoeuvre, slack auditing of their expenditure and some have given into temptation.

    But taking a step back and getting the next empenses regime right is better than acting in haste and repenting at leisure.

    Best regards

    A

  43. Andrew Spooner says:

    Maybe it’s now time to go after the expense claims of the civil service? I’ve heard talk of similar outrageous expenses and of a similarly secretive culture.

    Good work Heather.

  44. Brian Chatfield says:

    Thank you Heather, the nation owes you a great debt of gratitude.

  45. Brian Chatfield says:

    When do we move onto Local Councillors? In Brighton we have 31 elected, not employed, Councillors who have decided to join the Local Government pension scheme which means we will be giving them tax payers money long after they have been removed or remove themselves from office!

  46. Paul Whitty says:

    Dear Heather, supoerb article. All your hard work, at times it may have seemed was for nothing, but at the end well worth it. You are the real star of this whole episode and people will not forget.

    Do you have a website of your own ????????

    Regards

    Paul Whitty, Zuirch, Switzerkand

  47. Giulio says:

    Dear Heather
    I’m an italian married to a british, together with my daily it.newspaper I also read the Telegraph.
    In Italy no newspaper or Tv talked about the MP’s espenses for the first 4 days.I was upset with my newspaper ‘Libero’ for the simple reason that politicaly is very near to the Telegrath, so I wrote a letter to the editor,the next day finally an article from a former telegraph’s journalist: Nichoals Farrell, who now lives in Italy, also the italian readers have been able to read the story,finally today also ‘Il corriere’ write about you and what you did.
    It’s a shame that in Italy we don’t have journalist like you.
    The left one criticise the right or viceversa,and reader count nothing.
    Concernig the scandal I think it all started here:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1179994/MPs-Expenses-Tony-Blairs-296-000-mortgage-constituency-home-bought-30-000.html.
    Thanks to you all the mess came out, thanks again for the work also because I live in UK 6 months a year.
    Nicholas Farrell’s article
    http://www.libero-news.it/articles/view/544658

  48. Barry M Murphy says:

    Yes the Myth of democracy is about right. With a Royal Family and a House of Lords at the top end and various old boy networks manipulating questionable planning authorities and the police at the other. But the British have always comfortably lived under the myth that we do things better and more honestly than those nasty foreigners; ask Stephen Fry, he knows. perhaps he shares the same trough.

  49. alice says:

    The sickening thing is, that even if some of these crooks are voted out, they have recently voted themselves an increased ‘winding up allowance’ and an ‘re settlement grants.’ – see column 7 of expenses and green book for details. Still nobody has mentioned their second jobs, their heavily discounted tea rooms, bars, restaurants final salary pensions and discounted gyms.

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