World of scandal

The MPs’ expenses scandal has gained some international legs!

Peter Wilson of The Australian newspaper has penned a detailed piece including a few quotes from my good self. And I’ve learnt the pithy Ozzie slang for financial impropriety – a ‘rort’ – which certainly deserves to be picked up over here!

The New York Times rightly describes the whole scandal as flowing from what was originally a ‘modest request’.

It’s great to see the freedom of information angle of the story get picked up in other countries – perhaps this will encourage people around the world to put their politicians and bureaucrats under greater scrutiny!

18 Responses to “World of scandal”

  1. David Gregson says:

    Yes, the UK pollie corruption has definitely made news over here in Oz. Mind you, the amount of corruption going on around the world, getting the public to pay for a glittery toilet seat seems to pale into insignificance at the trillions of dollars the US taxpayers will have to stump up with to pay back the mountain of debt coming their way.

    Doesn’t excuse getting the public to pay for cleaning a moat, though!

  2. I saw you on the BBC the other day and have read some of your posts here.

    It is people like you who keep democracy alive.

    Keep up the good work. I’ve linked you on my little blog.

    My small contribution.

  3. Chris Law says:

    I just the NYT article which names you as the person responsible for bringing this scandal to light. I had to come and say a big thank you for fighting the good fight for five years. If only there only more journalists like you. Please visit Australia some time and help to expose the corruption which our own media condones.

  4. Irene Suckling says:

    Well done Heather Brooks. Pity you didn’t get there before Blair shredded his stuff – he being the one who started the rot in Government.

    How about the expenses of the EU commissioners?

  5. Dr David Lowry says:

    Heather

    This Early Day Motion appears today. It looks sinister to ask for something to be expunged from the Parliamentary Record, but the signatories are generally good folk, so I wonder what it is all about.
    Dr David Lowry

    http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=38710&SESSION=899

    EDM 1539

    RECORDS OF THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (AMENDMENT) BILL IN THE JOURNAL
    20.05.2009

    Winnick, David
    That the Clerk of the House do expunge from the journals of this House records of proceedings on the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill of Session 2006-07.
    Signatures( 3)

    Status

    Winnick, David

    Linton, Martin

    Flynn, Paul

  6. michael says:

    You’ve also been written about int he Seattle PI which goes into the freedom of information angle too:
    http://www.seattlepi.com/local/406432_reporter21.html

  7. bustop says:

    Dr Lowry (11.43 on 21 May)

    Sadly I cannot answer your question but it is worth asking elsewhere if Heather is unable to respond. I agree your point about the authors but it does indeed sound sinister and it would be worth knowing the motive.

  8. danny bloom says:

    and this is big news in Chinese now in the Taiwan newspapers! bravo!

  9. bustop says:

    Heather
    I still think there is more for you in all of this. The Telegraph may have bought the ‘story’ but that is not the full picture just a series of connected abuses. There is a conspiracy at the heart of this that, I suspect, will involve very few people. Why has not one person within Parliament sought explanation from the Fees Office, or at least an account of events? I do not hold with the excuse that they were just doing their job. We need to know who told them and what they were told to do. Of particular interest is the period upto 2004 when overclaiming or on-going claiming of mortgage interest seems to have been the norm. I suspect this is why Brown continually trots out “for the last four years” when talking about the review he has set up – it’s a Freudian slip of his that when he is being deliberately deceitful he has to re-enforce his defence – just as he did with “it all started in America”. Find the phrase he repeats verbatim and you find the phrase he is using to deceive. I do not see anyone in the papers either taking up this approach – why?

  10. Tom Green says:

    An interesting piece on Jeff Jarvis’s blog – (see comments, too)

    http://www.buzzmachine.com/2009/05/20/the-bigger-mp-scandal-story/

  11. Sam C says:

    Well done Heather!

    Just a few weeks ago, you were only known to people who took an interest in these seedy affairs.

    Now you’re known in Australia, the US and Taiwan!

    And in 10 years time, you’ll be the answer to pub quiz questions: “Who was the journalist whose investigations exposed the allowances scandal which led to the 2010 Government of Britain Act?”

    But in 50 years time you’ll be hated by schoolkids desperately trying to remember your name when they’re writing an answer in their history exam!

    Milk it, lass, milk it.

  12. Stephen says:

    Heather,

    I just wanted to thank you for doing such a fabulous job at exposing the greed and self serving nature of many of our politicians.

    When most of our so-called professional political journalists have been asleep on the job for years, and taking payment in kind through off the record briefings, colluding with labour apparatchiks and spin doctors to smear and twist the truth, hide the facts and generally undermine their alleged constitutional role – your example is a true beacon of what can be done.

    Once again, thank you.

  13. edward fox says:

    The Telegraph used corrupt methods to report corruption, it seems to me. This is my understanding or misunderstanding of this story. Heather Brooke, acting on her own initiative, and without the support of any newspaper, made a request for information under the UK’s new Freedom of Information Act. This information was (reluctantly) offered to her. The same information was then bought by the Telegraph, and published. Who did they pay? They give credit to a former SAS man whose name escapes me for offering this information. Surely they didn’t pay him? And how is it that there was a bidding war for this information from at least two other newspapers, the Times and the Sun? These papers would never have conducted this investigation on their own initiative, that is, if Heather Brooke hadn’t done what she did first.

  14. Michael Briscoe says:

    Heather…you are news over here in Spain too http://www.elpais.com/articulo/sociedad/Historia/secreta/scoop/elpepusoc/20090531elpepisoc_7/Tes
    As a former BBC journalist I´d like to add my voice to thosecongratulating and praising you, Heather. I hope you will be an inspiration to a new generation of journalists.

  15. Mike Stern says:

    I would like to add my congratulations as well. As an American lawyer who closely follows legal issues related to Congress, I am interested in lessons learned from this experience. For example, what role, if any, did the Parliamentary Commissioner on Standards play in this episode? I sent Heather an email about this, but perhaps knowledgeable folks on this thread can also chime in.

    I am also interested in the legal fight over the application of FOIA to Parliament. As mentioned in some of the articles linked here, FOIA in the U.S. applies only to the executive branch, not to the legislative branch. There is, however, some limited (and little known) judicial authority for the proposition that citizens can assert a common law right of access to public records against Congress.

  16. David L says:

    Blears has announced her resignation from the cabinet today, heading for the railway carriage with a day ticket in her hand. Why a day ticket when her travel expenses would lead one to believe she bought a season ticket to travel to and from her constituency?

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