Monday, October 29, 2007

Dizzy/Guido on Con Air: Extraordinary Renditions

Remember that Flying Lion homework set by Professor Watson, who never asks a question when he doesn't know the answer? Here is a summary.

It is not like me to link to a Tory blogger twice in one day. But Dizzy really should be embarrassed by this post as he joins Guido in rising to playground taunts by Bob Piper and coming out to play.

As Bob Piper says Dizzy is a "fearless investigator of dodgy dealings in public life". So why is this embarrassing? That's because he seems to have got so mixed up on this Flying Lion business.

Dizzy claims the rules in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) state that MPs can accept donations from overseas-based people or organisations if "the purpose of the donation is to pay for the travel costs".

This OF COURSE means that if George Bush summons you to Washington - as he famously didn't do to George Osborne - he can pay for the fares. And if Alisher Creosotemanov wanted Dave in Tashkent to see his Memory Man trick he also can legitimately finance that travel.

What it does not mean - as far as I can see - is that some rich overseas entity or individual can regularly pay for general gadding about. That would be just like giving cash and to do that compliance with rules is required. Flying Lion do not seem to comply with those rules on "permissible donors and lenders".

Dizzy also cites PPERA saying the travel costs registered are to be calculated based on commercial rates.

Strangely enough this DOES NOT mean some minimised marginal cost, or the rate that would be charged first class on a scheduled airliner. It means the market rate for or the actual full cost of the journey. The Conservatives do not seem to have complied with those rules.

In the case of Victor Papa - Bravo Mike Sierra the true cost is estimated to be about 30 to 40 times as great as that of scheduled first class. And that's 30 to 40 times what the Tories (those who have bothered to register the gifts) have declared.

The combination of Flying Lion being overseas registered and not allowed to make donations or loans under PPERA - except perhaps to visit Ashcroft in Bermuda, Bahamas or wherever he is lurking - and the true price being 30 times what has been knowingly under-declared these past three or four years ...

This means the Tories may face not only red faces and a proper sleaze scandal but also a fair old claw back.

Clearly the sorts of figures Guido admitted, of £20,000 so far and £50,000 these last two electoral years start to get more interesting when:

(a) they are grossed up 30 to 40 times to reflect the true commercial value (meaning up to £2.8 million for those 18 months alone);
(b) carelessly omitted flights are added to the roster; and
(c) the donations are exposed as both impermissable and consistently and knowingly under declared.


dizzy said...

Actually it means notional value of the commercial travel cost, not the value of the commercial provider cost. So err you're wrong... twice in one day, pretty impressive.

On the bright side at least this time you're not admitting that you'd rather leave a population under totalitarianism than act against a totalitarian militarily.

Bob Piper said...

Glad you spotted the 'playground taunts' comrade... they didn't and bit hook, line and sinker!

Chris Paul said...

We'll see Dizzy, we'll see. The figures they're putting in are clearly not the correct value.

Glad to see you've realised that your claim about these not being overseas donations and stopped pretending on that. All that is left now is to decide how much is clawed back.

It won't be Easyjet rates that's for sure.

As for your blether on the Saudis ... I add this to what you've said before and realise that this constitutes a declaration of war by the Tories on Saudi. We can stick the Prince in the Tower for starters and this will save bombing innocents.

Chris Paul said...

Bob: And they're still coming back for more. Well done. Perhaps Mr Dale will join in too on his return.

Diablo said...

I see that Labour are doing well in the polls again.

Flying Lion? Flying f**k, more like!

Lobster Blogster said...

Enjoyed your mocked up picture of Cameron plus jet. I found a real picture of him sitting inside a private jet. Guess what? He's forgotten to declare the trip :-)

Chris Paul said...

Dizzy: Must say I think you're wrong old bean counter.

Lobster Blogster: I'll be there. My montage of inside the cabin on a typical trip is taking shape very slowly indeed.

Diablo: That poll - as all polls - has things in the methodology which favour different parties. Political Betting explained how this one overwhelmingly disadvantages Labour over the previous vote question. The 41:40 one seems to have more weight being 2000 face to face interviews and properly weighted and all.

Barnacle Bill said...

Well at least I presume you admit to the part your lot played in aiding the real rendition flights?