Friday, June 26, 2009

Rowen Expenses-Gate: Hennigan Dictating to Observer

Well, well, well. That makes a pleasant change then! Instead of the trashy Rochdale Online, "owned" by Paul Rowen through a rather sleazish tax payer funded Faustian web services contract, wait for the Observer to go to press and go to web, and THEN nick their stories. Unattributed, un-thanked, unpaid for.

Last night they actually "nicked" the Obbie story before it even had a chance to appear! This is because PR Paul Rowen MP's bullying control freakist the disgraced and disgraceful (right) former councillor and former Tory boy David Hennigan, who makes Damian McBride look like an amateur when it comes to filthy dirty smearology, actually wrote most of the Observer story.

There's press relations. And there's taking the piss out of a weak editor, running scared journalists, and a business-before-integrity management. Though getting the time line wrong may be some kind of power play, proving he's taking the piss, but it does look like a schoolboy error from where I'm sitting.

Here's the Obbie story which you might like to compare and contrast with the Rowen Online exclusive of last evening which we have already torn to shreds HERE. There is something missing. Can you see what it is yet?:

MP Rowen:
'I have always striven to put rochdale (sic) first'

June 26, 2009

PAUL ROWEN has blasted ‘unsubstantiated and false’ accusations he used taxpayers’ money to fund party-political activity.

The Liberal Democrat Rochdale MP gave a point-by-point refutation of opponents’ claims about his expenses.

He said he had been ‘shocked’ by the allegations – and wanted to put the record straight for his constituents.

"I have always striven to put Rochdale first," he told the Observer.

Mr Rowen made clear:

* He only spent £3,539.06 on printing and advertising, and not the reported figure of £26,000.
* The ‘annual report’ that money helped to pay for was signed off by House of Commons officials as NOT being party political.
* The ‘advertising’ was also for non-party political purposes – alerting constituents to surgeries and Mr Rowen’s contact details.
* His claims for a string of minor food items – including 40p for a banana, 5p for an Asda ‘bag for life’ and £1.29 for Burger King fries – were for an unpaid intern, as per parliamentary rules.
* His Drake Street offices, while part-owned by the Lib Dems, are paid for at a market rate – an arrangement common to many MPs.

Mr Rowen said: "It is frustrating that I have been criticised, and that unsubstantiated allegations have been made against me.

"I have never paid for the printing of political leaflets using my expenses.

"To do so would be illegal.

"I placed adverts in externally printed party newspapers advertising my surgeries and printing posters for my surgeries for display in libraries and community centres."

On the rental for his offices, the MP added: "Many MPs – including the Prime Minister – rent offices from political parties or supporters.

"The rules for this are clear. It must be a fair market rent determined by an independent surveyor. That was what I did."

Mr Rowen said £4,000 he had paid the north west regional Lib Dems in consultancy fees had paid for ‘invaluable research and advice on region-wide policy issues’.

It also funded ‘assistance with region-wide media content, communications and coverage, staff training and staff management advice’, he said, as well as ‘cross-constituency event co-ordination, liaison and promotion of MPs’ work across the region and access to regional office services and administration staff’.

He added: "All MPs claim allowances and expenses to enable them to do their job.

"I welcome the greater transparency but the media, whilst exposing wrong doing where it occurs, has a duty to report these fairly and responsibly.

"As someone born and bred in Rochdale, it has always been my ambition to represent the people of my town.

"I have done this conscientiously and my staff and I have always striven to put Rochdale first. Whether this is by the thousands of cases we do on an annual basis, fighting for extra resources like our new sixth form college, Metrolink and bus station or campaigning for the very best services for our town."

THE Rochdale Observer would like to make it clear it has no information that Paul Rowen MP was using Parliamentary expenses to fund Liberal Democrat political activities and apologises if any reader got that impression.

This "apology" is a matter of semantics.

Through Mr PR Paul Rowen MP's decisions on how he spends his various allowances the Rochdale Lib Dem party are considerably enriched and this appears to extend way beyond in effect getting a free office to having spare cash to use for campaigning.

Yes, it's true that some other MP's have contrived similar convoluted arrangements and time shares ... most often found in the case of dishonourable Lib Dem members. Other MPs pay less than the market rate from their party, don't let them use the facilities, as let's face it this looks wrong, and by doing this free expenses for greater assistance to their constituents. More of which anon. Rowen wants to make a feature of it? Bring it on!

Through Mr PR Paul Rowen MP's payment of a tithe to the NW Region Lib Dem office, as already shared and cross subsidised by failed former Oldham and Saddleworth MP Mr Chris Davies MEP who admits to giving lots of his spare expenses away to charity and in political donations, they too are considerably enriched.

And through Mr PR Paul Rowen MP's employment of what Rochdale Lib Dems own annual report and audited accounts describe as one-and-a-half "political workers" the local party is apparently released from the need to directly employ these people to organise their campaigns and political activity.

These workers were previously funded by a stream of donations from such erudite organisations as the unincorporated and unregistered Cobden Bright Trust, the unincorporated and unregistered Friends of Cyril Smith under various shadowy names, the actually incorporated Rochdale Reform Buildings Limited, and of course by a donation of more than £20,000 from Rochdale's Lib Dem councillors.

They - and Rowen, and Rowen's employees - are the people who actually benefit in the pocket and in the power stakes from all this work to get them and keep them elected. It confirms this transfer of political workers from the party to the MP plain as day in black and white. A confession signed by two independent auditors. You've gotta say this for Dave Hennigan ... he's got some bottle and some bare-faced cheeks to boot.

Forget the knob of butter, forget the 40p banana yellow and crooked though it may be, forget the dinner beverages and bar/beverages, forget even the £9.99 TV Services enjoyed by Paul Rowen or someone on his allowances, the real deal for the Lib Dems is top-slicing, bottom-slicing, side-slicing and hollowing out the tax payer funded allowance and expense regimes and applying them to their pursuit of power.

They say of course that all these moves are "within the rules", and they employ tired semantics to explain their moves away, but it is for the people of Rochdale to decide whether these cunning stunts and weasel words are "appropriate" or in at least some cases "inappropriate" as Rowen's rival Simon Danczuk suggested. According to the Rochdale Observer's now redacted story.

If Rowen doesn't identify some serious ticket items in his claims to repay to the Fees Office and if he continues to defy the court of public opinion and pretend his office and staff arrangements are sweet smelling ... that's his choice.


F R O said...

A former Rochdale MP takes no action against a piss-poor Labour-fronted toss mag and is therefore denounced by you as obviously gulity. (Maybe you should be checking the present-day deeds of RAP's former editor, by the way).

The current MP does take legal action and is denounced by you as a bully and an attacker of free speech.

Make your increasingly frazzled mind up, CP.

Rochdale Rapper said...

No FRO. This raises more questions than it answers for Paul Rowen.

Why did he appear so sensitve over a knob of butter and banana?

The expenses revealed were received by Rochdale's current MP and no amount of threats and shenanighans can avoid the fact that Paul Rowen is damaged goods.

As for David Bartlett, don't worry your little cotton socks about him. With the knowledge those who ran RAP still have about certain local politicians and past "inappropriate" activity, then Paul Rowen will have more to worry about than the fact he allowed an unpaid intern to get a few snacks whilst kicking their heels around Westminster often wondering where the hell Rochdale's MP was.

Not in the Chamber, not in the office? Out to lunch?

The new editor of a struggling local tile in the painful process of moving to Manchester may have conceeded this pawn but if the allegations about corruption and other cover-ups by Rochdale Lib Dems are ever stacked up then Paul Rowen will struggle to threaten the Sergeant At Arms or Police.

Claims of kick backs and sex abuse go far beyond polite references to "inappropriate behaviour".

If all the rumours circulating round Rochdale are true then prison beckons.

Or an orange neer do well tabard for those first time offenders.

Get Real said...

Word on the street is that Rowen (and Hennigan) are in the naughty corner with certain Rochdale Observer/GMG staffers.

Idiot, shit and doorstep are words that come to mind.

It won't be long before the rumblings from discontent Rochdale Lib Dems makes this very awkward for Paul and Dave.

At least one will have to go.

Chris Paul said...

F R O - that's a new one? Free Rochdale Observer? Fecking Rochdale Online?

Sir Cyril Smith MP failed to act (in the courts at least) against Rochdale Alternative Paper, whose political affliations or otherwise would be hard to discern from an even handed appraisal of their criticisms of abused or faulty power in all coloured rosettes, because he was bang to rights slapping bare bottoms, handling juvenile scrotums and making moonlit flits to lads rooms to kiss things better, or sponge things better at least.

He also failed to tackle Private Eye. Not then or now regarded as an organ of the Labour Party. Again because he was quite simply guilty as charged, and what's more guilty as not charged.

Rowen has taken Rochdale Observer to task for rightly fisking his redacted allowances. Almost every MP in the land has had at least one comedy item turned up and at a knob of butter, a 40p banana and £9.99 for TV services he's done quite well on that front.

But - as he well knows - there is a far greater problem here. With his own claims and also in a pattern with many, many Lib Dems across the nation. Which is that they tend to contrive ways - they say entirely within the rules, we doubt that that claim stands up to scrutiny in every case - to chisel money away from the tax payer and into party political coffers.

Do you really think that taking a non-party political advert for £700 in a party political rag - thereby paying for or towards the cost of printing this material is going to look right to ordinary citizens? It looks like the advert is paying for the propaganda. Viz that the MP is paying for the propaganda. Particularly if the price of the adverts is quite frankly ridiculously high and appalling value for money for the tax payer. Which is one of the other tests. Another being whether it was needed at all. Must be wholly necessary.

And then there's the explicit taking over of political workers, releasing the local party from the need to fund these political workers, as witnessed by the party's auditors?

Or giving a tithe to the regional office of his party - he says for computer and training stuff - plus perhaps getting invoiced for computer services or training costs that are supposedly covered by the tithe. How does paying for a press officer to send out Liberal Democrat material on Liberal Democrat stationery with party political angles fall within the rules of engagement?

Or this hooky rent and office share and equipment share and share and share alike share that looks dead wrong to everyone that sees it, never mind looks up close.

Who owns the other 70% of the company that Rowen says is not owned by local Lib Dems? Can we have the full truth right here right now thank you very much? How will that look?

The only mistake the Obbie seems to have made is saying £26,000 on printing in a single year. Rowen says it's wrong and that he's only spent £X (a single year's worth) altogther. That too is wrong.

And there's the sports ground hoardings. And there's the Euro cash that hasn't been revealed, and the rest of it, all waiting to come out drip by drip by drip.

If this scandal has taught us anything it is that "within the rules" is not good enough for many people these days.

The Obbie have refused to print what looks like highly defamatory smears aagainst Simon Danczuk who should have a word with the owners of Rowen Online forthwith and have them remove and apologise Rowen's ridiculous nonsense.

Eagle Eyed Libel Lawyer said...

Just noticed the sneaky juxtaposition of the Rochdale Observer headlines in your rag out. Rowen says: "I have always striven to put Rowen first" and the Robbie says £200k Surgery Theft. Hilarious. They may have rolled over on this one, apparently, but that's a great dig. Counting the political workers and all the sly ways of lining Lib Dems pockets ... "within the rules" that may be uncomfortably close to the correct amount for the dodgy gravy too.

Anonymous said...

have just read the Rochdale Observer 'apology' to Mr Rowen.

In the eyes of ordinary constituents this does him more harm than good.

He appears to be protesting too much. Like a fat worm wriggling on a hook.

Anonymous said...

According to his long suffering wife, Malcolm Porn-O has now got a licence to put letters after his name from the Royal Pornographic Society.

His pornfolio of dodgy looking women is scary.

But from now on will it have to be Malcolm Journeaux P.E.R.V. ?

Chris Paul said...

Just Malcolm Porn-O will do I'd say.

Rochdale Rapper said...

no, the man now has letters after his name according to to Malcolm, sorry "Pauline" protesting too much about "her" modest husband.

Then come the Bugsy Malone style photos followed by Porn-O's "portfolio" of skanky looking females shaking their booty.

Sad, weird stuff.

Anonymous said...

The Rochdale Online Porn-O emails have been flying around Rochdale virtually pleading to loyal sychophants and brown nosers to defend Malcolm's artistic bent.

The emails have paid off. The RO Forum page called "congratulations" is funny as.

Rochdale Online? More like the Munsters meets Razzle.