Tag Archives: scandal

Westminster for sale: part two

Tim Yeo in Lobbygate row

I’m rather late in posting this, but I also worked on this Insight investigation into Tim Yeo, published last weekend on the front page of The Sunday Times.

Yeo, a Conservative MP and the chairman of the influential Energy and Climate Change select committee in the House of Commons, told undercover reporters posing as a firm trying to hire him that he could introduce them to “almost everyone you need to get hold of in this country”.

Although he could not speak publicly for them in the House without declaring his financial interests, he said that “what I say to people in private is another matter”.

He also revealed that he had coached a representative of GB Railfreight, a subsidiary of Groupe Eurotunnel where Yeo is a director and shareholder, on how to influence his committee.

Labour has said that he faces “serious” questions about his conduct after allegations that he had “used his position to further the interests of his clients”.

Since the article was published, Yeo has stepped aside as chair of the select committee  and referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. An investigation is ongoing.

Full text of the investigation can be found on the Sunday Times websites (here, here) or PDF versions of the articles can be found after the fold.  Continue reading

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Westminster for sale: update

Job swap coterie

Two peers were suspended from their party and a third has quit after our Sunday Times investigation caught them offering to ask parliamentary questions, lobby ministers and host receptions in the House of Lords in return for cash.

Lord Cunningham, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate and Lord Laird offered to become paid advocates for a firm pushing for new laws to benefit its business. They also said they could set up an all-party parliamentary group as a lobbying vehicle.

Full details are in this Sunday Times article by Jonathan Calvert and Heidi Blake of the Insight investigations team.

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Westminster for sale

Cash for access - Lords exposed

I’ve been working with the Insight investigations team at The Sunday Times for the last couple of weeks on an investigation into lobbying in the Houses of Parliament.

We made the splash on 2 June with this sting, in which three peers offered to become paid advocates for a firm pushing for new laws to benefit its business. They also offered to set up an all party parliamentary group as a lobbying vehicle.

Full text of the front page, and the inside read can be found on the Sunday Times website:

Cash for access: Lords exposed

‘Make that £12,000 a month and I think we’ve got a deal’

‘Getting to see ministers is part of the package’

Three peers have been filmed revealing how they can pull strings for lobbyists in return for cash payments. Insight reports

Job swap ‘coterie’ to beat rules

In undercover meetings the peers reveal how they dodge the ban on pushing private business in parliament.

PDF versions can be found after the fold.

Continue reading

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Square-bashing and Scrabble scandals

I continue to write the regular ‘Briefing’ slot in the Sunday Times’ comment section most weeks.

This week I wrote about the scandal hitting the Scrabble world, after one grandmaster accused another of cheating and demanded he was strip-searched.

I quickly learnt that many Scrabble champions speak English as a second language – or indeed, speak no English at all – instead using their superior understanding of probability to calculate the most likely and best scoring letter combinations, before committing them to memory.

Fancy trying it? Start with memorising the two letter words:

AA  AB  AD  AE  AG  AH  AI  AL  AM  AN  AR  AS  AT  AW  AX  AY  BA  BE  BI  BO  
BY  DE  DO  ED  EF  EH  EL  EM  EN  ER  ES  ET  EX  FA  GO  HA  HE  HI  HM  HO  
ID  IF  IN  IS  IT  JO  KA  LA  LI  LO  MA  ME  MI  MM  MO  MU  MY  NA  NE  NO  
NU  OD  OE  OF  OH  OM  ON  OP  OR  OS  OW  OX  OY  PA  PE  PI  RE  SH  SI  SO  

Then the three letter words, then longer words using the most common letter strings.

And remember, you don’t need to know what they mean as long as they are in the Scrabble dictionary

Full text is on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold

Continue reading

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