Tuesday 23 August 2011

A Speck In One Eye, A Plank In Another*

Sigh. The non-story continues, ably led by the *cough* impartial BBC.

Coulson got News International cash while working for Tories

News International paid the Conservatives' former communications director a severance package worth several hundred thousand pounds.
Shock! Horror!

BBC business editor Robert Peston said the instalments received by Mr Coulson totalled the full entitlement under his two-year contract as editor of the now closed tabloid.
Otherwise known as 'honouring obligations under an employment contract'. Something Labour are normally hot as a furnace on.

A Labour spokesman said: "David Cameron now faces allegations that one of his top advisers was also in the pay of News International.

"There are serious questions to answer about Mr Coulson's employment in Downing Street and the country should not have to wait for full transparency."
I think Labour are reaching a bit here, and there's not just a whiff of envy at the sum involved, but also the stench of some quite incredible hypocrisy.

Let's just rejig that Labour quote, shall we? Considering the charge (which is the only charge which can possibly be laid) is that Coulson had conflicting interests while doing his parliamentary job.

"Gordon Brown now faces allegations that one of his top advisers was also in the pay of the European Union"

"There are serious questions to answer about Mr Mandelson's/Mr Kinnock's employment in Downing Street/Westminster and the country should not have to wait for full transparency"
Coulson may well have been gentle on News International while the payments were running their finite course.

Mandelson and Kinnock (and probably others in Labour ranks) are in receipt of an indefinite pension (in fact, I believe Mandelson has two from the EU), which can be confiscated the moment they do or say anything which conflicts with anything Brussels wants to push through.

Coulson may have selfishly glad-handed NI for a bit while his dosh was being transferred; Mandelson and Kinnock were obligated to stifle any dissent to the EU while Brown signed the Lisbon Treaty in a back room against the wishes of his people and the manifesto upon which his party was elected.

Which do you, seriously, think is the more appalling abuse of power for personal financial ends?

This country descends into farce more every day.

* Matthew 7:3-5


Barnacle Bill said...

There's still a lot of unanswered questions over Peston and HBOS, but I'm sure the Beeb won't let them stand in the way of a "good" story.

Twenty_Rothmans said...

Mandelson and Kinnock are greasy weasels, but the BBC regards them as protected species.

Unlike Campbell, who knew where the bodies were buried, Coulson ran out of friends - or rather, people who were frightened of him. He should have hired Ian Hislop. Hislop might not like Cameron - but he can put some stick about.

Anonymous said...

Much of the Coulson problem hinges on the fact that he resigned. Had he been fired, then payment of contractual obligations would not be unreasonable.
The fact that the payments were staged leaves a nasty taste of ongoing influence, rightly or wrongly.
That said, the Kinnock/Mandelson comment is quite valid - that EU pension contract is scandalous - surely it breaches Human Rights by constraining freedom of speech etc. ?

Dick Puddlecote said...

Anon @ 22:00: We're not talking generic Tesco contracts here. NI is a 'ruthless' business, according to lefties. If hard-nosed arsehole Murdoch didn't want to pay it, he wouldn't. If he did, then Labour have got the cuddly guy all wrong, surely.

Except he isn't paying one of their own, so that doesn't count.

But even if he thought he might get a bit of influence, it pales into insignificance compared to the self-indulgence that must be going through the minds of Mandelson/Kinnock et al while Brown was selling the country down the river.

RB said...

Peston wrong again - and can't be arsed apparently to ask someone who knows. He talks about the contractual relationship between Coulson and NOTW and suggests the receipt of this money might impact on Coulson's later work.

A compromise agreement is used to terminate a contractual employer/employee relationship. It is often used by employers to get rid of people without any litigation. By the time it is signed a compromise agreement is an agreed document - i.e an agreement to end the employment relationship.

The payment is compensation for loss of office and is NOT referable to an employment contract (and indeed has a different tax treatment to payments received under an employment contract) since this is the very document that ends that contract.

The fact that NOTW chose to pay the money in instalments, apperently, is neither here nor there.

CAs do often contain other clauses relating to privacy, confidentiality etc., and about the furthest they go is to provide that the ex-employee can't publicly slag off his former employer, but that's usually about it.

Any suggestion that if Coulson didn't "play ball" he wouldn't have got the money is likely to be mischief making. If NOTW didn't pay Coulson then he was entitled to sue them under the agreement - which, I say again, has nothing to do with employment or an employment contract.

Compromise agreements have been around for about 15 years. No surprise really that Peston knows sod all about them. Hopefully he and Richard Black will both be party to one at some point :)

Sat In A Pub said...

Oh come on. This country descends into farce more every day A good way to describe your own postings, I’m afraid, these days.

Is it the lack of soft targets, such as the Labour government, that are driving these current posts? No Gordon Brown etc, so while the country is being driven into the ground, I’ll join them?

A bit of EU bashing, throw in some nonsense about Kinnock and Mandleson’s pension, and hey presto we have a story. Or one that would be bollocks, but entertaining, in a political blog way, circa 2005-2006.

2011 and you’re trying this on? Poor and you can do better. Much better.

Which do you, seriously, think is the more appalling abuse of power for personal financial ends?
If you even need to ask, you’ve lost any sort of perspective you may have had. I'm at loss as to explain your behaviour here.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Well, of course my writing isn't going to make you happy, Tyson. I'd be doing something drastically wrong if it did. ;)

simon (not simon clark) said...

It's you that can't be arsed to check facts. Peston has been trying to get an answer about this from NI for over a week and still they refuse to give him any facts. Sure the fact that a compromise agreement is paid over a period after termination is irrelevant, but the fact that NI continued to pay his legal fees, his medical insurance and supplied a car for two years more than certainly is relevant - if only because it saved the Conservatives money on these perks a man in his position expects.

You don't seriously think Peston doesn't understand compromise agreements, do you? The 'compromise' was Coulson dropping any rights to claim unfair or constructive dismissal in exchange for money, and who knows yet (since NI won't answer) what else? So the truth is not as it has been presented - he didn't resign honourably at all

Sam Duncan said...

Dunno about Yuman Rights, Anon, but it certainly breaches English law. “Nonsense“, Tyson? Members of Parliament (including the Lords) take a solemn oath swearing allegiance solely to the Crown, renouncing any financial obligations to other powers. Mandelson, Kinnock, and Lawson also swore to defend the Commission on pain of losing their pensions. These oaths are mutually exclusive. They lied. Not being a lawyer, I don't know if that counts as treason or what, but they're guilty as hell.