Archive for the ‘Anne Milton’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at 20 February 2008

Category: Anne Milton

Dr Graham Henderson, husband of Anne Milton MP, was Director of Public Health for the East Surrey PCT until late 2006 (i.e. until the formation of the Surrey mega-PCT, a move his wife opposed, BTW).

While in that position, Dr Graham Henderson was subject to the NHS Code of Conduct. I draw your attention to the following extract from that code:

NHS Code of Conduct – Declaration of Interests
It is a requirement that chairs and all board directors should declare any conflict of interest that arises in the course of conducting NHS business. All NHS organisations maintain a register of member’s interests to avoid any danger of board directors being influenced, or appearing to be influenced, by their private interests in the exercise of their public duties. All board members are therefore expected to declare any personal or business interest which may influence, or may be perceived to influence, their judgement. This should include, as a minimum, personal direct and indirect financial interests, and should normally also include such interests of close family members. Indirect financial interests arise from connections with bodies which have a direct financial interest, or from being a business partner of, or being employed by, a person with such an interest.

So if Dr Graham Henderson was employed in any way that would influence, or may be perceived to influence, his judgement, he should have declared it.

I now draw your attention to this entry from the East Surrey PCT Register of Members’ Interests from July 2006:

East Surrey PCT Register of Members’ Interests (July 2006):

Graham Henderson, Director of Public Health:
Wife is Member of Parliament for Guildford

And now, finally, I draw your attention to this extract from an article about Anne Milton’s expenses:

The Tory shadow minister for health has hired spouse Graham Henderson in each of her first two years in Westminster. Between 2005 and 2006, he earned £6,500 from Ms Milton’s expenses as a researcher while the former nurse was setting up her office. – (Surrey Ad – February 8, 2008)

Oh dear.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Dr Graham Henderson should have declared that period of employment, yes?

Dr Henderson may not be in a position where he can be held accountable for this oversight, but (as David Cameron and Anne Milton have made clear) the Conway matter and its fallout is an issue of public trust… and this does not look good.

[Tch. When people keep me waiting or jerk me around, I get bored and start to poke around. They only have themselves to blame.]








Posted by Tim Ireland at 19 February 2008

Category: Anne Milton

After discovering that my Conservative MP Anne Milton had paid her husband £13,000 of taxpayer’s money since coming to office, I sent her a series of questions.

Given what Anne Milton published on her website the day before the article referenced above appeared in our local newspaper, I considered it quite reasonable to expect some answers…. but it wasn’t until after I got in touch with David Cameron that I received the following single answer to all five of the questions submitted:

“I believed it was vital to answer all media enquiries because clarity and openness is crucial to trust and confidence in the democratic process.” – Anne Milton

This exact same answer was sent to ‘Scotch’ (a fellow constituent who contributes to Bloggerheads via comments) who had independently submitted some questions of his own.

So what I’m going to do today is take that answer and see how (or indeed if) it delivers against each question that I submitted….

[Psst! One thing to keep in mind throughout is that Anne Milton has stated that Dr Graham Henderson is no longer an employee, but a volunteer. She told the Surrey Advertiser that; “In the last year, my husband has worked for me and he has not been paid for it.” So this answer might not even relate to any question(s) relating to Dr Graham Henderson, as it could be interpreted as referring to “the staff I employ” (i.e. currently) as opposed to “the staff I have employed” (i.e. historically). Nevertheless, we shall try to press on in the face of this uncertainty and – in good faith – assume that Anne Milton is consistent on this issue. The phrase “the staff I employ” will be taken as an indication of Anne Milton’s past and present stance on employment.]

Q1. Where did Dr Graham Henderson carry out this work you describe? In your parliamentary office, your constituency office, from home…?

A: “I would like to assure you that all the staff I employ work extremely hard to ensure that I give my constituents the best service possible.”

If the question were in any way loaded, it would have presented a fourth possible option; during the tax year for 2005-2006, Dr Graham Henderson was Director of Public Health for the East Surrey PCT, but I did not ask if he did work for his wife’s office from his office.

This is a fair and straightforward question that presents likely options that I would regard to be fair, especially given that Anne Milton clearly stated that she did not even have an office for her first six weeks as MP.

Regardless of the inclusion of these or other options, I asked specifically where the described work by her husband was conducted, and Anne Milton’s answer does not answer this question.

Why?

Q2. What evidence can you show your constituents of the work you claim was done by Dr Graham Henderson?

A: “I would like to assure you that all the staff I employ work extremely hard to ensure that I give my constituents the best service possible.”

Here, we can be as generous as possible regarding Anne Milton’s assurance, and even take it as a given that all work done by Dr Graham Henderson offered constituents “the best service possible”… but I asked what evidence Anne Milton could show of this service to those same constituents, and Anne Milton’s answer does not answer this question.

Why?

Q3. Was the work you claim was done by Dr Graham Henderson directly connected to the Save the Royal Surrey campaign, and – if so – what proof can you show of this?

A: “I would like to assure you that all the staff I employ work extremely hard to ensure that I give my constituents the best service possible.”

Anne Milton’s past statements would appear to associate some of the work done by her husband to the very popular Save the Royal Surrey campaign. I have asked if he worked on that campaign specifically (and what proof she might be able to show us if this is so), but Anne Milton’s answer does not answer this question.

Why?

Q4. You have said that your husband has done some work in the past year for which he has not been paid. What reassurance can you provide that he won’t be paid retrospectively?

A: “I would like to assure you that all the staff I employ work extremely hard to ensure that I give my constituents the best service possible.”

Again, a fair question. Anne Milton stated in an earlier article that she had in the past paid her husband retrospectively for work he had done. She is then quoted in the article referenced above that – in the current tax year – he had done some work that he had not been paid for. My mind added the word ‘yet’ but – to be fair – I asked for clarification.

Also, this is the only question that actually seeks assurance (as opposed to an answer based on facts/evidence) but Anne’s assurance does not rule out retrospective payment, not even for the current tax year alone.

Why?

Q5. Have any other members of your family been employed in this or any other way by your office?

A: “I would like to assure you that all the staff I employ work extremely hard to ensure that I give my constituents the best service possible.”

Yes, and any number of those staff members (past or present) could be members of Anne Milton’s family.

Anne Milton’s answer does not answer this question.

Why?

David Cameron says I’m right to demand more transparency and openness:

“I believe the public are right to demand more transparency and openness when it comes to MPs staff, pay, allowances and expenses…” – David Cameron

This single answer from Anne Milton does not offer transparency or openness. In fact, it’s downright evasive.

Anne Milton says it’s important (and urgent) that she and other MPs work to regain public trust via the use of clarity and openness:

“I believed it was vital to answer all media enquiries because clarity and openness is crucial to trust and confidence in the democratic process… We must regain public trust in not only MPs but in all politicians and if we are to safeguard our democracy, the urgency for this cannot be underestimated.” – Anne Milton

This single answer from Anne Milton does not offer clarity or openness. In fact, it’s so vague an answer (and it took so long to get it) that I’m beginning to think she didn’t really mean any of the above.

In fact, the longer it takes me to get answers to my questions, the further my trust and confidence in Anne Milton – and the democratic process – will be undermined.

David Cameron says I deserve to ask questions. Anne Milton says I deserve answers.

So where are my answers, and why does it seem so very, very hard just to get my MP to acknowledge my questions?








Posted by Tim Ireland at 14 February 2008

Category: Anne Milton

Please check this post for a short but important update.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 12 February 2008

Category: Anne Milton, The Political Weblog Movement

First of all, let’s have a look at the sentiments expressed by our main performers on the subject of MP’s expenses:

“I believe the public are right to demand more transparency and openness when it comes to MPs staff, pay, allowances and expenses…” – David Cameron

“I believed it was vital to answer all media enquiries because clarity and openness is crucial to trust and confidence in the democratic process.” – Anne Milton

Now, let’s take a moment to see if they actually meant any of that….

I’m a poor, lowly constituent – and, arguably, a modest representative of the media – who’s having trouble getting answers to some pretty fair and straightforward questions about my MP’s expenses:

Bloggerheads – Anne Milton: possibly only a quarter as naughty as Derek Conway

So let’s see how far I get going over her head and having a quiet word with her boss:

To: David Cameron

CC: Anne Milton

From: Tim Ireland

Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 4:30 PM

Subject: Anne Milton’s expenses

Dear David,

I’m having a little difficulty getting some answers out of my MP, Anne Milton, on the subject of her expenses.

She seems pretty quick off the mark (if less than forthright) when the local newspaper calls, but when a constituent with a more modest level of access to the media gets in touch, it seems to take days/weeks to get a response (on those occasions when I’m not being deliberately ignored).

Below are the questions that I put to Anne Milton a few days ago. They relate to this article on my website and roughly 13K in expenses paid to her husband, Dr Graham Henderson:
http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2008/02/anne_milton.asp

1. Where did Dr Graham Henderson carry out this work you describe? In your parliamentary office, your constituency office, from home…?

2. What evidence can you show your constituents of the work you claim was done by Dr Graham Henderson?

3. Was the work you claim was done by Dr Graham Henderson directly connected to the Save the Royal Surrey campaign, and – if so – what proof can you show of this?

4. You have said that your husband has done some work in the past year for which he has not been paid. What reassurance can you provide that he won’t be paid retrospectively?

5. Have any other members of your family been employed in this or any other way by your office?

Pretty fair questions given the circumstances, and I’d like to think that:

a) I’m well within my rights to expect timely answers

b) Timely answers shouldn’t present Anne with any difficulty if everything is above board

c) Timely answers are the least one should expect from a member of the shadow cabinet, given your clearly stated position that they should lead by example on this issue

If you’re not too busy, would you mind awfully giving Anne Milton a quiet nudge or hitting her over the nose with a rolled-up newspaper or something?

I mean, I’ve written an article about it and – just now – have published these questions…
http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2008/02/half-time_2.asp

… and it simply wouldn’t do to have the answers arrive so very late that they appear to be (to put it delicately) carefully formulated.

Cheers

Tim Ireland
www.bloggerheads.com

UPDATE (14 Feb) – Finally some answers from Anne Milton. Well, *one* anyway. Anne seems to think that the following is a satisfactory response to the questions listed above:

“I would like to assure you that all the staff I employ work extremely hard to ensure that I give my constituents the best service possible.” – Anne Milton

So much for clarity, transparency and openness.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 8 February 2008

Category: Anne Milton

Here’s the top story from the latest edition of our local newspaper:

Um, ah... Anne Milton's in trub-bllllllle!

For those of you in the cheap seats, that headline reads; MP paid her husband for £13,000 of Westminster work

(And you may recall that another Tory MP, Derek Conway, recently experienced some difficulty over a sum somewhere in the region of £40,000.)

Here’s the guts of that article:

MP Anne Milton has employed her husband and paid him £13,000 since coming to office, it has been revealed. The Tory shadow minister for health has hired spouse Graham Henderson in each of her first two years in Westminster. Between 2005 and 2006, he earned £6,500 from Ms Milton’s expenses as a researcher while the former nurse was setting up her office. During the following 12 months, Mr Henderson was paid £5,500, again to carry out research and answer e-mails on behalf of his wife. For his regular job, he is a doctor who works three days a week. Ms Milton said: “In 2005 I was setting up my office and I did not even have an office for the first six weeks. I only had a researcher. The following year, it would be far to say that I was incredibly busy on the hospital campaign and he did quite a lot of research for me, including on health, as well an answering e-mails and drafting letters. In the last year, my husband has worked for me and he has not been paid for it.”

OK, out comes my fisking tool… let’s slice and dice:

MP Anne Milton has employed her husband and paid him £13,000 since coming to office, it has been revealed.

£13,000? But only last Sunday, Milton was saying this:

The Sunday Times – Disorder, disorder!: Anne Milton, the Tory MP, gave her husband Graham Henderson a one-off payment of £5,500 last March for doing reading for her, as part of a local health campaign. “I paid my husband retrospectively for some work he had done. It was mostly reading, doing notes for me,” she said.

For further indication of how forthright she’s being with this latest statement, check out this earlier article, also from our local newspaper, where she explains the steep rise in her expenses by saying that she hired a new employee last year after being understaffed for her first 12 months in office… while completely failing to mention that her husband was a new addition to the payroll.

The Tory shadow minister for health has hired spouse Graham Henderson in each of her first two years in Westminster. Between 2005 and 2006, he earned £6,500 from Ms Milton’s expenses as a researcher while the former nurse was setting up her office.

For the tax year 2005-2006, Graham Henderson was employed as Director of Public Health for the East Surrey PCT, wasn’t he?

I must say, it takes an extraordinary amount of dedication to work twice as hard for the British taxpayer. Where did he find the time?

(rolls eyes)

During the following 12 months, Mr Henderson was paid £5,500, again to carry out research and answer e-mails on behalf of his wife…. [Anne Milton said]: “…it would be far to say that I was incredibly busy on the hospital campaign and he did quite a lot of research for me, including on health…”

Note that here (and, arguably, in the Times article), Milton cleverly associates the expenditure with the most popular campaign she has been involved in sought to exploit as an MP, but she does not actually say specifically that he was working on that campaign.

Was this expenditure directly related to the Save the Royal Surrey campaign? Surely if it was, she wouldn’t hesitate to point it out. She likes to scream “I’m saving the Royal Surrey, me!” as much as she used to enjoy bleating “I’m a former nurse!”

(ahem)

“… as well an answering e-mails and drafting letters.”

How convenient that Dr Graham Henderson was working on something that we the public can’t possibly see audited unless there’s an official police investigation.

“In the last year, my husband has worked for me and he has not been paid for it.”

The tax year’s not over yet. What reassurance do we have that he won’t be paid retrospectively?

And – crucially – what evidence can Anne Milton show us that Graham Henderson did any of the work he was paid for?

I’m going to email Anne Milton today and put a few pertinent questions to her. Perhaps the reply will come from Dr Graham Henderson or – more likely – it will come from Parliamentary Researcher Simon Hill, who – to the best of my recollection – is the only person who has answered (or declined to answer) any of the questions I’ve put to Anne Milton via email.

UPDATE (14 Feb) – Click here to read those questions… and Milton’s single, pissweak answer.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 12 December 2007

Category: Anne Milton, It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!

The Times – Britain’s breach of honour over Iraq interpreters: More than half the Iraqi interpreters who applied to come to live in Britain have had their applications rejected, drawing accusations that the Government is “wriggling out” of its promise to help former Iraqi employees. The Times has learnt that 125 of the 200 interpreters who took up the offer to resettle in Britain have failed to meet the strict criteria laid down for eligibility… In three cases seen by The Times, former Iraqi employees were told that they were ineligible because of “absenteeism”. The 200 interpreters are among a total of 600 Iraqis who have applied to come to Britain, all people who have worked for the British and who today face intimidation from Iranian-backed Shia groups.

PA – Iraq interpreters ‘can get help’: A Foreign Office spokeswoman said that a total of 400 applications had been received but would not confirm how many had been turned down. She said: “Although we cannot discuss individual cases, we have a very clear policy that staff who terminated employment as a result of intimidation are eligible for assistance. We fully recognise the difficulties of such staff and do not insist on official or formal notification or on staff working out their notice period. Individuals who are recorded as having let us know by telephone or any other manner are still considered eligible. Decisions are taken based on records taken at the time but where individuals who feel they have further evidence to support their case for assistance they should notify us immediately.”

1. Note how mindful the government has been in not calling them cowards. See? They *do* care.

2. Remember that the charge of absenteeism is made against those claiming to have done 12 months service, when the typical service period was 6 months. So we have a clear pattern of whittling down as well as wriggling out.

3. Is it 400 or 600 who have applied? Or are we looking at more whittling here?

4. The Danes evacuated first and sorted the paperwork back at home, where there were fewer death squads determined to complicate matters (see #6 and #9). We left Basra a month before any policy regarding those we left behind was made or announced.

5. And this government had to be goaded into that. Miliband’s announcement was effectively a last-minute face-saving spoiler designed to take the wind out of the campaign to save these people. Classy.

6. The people being targeted daren’t show their faces on *any* street… and the facilities/routes one might use to seek escape are being watched very carefully. Oh, but any special measures that might be required to rescue those we left behind? You can rule them out in roughly two weeks’ time. Not that our government has an intention of taking these measures, it’s just that they will soon have a perfect excuse not to bother.

7. A tactic not unlike the one used by my Conservative MP, Anne Milton. I asked her if she would be signing EDM 2057, but she didn’t answer. I pressed her for an answer a couple of weeks later, and was told that she wouldn’t be signing it because it had effectively expired. [Why won’t you drink the milk? (No answer.) Why won’t you drink the milk? (No answer.) Why won’t you drink the milk? (Because it’s past its use-by date. Ha-ha!)] Now I’ve asked her – twice now – if she’ll be signing the renewed version, EDM 401, and guess what? No answer!

8. Check the latest EDM. To date, it’s been signed by:

– 22% of Liberal Democrat MPs (14 out of 63)
– 3.6% of Labour MPs (13 out of 352)
– 2.5% of Conservative MPs (5 out of 194)

Everybody needs to lift their game, but you would expect a better showing from Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, wouldn’t you? What’s holding them back?

9. A tip for those on the run and in fear of their lives: due to the very real possibility that we may not have kept records of any reported absences, it is important that you keep a firm grip on any relevant paperwork as you dash from bolthole to bolthole, because you certainly can’t leave it in the care of any relatives or friends whose home may be invaded and searched at any time.

10. If you haven’t yet done so, you should at the very least ask your MP if they will be signing EDM 401. If they will… great, you can take things from there. If they won’t… ask them why.

UPDATE – Dan Hardie – Red tape and murder… read and share.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 5 October 2007

Category: Anne Milton

Via Chris Paul, who covers this and the not-entirely-unrelated scrutiny of the civic car park sale:

(Psst! If this is new to you, you can find the earlier post here.)

Surrey Advertiser – Council chief clears authority of poll rigging: An inquiry by Guildford Borough Council’s chief executive into allegations of rigging an online poll has cleared his authority of any wrong-doing… Council boss David Hill’s investigation unearthed that Guildford Borough Council leader Andrew Hodges used two council computers to vote ‘no’ twice. Cllr Hodges, a Conservative councillor for 30 years, said he voted twice in the poll out of “frustration”. He also claimed the poll was based on “a misrepresentation of the facts on the council’s position by the Surrey Advertiser”. “This was on an important subject and in my frustration I registered two votes to what I thought was a flawed poll,” Cllr Hodges added. No action will (be) taken against Cllr Hodges for his actions.

Read that again; Guildford Borough Council leader Andrew Hodges used two council computers to vote ‘no’ twice. No action will (be) taken against Cllr Hodges for his actions.

Way to go, Guildford Borough Council. My confidence in our local elected representatives is now at an all-time high.

1. Andrew Hodges? Now, there’s a familiar name. There’s a word for his relationship with our local MP Anne Milton and her inner circle, and that word is ‘tight’.

2. I really feel for Cllr Hodges. Time and again I’ve been frustrated by dishonest campaigning and a lack of proportional representation, which is why I always vote twice*, even when I’m not supposed to be voting at all..

3. If it was such an important subject to him, and Cllr Hodges doesn’t object to the concept of multiple votes (check his statement; you won’t see an apology there), why did he only vote twice? (Assuming, of course, that he didn’t pop back to his place to secretly express his frustration with a few extra votes before a late supper. They have The Internets in homes these days, I hear.)

4. The next time Cllr Hodges is faced with a situation where he is of the opinion that something is less than fair, he would do well to remember that two wrongs rarely make a right. He should also in future consider that if a poll is fundamentally flawed, then he should challenge or boycott the poll rather than participate in it. Twice.

5. The Surrey Ad works diligently to remain balanced; their reward is to have the local Tories scream “Bias!” whenever one of their gang is caught doing something questionable or downright wrong and the Surrey Ad has the audacity to (brace yourselves) report it. I wish the Surrey Ad the very best of luck in tracking down the single computer/user responsible for an additional 105 ‘no’ votes. Whoever was behind it deserves a bollocking.

[*This is a joke. Much like Andrew Hodges’ attitude toward the public he is supposed to serve.]








Posted by Tim Ireland at 22 August 2007

Category: Anne Milton

The Tories have been back and forth on this hospital thing for quite some time now, and we haven’t seen hide nor hair of the new Shadow Minister for Health. Not so much as a distant cry has reached the press.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 4 May 2007

Category: Anne Milton

Mike Chambers is a loser.

Chris Ward, the victim of the smears Chambers was spreading via an anonymous weblog, beat him by a hefty margin.

The Milky Bars are on me.

(Psst! For those who missed it, check out Mike’s ‘election broadcast’. Gotta love that casual setting… I always drink mineral water from a champagne glass as I type on my laptop… in a field.)

UPDATE (4:15pm) – And it’s a close-but-no-banana for Dennis Paul!

Listen… do you hear that? No, it’s not a teeny, tiny violin… it’s a lonely pint in the pub that’s calling my name.

UPDATE (4:25pm) – Oh, now this is the crowning touch… in the last few minutes Dennis Paul appears to have deleted his entire official weblog. (Don’t worry; I saved copies of all the good stuff.)

UPDATE (4:40pm) – I can now confirm that Dennis has indeed deleted his entire weblog… I know this because Blogger.com allowed me to snap up his old address. The Dennis Paul weblog is dead… long live the Dennis Paul weblog!

UPDATE (4:48pm) – Tch. Mike has taken his video offline. I’d do something about that, but that pint is calling…

UPDATE (14 May) – Mike’s official promotional website – formerly at the subdomain http://mike.ycge.com/ – was removed on 9 May. Mike’s greenbait site remains live. Meanwhile…

It doesn’t look like they want to play nice, does it?








Posted by Tim Ireland at 2 May 2007

Category: Anne Milton

Dennis Paul; subtle he is not.








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