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What we need is him OFF the top of the list of S West candidates for the euro-elections

An utter disgrace!

Just read this on the BBC. How many others have got their hands in the till?

Have Tory MEPs/MPs no shame?

Very sad as this is a man who has been involved with the Conservative Party for many years and has sadly now let pride come before a fall!

one down, one to go

Aurora,
What is very sad is that someone could have been involved with the Conservative Party for so long without ever being asked/told to clean up his act.
Well done Cameron for dealing with this.

Is Mr Dover set to go too?

Yes I agree Deborah! All credit to David Cameron for acting quickly. This could have overshadowed our Party Conference and caused us to lose many votes to UKIP next year too.

As long as this doesn't mean the return of Kirkhopeless.

Now Cameron must sack him. If we let him get away with just resigning as MEP leader it'll look like we're trying to brush it under the carpet. The electorate will be more impressed by Cameron showing some metal and actually punishing a sleazy politician.

Imogen,
I would say that its not just Tory MP/MEP's it seems to be endemic to the a percentage of all politicians. This extends to City Halls all over the country and is not the exclusive problem of any one party. David Cameron has done the right thing, we really do need to get rid of the pigs in the troff culture that has been with us for many years.

Ross you are right - let's not think it is only Conservatives who let greed get the better of them. One only has to think of a certain Ashley Mote.....

Does anyone really believe that this “little local difficulty” is confined to a few British MEPs?

Corruption pervades the EU Parliament. It was designed thus to make sure it could not hold the (even more) corrupt EU Commission to account. Yet these are the institutions to which, with the Lisbon Treaty, we are effectively delivering the sovereignty of our nation,

All true Tories should vote in the EU elections next June and not for the Conservatives!

Ross, you are right.

And if Cameron takes this seriously - and is the only leader to be seen to do so - the voters will notice.

Guido Fawkes is reporting that he has resigned full-stop.. I assume he's wrong?

Looks like there's a some correlation between europhilia and corruption... UKIP excluded.

Kate: GC has resigned as Leader of the Tory MEPs - nothing more.

It wouldn't be the first time Kate. Have you seen the sycophantic comments on his post? "Well done Guido, you're the MAN" etc etc! Do they read anything else??

Good. He should also be removed as a candidate. I have to say, as a natural Conservative voter and activist, I never thought I'd say this, but I'm not actually sure I want to vote for a Conservative MEP next year!
After the selection of candidates was fiddled so that pro-EU sitting MEPs were automatically readopted at the top of the list, I don't feel that we as members have any ownership over the process at all.
I had to think twice before I voted Conservative at the last EU elections, but this time I may well have more of a problem. Lets put some people there that want nothing to do with the EU gravyboat.

The best news I've heard in weeks. Now perhaps we a have Conservative MEPs who really represent the members.

@Shaun Bennett 17:07

I'm thinking much the same way myself, not very attracted to UKIP though.

Lets give Giles a chance to clean house and sort this out.

If he pays back what is owed, apologises unreservedly etc., then he may have banked enough brownie points in the past to avoid being removed from the list.

This is a mea culpa moment. The sort that many politicians fluff then find themselves out on their ears through arrogance and stupidity.

Giles has had a rough couple of years - he suffered from cancer and I do feel a bit sorry for him.

Give him a chance to sort this. But not too long.

Cameron needs to stop this embezzlement and corruption before a rot sets in.

All MEPs should have to declare all expenses and payments or face being deselected. Chichester should be chopped from the list immediately. Chris Heaton-Harris or Dan Hannan should take over the leadership of the Tory Group Immediately.

I wonder if some of these MEPs had been subject to a rigourous reslection and scrutiny process whether they might have 'taken more care' over the money they've been trousering. Good riddance to all the snout-in-troughers.

"Chris Heaton-Harris or Dan Hannan should take over the leadership of the Tory Group Immediately."

Chris is moving on to be an MP.

Just before you embarrass yourselves by eschewing the Conservative Candidate at the Euro elections...
you do know that UKIP is covertly RACIST?
check it out, before you do something of which you may become ashamed.
BTW - Shaun Bennett "Gravy boat" - it's train not boat in this context. the gravy boat is something I use to transport gravy tidily.

"you do know that UKIP is covertly RACIST?"

Evidence? Can you point to any quotes in their manifesto?

If Giles can prove, in a transparent way, that this wasn't graft, and repays any monies where he has benefitted as a result of any error, I won't have a problem with him continuing.

If he doesn't, then he must go. I know several people on the SW list, and it is simply unacceptable for them to suffer if Chichester doesn't come clean, nor to force me to vote for him to support them if he doesn't.

Jane: There is no evidence that UKIP are racist and please don't repeat that allegation.

UKIP are many things but let's keep the debate substantial.

Deputy Ed- thanks (Daventry for CHH, I think)

Would it still be possible for him to raise his profile by doing the job for the two years up to the GE? Otherwise, I think Hannan should be nailed-on favourite. I'm sure the party heirachy will think otherwise and impose a charisma-free EU-phile.

To cleethorpes rock,

As much as I would like Hannan to become leader, there's as much chance of that happening as ice being found on the Sun! Unfortunately, most Tory MEPs are only too happy to surrender our powers to the EU, as long as they get a cushy lifestyle and chauffeurs on demand.

"you do know that UKIP is covertly RACIST?"

Well you are in good company, Jane, for David Cameron suggested this too.

Is it "racist" to wish to get the UK out of the EU?

Should all those who seek this, including many Tories and more than a few Labour voters, be thus condemned?

I would think that for the time being Bushill-Matthews being deputy leader steps in - at least until they run an election?

I think you should be very careful about assuming guilt.

As I said the other day if Giles has in any way taken money he is not entitled to then he must resign completely; but there is no evidence so far that he has.

From what I can understand he was channelling expenses through his limited company, - not smart, but in itself hardly a hanging offence.

It would only be a sacking issue if, for instance, he had charged expenses via his company and then allowed the company not to spend that money on providing services to him and instead paid it out as dividends to the family shareholders at the end of the year.

If he had done that, and there is NO EVIDENCE that he has, it would be the same unacceptable behaviour as Conway was guilty of and should obviously carry the same penalty.

"Unfortunately, most Tory MEPs are only too happy to surrender our powers to the EU"

With Giles Chichester having to resign over dodgy expenses and as I gather a number of them haven't declared their expenses, this could be a way to reopen the selection process, for it now can be demanded with some force that they all should publish their expenses immediately, a failure to do so indicating something to hide and a reason to deselect them.

Much needs to change before I lift a finger to campaign in next year's Europeans.

I have no appetite to vote UKIP as I don't want to leave the EU, but I'd like to vote for candidates who can deliver on making Europe more accountable and democratic. MEPs who can't manage it themselves do not earn my respect and will not get my vote.

Perception is all.

I find it hard to feel sympathy for yet another second rate Europhile who had to go the MEP route as he couldn't hack it for Westminster (and placed his snout in the trough as soon as he got there).

This said, GC deserves a chance to prove his innocence as any British subject does. Mind you, the prima facie is not exactly encouraging for him.

Innocent till proven guilty yes, But I hope Cameron is able to catch all the scoundrels who have their hand in pot and are fiddling the system in ways that are plainly wrong to get some financial benefit, be it MEP, MP or whatever we can't allow the same rot to fester in our party like it does in Labour.

It is worth wondering why it mostly seems Tories resigning. However, given that Brown usually follows Tory policies and actions I assume we can expect Wendy Alexander to resign pending investigation.

I deplore corruption, but the contrasting coverage of this on Sky and the BBC was striking.

It was the lead report on the BBC News channel at 6. They billed it as a major scandal rocking Team Cameron or some such hyperbole. I flipped to Sky. It got 90 seconds and was fourth, after the business in Zimbabwe, Hillary and the Guantanamo trial. (Yesterday I tuned in just as the BBC news was beginning: "Congratulations to Barack Obama... ... ... are flooding in from all corners". I gave them the benefit of the doubt...).

When we get in Government one of the first acts should be push through legislation to change the colour scheme of BBC news from red to blue :p, and break them up a bit. Focus more on providing good programmes and less on being the mouthpiece of the neo-liberals.

How about this for a suggestion. Every Conservative MEP, MP and local councillor puts their expenses up on the web by the end of the summer or Cameron fires them. This sort of corruption has gone on long enough.

If Cameron tries to draw this to a close by dealing only with Chichester and Dover, then I for one will be assuming that this is media management rather than stopping corruption.

DC is spot on in this case. I fully agree with the 3 points and would like to see these and other anti-corruption measures officially adopted by the Party at the Annual Conference. Misguided entrepreneurs should be left in no doubt that immoral, semi-legal and illegal actions will not be tolerated. The Socialists have given us an open goal by their inaction over sleaze at Cabinet level . Lets fill our boots and prove to the electorate we are different to the Blair/Brown government.

Oops. Blame the dozy Devonian Tories who first chose Giles Chichester as MEP candidate in 1994 simply on the basis he was the son of his Dad.

It takes time and events to reveal mediocrity.

What happened to Ratkins? Wasn't he in trouble over this stuff recently?

I think there is one small point to make here. Although the editors are surely correct that in order to remain as *leader* Chichester needs to demonstrate that, from whatever time the relevant Conservative Party was set out, he acted in compliance with *it* (acting in compliance with European Parliament standards would not be enough), there are two ideas related to this with which I would want to disagree.

- First, I do not believe that it follows from the above that he should need to resign as leader if, prior to the Conservative Party's position being set out, he acted in ways that may not have been as transparent as the current standard, but are nonetheless in no way improper. The standard of the past was the standard of the past.

- Second, even if his having acted, prior to the setting out of the Conservative Party's standard, in some way that now seems improper should disqualify him from being leader, I do not think that if follows from that that he should need to step down as an MEP, provided that his behaviour was in accordance with the relevant MEPs' ethics codes and reflected MEP norms. There have been norms of behaviour that grew up amongst MEPs. It would be against natural justice for us now to judge MEPs past behaviour retrospectively by new standards and deem that these MEPs are therefore unfit to be MEPs. It is perfectly plausible that, if we set out clearly what we expect from these people in the future, they will abide by it and make splendid MEPs. Again, The standard of the past was the standard of the past.

Interestingly I thought the BBC coverage less anti-tory (for a change!) than the ITV. The report on the 6.30 bulletin after "London Tonight" made it look as though a huge scandal had rocked the very foundations of the Tory Party. Putting it all into proportion - I very much doubt the wider public has even heard of Giles Chichester!

"you do know that UKIP is covertly RACIST?"

Well you are in good company, Jane, for David Cameron suggested this too.

Is it "racist" to wish to get the UK out of the EU?

Should all those who seek this, including many Tories and more than a few Labour voters, be thus condemned? "

Grief Racist is a very useful stick with which to beat any group we don't like isn't it ? Of Course not wanting to be in Europe is wanting to keep a British Isles, but is that really the same as being racist I really think not. I for one fear the plunge into a homogeneous Europeanized England that the Labor Party is forcing on us without debate..but I for one do not hold racist beliefs or feel any prejudiced against those
who don't appear to be local. Trouble is talk like this encourages those who do hold such views to gravitate toward such party's
That bad for UKIP who despite everything are still mostly Conservatives who might yet return to the fold in Triumph.

Sorry Andrew - If (and I do emphasise if) his behaviour proves to have been objectively immoral and embarrassing to the Conservative Party he should go. To do otherwise would intolerably undermine the campaigns of all those below him on the party list. The people of the South West won't care about the niceties of the common practice of MEPs - Derek Conway might have tried to mount a similar argument...

Could I suggest that Giles Chichester follows his fathers lead and takes a long yacht voyage around the world. If he needs any crew perhaps Derek Conway would be a suitable choice as he will have plenty of time after the next election. May be going around Cape Horn would be a good route.

A tecnical and probably very pedantic point to Deputy Editor. I wasn't aware that Chris Heaton-Harris is off to be an MP. I know he is standing in Daventry at the next election but it may be a bit previous to suggest that he is to be an MP. I acknowledge that unless a Brown like disaster overtakes us he should be. Sorry again for being a bit petty.

General dismay on this thread, which I share. He should have faced up to the bad news immediately.

Lets move on, I've got no real interest in personalising this, but if this draws out then its going to hit us hard. We need to purge, purge properly and do it quickly, then move on...

If all this turnsout to be true then I would urge the powers that be to chuck GC out of the Party.

Andrew B, if we fail to win Daventry, we might as well give up!

"All credit to David Cameron" ..."I very much doubt the wider public has even heard of Giles Chichester!" ... "Let's move on" ... etc etc ... lick boots ... tug forelock.

Aw, come on!

The guy, Chichester, was caught milking the till. This was no 10p flummery. We're talking the better part of half-a-million. He knew the rules. Cameron knew the rules, or should have done, or had the back-up staff to help him with the ABC.

And what was Diddy Dave's bottom line? -- "He did the right thing". What I heard, apparently uncut by Channel 4 News, was Cameron defending Chichester's right to spend more time with his stash.

Still, if Guido is on the ball, there's another baker's dozen of Tory MEPs yet to come clean. So it's back to the rustle of brown-envelopes, the pained shrieks of abused Aitkens and Archers.

To be honest (now there would be an interesting experiment), for a while there, you lot almost had us fooled.

I have met GC on a number of occasions and receive his regular MEP newsletter and he has made the correct decision until the outcome is decided. Neil Parrish (fellow SW MEP) says the EU "rules" were changed during the period of GC's claims. We will have to see. However as a District Cllr for over 14 years in 2 Councils, I do take exception to the inference in various posts about the perceived corruption of local councillors. This is also perpetrated by TV soaps and dramas and is very far from the truth. The majority of Tory councils run a very tight ship. Most councillors work very hard for very modest allowances. Many do not claim the "extras", others actually donate their allowances to the local party funds. As for contractual corruption, the overlays of Scrutiny, Audit etc are now having their effect upon any possible susceptible Officers and Members. If you are issued with a Council owned computer or laptop to assist in your duties, you can be liable to pay tax on the use to our friends in Customs and Excise (or whatever their name is now)! All Councillors are not corrupt.

@Aurora Borealis
Looks like you're right. Mr Bushill-Matthews is now listed as 'acting leader' on the Conservatives website.

My initial reaction to this story was that Giles Chichester must have acted dishonestly and should face the full consequences, even prison. After all, according to the media this is a case of funds not just paid but channelled!

However, having looked at the available facts and disentangled them from my general dislike of the gravy train, I think Mr Chichester’s explanation that it was a technical error is exactly the truth.

Like it or not MEPs are entitled to annual allowances totalling €233,000 to run their office and staff. Mr Chichester’s claims, made over 12 years, are well within the limits allowed.

The funds have to be administered and, whatever the arrangement and the distancing, the MEP is always going to have a high degree of control over them. I cannot see that administering funds through a family business, even one which you direct, is particularly more dangerous for the taxpayer than administering them through an accountant or your wife.

If Giles Chichester has falsely claimed expenses then that’s another matter – but is anybody alleging that he did? The Times raises the issue of rent paid for office space in the family home. £5,000 a year for St James office space seems like a bargain to me.

We argue tirelessly for justice. In this case we must not allow a frenzy for EU blood to deprive Giles Chichester the justice of a fair hearing on fair charges. I don't think there should be any assumption that he must lose his job.

Now we must have a leader of our MEPs who will really campaign to get powers back from the E.U. to Britain - not half heartedly try and stop the E.U. taking what little power it does not already have.

And, of course, the new leader must ensure that Conservative MEPs have nothing whatever to do with the disgusting E.P.P. group (or whatever its new name is).

As for UKIP:

The way to remove UKIP is to insist on getting powers back for Britian from the E.U. - and we can INSIST on this, as if E.U. does not comply with our requests we can leave. Talks without the threat of exit are meaningless.

The way not to remover UKIP is to tell stupid lies about them - such as "they are racists", as only B.B.C. types would believe such things and such people would never vote Conservative anyway. UKIP voters (the people we want to attract) will know that we are telling lies.

UKIP split the vote and cost us seats (at Westminster as well as in the E.U. "Parliament"), but telling lies about them will simply confirm what they say about us - i.e. that we are corrupt and dishonest.

Good spot Dave.

Andrew, you're technically right but if we can't win Daventry we're in BIG trouble!

Very sorry to hear this. I hope Mr Chichester may yet come up with a credible explanation. But if he can't then I hope the book is thrown at him ,he has the whip withdrawn and is thrown out of the party. When will people learn not to behave like this?

Open Europe say "If this is serious enough to resign the leadership over, it is serious enough to warrant resigning as an MEP." But as the Editor rightly says, "Giles Chichester is innocent until proven otherwise and deserves the time to prove that his expenses have been used properly. Mr Chichester has properly stood down as Leader so that the party is not compromised during this investigative period." Open Europe I fear are guilty of rushing out a press release before ascertaining all the fact - a habitual pitfall for political head-bangers...

Editor at 17.38, you say there is no evidence that UKIP are racist but actually there are quite a few pointers.

For example: Ashley Mote - UKIP were happy to adopt him as a candidate and he was then happy to go and form an alliance with Jean Marie Le Pen.

Or how about Denis Abbot, who UKIP were happy to have serve on their NEC, even though Farage knew he was a BNP donor.

In fact, if you examine the background of some of the contenders in their last leadership election, there are some very murky associations...

"The way to remove UKIP is to insist on getting powers back for Britian from the E.U. - and we can INSIST on this, as if E.U. does not comply with our requests we can leave."

Quite! If you Tories did this, undertook to curb mass immigration, committed to funding adequately paid and well equipped Armed Services and promised to stop funding feckless "lifestyle choices" I might rejoin you.

But, sadly under your present leadership, you will not so I will stay away, fighting you at every election.

And failing David_McD

You're not far enough away for my liking David_McD! Why can't you stay away from this Conservative blog if you hate the Conservatives so much?

Andrew Lilico

The point is that Chichester has brought our party's name into disrepute and has lost the right to be a candidate for us.

He chose to enrich himself from our taxes through dubious means. He did not "do the right thing".

It is a matter of trust and reputation.

Unless you felt uneasy about the source of your money, why would you bother to go through the hassle of channeling it through a family company? Surely it's easier to put the stuff in your bank account, pay out what's needed and just keep a written record.
This is typical Euro-sleaze - it doesn't feel right but it's difficult to put your finger on what's wrong.

Watched headlines on News at Ten (ITN) - no mention of Chichester. Switched to BBC - still lead item. Tories will be pounded by Mirror, Times, Guardian tomorrow.
BBC at six said Cameron has no power to sack Chichester - rubbish. Remember 2004 Euro campaign. Bashir Khanbhai in East region exposed for claiming mileage from a dodgy address and was promptly deselected by Michael Howard and removed from list just hours before nominations closed. If Howard could do it, under pressure from Tory MEPs lead by Morgan and Van Orden, Cameron should do the same and remove Chichester from list.
The European Parliament is a fundamentally corrupt institution and has a corrosive influence on all who are elected to it. Neither the parliament as a body corporate nor MEPS will clean it. I will need plenty of convincing why I should bother to cast a vote next June for any party, although the Greens are Eurohostile and perhaps deserve support.

Andrew Lilico,
Whilst I often agree with some of your arguments, I hope I have misinterpreted or misread your recent post upon this topic.
Surely, the question is not one of whether Chichester has, or has not technically complied with the EU (or Tory party) rules or standards applicable at any given time, but basically whether, by the standards of ordinary, decent, taxpaying citizens, his behaviour might be considered dishonest, if applied to themselves,either in their employment or their personal lives?
We all know that lack of transparency and consequent dishonesty and corruption are endemic within all levels of the EU organisations, including the Commission and the EU Parliament, therefore to say that Chichester had complied with their standards, rules and ethics, would be more akin to a conviction than an acquittal in the views of most ordinary voters.

Equally, however, with Chichester, it is the Conservative party management which must take much of the blame for the intransigent, and often dishonest behaviour of some of their MEP's in the current EU Parliament. Whilst Cameron may have little effective control over these MEPs, so long as the Conservative party's selection procedure for MEP candidates remains the same, he will have only himself to blame.

"And failing David_McD..."


We will see how many Conservative MEPs (also Labour and LibDem) remain, after the elections in June '09.

Then who knows?

Alternatively, the Tory Party could return to be what it once was and should be still. The party of the nation!

Who would want to be the MEP leader now? There are only so many Tories who could withstand the scrutiny. Take a proper look at the Open Europe spreadsheet (follow the link). Only the handful of Conservative MEPs who answered in full should be eligible for the leaders. Any of the others might be doing a Chichester.

Ray @2203 - " You're not far enough away for my liking David_McD! Why can't you stay away from this Conservative blog if you hate the Conservatives so much?"

Now that's hardly going to encourage us lifelong Tories to vote for the party. Many of us agree with David_McD. notably @2335. It's getting more and more difficult to contemplate voting Tory at all as it is, with Cameron still going on about matching Labour's expenditure when it is precisely Labour's reckless spending over the good years which has landed us in what is a real humdinger of a crisis. And then Cameron also apes Briown by breaking a solemn promise and I suspect he's about to do the same with the EU Referendum promise. Cameron is not to be trusted. He's doing very nicely right now by doing very little right now (and leaving all to one G.Brown)

Um... The whole idea that he can clear his name if we just give him some time off to marshall the facts is shurely nonsense... This story has been going on since sunday at least and he had still given nothing even approaching an explanation. In the now-infamous "whoops a daisy" interview he was unamble to explain himself at at all: what services were provided by the company, why he paid himself rent through the company, why he was paid as a director when the company was not making any money apart from the expenses that were being paid in. It was painful to watch... I'm not sure that "more time" will enable him to explain all this away. Best to make a clean break perhaps.

COMMENT OVERRIDDEN - UNFOUNDED SLUR

The Chad/Cameroon Pipeline (CCP)is purported to be the saviour of the poor people in Chad Cameroon,Nevertheless, it has been allowed to operate illegally for over 4 years now. The Conservative Party is on record (Hansard Answers) with over 50 questions relating to transparency of oil revenues,safety,environmental etc.My question is WHY does the Shadow Secretary of the DFID not take a particular interest in the Chad/Cameroon Pipeline.
Confirmation that the CCP is illegal,unsafe and unfit for purpose is well documented in numerous World Bank reports and I will gladly give a short resume of the CCP flaws/faults to this blog if anyone is interested.

Devon&Exeter Tories are sleeping on the job which has allowed Exeter local governments to design and build 6 PFI schools which are unfit for purpose and offer significant risk to the end users. These PFI shcools were commissioned BEFORE the Buildings were accepted/approved by local planning and fire authorities. The schools are now involved in costly litigations for repairs and the teachers are overseeing building and repair works.
It would appear that the Tory Shadow government and local Tories in Exeter couldn't give a damn for the overall safety of the schoolchildren and abuse of taxpayers money.
Irregulariites and anomalies with the schools are reported in the Exter media on daily basis. Are the Tory Party too ashamed of THEIR PFI brainchild to intervene.
Serious injury or death is iminent at one of the Exeter PFI schools.

Local Councils have rejected my Freedom of Information request for the Operation Maintenance Manuals (OMM)stating they contain sensitive, personal and commercial data, which at best is bullshit and at worst, perverting the course of justice to cover up serious crimes.

Bishop Hill makes an excellent point. All elected Tories should publish their expenses online and have receipts to back them up. If they don't comply, fire them.

If we don't deal with this with one big purge, a night of the long knives, a once-and-for-all jet-washing of the trough, then expect to see the drip drip drip of more of our elected rpresentatives claiming "I made a mistake", "it was a technical error", "I had know idea". This would damage the party when the eyes of the country are on us, willing us to prove we're fit to be back in government.

Cameron has an opportunity here to show what he is made of. In the current climate, getting rid of snouts like Chichester would be just the job.

If you're going to judge Chichester now, at least be sober in your language. Any other comments that are close to the knuckle will result in a permanent ban of the authors.

Glad you've stepped in here, Sam! At least we are not as intemperate in our language as the posters are in Another Place!

It is a basic principle of natural justice that a person be judged according to the rules that applied at the time of the alleged transgression. And I do not accept that every activity that might make someone unfit to be leader should also lead to his departure as an MEP. For example, someone caught in adultery might be thought unfit to be the party's leader (at least whilst sorting the matter out), but it does not follow that that person should cease to be an MEP. The standards required of leaders are different.

If it turns out that Chichester has not broken any rules applicable to MEPs (or, if he has so broken rules, that the transgression is minor and easily corrected), then I see no reason why he should not continue as an MEP. We would be a fairly grim sort of party if we just hung out our elected politicians to dry whenever the press managed to create a smear without regard to whether there was any substance. Alas! the position of some posters here seems to be that anything that leads to a few days' bad headlines should lead to a politician's departure, whether or not that politicians has actually done anything wrong. That just *can't* be the way we want to conduct ourselves: choosing our politicians on the basis of who has so far evaded the witch-hunt.

This story is another example of why we need to restore democracy to the workings of the Conservative party.

If the members had been responsible for ranking the candidates for the next European election, Giles Chichester would not be at No.1

Instead of being at the top of the list he would have been at the bottom. If his name remains up there at No.1 it will prevent many thousands of loyal Conservative in the South West from voting for the Party in 2009.

Frank is absolutely right and the way to handle this is perhaps like this. See how many MEPs were elected last time in your region. If a similar number at the top of the new lists are out-and-out europhiles then don't vote Tory. If, on the other hand, the lists have people (LIKE) Dan Hannan, Roger Helmer (ie avowed sceptics) then it's safe to vote Tory.

Because of the party's denial of democracy UKIP will benefit.

Could anything have been more crass than Giles Chichester's comment "Whoops" having been caught out doing stupid things - not necessarily illegal - with his expenses, as if he had just hit the net at tennis.

With all the furore there has been over the past two years, cash for honours, employing family, housing expenses, etc., etc., you would think that by now the penny would have dropped and the intelligent thing would be to make sure that they are squeaky clean.

Where the hell do we get these dunderheads. Don't they understand that it is the rest of us in the Tory party who get the flak for their blinding stupidity?

The guy gave his family firm £445000 for "secretarial and assistant services". He is a beneficiary of that firm. Why is anyone defending him.

To the silly UKIPers and Tory Eurospectics on this thread. There is no chance whatsoever that if they get in the Tories will leave, or threaten to leave the EU, or have a referendum, or appropriate powers from the EU, or do anything other than go along with EU project. Stick with UKIP.

As for UKIP being racist:

They are "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly" according to your dear leader.

Their 2004 manifesto cover shows three white babies with the slogan: “Concerned about their future? This is their country, make sure it stays that way.” Remind you of Le Penn?

Here is their then Head of Communications Adrian Lithgow speaking to a Yugoslavian rail worker:

"You are a piece of s***".
"You are a f*****g immigrant"
"Have you got a work permit?"

Yes, he resigned, but do you think he'd disguised his views from the leadership?

The delightful Ellie Bland and former Tory, who sent this sickening racist email has been accepted by UKIP:
http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Politics/documents/2006/11/06/1106poem.pdf

Finding info about UKIP being racist is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Whoops? WHOOPS?

How can you "accidentally" misappropriate £500,000, channel it into a company that has no income other than the money you give it from expenses, put yourself on the board of that company and launder the cash out of the other side??

That is not an accident, it's not a case of "whoops"- you actually have to sit down and think about setting up such a scheme.

Giles Chichester has brought the party into disrepute and put at risk the hard work of us, the poor bloody infantry.

He should be booted out of the party in disgrace and shunned. It disgusts me that people in the party are even contemplating sticking up for him.

"Cameron needs to stop this embezzlement and corruption before a rot sets in." Well its more of a case of being seen to cut the Rot out. Now would be a very good time to purge the party of the greedy and dishonest before the inevitable headlines of Tory sleaze starts to undermine the current change in our fortunes.

There are a lot of very ignorant comments on this thread. As far as I am aware, the allegation is that an arrangement that Chichester had which was entirely in accordance with the rules prior to 2003 then violated certain conflict-of-interest provisions brought in thereafter. He claims not to have been aware of this, and that there was only an apparent clash, not any active impropriety. This is presumably what is being investigated.

Lets see if Cameron has any guts , he should show some leadership and sack this disgraceful MEP , I am astounded that their are some on this thread that say he should be allowed to stay on !

This is sleaze of the highest manner , show some leadership Cameron !

"He claims not to have been aware of this, and that there was only an apparent clash, not any active impropriety. This is presumably what is being investigated." In fact he said "whoops a daisy" or something a long those lines. I do feel a little sorry for the man if he made an honest mistake but never the less it seems quite clear that he was using a loop hole to enrich his own family. Its really much more of a case of being seen to rid the party of the sleaze which so dogged it during Major's term in office. Now would be a very good time to have a moral spring clean of the party. It may even be that a few heads have to be looped off (figuratively speaking) for the good of the Party in general. Politics is often a very unforgiving game. If a few MP's and MEP's have to go to demonstrate that the leadership is serious about cleaning up political life in the UK then so be it.

ross [email protected]:45

It seems to me that it might be plausible (even if not necessarily desirable) to introduce a rule that no MEP should employ a member of his/her own family. What would seem straightforwardly unjust to me would be to then apply this rule retrospectively, and say that because this is now the rule, anyone who ever employed a member of his/her own family is not fit to be an MEP.

Andrew Lilico - that means there could be a lot of divorces in the pipeline! Imagine telling your wife "You're fired"!

Incidentally, I am not defending Chichester. I know nothing about the specifics of his case (and neither, I would hazard a guess, does almost anyone else commenting on this thread - particularly not all those making accusationg of embezzlement and misappropriation, including those bravely slandering (is a blog comment technically slander or libel? I guess slander, since it's a conversation, but perhaps it would be libel if the main posting...?) someone whilst using a pseudonym (I have no objection to people posting under pseudonyms, but I do think that slandering under a pseudonyms is a pretty rum thing to do)).

Andrew, don't go all legal on us. I canvassed in the recent council elections, and to the public, "it's not illegal" is not the same as "it's not sleazy". This line has been the defence of present and recent Cabinet members and has cut no ice at all with public opinion, contributing hugely to Labours' present position. It is vital to our election chances that DC instigates a system of rigorous checks and cleans the stables at his pace, not under pressure from the Media. The next election is going to be as much over public trust as it is over policy, and we will need to have proved our basic honesty of purpose. DC has to be in a position where our rivals cannot with justice use "they're all the same" and that any sleaze is seen as individual malfeasance rather than centrally accepted and condoned behaviour

Andrew Lilico:

From what I can gather, what he was doing was within the rules at one point and then the rules were changed and he either didn't notice
or he carried on regardless.I honestly suspect the former but that doesn't get him off the hook. They have a saying in law which goes ignorance is no defense and the truth is he was working for the body that made the rules and he should have been up to date an compliant with those rules. I do except that he has some points in mitigation but its really up to the Leader to punish him in an appropriate manner. In the current climate that is likely to be quire harshly.

Guido is just reporting that a "CCHQ Compliance Squad is Being Sent to Brussels"!


Cameron should make an example of this sleaze bag - this sort of thing does us absolutely no favours and only serves to alienate ordinary people, who already have very little faith in politicians.

He should be expelled from the party....... anyway; I'm sure there will be a queue of crooks from the European Parliament forming outside Chichester's front door, who will gladly pull a few strings for a fellow s**tbag.

ross, grumpy old man,

I am not trying to defend Chichester at all. But the Open Europe press release suggested that anything that might cause him not to be leader should also cause him to be removed as an MEP. I don't accept that this is correct. And I don't accept that it is proper politics to say that anything that gets us a few days of bad headlines justifies your being removed. Once we accept that we have become the slaves of the mob.

So a Compliance Squad is on its way to Brussels. Not a real politico, so always thought there should be such a thing in every political party but didn't realise there was such a beast.
What is its remit? What has it been doing? Does it have authority to compel members of its own party to submit listings, or copies of listings M(E)Ps must submit to their respective Parliamentary Authorities? If anybody says it's too expensive to run both in terms of cash and resources, I would say how long does it take to examine 3-400 tax returns, and how much is perceived and real non-compliance costing in terms of votes and internal resources trying to clear it all up?
There is a real anger about at politicians trousering of anything not nailed down, - rightly or wrongly.
In a way, I would read the "Whoops" statement as innocence of intent even if there is a technical breach, - I could be wrong.

Whilst I applaud Andrew Lilico for cautioning that we should not pre-judge this issue in respect of one particular individual, I think that it is also important that we should also look at the broader implications of this problem; namely, how far can we trust those whom we (often reluctantly, for want of any better alternative) elect to represent us?

There is a great deal of difference between claiming expenses for money actually and appropriately expended in fulfilling a publicly funded post, conscientiously performed, as opposed to inventing fictitious employees, tasks and time sheets in order to exploit those allowances to the maximum permissible amount.

As Andrew Lilico surmises, this behaviour may have been,though doubtfully, technically legal in accordance with the definitions applicable at any specific time, however where no proof of expenditure, whether legitimate or otherwise, was ever demanded, the integrity of any MEP claiming the maximum permissible expenses must surely be questionable. As, of course, must be that of those EU departments which authorise or check these claims.

Perhaps Chichester will be able to produce the necessary documentation to justify his previous MEP expense claims, however, if so, as a salaried director of his own company, he should have no difficulty in disclosing this without delay.

Cameron is therefore right in imposing a time limit for Chichester to justify himself, but if there is any hint of prevarication or a whitewash, this will do infinitely more harm to the party than Chichester's actions, right or wrong, have already done.

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