Friday, 29 May 2009

Rowengate: Parliamentary Passes- BOGOFF offer?

How many people are paid by the £88,468 Parliamentary staffing allowances claimed by current Rochdale MP Paul Rowen?


"BOGOFF" seems to be the reply when constituents ask politely.

The Public Whip also suggests Paul is "ambiguous" on the whole issue of transparency of expenses. Very slow in his motions with multiple no-shows to vote the Bill through - but a canny jump on the bandwagon when the MP's expenses “sheet heet da fan” last month.

Paul Rowen appears confused about how many people work for him.

Curiously, an article that made references to staffing numbers on Rochdale Online, published on April Fool's Day, has now disappeared. Instead is a new article published this month.

And Paul Rowen's website (paid for by taxpayer's) now appears to have airbrushed out past descriptions of his staff and bulging casework mailsacks.

However, the Rochdale Observer doesn't seem to meddle as much with its internet content.
On 4th April Paul Rowen gave an account of his staffing levels:

"My expenses have risen because I have taken on two extra part-time workers to cope with demand. I employ a researcher in London and three full-time and two part-time staff at my office in Drake Street."

So there we have it. Clear as mud.

RAW asked about Paul Rowen's staffing levels late last year.

We now know that the new Mayoress, Sue Etchells, has been described by Paul as his "PA".

Dave Hennigan describes himself as Paul's "Agent" and that Rochdale Lib Dem councillors refused to pay him any longer out of their contributions of taxpayer funded council "allowances".

So those are two full-timers at Drake Steet that can be accounted for. Just how much more money Dave gets than Sue isn't certain. It is rumoured that the amount Paul [sic] pays (we pay) for Dave is "off the scale".

So who is, according to Paul Rowen, the third full-timer at Drake Street?

Surely not Adam Power? The International Lib Dem man of mystery? Paul catagorically denied that he employed Adam. He had to given that the Sergeant at Arms threatened to give him a right roasting because of Adam's cunning plan to tell the media that Tony Lloyd allegedly denied a quote attributed in the Mirror criticising Cyril Smith.

The cunning plan backfired. Former asbestos worker Tony Lloyd MP DID openly criticise Cyril Smith. The Mirror got a BOGOFF with not one, but two national articles exposing Cyril Smith's unrepentant and shameful attitude toward dying asbestos cancer victims.

Adam Power was given a special mention by Kevin Maguire. Like a true leader, Paul Rowen denied any involvement with "Adam Who"? Despite poor Adam telling his MySpace chums that he was an "intern for an MP".

Paul Rowen MP with Adam Power launching the survey

Adam's writing skills haven't improved much despite a chunky Parliamentary communications allowance (£10,324 this year) being claimed by "Million Pound Paul". The Rochdale LibDems website "published and promoted" by Adam Power still describes the office as being on "Drake Strett". A current political poll aimed at criticising the Labour PPC isn't going well for Paul -despite Adam's cute spelling mistakes:

[quote] "Do you agree with the Labour Parliamentary Candidate's view that we should holt our much needed town centre redevelopment plans?

("Halt" not "Holt" Adam- that's 6 'stingers' and a wet sponge for you young man!)


Paul Rowen also received £6000 of taxpayers cash for a £15,000 envelope stuffing machine for his Drake Strett office. Is that any way to describe poor Master Power?

So, who are the pair of Rochdale part-timers?

Former "conviction" politician John Hayworth?

John Swarbrick? The "scruffy old man" seen loitering with a cunningly disguised Adam Power taking photographs of mysterious grafitti at Rochdale Labour Party HQ?

The same photos that mysteriously appeared on Dave Ottewell's blog? Is this a good use of taxpayer's money from Parliamentary staffing allowances?

Similar shenanighans with "persons unknown" hacking into to Rochdale DLP's open door website and changing the photo of Gordon Browen with one of the Milliband's during the 2008 Labour Conference? Dave Hennighan then boasting of the triumph of a coloumn inch in the Daily Express about it? Is this yet another example of taxpayer's money being spent wisely on Mr Rowen's Rochdale constituency office?

So Paul Rowen's Rochdale staff remain named, even though we are paying for them.

However, something very curious is going on in Westminster.

Paul suggested to the Observer that he had ONE "researcher" at Westminster.

One, Uno, Une, Eine, 1.

But, according to the Parliament Publications, Paul Rowen has TWO employed by him in Westminster.


How can Paul Rowen be that forgetful? Is that why recent statements about his staffing levels have curiously BOGOFFed from parts of the internet?

To remind forgetful Paul - his TWO Westminster "research" staff are named:

Alex Webster and... "Edward Lord"

Is that Charles Edward Lord?

Paul Rowen's "good friend" ?

Yet Paul Rowen told the Obby he had only ONE Westminster researcher?

But have TWO staff Parliamentary passes been issued? Double bouble!

If we delve further, will we be told to "BOGOFF"?

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Rowengate: Ugandan shenanighans?

Paul Rowen MP, champion of the full pint, protecting pubs, housebuilders and property developers, has had a very easy ride in the ongoing MP expenses scandal.

Last week, selected journalists were invited to Paul Rowen MP's Drake Street constituency office to view selected expenses.

Word on the street is that "Agent" Dave Hennighan was very strict in the remit. The chosen few were to have 1 hour. Guardian Media had a quick grope at the receipts. Rochdale Online took a little longer but the Rochdale Obscurer was a no-show. Was there a cat stuck up a tree being rescued by a boy scout, so the Obby's photographer was tied up and the lead journalist was on his way to Emma Street for a quote from Cyril?

1 hour to inspect over a million pounds of Paul Rown MP's salary, expenses and allowances?

And this is after the delay in an invite to view the documents. Rumour is that for the previous week the Lib Dem Drake Street office was like the last days of Saigon. Were the shredders going a full tilt? Was "Agent" Adam "the Power" sent to Staples to buy different sorts of pens to use on blank sheets of paper?

Apparently coffee and fag ash can be used to give that aged look to documents.

But we digress.

Last week's 60 minute pantomine was a distraction. Smoke and mirrors.

Some of the real questions were missed by Rochdale Online and Manchester Evening News.

Here is one question:

Where else has Paul Rowen MP derived an income?

Look no further than "They Work for You". The entry has JUST been updated (20/5/09). The old payments as a "consulatant" to other local authorities has gone but his Ugandan connection remains.

Paul is no shrinking violet when it comes to "charidee". But he remains rather coy about his Ugandan job.

Paul Rowen declares renumeration as a director of a Ugandan property company called Corinya. The amount he has received from this is not disclosed or whether he pays UK income tax on this pay. Why could this be relevant for Rochdale and the scrutiny of a British MP?

A quick shuftie on the Corinya website starts the intrigue. Although there is only one "Corinya Holdings" website, there are two distinct companies- one based in the UK, the other in Africa.

The website descibes itself thus-

"Corinya Holdings invests in and develops property in both the UK and Uganda".

To be absolutely accurate, it appears that Paul Rowen MP is a paid director of the Ugandan company and not the UK company. But the description of company activities is far from open and transparent. Are there clear "Chinese Walls" seperating day to day British and Ugandan activities?

The Ugandan Corinya does have a charidee element (a laudable children's home- following Cyril Smith's example of supporting the charity Rochdale Childer with its Moorland Home?).

On the Corinya Holdings' UK webite, click on the Uganda flag and follow the money.

Paul Rowen MP has his own Ugandan Page

The biog suggests Paul Rowen is expert in things Ugandan, as well as being an active Rochdale Rotarian. Paul's fellow Ugandan director Michael Muriithi is another active Rotarian in Kampala.

But which directors and shareholder link Corinya in Uganda with the UK?

Meet the Jungmayrs:

Hermann- Rotarian, former local authority planning officer, former Peel Holdings main board director and now Chairman of his own property investoment company. Keeping it in the family is Herman's wife Helen.

Then there is Hans Peter. Described in the biog as single, caring for his elderly mother who lives with him. The Corinya website also describes Hans Peter as a former Scout Leader. A fine upstanding Austrian citizen. He is also described as:

"residential estate manager for Corinya Holdings Limited and manages about 85 tenancies being responsible for all aspects of estate management and maintenance.

This includes Jung Bros Limited a company where he is a Director and jointly owns with Corinya Holdings".

So what has this to do with Paul Rowen and his Ugandan business activities?

First, the Coriya website suggests a very close connection with the work and activities of the Jungmaryrs' property development and investment in both the UK and Uganda.

Have any Uganda Rotary club dinners, journeys to the airport, or other such jolly opportunities to chew the fat with Paul Rowen MP, ever crossed the line between Uganda affairs to the interests of Coryina in the UK?

Paul Rowen before 2005 Cllr Paul Rowen was Leader of Rochdale Council and a Director of Rochdale Development Agency. When he became an MP, Paul Rowen kept his Rochdale Council seat (and allowances) for not one, but two, years.

In a recent 2am rant, Paul Rowen explained how he was instrumental in forming the new PFI/arms length "Impact Partnership" where a private consortium, for a tidy profit, now runs many Rochdale Council services (including planning and regeneration).

At the same time, Corinya was developing a considerble UK property portfolio during the market boom. This included a deal where Rochdale Council rents its Middleton Housing Office from Corinya.

Corinya also rents houses out in Rochdale borough .Hans Peter Jungmayr proudly declares his "management style has been accredited by the Probation Service and Rochdale Bond Board"

Is there any connection to Corinya and Paul Rowen MP's stout defense of the full pint and "seven days to save British Pubs"?

Corinya owns several northern pubs.

Well fancy that? "Million Pound Paul", Ugandan property investment, Roatarians and the Jungmayrs. Corinya's UK property portfolio that includes Rochdale Council offices and pubs.

Trebles all round!!!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Cyril Smith sex abuse allegations – lessons from Ireland?

How does this week's publication of the Ryan Commission Report in Ireland have relevance for Rochdale and its former MP Cyril Smith?

30 years ago, many years before the internet and blogging, Rochdale's Alternative Paper (RAP) published “The Strange Case of Smith the Man”.
Serious allegations were published of Cyril Smith sexually abusing vulnerable young lads (15-17yrs) at Cambridge House hostel in the early 1960's.

Although the Rochdale Observer did not print any mention whatsoever of these extremely serious claims of local sex abuse, the allegations were repeated nationally in May 1979's Private Eye magazine. Libel lawyers acting for both RAP and Private Eye were consulted. The advice was clear- if the claims are true and can be substantiated- then publish and be damned.

Cyril Smith NEVER sued.

The local Establishment shamefully swept the whole episode under the carpet. In the same way the original criminal investigation and questioning of Cyril Smith in the late 1960's was 'handled discreetly' to avoid much attention.

Are the files relating to Cyril Smith, supposedly taken by Special Branch in the early 1970's, still safe and sound somewhere in that there London?

With this week's publication of the Ryan Commission Report, the Irish Republic has been rocked by terrible accounts of sexual abuse of vulnerable young people by the Christian Brothers, Sisters of Mercy and other associated institutions.

Paul Rowen MP together with his political agent Dave Hennigan and other local Lib Demmers, such as Jimmy Cricket's son Cllr Dale Mulgrew, all play heavily in their political careers on their strong Irish heritage. They will know about the terrible news and shocking accounts coming from Ireland.

Any right-thinking person would feel disgust at the cruel and abusive treatment alleged by many Irish victims. Anyone with a conscience would want to ensure past abuse is never forgotten or repeated.

Yet why does there remain a shameful conspiracy of silence in Rochdale over the shocking allegations about Cyril Smith sexually abusing vulnerable young lads?

There are a number of lessons from Ireland that are relevant for Rochdale:
  • Despite shameful attempts at cover-up, deals and collusion, Establishment figures eventually have to account for themselves.
  • Victims do not forget and often demand justice.
  • The public and media also demand justice.
  • Decades do not fade the cruel damage caused by abuse.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Paul Rowen MP attacks priest - very late at night.

Not a case of bishop bashing... (as with fellow Rochdale Lib Dem Mohammed Shafiq)

[Rowen.jpg] Nick Clegg MP with Mohammed Shafiq by shafiqjcp

Bishop Ali, previously bashed by Mohammed Shafiq- who claims to be an adviser to Nick Clegg's on diversity issues.

For troubled MP Paul Rowen, this is more a case of priest poking. At 2.06 am Saturday morning.

In his desperate defence of his Parliamentary salary, expenses and allowances, Paul Rowen (and frantic “agent” Dave Hennighan) has been pushing an urban myth of 80-100 hour working weeks.

Rather than working himself thin, portly Paul looks as though he has been living off the fat of the land.

Does sleepless Paul consider his trolling about on local internet messageboards as “work”?

In a week when the BNP have attacked the clergy for getting involved in politics, why has Paul Rowen (and associated local Lib Demmers) jumped on the bandwagon of publicly dressing down men of the cloth?

The answer is intriguing. The “Heywood Parish Priest” -Paul Daly- has asked some simple questions about Paul Rowen's income, including a time after 2005 when Paul Rowen MP remained a Rochdale Councillor (claiming civic cash).

Here is what the MP typed at 2.06am:

Bronze Member

United Kingdom
138 Posts
Posted - 23/05/2009 : 02:06:27 Show Profile Reply with Quote
What I used my Councillors Allowances On

I've read with some interest the thread on MPs Allowances. Given what has been happening in Parliament in the last few weeks and the need for fundamental reform I'm disappointed at some of the comments.
in particular:

(a) Ian Duckworth - I appreciate that losing your Council seat to the Liberal Democrats TWICE is a personal disappointment and has nothing to do with the topic in this thread. If you cannot contribute positively to this discussion please shut up!

(b) HeywoodPP - as a Catholic Priest I am disappointed that you cast doubts on my honesty. I was a Councillor for twelve months when first elected an MP. I continued to Chair the committee that set up the IMPACT partnership. I played a full part in the running of the Council and attended Council meetings.

I made a voluntary decision to donate my allowance after tax to charities. I did not have to do this and my decision has nothing to do with council tax payers.

The bulk of these were Catholic based charities hence my disappointment at your carping critism. If you spent as much time ministering to souls as you should be doing I would have more respect for you.

However, in the interests of total transparency I will post up a full list of those charities over the weekend.

After which I will expect a full public apology from you.

The ugly nocturnal gnashing by current Rochdale MP Paul Rowen is very telling. He has never been backward in coming forward as a good catholic boy. Lots of lame press releases from Dave Hennighan about associated Roman Catholic and 'Oirish' issues.

Was this designed for Paul Rowen to hoover up sectarian votes? Attending "Catholic brotherhood" dinners, wrapping himself in flags, and apparently giving his claimed council cash to charidee.

So taxpayers' money was claimed by the MP who refused to step down as a town councillor. Paul insists he gave OUR money to several, unnamed charidees. Which worthy causes have benefited from Paul's largesse (of our money)? Palestine perhaps? (no, he only discovered Palestine in late 2008). Abused, vulnerable young people? Drug and alcohol abuse treatment? Paul has promised to name the charidees and demands an apology from the Parish Priest for his nerve in asking where taxpayers' cash has gone.

In a nasty side swipe at the Catholic padre, Paul suggests much of the money went to... Catholic charidees?

Well fancy that.

Al Capone was known to be a generous businessman with other peoples' money. The Chicago gangster's downfall came from an unexpected source. Discrepancies in his tax records.

Here is a simple question.

What are the tax implications for Cllr Paul Rowen MP claiming civic cash in 2005-2006 but then giving it "after tax" to charidee? By giving this cash away, were there any knock-on tax benefits for other elements of Paul Rowen's income?

On that note, where else has Paul Rowen derived other income and benefits in kind from?

How much has Paul Rowen received in other jollies? "Fact-finding" trips to overseas tram factories and award dinners?

What about other expenses and allowances that might not fall under the Westminster remit? Council of Europe travel, lodging and food? There looks to be a large Paul Rowen shaped hole in those decalrations. We guestimated that it cost £6.66 a word for Paul's trip to Strasbourg earlier this year. Have these receipts been dusted down yet?

On overseas trips paid for by various sources, do UK taxes get paid?

Monday, 18 May 2009

Rochdale - a town still being "Rogered"?

In our last post we got it wrong...for now.
The Ides of May did not happen this weekend.

There was a toga party and a reshuffle, but the conspirators blinked so Cllr Alan Taylor retained his leadership and comfy couch at Rochdale Council.

Alan's bulging civic salary, expenses and allowances still mounted up whilst Irene was deputising. But Dave Hennighan made sure that Alan was occasionally still seen, Kim Il-Sung style, at the odd flag raising outside the Town Hall.
Raising of the St George flag outside Rochdale Town Hall

Meanwhile, poor "millionaire" Cllr Couzens will have more time to spend sharpening his hairdressing scissors or impersonating a Chancellor of the Exchequer by allowing photoshopped images of himself with the real Gladstone bag to be used in his council leaflets.

With the Hothouses gone there has been a reshuffle of the "cabinet" (the one where the skeletons are kept?). In true Rochdale co-operative style, there has been a divvying out of the lucrative posts in what hardly could be described as a local Government Of All the Talents.

Word on the street is that the new RMBC portfolio holder for Education can bearly read or write.

Just the sort of dynamic sort to drive through hundreds of millions of pounds of PFI school building contracts without needing to worry about the small print?

So if Rochdale isn't made up of GOATs then who really runs Rochdale?

Rumours abound that Chief Executive Roger Ellis was the driving force keeping Alan Taylor in power.


And how come an unelected, unaccountable and overpaid mandarin holds so much power in Rochdale?

A town being 'Rogered'?

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Crooning swinger gets cut short at charidee event

Paul Rowen has an expensive way with words. But that comes with claiming a very high Parliamentary communications expense.

In his [sic] latest missive on Rochdale Online there is a sorry tale that could be mistaken for a slur on local cuisine.

After yet another mysterious plug for local businessman Terry Mason, Paul (or is it Dave/Adam?) goes on to describe future Mayor, swinging Keith Swift's shortened stint crooning at the India Lounge. (Both still available for parties/coroporate entertainment at short notice)

No explanation about how poor Keith bacame ill. Just a quick plug for the charidee event then a description of the Rochdale Online "business development executive" being rushed to infirmary.

Is that a way to curry favour with local businesses that host local Lib Dem bashes?

Get well soon Keith.

It looks as though being an ambitious local Lib Dem is a hazardous activity. Especially after the heated competition to fill poor Cllr Alan Taylor's trunks as leader of Rochdale Council.

With the Hothouses now out of the frame, the competition for Alan's civic crown jewels is becoming nasty. Had the Lib Dem "Rat Pack" soprano been munching on a spiked onion bhajee meant for someone else? Was he about to sing like a canary about party shenanighans?

Poor Alan. Is he about to be "retired" this weekend?

Who will wake up next to a horses head this Sunday morning?

The hairdresser or the "acting" leader?