Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Rowengate: Parliamentary expenses- the plot thickens...

On June 26th the Rochdale Observer ran a front page retraction and apology to Paul Rowen MP.

Although vague on the precise reasons why the Guardian Media Group did not stand by their original report on the current Rochdale MP's Parliamentary expenses, the Rochdale Observer front page and website on June 26th began:

"PAUL ROWEN has blasted ‘unsubstantiated and false’ accusations he used taxpayers’ money to fund party-political activity".

The rebuttal ended with a powerful statement in bold:

"THE Rochdale Observer would like to make it clear it has no information that Paul Rowen MP was using Parliamentary expenses to fund Liberal Democrat political activities and apologises if any reader got that impression."

Rochdale Liberal Democrat accounts are hard to come by. There is only one set available on the Electoral Commission website. This set of accounts related to the year ending 2005, the first year of Paul Rowen MP's tenure.

Signed off by local party Treasurer Cllr Mulgrew, Jimmy Cricket's son, they stop at 2005- there isn't any more.

The accounts speak for themself.

Click here for the the link to the published PDF on the Electoral Commission website.

Have any of Paul Rowen MP's Parliamentary expenses been used to fund Liberal Democrat political activities?

Rent- previously freely gifted but since 2005 claimed from Parliamentary expenses?

Printing- such as so-called "externally printed party newspapers". referred to in the June 26th rebuttal. But the Parliamentary expenses that have been published clearly show that the "Externally printed" Lib Dem party newspapers that Paul Rowen MP placed expensive adverts with were invoiced to an unincorporated organisation called the "Rochdale Liberal Democrat Printing Society"- based at...Rochdale Lib Dem HQ at Drake Street. Click here to see the invoice (at pages 12-14 of 34)

Salaries- the Rochdale Liberal Democrat 2005 accounts are crystal clear:

"...the local MP through his Parliamentary allowance now covers all such overheads."


Get Real said...

if "all salaries" are paid by the MP from his Parliamentary allowance then Adam Power is Paul Rowen's employee.

So Paul Rowen is responsible for the actions of his employee.

If Adam Power is paid "now" paid for by Rochdale Lib Dems then his wage is derived from a slush fund from a tithe of Rochdale Councillors allowances and mystery donations from local "benefactors" some of which have been laundered by Cyril Smith.

Either way it is starting to look bad for Paul Rowen.

A full, front page apology to the Rochdale Pbserver and GMG is needed.

Someone throw him a tea bag - he is in enough hot water to do something with it!!!

Anonymous said...

Rochdale Observer worded its rebuttal in a clever way. The newspaper stated they have:

"...no information that Paul Rowen MP was using Parliamentary expenses to fund Liberal Democrat political activities..."

reading this, it looks as though Guardian Media Group now have information that clearly confirms Paul Rowen's Parliamentary expenses have funded the local Rochdale Liberal Democrats - office rent, salaries, "communication" monies.

Anonymous said...

I see Councillor Liz Thirsk has admitted on Rowen Online that Lib Dem councillors pay money towards Adam Power's wage. Wonder how much Paul Rowen contributes to top him up?

Either way POwer isn't worth tuppence.

Chris Paul said...

I've got two years' worth of downloaded Rochdale Lib Dems accounts. Have they taken some down from the Electoral Commission website? One year did fall below the threshold as it goes. But neither year showed the £20,000 plus (£24k was it?) tithe from Rochdale Lib Dem group?

The accounts stated that one and a half POLITICAL workers were going to be paid by the MP, nothing about the other two or three muppets that would be added. But that's Hennigan and the office worker ...

Did the tithe of the Lib Dem group just stop and go away?

If Rowen's local government colleagues are still putting out the normal amount of printing, and doing the normal amount of 'phoning, and paying their share of the office, and of course have one or more political workers organising their affairs how are they not reaching the threshold for submitting accounts?

I have some suggestions:

Once a local accounting unit hits the threshold THEY SHOULD CONTINUE to submit accounts every year from then on in. They are preparing the accounts anyway presumably. Auditors are signing them off. Let them be a public document. To corroborate what the MPs are putting into the public domain.

2. MPs personal and company Tax Returns should be made public.

3. Ditto their PAYE records and/or return of payments to self-employed individuals - with names redacted if absolutely necessary - at very least there should be data on the bands in which each employee resides.

4. The local parties of sitting MPs should be required to PUBLISH ACCOUNTS even if they do not hit the £25,000 threshold. If that is not required they should do it anyway ... particularly if they have been chuntering on about openness and all that stuff.

Anonymous said...

A former Rochdale Lib Dem councillor (now independent) has spilled the beans over Rochdale Lib Dem tithing arrangements using Rochdale Council allowances and expenses to create a political slush fund.

here is the posting:

"Contributions to Lib Dems from Allowances
10% on Basic allowance and 20% on special responsibilities. all taken before Tax.... this is extra to the fee that is paid for being a member of the Lib Dems
and yes because a few (ME) got behind with payments it was/ is taken out at source.
I always fought for it to be reduced but was shouted down so many times it was a waste of time..
The amounts above are not common to all Lib Dems in other areas Just Rochdale

so on basic and chair of committee would pay £290 per month x 12=£3480.00 per year!! (Before Tax)

Edited by - Cllr Brenda Kerslake on 15/07/2009 09:30:01"

So it is much more than a "tithe" - an original concept of parishoners paying 10% to their church.

It appears that Rochdale Lib Dems are really screwing the local council taxpayers by taking up to 20% from its councillors. Plus other fees, before tax and from source.

This needs investigating.

Anonymous said...

Yes RAW - hope you've picked up on what Brenda Kerslake has posted on Rochdale Online and then compared it to what the Rochdale Lib Dem Council Group has actually declared to the Electoral Commission. Rochdale Online Forum Contributor, Heywood PP has worked out that the sum is nearly £100 k a year all told!!! So, where is all this money going?

Anonymous said...

there is clearly a discrepancy with what is being collected on behalf of Rochdale Lib Dems and the money that is being publicly declared on the Electoral Commsion website and declared via the current MP Paul Rowen.

As Chris Paul says, some of this is because the Electoral Commission only requires annual income over £25K to be declared.

These is a huge mystery about cash donations to the Rochdale Lib Dems- especially who has paid in (and what they might have got in return).

Cyril Smith wrote an infamous fund raising letter to 1000 businessmen in 2005. The letter spelt out very clearly that whatever these businessmen were to donate would be very gratefully received to fight the General Election. It was also clear in Cyril's letter that anyone donating cash to him would have annoymity.

Is this legal?

Isn't this a form of money laundering?

Have any donors to Rochdale Lib Dems ever received any form of benefit or advantage for the cash given via Cyril Smith?

Patrick Ashdown said...

Is Paul Rowen considering the Chiltern Hundreds or is he just looking forward to a long holiday far away from Rochdale?

Is Dave H already organising his 'exit strategy'?

Has the anger and discontent of some with Adam Power made waves with the Federal Party?

Anonymous said...

so has "Million Pound" Paul Rowen MP declared precisely who works for him?

And who works for Rochdale Lib Dems?

Dave, Sue, John, Adam...

who else is in Rowen's bunch?

will they split?

will the current MP slip up over his expenses and allowances?

(Parliamentary AND Rochdale Council).