Yesterday afternoon saw Paul Staines and his tame gofer Henry Cole at the Guido Fawkes blog beside themselves with joy, as a court ordered shadow Chancellor “Auguste” Balls to pay his former landlord £830, along with £265 in costs. Paul Sampson had rented office space to Balls when the latter had been MP for Normanton, the seat vanishing after boundary changes.
So this is a victory for Sampson and some kind of humiliation for Balls, then? Well, when the case is examined a little further, the impression is gained that maybe it isn’t: Sampson had demanded £1966 in his “Final notice before action” last December, and came away with less than half that.
Moreover, Sampson’s claims for a rent increase, a replacement carpet, and a burglar alarm were not allowed. And Balls’ spokesman has suggested that Sampson was offered almost £1000 in settlement – rather more than the £830 awarded. The problem is, like so much in politics, that both sides are retelling the story for their own advantage.
And this is the kind of thing that Staines and Cole cannot or will not take on board – along with the mildly inconvenient fact that Sampson took out his action in the small claims court. So when the Fawkes blog suggests that Balls’ legal bill could be “perhaps thousands”, this is not only a guess, but a dishonest one.
Because all that has happened is that an MP and his former landlord have been in dispute and it’s ended up in the small claims court. That the landlord came away with less than half the sum he was demanding suggests that Balls was right not to stump up the amount demanded in the first place.All of which should tell Paul Staines something – after all, he knows all about taking matters to court. And he also knows about being taken to court by the law. Someone has got a lot of broken windows in his greenhouse right now.