Once again, the Maily Telegraph has been hot on the trail of MPs over their expense claims, this time homing in on those Members who employ one or more of their immediate family. They have concluded that 155 MPs are involved, and that the total expense bill has actually risen, despite their previous exposes, from £95.4 million in 2009 to £98.1 million last year.
And, to no surprise at all, the Tel’s preferred Member for having her photo splashed over the top of the article was (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries, still representing Mid Bedfordshire, and once again officially for the Tories. Also not surprising anyone is that Ms Dorries has taken exception to reporting of the fact that she has employed two of her daughters during the 2012-13 Parliamentary year.
But, as will be shown, not every publication that mentions her gets the same level of objection. Ms Dorries did not employ both her daughters at the same time, and when one online news resource pitched a figure which implied she did, by taking two annualised salaries and adding them together, there was a ferocious response: “Libellous and untrue 80k headline taken down by @bedsnews” she Tweeted.
That’s a rather over-dramatic response, but she does have a point: the actual amount was less than half that pitched. And, when the Tel published its own version, the fragrant Nadine was quick to complain to them too: “Please correct the article you have just put online. I do not employ two daughters – as you well know”. The piece was amended to show this.
But one online source of occasional news went a lot further than making the “80k” assertion, adding Ms Dorries’ salary to that number and coming up with a whopping £145,000. And that headline, in large red numerals, is still there, albeit with an explanation in much smaller type underneath. No prizes for guessing the identity of the source, or its closeness to the Tory MP.
Yes, step forward the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who adoringly always address Ms Dorries only by her first name. Anyone reading the item on the Fawkes blog would come away with the impression that Ms Dorries and her immediate family are getting £145k a year from taxpayer funds, when they are not.
But there has been no Twitter denouncement of the Fawkes folks by the fragrant Nadine, no assertion that they have published anything “libellous and untrue”, and there certainly won’t be a visit by her to Messrs Carter-Ruck to have The Great Guido recant. But that should not suggest that Ms Dorries engages in double standards, because that would never do.
“Taxpayer Pays Dorries Girls £145,000” is still there today, though. Hmmm.