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Friday 3 August 2018

Greg Hands - Pants On Fire

Chelsea and Fulham’s Tory MP Greg Hands has previously shown himself to be a man of principle: he resigned his ministerial post in June over plans to expand London’s Heathrow Airport, unlike London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who weaselled off to Afghanistan so he could miss the vote. But that principle has not extended to total candour over Vote Leave’s lawbreaking.
I was conned? What, again?

Hands was given a platform by the Murdoch press - which should tell you exactly what the game was - to pass adverse comment on the Electoral Commission’s decision that Vote Leave broke the law during the 2016 EU referendum campaign. “We need to put the EU referendum behind us”, asserted the headline. And there was more.

As one who voted Remain in 2016 and led the ‘Stronger In’ campaign in my Chelsea and Fulham constituency, I have been concerned at the continued attempts to refight the referendum and put the Leave campaigns in the dock. It is now more than two years since the referendum, and we should all unite around getting the best deal for Britain” he whined plaintively, seemingly unaware that no-one was refighting the campaign.
This perhaps unintended revelation of Government paranoia included the claim that Vote Leave donated to other campaigns “entirely legally, as a court has confirmed”. But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. So Electoral Commission CEO Claire Bassett has put him straight.

Her letter to the Times was unequivocal. “In fact no court has confirmed whether Vote Leave made lawful donations. As the statutory regulator we have ruled on this and found the law was broken”. Then came worse news for Hands and his sources.
Mr Hands also asserted that the Electoral Commission relied upon one piece of evidence alone for its conclusions and ‘uncritically report the claims’ of ‘whistleblowers’. This too is incorrect. We examined financial data, meeting minutes, interview transcripts and significant amounts of correspondence. Our investigations required a criminal standard of proof. We are satisfied that this evidence shows that a number of offences were committed”. The comes the Vote Leave claim about not being asked for interviews.

Mr Hands repeats Vote Leave’s claims that we refused to interview its representatives. Not so. Our report sets out the repeated requests we made, between December last year and February.  Months later, certain Vote Leave staff separately offered to be interviewed; however, by that point we were concluding our investigation”.
What Hands’ claims show is the pervasive nature of Vote Leave’s briefing - and its uniform dishonesty. The claim that they had offered to be interviewed, but had been rebuffed, was parroted by former Kipper Suzanne Evans on the BBC Daily Politics and used by the Beeb to claim there was some sort of dispute - rather than that Ms Evans had lied.

Now Greg Hands has allowed himself to be conned by the Vote Leave dishonesty. In doing so, he has shown that when the likes of Matthew Elliott and Dominic Cummings, backed by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog and their press pals, pitch their version of reality, the opposite is likely to be true. Just saying.
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1 comment:

Ed said...

If you operate to a criminal standard of proof you lay yourself open to strong challenge in court - judicial review. The complaints about the electoral commission seem to suggest that they're purely partisan, that they don't take things seriously. Individuals from the various Leave campaigns also face time in court, according to the outcome of police investigations. Do they take that seriously?