From Bedfordshire on Sunday:
MP’s aide quits her role after internet intrusion
MP Nadine Dorries’ right hand woman has quit her job claiming to be a victim of ‘spiteful and fabricated tittle-tattle’ on the internet.
Lynn Elson, a long time friend of the Mid Bedfordshire MP, has worked as Mrs Dorries’ researcher and media inquiry representative for two years.
Ms Elson made her decision after claims about her appeared on a website blog.
She told Bedfordshire on Sunday that she had lodged complaints relating to a man to both Bedfordshire and Gloucestershire police forces…
“I have decided that spiteful and fabricated tittle-tattle published on the internet by a person who has never met me, spoken to me, had any contact with me and knows nothing about me, is something I don’t wish to tolerate or put my family through.”
It should be noted that the headline does not have any quotation marks, giving the impression that the “internet intrusion” is an established fact rather than simply Elson’s assertion; further, the author of the article appears to have absolutely no interest in what the “claims about her” might be. Elson deliberately implies that something of a private family nature is being banded around the internet, when what she is in fact objecting to is Tim Ireland’s discussion of publically-available data about her company – Marketing Management Midlands Ltd – and the payments made to it via Dorries’ expenses allowance.
The accusation of “intrusion” is also somewhat ironic, given that one of Elson’s recent tasks on behalf of Dorries was to brief the media on how Dorries’ new lover’s wife is an alcoholic who is estranged from her daughters; Dorries spiteful blog entry on the subject ended with the following:
I wont be making any further comments. Any further press queries please contact email@example.com
Dorries’ payments to Elson have been under scrutiny for some time; in June 2010 John Swaine noted in the Telegraph that:
New figures released by the Parliamentary authorities yesterday showed Mrs Dorries claimed £17,825 to pay Mrs Elson’s marketing company between July and December last year.
The MP for Mid-Bedfordshire also paid £34,000 to her friend between September 2008 and June last year – making a total of more than £51,000 in 15 months.
Before being amended in March 2009, the Commons “Green Book” of expenses rules said MPs could not use their allowances to pay for “self promotion or PR for individuals or political parties”.
The February prior to this, an earlier Telegraph piece was cited by Unity on Liberal Conspiracy, who did some follow-up work:
Our own detailed examination of Dorries’s expenses claims has now uncovered a further £12,000 worth of expenses claims submitted in relation to services provided by Marketing Management Midlands Ltd between July 2007 and June 2009, bringing Dorries’ total amount of claims submitted for services provided by her ‘close friend’ to £47,497.25 in just two years.
This is a subject of some interest to Tim, for reasons that he explains:
Dorries… has repeatedly attempted to portray me as a stalker and danger to others in an ongoing trial-by-media. This process has involved several carefully coordinated media leaks, releases and appearances. How much of Nadine’s marketing/PR expenditure relates to this ongoing smear campaign, and if there is any expenditure of this type, is it right that the taxpayer should foot the bill for this all-too-personal vendetta of hers?
It’s a legitimate question, although it should be noted that it is not being suggested here that any rules have been broken. Tim has looked into Dorries’ expenses and public documents concerning Marketing Management Midlands Ltd, and notes the following in reference to a tabulation:
The pre-2010 payments to Marketing Management were labelled for ‘PR, media and research’, ‘public relations, media and research’, ‘media and research retainers fee’, ‘research and secretarial service’ and/or ‘media and research’. Two out of the five payments from 2010 onwards (in bold) were labelled ‘media and research’… The remaining three of these five recent (identical) amounts… were simply labelled ‘MM’ under their Short Description, presumably by the submitter of the claim (Dorries or her staff) if not the IPSA team. Dorries is the only MP with entries using this label as a part of any description. I suspect MM is short for ‘Marketing Management’.
…There is good reason to suspect that all of these recently-revealed payments were made to Marketing Management (Midlands) Ltd., which is owned and operated by Lynn Elson. Has Dorries simply continued paying her close friend out of the taxpayer’s pocket while quietly redefining/relabeling her role?
This is also a legitimate question, although it is not one that Tim could ask Dorries or Elson directly; despite Elson’s complaint that Tim “has never met me, spoken to me, had any contact with me”, it is quite obvious that any attempt to have done so would have been spun as evidence of harassment; when in November Tim asked an anti-abortion group which Dorries had endorsed to clarify its charitable status, Dorries immediately threatened him with a police complaint.
However, Tim’s question about Elson is one that the hacks at Bedfordshire on Sunday might have exercised their minds with; did they really train as journalists just to bash out churnalism on behalf of Dorries and her sidekick? There’s a story here of some significant public interest: an MP, already controversial over her expenses and for misleading constituents on her blog, is using a “stalker” smear – and police involvement – to discourage the kind of legitimate scrutiny from a blogger that paid-up journalists ought to be doing. A hack who can’t see beyond the self-serving and bogus allegation of “internet intrusion” must either be a shill or asleep at the keyboard.
According to the Sunday Times a few weeks ago, a file on Dorries’ expenses was recently passed by the police to the Crown Prosecution Service; Dorries has made no mention of the report on her blog. It is perhaps significant that a comment alluding to this posted under the Bedfordshire on Sunday article was quickly deleted by the site moderator.
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