Also: Now Director of Company Previously Controlled by Chairman of Mid Beds Conservatives
From the Birmingham Mail:
The MP who took time off from her duties to appear on I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! has claimed a Birmingham MP is no better – because he missed work to recover from open heart surgery.
…Mr McCabe hit back, saying: “Imagine equating time off for open heart surgery with a paid for holiday on a reality TV show. Says all we need to know.”
But even once the reason for Mr McCabe’s absences had been pointed out to her, Ms [Nadine] Dorries repeated the comment.
I blogged on Dorries and the TV show here.
Dorries’ attack on McCabe is completely true to form: she has never yet retreated from a vicious line of attack just because it happened to be manifestly unsustainable or vilely unfair. Back in 2010, she used Harry Cole and Paul Staines to smear one on-line critic as a benefits cheat, on the grounds that this person was able to use Twitter – when it was pointed out that the person concerned was in fact employed but waiting for an operation on her feet, Dorries simply snorted that she was making it up:
Really? An operation on both feet for arthritis? Let’s put aside that surgeons never operate on both feet at the same time. This is a medical breakthrough. Hips and knees, yes, now feet! Amazing. Twitter followers conned again.
Perhaps McCabe should brace himself for something in this vein.
More recently, Dorries refused to back down after accusing a journalist of lifting the content of a letter she had sent to a rival newspaper, even after the journalist provided photographic evidence which proved that the same letter had been sent to him personally in her name by her office.
More serious, however, has been her use of false accusations of stalking, including making complaints to the police, to discourage investigations of her expenses and of the veracity of her various statements.
Meanwhile, the Telegraph‘s Rowenna Mason has a useful round-up of quotes from Dorries since her return – these include the claim that other female MPs are “jealous” of her, and self-justifying references to time spent away from Parliament by other MPs (ignoring the fact that these absences were largely during the Parliamentary recess period, and did not involve eating an ostrich cloaca). She has also taken advantage of the fact she was voted off the show early to minimise the amount of time she was AWOL: “I’ve had three sitting days away. I think that is an important thing to remember”.
There’s also this detail:
Ms Dorries admitted that she is likely to get paid by ITV for her appearance but refused to give a figure, because the tax has not been calculated yet.
Why Dorries is apparently unable to give a gross earnings figure is unexplained. Calculating the tax payable, though, may be tricky, as Dorries recently became sole director of a company through which it appears she intends to funnel her media earnings. The company’s existence was noticed earlier this month; Metro reported that
…she has set up a showbusiness company, Averbrook, describing herself in registration documents as a ‘writer commentator/TV radio personality’.
When director of a previous company, she described herself as an MP.
(see update 2 below for more about this) However, the company was not in fact “set up” by Dorries; Averbrook already existed, although it seems to have been dormant. Political Scrapbook has the details:
…Directorship of the mysterious non-trading firm, Averbrook Ltd, changed hands at the beginning of October from Dorries’ election agent, Andy Rayment.
…Instead of setting up a new company, which may have drawn attention from the press, Dorries became a director of 18-year-old Averbrook Ltd.
…Rayment and Dorries have long enjoyed a cosy relationship, with favours stretching way back. In 2010, Rayment rejected and downplayed complaints of Dorries smearing a blogger for investigating her notorious anti-abortion claims.
I’m not sure about Rayment’s role as “election agent”; I understand him to have been Chairman of the Mid Bedfordshire Conservative Association in 2010. Certainly, though, he was more than happy dismiss concerns about Dorries’ conduct while he was in that role, as I noted here; now it appears that they have had a private business relationship of some sort.
UPDATE: Metro writes that:
Fighting back criticism, Ms Dorries told the MP: ‘I think with your 63 per cent attendance record, you should be quiet. Obviously been taking a few holidays of your own!’
Mr McCabe replied: ‘Imagine equating time off for open-heart surgery with a paid for holiday on a reality TV show.’
The timeline is as follows: on 22 November, the Daily Mail quoted McCabe:
Labour MP Steve McCabe mocked Miss Dorries’s claim to be working, saying: ‘I’m sure her constituents will be greatly relieved to hear that she is going to do part of her job from her five-star hotel.’
This was after Dorries had been ejected from the programme, but before her flight back to the UK. The Twitter exchange took place a few days later (GMT timestamped):
Nadine Dorries MP @NadineDorriesMP
Labour MP Steve McCabe who reported me to Standards Commissioner for time in jungle during half term has attendance record of just 63% !!
11:41 AM – 26 Nov 12
Steve McCabe @steve_mccabe
Imagine equating time off for open heart surgery with a paid for holiday on a reality TV show. Says all we need to know about Nadine
10:31 AM – 27 Nov 12
Steve McCabe @steve_mccabe
@NadineDorriesMP Imagine equating time off for open heart surgery with a paid for holiday on a reality TV show. Says all we need to know.
1:24 PM – 27 Nov 12
Nadine Dorries MP @NadineDorriesMP
@steve_mccabe I think with your 63% attendance record, you should be quiet. Obvioulsy been taking a few holidays of your own!
2:25 PM – 27 Nov 12
Those last two Tweets are bundled together as a “conversation”, so Dorries can’t pretend she didn’t see McCabe’s explanation for his absence (it was also McCabe’s most recent Tweet at the time Dorries replied to it).
Meanwhile, Unity from Ministry of Truth observes:
@NadineDorriesMP : If @steve_mccabe having 63% attendance is bad, what do you call your own 59.3% attendance between 2005 and 2010?
6:07 PM – 27 Nov 12
UPDATE 2: From Bedford Today:
…[Dorries] said it would be “illegal” for her to list herself as an MP.
She said: “I don’t sell my services as a politician. It would be illegal to list myself as selling services as a politician.
“But if I write a column for a national newspaper then it has to be accounted and I have to pay tax on it.”
It’s not clear why it would be “illegal” for her to describe herself as being an MP – it seems obvious to see “occupation” as referring to the person of the director, rather than to the nature of a company’s business. A look around Companies in the UK brings up numerous references to “Parliamentarian” and “Member of Parliament” – some of these relate to appointments that are clearly part of an MP’s position or party role; others appear to be social enterprises that would be part of an MP’s wider civil society activities; but some look like ordinary businesses. However, no-one understands any of this as “selling services as a politician”.
On the other hand, the form for appointing a director asks only for “Business occupation (if any)”, along with the instruction “if you have a business occupation, please enter here. If you do not, please leave blank”. Leaving aside Lembit Öpik’s strange notion that MPs are “basically” self-employed, most people would see a distinction here between salaried employment and “business occupation”. This means that it would be reasonable to leave “Member of Parliament” off the form.
Incidentally, it seems that the Times and Citizen (which runs Bedford Today) has exclusive local access to Dorries; she was angered when her office sent a statement in her name to Bedfordshire on Sunday in October, and Darren Isted, who writes for the local Comet, recently complained that she “won’t speak to local paper”. Her reply (1, 2):
I do speak to local journalists, just not you. My choice, free world, learn some manners… I have had far too many journalists stalking my elderly mother + my kids to give any of you the time of day
never had problem when Bob was there [at the Comet – RB], however, experience with Beds on Sunday has made me decide on own policy
I asked the Times and Citizen if this means they have a special arrangement with Dorries, and I received a reply via Twitter from one of the paper’s journalists, Ben Raza:
There is no type of special arrangement. If she has a problem with other outlets/media you will have to ask her about it.
He added that the paper has “certainly not been afraid to publish negative stories where appropriate”, and he gave four examples: here and here, and in a third tweet, here (that’s the one mentioned above; not actually negative) and here.
Meanwhile, the dispute with Bedfordshire on Sunday probably relates to the paper’s coverage of payments to her daughter.
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