Tuesday, 20 September 2011


If the sentence served by former Environment Minister Elliot Morley is anything to go by, it seems that crime can pay – at least when it is committed by someone who is privileged. The ex- Scunthorpe MP was sentenced to 16 months in jail last May after robbing taxpayers of £30,000 in bogus expenses claims. Now he is free after serving a mere fraction of his sentence.

He served his few months at HM Ford open prison in West Sussex – no doubt being given every privilege afforded under the system and safe from persecution by hardened criminals. Had he been an unemployed youth and stolen money from an individual in order to buy food it is likely that the punishment would have been more severe –and he would have been sentenced to serve his time in an ordinary prison. But the sentence given to Morley suggests that by defrauding the state when you are in a position of trust is less of a crime. The adopted son of Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour was handed the same length of sentence for rioting and tearing a union flag from the Cenotaph – not a commendable thing to do I grant you – but it will be interesting to see how long he spends behind bars. 

Morley was the first former minister to be sentenced after he had faked mortgage payments for his home in North Lincolnshire between 2004 and 2007. During his trial the judge – Mr Justice Saunders referred to Morley as being ‘blatantly dishonest’ yet this was not reflected in the lenient sentence handed down. It is a matter of conjecture whether the sentence would have been more severe had Morley been an ordinary person - not an MP - but his early release does not send out a very good message about the fairness of our legal system and this is bound to give rise to public anger.

After Margaret Moran’s sobbing appearance in court this week charged with 21 offences – even if she is found guilty it appears she will have little to fear by the time sentence is passed down.

How long did the guilty politicians serve. See the Telegraph

Friday, 2 September 2011


Most councils will not openly promote the fact that the law requires them to make their accounts  available for scrutiny.  But they are and many councils have subscribed to a scheme make them open to you online - but here's the catch - THEY ONLY HAVE TO MAKE THEM AVAILABLE FOR 20 DAYS A YEAR.
This seems to be nonsense to me. Why aren't ALL councils required to make them available online and permanently?

Nevertheless, it does give you the right to see where every penny of your council tax is being spent - not just amounts of £500 or more. Unless  you have an eye for accounts you may find it difficult to understand how the information has been compiled but you will probably still be able to uncover some interesting - and often seemingly unnecessary spending sprees. 

Many people do not realise that they have a right to know what councils are spending your money on. To assist you with finding out, an online search engine has been created to tell you when you have a right to inspect the information that should link directly to information provided by more than 280 local authorities. Despite the law stating that councils must provide this information, not all have signed up to be included on the search engine. Perhaps they should. 

If you want to find out when you can inspect your council's accounts online
I am grateful to the Tax Payers' Alliance for releasing this information.