I've been taking a few emails from around the world, particularly the far east, over the past few weeks, as people read my blog & the news articles I quote.
Principally, the questions asked are why has Scotland become so corrupt ? .. is it safe to do business here ? ... can you recommend me a lawyer who isn't crooked ? , questions like that .. and .. even ... can you tell me which politicians are corrupt and which are honest.
Well, these certainly aren't easy questions to answer ... and I received an email from one person whom I'm sure would make this blog quite newsworthy if I released his name, but I won't and have given my word on that.
I think, suffice to say, there are people in the world taking notice of how crooked Scotland has become .. but as I tirelessly say - it's not because of the ordinary people .. it's because of those who run the country and who have much greater influence than they should .. seedy secretive clubs such as the Speculative Society or others we all know of - membership of which seems to be a requirement for Scotland's Judiciary .. debating societies as some would wish to call them.. others might call them clubs for the boys, promoting each other over the heads of outsiders. Some say they have too much influence over legislation, vetoing anything which could be a threat to their little empires, or have holds on politicians to bring them to heel like a dog when it suits, or who even sometimes play pass the parcel .. with people .. just for sadistic pleasure.
We also have, of course, some of the crooked professions who wield so much influence in politics & daily life, nothing can be done without their say so, such as yes, of course, the legal profession - who are about to take the Scottish Executive to Court over the LPLA Bill to try and kill off the planned reforms to complaints against lawyers.
Such is the furore of the Judiciary and the Law Society of Scotland over the fact they will lose the ability to fiddle client complaints & investigations against their own members - they are intent on staging a court case against the Scottish Executive & even the Scottish Parliament, to thwart the pro-consumer reforms of the LPLA Bill, which are planned to stop Scotlands great gang of crooked lawyers from ripping off their clients.
Even, retired Judges have been resurrected to defend Scotland's legal thieves .. and we now have the spectacle of 'Chernenko' style political influence .. where the dusty old relics of the past have been brought out as hired assassins to murder the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill which myself and many others have long campaigned for.
A Policeman, recently said to me in an email - it's about, what you have on people - the dirt .. you can make a person - a politician - anyone, do anything, if you have the right kind of information on them .. so having people in power with secrets in the cupboard .. is a good thing .. for the likes of crooked lawyers .. crooked financiers .. etc.
He's right of course - that's one of the reasons Scotland has a lot of odd people in power - catch a Judge up a corner with a young boy (and I mean under 16) ... that's it .. you can get that Judge to do anything - he won't resign .. unless it appears on the front page ot a tabloid, of course.
Catch a politician claiming for something they'd rather keep secret, or maybe even fiddling their expenses claims or something a little more sinister .. fiddling local Council contracts for building work or whatever ... that politician is yours, for the rest of his life unless the scandal hits the media with enough force to make him resign ... that's how it works .. I've seen it myself, especially in the Scottish Borders.
Anyway, in a story quite appropriate to show how politics is regarded in Scotland today .. a story has come to light where long serving Labour MSP John Home Robertson, has been charging £7000 a year to rent his son’s appartment in Tytler Gardens, Edinburgh .. which his son, Patrick Home Robertson purchased in April 1999 for £72,000 when he was 17 years old. Not being satisfied with that, John Home Robertson also charges the taxpayer for the council tax on his son’s appartment, as well as 'other costs'.
From the details, t looks like we have yet another expenses claiming scandal inolving one of our MSPs in the grab it & run culture of Holyrood .. Rentalgate, perhaps ?
Is there any suggestion of 'wrongdoing' here ? well, no .. it seems to be the rules that you can claim expenses for living arangements, because of course, the same politicians voted for those rules who are now using them to claim what they want .. and the Parliament happily obliges with the cash.
Must be a rich family .. I don't know many 17 year olds who could pay £72,000 for a flat .. that's without a mortgage of course .. yes, NO mortgage .. then his dad goes and bills the taxpayer for £600 a month to rent a property bought by his own son days before his own election to the Scottish parliament.
Anyone sense something might be a bit iffy there ? a politician bills the taxpayer £7000 a year to stay in his son’s flat ?
Why doesn't his son let his good old dad stay in the flat for free ?
If I had said .. Dad .. I'm going to charge you rent for staying in my flat, I know what he would have said ! .. his response wouldn't have been printable !
How many 17 year olds rent out their homes to their parents ? .. kind of uncommon, wouldn't you say ? ... oh and guess what - the Scottish Parliament have decided to keep the rental invoice documents secret .. in the same vein they kept David McLetchie's taxi journey destinations secret .. because of course some of those destinations involved 'another woman' .. so maybe theres something more to hide .. which is yet to come out ...
Is it the Scottish Parliament's job to cover up for this kind of stuff ?
Well, maybe it is .. after all, just look at the absolute honesty which the likes of Paul Grice and the rest of the gang at Holyrood handled the building costs of the Parliament itself .. not to mention just about every other scandal which has hit the headlines involving the Parliament - whether that be Party leaders journeys into the unknown, expenses claimed for journeys while outside of the country - or even male msps being caught on cctv cameras in sexual acts with their own male members of staff (oh what a shame a famous Scottish tabloid's £12,000) offer for those camera stills didn't come off for a front pager)
As I said awhile ago .. I know of at least one Scottish Executive Minister, who has some preferential property deals from an Edinburgh legal firm I know has an appaling regulatory history regarding clients. Just because the purchase deal was made a bit more complicated .. didn't stop the details being leaked around (this is another one yet to break, remember, not related to the Home Robertson story in the Sunday Herald today.
It doesn't stop at Labour though .. oh no ... there are a few MSPs out there from other political parties, who need a little tug regarding their secretive dealings, expense claims .. and work for 'professions', companies, interference in local authority contracts & planning matters .. etc .. and I think it's quite right that sometimes, we step on these people, because after all, they have stepped on a lot of us .. .faking up claims they are doing things to help people when they aren't ... lying to constituents faces on life threatening issues ... I think such people are fair game .. but if they want to stop the fair game .. then why not just become honest ? .. nothing wrong with that, is there ? after all, it should be honesty which makes the world go round .. shouldn't it ?
Mr Home Robertson - I hope you vote for the LPLA Bill - these people in the legal profession can't be trusted you know .. they will turn on anyone to save themselves.
Well, just read the story to follow from the Sunday Herald - and of course, congratulations to Paul Hutcheon & the Sunday Herald team again for their excellent work in exposing things which really, just shouldn't be happening .. when everyone else is strapped for cash .. living day to day on huge debts, being thrown out of their holmes because of knowingly mis-sold mortgages ... etc .
UPDATE - The story has now been followed up in other media, and of course, The Scotsman newspaper, where you can read their version, along with readers comments, at : http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1602092006
Link to the original breaking news article, from the Sunday Herald Newspaper, at : http://www.sundayherald.com/58802
THIS MSP bills the taxpayer £7000 a year … to rent his son’s flat
By Paul Hutcheon, Scottish Political Editor
THE taxpayer is footing a £7000-a-year bill so that one of Scotland’s wealthiest MSPs can live in his son’s Edinburgh flat, the Sunday Herald can reveal.
Labour’s John Home Robertson bills the public £600 a month to rent a property bought by his son days before his election to the Scottish parliament.
The East Lothian MSP’s claim has prompted renewed calls to have the parliament’s expenses system overhauled.
It is the latest issue to stem from Holyrood’s Edinburgh Accommodation Allowance, which helps some MSPs pay the interest on a mortgage in the capital, or to pay rent on a property.
Home Robertson qualifies because his home, rather than his constituency, is classed as being beyond daily commuting distance. He has since used the scheme to claim £600 a month in rent allowances.
But the Sunday Herald can reveal the Labour MSP is billing the taxpayer for staying in his own son’s flat.
The Land Register shows that Patrick Home Robertson bought a £72,000 apartment in Tytler Gardens in April 1999 when he was 17 years old. Days later, his father became an MSP and has claimed rental on the property. The register discloses that there is no mortgage on the property.
The electoral roll states that a “John Home Robertson” has lived periodically at the Edinburgh address since 1999. The MSP also parks his car in the “private residents’ parking only” section of Tytler Gardens. The flat is seconds away from the new Holyrood parliament building.
Parliamentary figures show he claimed £8422 in 2001-02 in accommodation costs, and then £7200 in rent between April 2004 and March 2005.
Costs released earlier this year showed he had claimed £4463 in accommodation costs for the first two quarters of 2005, which was made up by monthly payments of £600.
He also charged the public for more than £3000 in mileage over the same period last year – the highest travel claim for any MSP in the Lothians – a clawback that raises questions about how often he uses the Edinburgh property.
In addition, Home Robertson charges the taxpayer for the council tax on his son’s flat, as well as for other running costs.
Full details of the Labour MSP’s Edinburgh living arrangements are secret as the parliament has declined to make rental invoices publicly available.
The Holyrood website, which contains a vast amount of detail about each MSP’s allowances, says of all his rent claims: “File not available due to Data Protection or personal security reasons or due to the poor quality of the original document.”
One resident in Tytler Gardens said of the MSP: “He’s here quite regularly. He seems to live here.”
It is the latest blow for an allowance that has been widely discredited in the eyes of the public. First minister Jack McConnell called on the perk to be reviewed earlier this year.
Home Robertson is a two-term MSP who used to convene the Holyrood Progress Group, the body created to monitor the new Scottish parliament building. He opposed calls to cap spending on the wayward project.
The Labour politician defended his rental arrangements: “It is a matter of public record that I lease a flat in Edinburgh and that the rent is paid under the Scottish parliament’s Edinburgh Accommodation Allowance Scheme.
“The Scottish parliament authorities have a copy of the lease of the flat, the rental was independently assessed and this arrangement was fully approved by the Allowances Office from the outset.”
Scottish National Party MSP Michael Matheson, who has spoken out in criticism of the Edinburgh accommodation allowance, called for urgent reform of the system:
“This is a further reminder why the Corporate Body needs to review the allowance as early as possible. There’s a danger that some of its workings will undermine the reputation of the parliament and further dilute public confidence in politicians.”