I thought I had heard it all 4

Sir Gus O’Whitewash has ruled. Tessa Jowell did not break the rules because for four years David Mills did not tell her he had received what he then believed was a gift of $600,000.

How nice it must be to be so fabulously wealthy that a gift of $600,000 is so unimportant to you that you do not even bother to mention it to your partner!

Actually, I have a lot of experience of the very rich, and they are much more obsessed with money than the poor, and certainly talk about it more. I just don’t believe Jowell.

This is particularly true as the money was used to pay off a large remortgage which she herself had just taken out. She is now saying that she didn’t have any idea, or apparently ask, where all the money to pay off the mortgage came from.

There is also a peculiar bit of reasoning by Sir Gus O’Whitewash. Jowell alleges that she did not know about the money for four years, and by that time tax was paid for it, so it had become earnings, not a gift.

Actually, that doesn’t follow. If you receive a large cash gift it is still classed as income, and taxable.

Of course, what we still do not know, is who this money came from, and why. If it did not come from Berlusconi or from another illegitimate source, show us the paper trail. It is inconceivable that such a large sum from any legitimate source is not documented.

That money was used to pay off a mortgage which was 50% in Jowell’s name. So to accept it is only her husband’s business is simply nonsense.

Whitehall’s whitewash has become so watery as to cover up nothing.

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4 thoughts on “I thought I had heard it all

  • Holyrood Watcher

    To be fair (though I don't know why I should be), Sir Gus' letter to Ms May is extremely careful to avoid condoning or condemning the Jowell position. He sets out the facts of the case and leaves others to draw their own conclusions. It is the Prime Minister who has leapt to conclusions which, I would submit, are not justifiably drawn from the material assembled by Sir Gus.

    But this leaves us in the position where all the requirements of the Ministerial code on the partners of Ministers can be ignored, provided the partner says that he or she has not told the relevant Minister what he or she is up to.


  • Craig

    There was an interesting moment two days ago when all the media were reporting hints from the Cabinet Office that Sir Guff needed more time and would delay his report until Monday.

    Then yesterday they started reporting on lobby briefing from number 10 that the report would after all come out today and would clear Jowell. Interestingly, both Sky and the BBC reported this was because the PM didn't want another weekend of Jowell headlines.

    So it looks to me that Blair persuaded O'Donnell to go early with a "You just set out the facts, I'll give the verdict" deal.

    Sir Guff's investigation seems to me cursory. On Jowell's claim not to know the mortgage had been paid off, he does not seem to have approached the mortgage company for the correspondence, for example. In my experience they would not release the deeds without the signatures of both parties. And were they corresponding only with one party to the mortgage? I doubt it.

    So I think you let Sir Guff off the hook too easily. His so-called investigation was cursory, he took the most improbable Jowell assertions as fact and failed to deliver a note of scepticism – or to make the exremely shrewd point that you make, that now any minister can have bribes paid to their spouse with the "I didn't know" defence.

    Poor Neil Hamilton! If the brown envelope had only gone to Christine…

  • Chuck Unsworth

    I agree with HW. Sir Gus is being remarkably careful. All he has done is to present a very limited series of facts (Although I'm not sure what his definition of 'fact' may be) to the PM. At that point those facts (alone) are entirely open to interpretation as suits the PM's book.

    Is this not about 'the truth, the whole truth, etc etc'? As is so often the case the Government – and Sir Gus and Blair in particular – have deliberately avoided consideration of the peripheral but very relevant detail. The 'investigation' was hurried, botched, partial and superficial.

    Where is the corroborating evidence to back Jowell's assertions about her lack of involvement? Let's see where the signatures are, eh?

    And, as always, it's the close brush with what is legal rather than an adherence to what is principled. In short, these people have a wide understanding of the law coupled with a complete lack of scruples.

    Why should we trust any of them?

  • juile

    Ignorance is Bliss

    Ms Jowell breached the ministerial code, but the situation which is unashamely staring her point blank — why the hell did she not know about her husband dealings sooner, and address the issue before it hit the press, she's representing the government and does not seem to be an intelligent person for the job that she is doing. This sounds dodgy from the outset, nothing is clear, and the acqusations of a kick-back on Mr Jowell part is looming more and more on the lines of underhand dealings that may never come to light. It's also apparent from Mr Jowell hounding by the press,, that he want's to keep the secret for a while, whilst he continues to wreck his wife credibility, its clear he does not care very much about his wife. I don't believe Ms Jowell should be cleared, I think she needed to resign from her post. And the longer this story headlines the PM need also look for another career, because he's judgement in senior ministers is coming into question

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