Candidate
Selection

goes

Everything you wanted to know
about Candidate Selections
but try to blot from you mind
in case it ends up in
an action for defamation
or privacy injunction





Legal Note




If this page seems somewhat old to you, dear reader, it is because it was first published on the 23rd of July 2013. After that it was then one very long page - now it is two slightly long pages. The first (this one) deals with the legal issues etc resulting from the complaint and the second ...is the original article (altered slightly for legal reasons). If you follow that. Due to the multiple versions of this article that had to be produced for legal reasons it took quite a long time to split it into two pieces as the HTML had become corrupt. So for a long time it was one long page. Now it is two. Confused? So are we.




Immediately the original version was published the Managing Director of Pear Shaped in Fitzrovia received a complaint from Steven Downes of Inside Pravda. Here it is in all its glorious lack of specifics and deliberate opacity: 

"you appear unaware that repeating a libel is still, nonetheless, a libel. I may have some written correspondence that I ought to pass on to you. Whatís the best address to send it to?"

And here's my reply which I think anyone would have to agree could not be more open and helpful.

"If he wants to redact anything or, indeed, insert anything. The HTML is attached."

Actually it's one of many replies all making the same basic point. You dont like it, you write it. I mean I dont care if they want to redact something but I did make the point that in my view removing what are major historical events might cause the reader to ask more questions than leaving them in... All the same Mr Pelling and I are both supposed to be members of the same party. Yet somehow the offer is not enough. Why? To be honest I was quite willing to destroy the whole thing but their correspondence was so vexatious and annoying I decided ...not to. So here it is ...again.



I'm all for airbrushing but I dont see why I should do it personally. When my offers to redraft were met with cold silence and insistances we should meet - politicians ...they always want to meet dont they? - we tried suggesting different forms of words. No they weren't happy. Notice I haven't even asked them to explain why they want to change the article - just given them the text and told them to do it. Not enough power. Never enough power, is it?

My position: You want to airbrush the past you do the work I have better things to do. So deluded was Mr Downes that he even told me to "have a good meeting" when I've specifically told him I dont do private meetings and why. Sigh. What is wrong with these people?

Anyway so... anything complained about opaquely (and I've had to guess what the problems are as they are unable to use email) has been annulled.
  Apart from any legal concerns this article was not actually meant to be a character attack on any particular local politician. We would never do a deliberate character attack on any Croydon politician mainly because it is not good to attempt to compete in highly competitive and overcrowded markets filled by bigger fish with sharper teeth. Neither would we attempt to reduce serious issues like relationship breakdown and domestic violence to cheap entertainment. Mainly because unlike some US exported TV shows we are not covered by the First Amendment. 

Then again Glenn Ebrey of what Inside Pravda politely describes as the Croydon Sadvertiser recently opined about an increase in the number of complaints post Leveson so maybe it's nothing to do with us or me or the complainants just a general national increase in narcissism? Who knows? Then again ... then again ... then again... then again... expressing multiple viewpoints as these pages do is no defence to libel.

This page is really meant as an explanation of why I hardly ever go to party meetings - party meetings are for people with diplomacy, high boredom thresholds and people of a
more philanthropic nature than me.  I do not want to be too involved.  I do not subscribe to the idea that artists should have no opinions...





...but I do think that they should remain at some distance.  The reaction to the article I think vindicates me in such an opinion.  Things that to me are merely amusing pieces of human drama are to the political world very serious matters.  Indeed.  This page is about that dichotomy - even if that isn't the message anyone will take away from it. To be fair it's not the fault of politicians that they must more carefully guard their personal reputations than I do - but then again if they don't like that there are other careers available where, short of one or two very serious matters indeed, no one cares that much if you're a ladies' most private part or seen as a ladies' most private part.
 


So if anyone else feels unfairly represented ASK and you shall be REDACTED... - preferably by email to mraemiller (AT) aemiller (DOT) net. While we welcome every form of correspondence emailing may be more expeditious than more old fashioned forms of communication such as letter, telegram, fax, telex, carrier pigeon, stone tablet, cave drawing, smoke signals, CB-radio, wax cylinder, vinyl record, cassettes or reel to reel or ticker tape. Even if it is less likely to communicate the same sense of immediate threat. Mr Downes repeatedly asked for my home address which I refused to give him. He wouldn't tell me the contents of his "letter" or who it was from and does not seem to own a scanner for such emergencies as this ...erm ... buy one? If the matter is so URGENT why do you want to send a snail mail letter anyway? Too much retardation. 
We are not a newspaper - we dont stand by anything we say, have no libel insurance and can easily be intimidated into silence. Although I'm starting to realise why newspapers do stand by what they say ...not standing by it is even more draining than telling people to get stuffed.

That said potential litigants should bear in mind though that we do have a Trade Union and anyone issuing a serious legal challenge should be mindful that proceedings may not have any anticipated brevity. I believe Equity are almost as good at winning but finding out no one really wins libel cases as Private Eye these days...



Damages may also be limited in the case of persons who do not fully comply with the pre-action protocol.  The words Derek Jameson and £10 spring to mind.


Sorry folks but it's not 1976 anymore. You cant just fire off vaguely angry letters and emails and leave people to guess what is wrong exactly. The Letter of Claim should include the following information:-

name of Claimant;
sufficient details to identify the publication or broadcast which contained the words complained of;
the words complained of and, if known, the date of publication; where possible, a copy or transcript of the words complained of should be enclosed;
factual inaccuracies or unsupportable comment within the words complained of;
the Claimant should give a sufficient explanation to enable the Defendant to appreciate why the words are inaccurate or unsupportable;
the nature of the remedies sought by the Claimant.

Where relevant, the Letter of Claim should also include:-

any facts or matters which make the Claimant identifiable from the words complained of;
details of any special facts relevant to the interpretation of the words complained of and/or any particular damage caused by the words complained of.




It should not be up to us to try to guess what the claimant is talking about and which words exactly have given him or her the hump. If you cant tell us exactly what you object to we're not going on a fishing expedition with you. "Repeating a libel is still, nonetheless, a libel" is not good enough when complaining about an 18000 word article which covers 10 years and involves many persons with contentious pasts. When we asked the complainant what exactly they objected to they wittered off into confusing our requests for them to explain their problems more clearly into some kind of nonsense about they would not extend to us free legal advice... when I suggested to them that this may not be in line with the spirit of the law and they may just be acting like bullies I recieved this reply:

You have repeated a libel, that deed is done, and you remain responsible for it since it has been published. Having tried to help you, and provided you with a way out of a situation created by yourself, for you now to resort to insults shows what a consummate joker you really are.

What higher compliment can a comedian wish for than being called a joker? I mean if that and their retarded witterings that they need to prevent me from making any more "dangerous mistakes" aren't meant to be threats then frankly I must've been lobotomised. If it reads like a threat cloaked in oleaginous avuncular concern then probably... Or am I paranoid? Dont take a vote on it ...as Frankie Howerd used to say. At the very least I would say that Mr Pelling and Mr Downes seem to have a very plastic view of the meaning of words. In my words they see instant defamation needing only 12 hours to digest them ...yet when they vomit out words like libel and dangerous in their imagination this is simply "help". Still, as Mr Howerd would say, perhaps they're actually very nice people "underneath".

The reason the complainant had got so upperty was that we wouldn't acceed to their suggested solution to the problem that we should meet the individual concerned and discuss it in person with them and go through the text line by line because.... erm
....  allowing everyone their own personal edit at such a microscopic level may somewhat diminish what is known in stand up as my (i.e. not someone else's) "voice".... and open us up to accusations of bias.  We are biased but we like to conceal this poorly. Any utterance of the word libel - particularly so called friendly utterances - is serious and I would be fool to communicate about such an allegation in any other way except formally. We wouldn't negotiate acts fees down the telephone or in the back of a pub - I'm certainly not going to have a conversation that could cost us potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds any other way than by email where I have an audit trail. Particularly not with someone who's been accused (if never charged) of crimes of physical violence in the past.

We suggested we simply delete the individual involved and all trace of them from the article. They didn't seem happy with that solution either and the complainant continued to insist I should meet the individual. Why? You can't complain about libel in an article you're not in? One of us is bonkers surely? You can't ask me to completely destroy or mothball an 18000 piece just because you personally or a mate of yours or your mate... sigh... in the end I fobbed them off with something about we wouldn't publish anything at all. Mainly to buy time. Of course a legal adviser would probably advise me not to go on a fishing expedition with them in the first place and just tell them to get stuffed but no good deed goes unpunished ...as Ayn Rand would say...



It's fair enough to ask for a retraction or an apology or a right of reply or even money but asking for a co-write (which I presume is what a line by line edit is) is not a good idea if you ask me.  And even if it was I dont see why we'd have to be physically in the same location to do it.  If Richard Curtis and Ben Elton could write Blackadder swapping computer disks I'm sure... Anyway this wasn't meant to be an authorised or unauthorised biography so the easiest, simplest, cheapest, fastest solution is just to redact people entirely.  Or completely rewrite.

Also we were also not inspired to treat the claimant as a fountain of veracity by the fact that their complaint contained insinuations about us being in contempt of court when no court in the land knew of the ruling which the complainant insinuated to us may appertain to us. When I pointed out to them their original complaint was somewhat vague and cryptic and not in line with the pre-action protocol and by implication we were stuck in section 3.2 - identifying "the words complained of" - Mr Downes intoned ominously and seriously that:

"I donít think it was cryptic at all. Just a friendly warning. A repeated libel is in many respects regarded as a worse offence than the original libel, simply because you actually have the benefit of the judgeís ruling. You should know better. There is also the risk that, by ignoring said judgeís decision, you could be seen to be in contempt, and deal with the consequences of that. However, it would seem, by withdrawing the offending article, that we have the opportunity to get things right. Therefore, before you re-publish anything, I strongly advise you to make direct contact with Andrew, meet and go through the piece, line-by-line to ensure that you do not make any more dangerous errors."




If the subject of your complaint is that we might have inadvertently portrayed you as dishonest by bad contextualisation then telling outright half truths during the pre-action protocol process is unwise as it may lead to your claim being struck out if the matter ever comes to court as an abuse of process ...but then again who knows with Eady and Tugendhat in charge? Just because you've won a libel settlement doesn't mean no one else can talk about it in a democratic society - if that was true there'd be a large black whole in the middle of democracy. Of course there are rules as to how it should be spoke of ...but it isn't impossible. Anyway why would anyone be ashamed of us saying they WON a libel action? As to whether there was a Part 36 settlement (a sort of out of court settlement after proceedings had started) or the case never actually got to court at all we do not know because as Mr J Moses of the Ministry of Justice judiciously explains...

I can neither confirm nor deny whether the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) holds the information that you have requested.

We are not obliged to confirm or deny whether we hold the information you have requested as if held, this would relate to court records. Section 32(3) of the Act provides that there is no duty to confirm or deny whether we hold the information.

We are also not obliged to confirm or deny whether we hold the information you have requested as if held, this would be information relating to personal information. Section 40(5) of the Act provides that there is no duty to confirm or deny whether we hold the information.

The fact sections 32(3) and 40(5) of the Act has been cited, should not be taken as an indication that the information you requested is or is not held by the department.

The terms of these exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act mean that we do not have to consider whether or not it would be in the public interest for us to reveal whether or not the information is held.

This was why we wrote via the Prime Minister's office in the first instance as we felt he would have rather more luck than us in finding out what the courts get up to. Actually you can view actual rulings in the High Court computer online but the online database does not go back far enough for our needs so we had to put in an FOI. All a rather round about and pointless way of confirming what everyone already knew the settlement was not made by a Judge or a Judge and Jury but agreed between the parties.

Out of court settlements and Part 36 settlements are not (as far as our solicitors Messers Wikipedia and Google know) binding on those who were not involved in the original case (although we take them into consideration - along with statements in open court ...there wasn't one in this case). That said those who have been through the libel mill once before may be entitled to apply for a restraining injunction pending trial. Although most of the internet says it is quite rare that this should happen - see the case of Bonnard v Perryman. Please note this is not legal advice ...for that go to www.lawsociety.org.uk or you can also try www.mediadefence.org ... www.libelreform.org also do a good advice sheet on how to respond to a libel claim ... On a slight tangent we had to laugh that some wally has actually written a page on the Carter Ruck website entitled "Having briefly explained the law to the client (see later) it is time to proceed with the first two weapons of the Spanish Inquisition. Fear, surprise and ruthless efficiency." A for law, F for media relations, Z for mathematics ...that's three weapons. Despite having taken from Catholicism lessons that are only today taught by Tony Soprano ...erm ... to be fair to them they do admit and warn clients that ""Before the event" injunctions for libel are extremely difficult to achieve and as rare as strawberries in winter". All the same ... people may still use pages such as this as an excuse not to give your clients advance notice of what we're about to say. We have.

So... while we may or may not have done something that is not legal ... we certainly haven't done anything criminal. Criminal libel was finally abolished in 2010 - much to the relief of Ian Hislop. And we have only written 1 article not the 3800 it took before the McCanns finally got Tony Bennett (the kind of activist/nutter/professional-rumour-mongerer UKIP would quaintly describe as "an energetic campaigner, with some extremely eccentric and individualistic views") a suspended sentence for Contempt of Court. Personally I am pretty sure the McCanns are innocent but ...



42 states out of 50 require Mystery Inc to have more than a dog licence

...if you want my opinion as a professional promoter, it's not terribly wise to ask absolutely EVERYONE to LOOK for Madeleine as not all unlicenced investigators are of the same caliber as Mystery Incorporated and they may spend their time attempting to remove masks that are actually real faces. And call me Mr Cynic but I always doubted that a girl who was abducted in Portugal would be found by placing a sticky label in the Whitgift Centre branch of Superdrug. At best it's a bit of a long shot.

The only other example we could think of of someone being taken to the High Court for contempt of court was the case of Monika Dannemann...


...the ex-bird of Jimmy Hendrix who refused to stop repeating false allegations against Kathy Etchingham - she gassed herself in her car even though Mr Justice French made no order to commit Miss Danneman to prison or pay a fine after hearing she was in poor health and living on very little money from selling her paintings of Hendrix. After her death theories started to circulate that Hendrix had in fact been murdered and there had been rumours before that that she was in some way complicit or implicated if only by negligence in Hendrix's death or knew something unsaid but ...never mind about that that's another story we wont be commenting on as Kathy Etchingham aint dead and we dont know. And it's a completely unrelated story only stuck here as an example of just how rare Lible Contempt actions are.

Returning to the libel complaint of our claimant ...it was a worry to me that even if we were retarded enough to meet the individual concerned without legal representation and they approved the copy someone else involved could raise legal objections or they may give us half a story as there may be other things that even now cannot be said and probably shouldn't and we'd be back to square one - a void of avoiding comment and hiding under the table except to say once upon a time something happened. Sometimes it's just not possible to divine the truth and what may be visible may not be all - but speculating wildly on the invisible is, while enormous fun, sadly also potential libel.



Don't repeat the title of this man's show he can sue you

That said we do accept the argument that repeating some false information even in the course of denying a much more serious unarticulated libel may not be as helpful to the complainant as intended.  Whether in the context of the entire piece of 18,000 words (many of which were positive about the complainant and explanatory of the fact it was a false allegation) 6 clearly marked as disputable is its self a libel is a legal question which will surely tax the greatest minds in the legal profession till the end of time. As legal firm Carter Ruck explain on their website:

It is important to bear in mind that a person can sue for the repetition of a defamatory statement made by somebody else. However if it is made absolutely clear, when the words are read as a whole, that there is no truth in a rumour then this may be sufficient to remove the defamatory 'sting'. Be aware however that it is often considered that there is 'no smoke without fire' and it is possible that the publication even of rumour can be defamatory. Simply to make an allegation and add 'allegedly' or 'it has been alleged' will not in itself protect someone from a libel complaint, as readers will usually still understand there to be some truth in the allegation being made.

So wobbly ground to bet your house on but then again perhaps that's why copies of Gatley on Libel and Slander (which I believe is at least one politician's favourite bedtime reading) retail for over 300 pounds... that said we gave only the vaguest background information on a well known libel case and clearly identified that what we said was in this context and that the claimant WON their action. Just how absolutely clear do we have to be before we can talk about libel in the public interest? The "Inform" blog seems to manage to comment on libel while repeating actual libels ...is this a special privelege only available to special people and partners in Carter Ruck? We're meant to be in comedy, we're not supposed to just re-cycle the same problems-in-his-personal-life cliches but find new and different words. The whole point is to look at it differently - something this page which now reads like a legal textbook abjectly fails to achieve without sending even me to sleep.



Then again hopefully it is not insinuating there is smoke without fire to say that... just because an article is libellous does not mean everything in it is untrue. An article may say Mr X lives in Croydon and is a plonker. The fact that Mr X is not a plonker does not mean that he does not live in Croydon. However, the fact part of the statement is untrue undermines the article and publisher as sources of veracity. The best way to libel someone is not to tell a pack of lies but to arrange a series of truths into an unfounded opinion and to build upon that foundation a Babel-like tower of unsupportable comment. Or as the Master used to say ... a lie to work must be shrouded in truth.


After studying these moral and legal issues in depth Mr Brian Damage


..., the CEO and Jor-El of Pear Shaped, said...  

“My friends, you know me to be neither rash nor impulsive. I'm not given to wild, unsupported statements. And I tell you we must evacuate immediately. All unsupported statements and those involved in making them will be immediately exiled to the phantom zone even if, and indeed particularly if, it turns out that they have later retracted any part of what they previously said.“




After re-structuring the article so it would be more easy to do deletions on specific sections of it if required and putting our views on what the text actually meant to the complainant and setting out our view of the issues and verifying the claims they made about Judicial rulings which seemed to be false we attempted to re-negotiate with the complainant. They said:



"Nothing you have done since you originally published the article can erase or put right the damage that you will have done. That you have gone, at considerable length, to try to justify the original publication and, now, to alter it may be seen as an admission by you that you did repeat several libels against Andrew Pelling, or indeed created one or two more of your own. That rabbit is out of the hat now, and you cannot row back time to undo whatever damage may have been done. Three months ago, you were given the opportunity to meet and discuss how to temper and correct your inaccuracies and damaging article. This you refused to do. And you were quite rude and insulting about it, too. I am not inclined now to provide you with free advice to enable you to avoid compounding your previous errors. You will have to take responsibility for your own actions."

I was not aware of any rabbit needing to be kept in any hat - why is it damaging to someone for other people to know they've been defamed? It's certainly no damage to me for people to know I might have defamed Andrew Pelling. Anyone in comedy will tell you that Anthony Miller is a lady's most private part. Indeed Ava Alexis will tell you that for free. It's not news.

Surely the damage (if there is any) is in any defamatory statement its self which was supposedly not contextualised properly in order to remove its defamatory sting that no one can read as I have taken it down? If the information is not viewable where is the rush to re-publish the article?

What does "temper" mean? According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary it means to make something "less severe or extreme". That is not a matter of libel. It is my job to postulate extreme and, indeed, nonsensical views - that they are nonsense or extreme is not Messers Downes or Pelling's business (unless they're so extreme as to fall under UK hate laws) or are "unsupportable comment". If there was unsupportable comment could they clearly identify it? Perhaps the problem isn't that the statements are defamatory but unkind. As Miss Havisham might say "who am I, for God's sake, that I should be kind?". But even if this were the case they have had the master HTML for two and a half months ... ample time to revise it themselves. Given that they think these revisions are so important and the article so potentially damaging ...why would they not re-write or suggest revisions themselves ...simply because I would not meet them in person alone? This makes no sense to me. And why do I need to go to see them at all? Why dont they come to see me if they want to complain? I'm in the same place from 8:30-11pm every Wednesday and available to all the public. Mohammed must come to the mountain. What are they afraid of? My minder?





But anyway above is a graph of the enormous damage done by the article which had a very damaging 42 hits by 34 users in the time between me putting it online on the evening of July the 23rd and Steven Downes putting in his libel complaint (sorry "advice") on the morning of July the 24th when it was taken down. The statistics say that only 3 people in Croydon (and 25 in London) actually clicked on it? So that's me, David White who retweeted it and was told to delete his retweet and Steven Downes? Surely this falls below even Mr Justice Tugendhat's threshold of seriousness?



Even at this point we tried to negotiate with Mr Downes. I said "I donít trust you or believe you. I donít have to but if you can explain to me cogently in writing I will reconsider my opinions. Again you are offering me legal advice when the question I asked is "What do you object to?". Even if you can prevent publication it surely doesnít help your cause that I donít understand it."

And he said "It might surprise you, but I do not care what you think. Nor do I have to explain anything to you. You were offered help to get you out of a hole of your own making. You turned down that offer of help, somewhat lacking in grace in my opinion. You now have to live with the consequences of your own actions. I will not be entering any further correspondence on this matter."

How can you put in a libel complaint (sorry "advice") and then claim that you don't have "anything to explain"? Has he not read the pre-action protocol which says he has to explain or is he just a massive plonker who now realises that his own correspondence might be starting to sound incriminating?


I mean ... Me? Pelling? Alone? I'd rather not thanks. Not only has he been accused of assaulting his 2nd wife, his 2nd wife's father was accused of intimidation at a town hall planning meeting in 2008. Mr Pelling has had more than one brush with the law. Of course both are innocent till proven guilty ...that is, as Horace Rumpole would say, the "golden thread of British justice" (unavailable to libel defendants) ... but one would be stupid not to have concerns about meeting such persons in person with NO witnesses. It's not personal to Pelling - I wouldn't meet Alastair Campbell, Gordon Brown or Iain Dale alone for the same reasons. I guess this was also pretty much the view of the Conservative Chief Whip who according to Mr Pelling told him he could "appeal to the party board". Mr Pelling chose not to go through such a "show trial". We do not do show trials either. Got a problem? Learn to write it down in an email or shut up. But of course if we point this out in order to explain our reluctance to meet him in person alone (a very unusual remedy for a libel complaint) we are no doubt "smearing" him as well as, of course, potentially repeating two libels because adding allegedly is not enough.

Never-the-less I feel it is my duty to try and say things without a politician leaning over my shoulder ...so ... while it may seem silly to you or me to try to write a biographical synopsis of Mr Pelling's career as an MP that contained no contextualised references to anything either of his ex-wives said because such an article would be so divorced from any sense of reality as to annul its own usefulness ...this seems to be what they wanted. So here it is.

I must admit though I find this all a bit retarded since the right wing press repeat the same old allegations all the time. I wondered if they got the same kind of tellings off we did. So I asked a few of them. Here's a typical reply:

Hello Anthony,

no, tbg has never received any legal threats RE Pelling articles.

Wouldn't expect to as we've never made anything up and its all well documented with supporting links as evidence.

Kind Regards,

G.W.
BSc (Hons), MA

Managing Director, Creator, Editor
http://www.theblueguerilla.co.uk


...while we dont wish to cause Mr Pelling pain he doesn't need it does seem a tiny bit mad ...a world where everyone can talk about it but Anthony Miller? So welcome to Andrew Pelling club. The first rule of Andrew Pelling club is dont talk about Andrew Pelling. Not that I've turned blue or anything but neither have I taken any red whips. I'm just an ordinary party member who ...well, is. I dont know why Mr Downes gives a toss anyway given his frequent statements that he is "independent". Mr Downes muttered something in one email about there being enough scurrilous tossers that needed to be sorted out or something without me adding to them... I think they're called "the public", Mr Downes.

Maybe it seems more damaging or like a plot to Mr Pelling or Mr Downes because my brother is a Conservative activist (if you can call delivering a few leaflets "activism"). But really it isn't. I mean he felt betrayed a bit when Mr Pelling stood against Mr Barwell but ...well, you would. He's over it now. As to the relationship between Mr Pelling and his ex-wives ... well, my brother's met them both fleetingly I think at fundraisers but he's not exactly close enough to observe the dynamics of any of Mr Pelling's personal relationships. That's a complete mystery to both of us - other than what we read in the papers. Indeed I've said as much on their blog. What is the big deal? Beats me.

The thing is this. With this page we werenít attempting to damage Mr Pelling. We just put some stories that appeared in the papers into a roughly chronological order. With normal politicians like our old friend Colin Barrow you can do this. With Andrew Pelling itís a different matter because there are lots of bitter disputes. Many of them are interconnected too so removing one from the narrative causes it to not make sense causing potential unintended libels to other people by implication as ...as Andrew Pelling would say ... the reader then has a story but not the "full truth". We cant know what is and isn't true because so much is disputed (often by Mr Pelling but sometimes by others) and to be fair to Mr Pelling the press have not so much gilded the lily in his case as encased it in a golden and emerald sarcophagus and buried it somewhere in the Valley of the Kings along with retainer sacrifices so...



There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns Ė there are things we do not know we don't know... as Donald Rumsfeld would say. As far as I can see there are two explanations for this. The first is that Andrew Pelling is simply one of the unluckiest politicians in history.

Is it really a shock then that there should also be a bitter dispute over the wording of this page? I would point out that in version 1 we had got Pellingate into less than 100 words but I've reached the conclusion that if we had used 1 word or 1,000,000 it would always be too many too badly. Even if we were to meet in person and take Mr Pelling's version of events as true we could end up libeling someone else. There's no solution but to say nothing. But if you say nothing there's a conspicuous gap. I guess this is why they couldn't come up with a different way to edit it either...



Of course all of the readers had time to scan the 18000 words and pick out those that were very "damaging" to Mr Pelling as he MUST have been the primary focus of ALL their interest and mine. I'm not saying that Mr Downes is overly controlling of the media but no doubt if he edited this page it would be as short as his wikipedia entry which I have noticed is one of the shortest wikipedia entries on the planet. Even positive information such as the various awards he has won is redacted from it. No less than 2 IP addresses are accused on the talk page of "persistent vandalism" and multiple editors have attempted but failed to insert the most boring information such as that Downes is editor of Inside Croydon or had a libel argument with Gavin Barwell MP. Fortunately Downes own blog is "not a reliable source" but it doesn't seem in my experience to matter if you source to newspaper articles the page almost automatically snaps back to simply read that Steven Downes (born 22 November 1961) is a British sports journalist, television producer and a contributing writer for the Sunday Herald. Those words and those alone are all that may be said of Mr Downes on Wikipedia. Maybe this isn't down to the man himself but someone is managing Downes media image to an enormous degree for some reason. Why?



Anyway ...it seems even suggesting different forms of words in line with the pre-action protocol is seen as some admission of guilt not the following of a process. It is not. We are negotiating. We are trying to find a way between what they see as acceptable contextualisation, untruth and unsupportable comment and what we see as acceptable contextualisation, untruth and unsupportable comment. Once you move away from the first defence of truth to cover matters that are controversial there is a legitimate debate between the legal profession its self about how much contextualisation of accusations is legally required - we cannot pretend to be absolute authorities on this like Steven Downes ... well, we could but we dont wish to come over as a berk like him. Given that they're still threatening legal action (sorry, I mean "offering us advice") anyway without negotiation which is a clear violation of the spirit of the pre-action protocol we may as well just publish anyway. You may notice the individual themselves has not complained and neither has the complainant stated whether or not they are acting in an official capacity. This is, of course, so if it goes Pear Shaped and I tell them to get stuffed they can try to deny they are threatening us. Strange that we have had no communication from Andrew Pelling even though I made a point of CCing him into every part of the conversation. Pathetic attempts to try to confuse the issues about the nature of their complaint with us seeking legal advice dont fool me - and I doubt they will fool anyone else. After all what's all this shit about "guilt" if you're not actually complaining? I didn't ask for your advice and you never usually offer it on the content of this site. Only when it pertains to you.




So for the record we are not saying anything stronger about Mr Pelling than that we think he has been a WALLY. We did call Mr Downes rude words on twitter when he denied that any of the above is in any way threatening and we feel this is totally justified because he is a tedious and vexatious litigant (sorry "advisor") who has it coming and even feels the need to control the output of local nutters like Chris Wilcox... who could cause immense damage to lots of people by talking libel infront of his 267 twitter followers.





Unable to answer any of the legitimate points put to him (all be it in very plain anglo-saxon) Mr Downes resorted to the usual weapons of the political class - deny, smear and patronise. Attempting to portray me as some kind of racist mentalist - which really is libel. I'm not a racist just a ... It was very helpful of him and Mr Pelling to legally threaten (sorry "advise") the one retweeter of this article too. I am not in politics I dont have to smile while you attempt to knife me.




As Sir John Chilcot would say : The Pear Shaped Comedy Club is not a court of law. The Management of the Club are not judges, and nobody is on trial. But if the Club finds that mistakes were made, that there were issues which could have been dealt with better, it will say so. We feel that in future we could do better by sending out Salmon Letters in advance of daring to publish on the internet.

And we also feel that, in the same spirit of observing formality, it would be a good idea for some politicians to stop putting in libel complaints and pretending that they are not serious. We realise we are not allowed any political views on libel or marriage at all.

Despite our complainants' advice that legaling an article of this length properly would be prohibitively expensive we thought we would go to the effort of doing so and consulted with m'learned friends and the Fleet Street press for help. To our amazement many of m'learned friends were only too willing to help on a pro bono basis - after all if we mess up the mess could keep them in work for many years to come. We also found many Fleet Street hacks or ex-Fleet Street hacks awaiting trial who were only too willing to help for something to do while on bail - although the fact they were on bail in the first place did not encourage us ... even if they were police informants ...but here it is anyway. Our views on Mr Pelling's private life are now elsewhere, properly legalled on a libel insured website with far more readers - sue them.






Here's a graph of that stolen from A Comparative Study of Costs in Defamation Proceedings Across Europe By Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy Centre for Socio-Legal Studies University of Oxford



May be a bit out of date

Yes, despite the reversal of the presumption of innocence which you would think would make libel trials quicker (if less just) for some reason the costs of a libel trial in the UK remain 10 times those of any other EU nation.  Even those who win libel actions are often reduced to penury by the fact their costs often outstrip the awards and are so egregious they cannot recover them from the losing party resulting in the stupid situation that the best defence to libel is to have no assets so even if you are sued successfully costs can never be recovered.  All libel trials are pretty much heard by one person. Well, they used to be heard by a judge and a jury but there was so much huffing and puffing as to costs that the Defamation Bill 2013 more or less abolished the right to trial by jury as the cheapest possible way to cut costs without actually giving anyone legal aid. This is known as the Matthew Hopkins solution.  That this is obviously retarded goes without

If what politicians want is a humourless void let them have one is my opinion – but please do not then opine that there are
no political comedians” or that I've given my money to the Media Legal Defence Initiative and the Equity Trade Union instead of the Labour Party. 




An elephant in a room
that we are not going to talk about

We'll leave the final word on libel to Andrew Pelling ex-Croydon-Central-MP 2005-2010 who I believe is something of an expert in this area. Probably we should contact him before writing about him but we thought we might chance not doing so ... as Malik vs Jonathan Scott and Dewsbury and District Press never reached a conclusion because it cost too much to discover if you should ring a public figure absolutely every time you dare to write about them. You would think since he works in the media himself these days some of his very strong opinions about libel and privacy may have mellowed - particularly since his blog has been accused of libel by both Gavin Barwell MP and John Cartwright ex-loony now Conservative. But it seems not and who am I to tell them why holding fire in the one hand and water in the other may be a dangerous media strategy? Still what do you expect from a man who once asked the government to "bring pressure to bear on the Sri Lankan High Commission to make sure that it stops these attacks on Members when we are simply doing our job"? We aim to soon open a new branch Pear Shaped in Sri Lanka specifically for people who want to tell Andrew Pelling jokes that are not legal in the UK. Not that Mr Pelling didn't have a point about they said but if you want people to believe you are innocent till proven guilty constantly invoking laws where the burden of proof is reversed is clearly silly.

Here's the problem: "innocent till proven guilty" is the "golden thread" that runs through British CRIMINAL Law. As Judge Judy would say in CIVIL law the burden of proof is lower. So you cannot say Andrew Pelling is innocent without potential libel, you cannot say Lucy Slaytor has told lies about him without it being potential libel. If the Labour party doesn't select him to run for the council it runs the risk of being told it is treating an innocent man as guilty and if it does it is open to accusations it is sheltering an absuer. And if anyone dares to bring the subject up in public they are running a massive libel risk. Is there a solution? Maybe the Labour Party could ask the Conservatives if they have any information that is unknown to the general public because it is potential libel that could be shared under privelege between employers? Does the NEC have a transparent protocol for cases such as these? "There is no criminal conviction" may not wash with the voters - the selection of candidates is a civil matter so the burden of proof is lower? Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? And two words that I think aren't contentious from the original article "Who cares"? Well, we got an answer to that question : Steven Downes.




He is strongly identified with rebels, you see. And very popular with rabbles.
They will follow him ...Oh sorry that's Roj Blake.


That said I just said that we ought to give Mr Pelling the last word on libel and here I am rambling on...  We have quoted him in full as this is what he requested - although his speech is a bit long so I've put it in a text box:


Andrew Pelling: I should like to make some declarations of interest. I am a client of the excellent Carter-Ruck and I am currently taking recourse to the libel courts regarding issues relating to the media.

It is important that we recognise the vital role that the press plays in underpinning our liberal democracy—the way in which it endeavours to secure open government and to hold those in the public sector to account. In some ways, we need to ask why it is that the news media has to play such an important role—perhaps it is because the strength of the Executive within our political system is so strong that often Parliament is more neutered in that role compared with the media.

As 1960s’ children, many of us have grown up with an awareness of the importance of the national media’s role. In the US, we all remember the role that Woodward and Bernstein played in Watergate. Moreover, I remember the campaigning way in which The Sunday Times ran story after story on how the parents of children who had taken thalidomide had been so badly let down by both the drug companies and Government.

It is often said that the pen is mightier than the sword. Indeed, the pen is very mighty, which is why we have a legal system that ensures that if the media behave irresponsibly, people have recourse to the libel courts. Very often damage is done to families when kiss-and-tell stories or other revelations take place, and that damage is left behind for many years to come. Many people might well be tempted to tell their own story. Perhaps they might be offered money to tell stories, but they may all live to regret it subsequently.

However, we must be cautious about entering into a situation in which libel laws are greatly restricted, particularly when we remember that it is not necessarily Russian billionaires or those who can buy their way into protection who are affected. We just have to think about what happened to Kate and Gerry McCann. Four newspapers thought it appropriate and responsible to suggest that the McCanns had been responsible for the death of Madeleine and the disposal of her body. It is important to remember that it was the courts that brought the libel to an end, and the newspapers had to publish, on their front pages, in an unprecedented way, apologies to Kate and Gerry McCann.



I admit that I was frightened to come to this debate and to express my views about the media. One could be subjected to unbridled retribution by the media if one were to make comments about the appropriateness of libel laws. I hope that those who report my speech will quote me in full when I say that I feel strongly that it is important for Members of Parliament not to be intimidated by the press in speaking out on this issue.

I have had my own personal experience. A style of cut-and-paste journalism led to a report that suggested that when I was unwell, I had managed to work in the City, but not here. Those allegations were false. After several calls with journalists, I finally came upon a very empathetic female journalist from The Daily Telegraph who realised halfway through her interview that she was dealing with someone who had suffered previously from mental ill health. Unfortunately, very often journalists are looking for the story and not necessarily for the full truth.

We must bear it in mind that it is often particular newspapers from a particular newspaper group that perform the worst. If we look at the number of complaints that go to the Press Complaints Commission, it is clear that one group has far more complaints made against it. We must not cast aspersions across the whole of the media as a result of the behaviour of a very limited number of journalists. I was interested to see that the book “Flat Earth News”—recommended to me by Alastair Campbell in the briefest of chats—referred to a particular newspaper group that acts with unmitigated spite to cripple reputations, and to kill ideas regardless of justice and truth.



Alastair Campbell  - known at Pear Shaped towers
as Mr Veracity


I am very mindful of others who wish to speak, so I will bring my remarks to a conclusion after speaking briefly about the operation of conditional fee agreements, which was criticised earlier. CFAs are often wrongly described as a contingency fee agreement. There appears to be the perception that a lawyer in a successful case is entitled to a percentage of the damages won. However, the arrangement does not work in that way. If the case is lost, the lawyer gets nothing. If the case is won, the lawyer is entitled to be paid his basic charges in addition to a success fee, which is a percentage uplift on the basic charges. The winning client is entitled to seek to recover from the losing opponent his reasonable costs, which are assessed by the court if not agreed, and which may include a reasonable success fee and a reasonable after-the-event insurance premium.

Both the level of the success fee and the amount of the premium are also subject to assessment by the court if the costs cannot be agreed. Success fees are typically staggered. If a case is settled before proceedings are issued, the success fee will normally be capped at 25 per cent. It only increases to 100 per cent. if the case looks as though it will progress to trial, where the risks are much higher. The availability of ATE insurance means that if a client loses, the insurance will cover—up to a maximum of the indemnity in the original policy—the newspaper defendant’s cost. It is clear that libel lawyers under CFAs act for many people who are on income support, including individuals who may well have been falsely accused of extremely serious crimes.

There is great danger in how the Government and Parliament act because, in many ways, they always take rights away from those who are in the middle of society. The idea that, somehow, only those who are on income support can have access to CFAs strikes me as being yet another blow against the lower middle class and their ability to access the courts. Complaints are made about the cost of libel courts. Unfortunately, the reality is that the cost of all courts stops many of my constituents having proper access to them to defend their rights, whatever the issue.

As our job as comedy promoters is the telling of stories that are personal and not in the public interest (like Yuri Zhivago's poems) you may imagine why such sentiments are not always popular with us. Where would the world be if everyone went around telling their own stories? Reader, it would be anarchy.

In our view the speech above is genius. Particularly the part about sick leave which demonstrates perfectly the art of not saying anything literally untrue while talking complete and utter bollocks. Not that Andrew Pelling was a terrible MP. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of politics and was always pretty sharp at answering queries (when he was well) but... But the issue taken up the press was not did Andrew Pelling work in both places at the same time? ...but did he put his banking job before his job as an MP by allowing Richard Ottaway to continue doing his casework while finding time to work part time at an Investment Bank? To show what I mean let us re-analyse this seemingly simple and trivial issue of working on sick leave which seems to be actually much more complicated when you look at it in detail... ...surely something that can be sorted out simply be defining what "sick leave" is and then reading the Register of Members Interests? If Andrew Pelling is so sure he did not work on sick leave are we repeating a libel by repeating old news articles about it?  That's something we couldn't get to the bottom of but we believe in this case we are covered by qualified privilege because Mr Pelling brought the subject up in the Commons where he was covered by absolute privilege.  But anyway... here, as an example of the pointlessness of trying to re-source absolutely everything, is what we found out starting with the responses of Mr Pelling himself - again put into a text box to save space:



Seemingly Mr Pelling told the Mirror that “I was absent from the Commons and Tokai Tokyo at the same time. I made my way back to work, voting in the Commons and working a very few hours a week at Tokai Tokyo."  Experts in circumlocution may read that as a yes. We couldn't possibly comment (c) Micheal Dobbs

Seemingly Mr Pelling told the Croydon Advertiser that “I think my colleagues at Tokai Tokyo would have regarded my attendance there euphemistically as infrequent. I think by the time I got there it would have been about 4pm and then I would have left at 5pm. think (at the start) it was probably only three or four hours a month, but slowly but surely it went up to coming in one afternoon a week. It was very nice to go to Tokai Tokyo, even if it was only for an hour because they have been very supportive. I think it was a matter of me working my way back one step at a time and I would hope my constituents would understand that I was very ill and I was still suffering from mental health problems. In regards to taking a salary I think I would say that hopefully my 27 other years of working for Croydon can be taken into account, many of those unpaid. Being ill was not a matter of choice.."  Experts in circumlocution may read that as a yes but...

While he told the Daily Telegraph he did not think constituents would be angry to hear that he had been working there : "It was a very important part of my recovery. They were very supportive and they played a very fundamental role in my recovery… I would probably go in one day a week late in the afternoon when I was first making a return to work. I enjoyed going to Tokai Tokyo because it was a way of going back to work away from the glare of media interest, which contributed to my mental ill-health in the first place. What was good about Tokai Tokyo was that they stood by me and were there for me."

In an interview for the Depression Alliance Mr Pelling commented in response to the question : How did people react to your illness, professionally and personally?" : "My very much part-time City employer Tokai Tokyo Securities Ltd was exceptionally kind. The most senior person in the organisation made the effort to come to my home and ask how I was. Your horizons shrink when you have depression and often leaving the house is very difficult, I owe my employers a great deal, they were fundamental in my recovery. A lot of people in the Commons are also very supportive. This sadly was not the case with the Conservative Party.  But Parliament was different; I no longer had the whip because I had a mental health problem and I think they would have been a lot more sympathetic if it had been a physical illness. It was interesting and hurtful, the reaction I had from the Tax Payers’ Alliance when I was starting to recover. I was slowly trying to go back to work and they said in the press “either you’re ill or you’re not” We know it’s not like that; recovery is a slow and bumpy road. The comment betrayed a lack of knowledge really, not compassion.” 


In libel law one takes on the statements of other people as one's own by repeating them.  So we can use the quotation of the Taxpayers Alliance because Mr Pelling has quoted it.  Therefore we have taken onto ourselves the statements of both the Tax Payer’s Alliance and Andrew Pelling which are contradictory and if Andrew Pelling doesn’t like that he will have to sue himself.  We are now at least three people which is very confusing for us. 



Seriously though I have to agree with Mr Pelling it seems wrong that the papers are always looking for stories and not the “whole truth” and don’t seem to appreciate how complicated life really is.  I asked the Taxpayer's Alliance if anyone had complained about their comments on Mr Pelling. 

Dear Mr Miller,
 
The story to which you refer and on which the TPA was quoted date back to October 2008, long before I (and most of my current colleagues for that matter!) joined the organisation.
 
I am not therefore in a position to say a great deal more about it, except to say that I am not aware that there has been any kind of challenge about what was said in the nearly five years that have since passed.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Jonathan
 
Jonathan Isaby, Political Director


Re-sourcing material - It isn't always possible ...with the passing of time... to track down who exactly said what and why ... even if you try.  The person who actually gave the quotes to the press was Matthew Elliot who now hangs out down Big Brother Watch... and was in charge of the No to AV campaign.  So we asked Matthew Elliot.  Or we asked a bloke called Nick at Big Brother Watch who asked Matthew Elliot who said

Anthony,

I've spoken to Matthew and sadly he can't remember the comments made and his emails don't go back that far.

Best,

Nick



Just goes to show the difficulty of completely re-sourcing everything.  How politicians must dream of the days when old newspapers were used to wrap fish and chips instead of lingering online forever to be made seemingly contemporaneous by the magic of wordpress...



Of course the literal truth here is that Andrew Pelling did work for Tokai Tokyo while he was on sick leave ...didn't he ...unless he went into the office but wasn't paid for it which is what he seems to be saying?  While what he says may be true ... I doubt it would cut much ice for me if I was found to be gigging while on sick leave.  It certainly didn't wash as an excuse for Mr Hocus Pocus ...



...who lost his day job as planning manager for Legal and General after one of the HR team discovered him performing magic tricks at a relative's children's party for £20. I'm very careful to keep my day job and my performing careers professionally separated and I'm certainly not writing any of this at work on the company's time.  Then again it's not unknown for contractors to go into a client's office not to work but to vaguely tout for work - it's not impossible that Mr Pelling went to
Tokai Tokyo to put his face about rather than to be charged out.  The question is : does anyone give a toss? 



Even with the right of recall proposed by David Cameron MPs could still "
refuse to come to Parliament, could refuse to hold any kind of surgery or see constituents, could switch parties at a moment's notice, could even go on a two-year holiday without notice" according to Zak Goldsmith.  Fortunately Zak doesn't need a second income as his father was one of the richest and most ruthless asset strippers of all time and he's one of the heirs to a massive fortune.  Fortunately Lord James Goldsmith is now dead so we are allowed to call him an utterly objectionable individual.  Perhaps the answer to Pelling's "the story and not necessarily ... the full truth" conundrum is actually, as the Croydon Citizen would say, that there are



For example one more interesting truth that we came across on having to re-write this article almost from scratch is what Mr Pelling used to get paid.  From the Register of Members Interests:

2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc
Client relationship work for Tokai Tokyo Securities Europe Limited, 40 Basinghall Street, London, EC2V 5DE. Undertake financial securities company work.

Received payment of £6,240.39. Hours: 6hrs. (Registered 11 August 2009)
Received payment of £6,240.39. Hours: 6hrs. (Registered 16 September 2009)
Received payment of £6,240.39. Hours: 8hrs. (Registered 29 September 2009)
Received payment of £6,240.39. Hours: 12 hrs. (Registered 30 November 2009)
Received payment of £12,480.78. Hours: 10 hrs. (Registered 5 February 2010)
Received payment of £13,768.42. Hours: 10 hrs. (Registered 9 March 2010)


There's no real public interest in this it's just the politics of envy really but £1000 an hour?  Of course there's nothing wrong with a politician having a well paid sideline but one wonders how Mr Pelling would get on in Ed Miliband's brave new careerist world of not having a second job from which you take away more than 15% of your MP's salary. I also thought it might be very childish to point out to the many people who have threatened to sue Inside Croydon that their contributing editors may, unlike us, have assets. No wonder Mr Pelling voted to exempt MPs from Freedom of Information ... if I earned that much an hour I'd be sensitive about it too.  Also simultaneously to this Mr Pelling was also an ASM member ... no wonder he worked himself to a breakdown. Then again Mr Pelling's couple of hours a week at an investment bank are still piffle compared to what Gordon Brown gets up to ...

Remunerated employment, office, profession etc Payments as Distinguished Global Leader in Residence at New York University: Campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi and Florence. Hours: ongoing commitment.
Address: 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012:
Flights and transport paid for me and my staff; value £6,487.92 to New York campus. Hours: 5.5 hrs. (Registered 16 January 2012)
Flights paid for me and my staff to New York campuses; value £8,845. (Registered 14 May 2012)
Transport paid for me and my staff to New York campuses; value £1,598.14. (Registered 3 July 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this role personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payments as Chairman of the World Economic Forum Policy Coordination Group. Address: Route de la Capite 91-93, 1223 Cologny/Geneva:
Payment for staff and research of £43,955.27. (Registered 16 January 2012)
Payment for staff and research of £42,059.22 as Chairman of the World Economic Forum Policy Coordination Group. (Registered 17 February 2012)
Airfare and accommodation in Davos also paid for me and my staff; £11,045.92. (Registered 17 February 2012)
Payment for staff and research of £62,500 as Chairman of the World Economic Forum Policy Coordination Group. (Registered 28 March 2012)
Payment for staff and research of £23,271.91 as Chairman of the World Economic Forum Policy Coordination Group. (Registered 14 May 2012)
Airfare, transport and accommodation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, also paid for me and my staff; £10,950.91. (Registered 3 July 2012)
Airfare, transport and accommodation in Geneva, Switzerland, also paid for me and my staff; £2,035.20. (Registered 18 July 2012)
Payment for staff and research of £40,679.51 as Chairman of the World Economic Forum Policy Coordination Group. (Registered 27 November 2012)
Airfare, transport and accommodation in Tianjin, China, also paid for me and my staff; £12,032.38. (Registered 27 November 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Signature advance of £22,500 from Simon and Schuster UK Ltd, for book to be published in 2012. Address: 222 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8HB. Hours: Nil at time of registration. (Registered 20 December 2011)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payment of £62,901.91 for speech to Halter Financial in Guangzhou, China. Address of Halter Financial: 12890 Hilltop Road, Argyle, TX 76226, USA. Hours: 5 hrs. Flights and accommodation also paid for me and my staff; value £24,084.20. (Registered 16 January 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Accommodation and transport paid for me and my staff; value £767.30 for meeting organised by the Chinese Peopleís Institute for Foreign Affairs, Beijing, China. Address of Chinese Peopleís Institute for Foreign Affairs: 71 Nanchizi Street, Beijing 100006, China. Hours: 3 hrs. (Registered 16 January 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Flights, accommodation and transport paid for me and my staff; value £7,782.82 for speech to Doha UN Alliance of Civilizations, Doha. Address of Qatar Committee of UNAOC, PO Box 5825, Doha, Qatar. Hours: 1.5 hrs. (Registered 16 January 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Flights, accommodation and transport paid for me and my staff; value £4,197.68 for speech to 21st Century Council, Berggruen Institute, Paris. Address of Nicolas Berggruen Institute: 9720 Wilshire Blvd, 6F Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Hours: 2 hrs. (Registered 16 January 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Flights, accommodation and transport paid for me and my staff; value £6,645.44 for dinner and speech to World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), Doha. Address of Qatar Foundation: PO Box 5825, Doha, Qatar. Hours: 4.5 hrs. (Registered 16 January 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payment of £49,974.26 for speech to Ernst & Young on behalf of Sports Marketing & Entertainment Inc in Davos. Address of SME Inc: 11640 San Vicente Boulevard, Suite 204, Los Angeles, CA 90049, USA. Hours: 2 hrs. Transport also paid for me and my staff; value £624.38. (Registered 17 February 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payment of £61,893.34 for speech to Kuwait Finance House in Kuwait. Address of Kuwait Finance House: PO Box 24989, Safat 13110, Kuwait. Hours: 2 hrs. Flights and accommodation also paid for me and my staff; value £13,016.51. (Registered 17 February 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payment of £124, 494.99 for speech to Troika Dialog and Sberbank in Moscow. Address of Troika Diolog and Sberbank: 4 Romanov Pereulok, Moscow, 125009, Russia. Hours: 4 hrs. Flights and accommodation also paid for me and my staff; value £4,018.49. (Registered 17 February 2012; updated 28 March 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payment of £101,412.63 for speeches to MPSF, Inc in California. Address of MPSC Inc: 1229 Burlingame Avenue, #204, Burlingame, CA 94010, USA. Hours: 9.40. Flights, accommodation and transport also paid for me and my staff; value £31,290.39. (Registered 14 May 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payment of £335 for flight to University of San Diego in California for speech. Address of University of San Diego: 5998 AlcalŠ Park, San Diego, CA 92110, USA. Hours: 1 hr. (Registered 14 May 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payment of £49,006.23 for speech to Institute for Corporate Governance in Copenhagen. Address of Institute of Corporate Governance: Olof Palmes Gade 8, Copenhagen, DK-2100, Denmark. Hours: 3 hrs. Flights, accommodation and transport also paid for me and my staff; value £4,729.47. (Registered 14 May 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Flights and accommodation paid for me and my staff; value £12,470.46 to attend a forum in Mexico City hosted by the Nicolas Berggruen Institute. Address of Nicolas Berggruen Institute: 9720 Wilshire Blvd, 6F Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Hours: 2 days. (Registered 3 July 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payment of £49.497.95 for speech to Itau BBA in New York. Address of Itau BBA: Itau BBA USA, 767 5th Avenue, 50th Floor, New York, NY 10153, USA. Hours: 3 hrs. Flights and transport also paid for me and my staff; value £17,001.91. (Registered 3 July 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payment of £60,679.90 for speech to the Abu Dhabi Education Council Abu Dhabi. Address of the Abu Dhabi Education Council: PO Box 36005, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Hours: 1 hrs. Flights, transport and accommodation also paid for me and my staff; value £14,059.91. (Registered 3 July 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payment of £60,375.83 for speech to the Victor Pinchuk Foundation in Yalta, Ukraine. Address of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation: 2 Mechnikova Street, O1601 Kiev, Ukraine. Hours: 3 hrs. Flights, transport and accommodation also paid for me and my staff: value £9,843.24. (Registered 27 November 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payment of £48,916.68 plus flight and other costs, for speech to Czech Teleaxis. Address of Czech Teleaxis: Vaclavske namesti 802/56, PalacBlanik, Praha 1, 110 00 Czech Republic. Hours: 2 hrs. (Registered 27 November 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payment of £61,009.54 plus flight and other costs for speech to the Global Forum Secretariat in Seoul, Korea. Address of the Global Forum Secretariat: Korea Economic Daily, 13F Hankyung Bldg, 441 Junglim-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, 100-791 South Korea. Hours: 4.5 hrs. (Registered 27 November 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payment of £48,469.03 plus flight and other costs for speech to LL Global Inc. Address of LL Global Inc: 300 Day Hill Road, Windsor, CT 06095 USA. Hours: 3 hrs. (Registered 27 November 2012)
I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
Payment of £19,463.64 for speech to the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago. Address of Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago: 30 S. Wells St, Chicago, Illinois 60606. Hours: 3.5 hrs. (Registered 27 November 2012) I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally. It is being held by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown for the employment of staff to support my ongoing involvement in public life.
United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education. Address: UN Headquarters, New York, NY 10017. Ongoing commitment. (Registered 18 July 2012):
Airfare, accommodation and transport paid by UNESCO; value £5,011.44. (Registered 27 November 2012)
Airfare, accommodation and transport paid by the UN; value £7,790.75, to Timor-Leste. (Registered 27 November 2012)
Airfare paid by UNESCO; value £5,106, to New York. (Registered 27 November 2012)
Airfares paid for me and my staff by UNESCO; value £1,198, to Paris. (Registered 27 November 2012)
.” 


According to the Evening Standard Mr Pelling was off sick from January to July 2008
During this actual period of illness the Register of Member's Interests reads:

Remunerated employment, office, profession etc
Greater London Assembly Member.
Client relationship work for Tokai Tokyo Securities Europe Limited.


Dear Mr Miller
Thank you for your email.
I can tell you that the rules on registration of earnings did indeed change during the period you mention. Members have had to state the precise amount of their outside earnings since 1 July 2009. I have set out below the relevant Resolution of the House. (This Resolution was later modified in February 2011 to introduce financial thresholds, which are over £66 for individual payments and over £660 for the total of all payments of whatever size received from one source in a calendar year.)
For reasons I am sure you will understand, we are unable to comment on the Register entries of individual Members.

Yours sincerely
Heather Wood
Registrar of Members' Financial Interests


Contrary to press reports there is " no official authorisation is needed from Mr Speaker or anyone else for MPs to take sick leave.  Members have on some occasions written to Mr Speaker to inform him that they are covering constituency casework in the absence of another MP."

Mr Richard Ottaway MP said he had been given authority by the House of Commons to take over responsibility for Andrew Pelling's casework in the Croydon Guardian on the 28th of February 2008.

According to the House of Commons Mr Pelling's final oral contribution in 2007 was on 26 July 2007

There was also a written Parliamentary Question made by Mr Pelling on 9 October 2007


After he lost the Conservative whip in March 2007 Mr Pelling stopped voting at all (no doubt in protest) until December 2007. He voted once in December 2007, once in March 2008, 3 times in April 2008, 13 times in May, 7 times in June and twice in July. After the recess he starts to return to a regular pattern of voting from October 2008. The statistics on Public whip say that when he was a Conservative he voted 428 times out of 545 and when an Independent 341 out of 743.


The first contribution he made in 2008 was on 22 July 2008

To use the binary parlance of Messers Reeves and Mortimer ... Andrew Pelling worked on sick leave - true or false? It surely depends on the extent to which you regard being an MP as "a job" ... a fairly modern notion. There are no doubt some people for whom an MP who says nothing and writes nothing for 6 months is the epitome of excellence.  

Of course the geat thing about Mr Pelling from a writing perspective is he was, with his colourful private life and ability to get splashed all over the red tops, a comedian's gift.  Mr Barwell his succssor is so much more boring.  If you want to know about Mr Barwell he seldom makes the nationals so... 



Gavin Barwell is the one to the left of political turncoat Peppa Pig
Labour's Patrick Hall is on the right explaining Sure Start

....you must read his blog.  Here's what we learned about the-man-himself. 



On winning the candidacy he took his wife on their first "child free" holiday in 5 years  to New York where he discovered Mayor Giuliani had made the streets less mean and more clean.  He took his kids to Kidspace and got spotted by the general public.  He goes out canvassing in the rain goes home for dinner then goes back out.  He criticises ice cream van tunes.  Then as the election comes nearer he starts talking about policy and Pelling...   He tells us about being Chairman of the Governors at Whitgift - great way to win Labour supporters...  His campaign manager Lindsay Frost dies and  he writes an obituary.  He actually writes a lot of obituaries.  Blogs every day to polling day.  He took his agent and the chairman of the local Conservative Party to Daisy's cafe on the Lower Addiscombe Road for a fry up.



Classy. About the most interesting thing Mr Barwell does is to call people loonies instead of wrapping up his insults in complete sentences heavy with sophistry and circumlocution. Mr Barwell is plain speaking. If only more MPs would do human things like telling boring single issue campaigners to fuck off. What is most interesting is what he avoids speaking on. Like the Riesco debacle...   Okay I gave up ...he's too boring.  Perhaps this is why the press look for a story and not...


Then again maybe boring's not so bad... as Mr Joe Wells says:



"What is horrible is that these politicians seem to think that if they act like zany, up-for-a-laugh, goofballs then I will respect them more than if they behave like the aggressively dull individuals that they actually are. The truth is the opposite. I donít want funny politicians. I want funny friends, funny colleagues and funny comedians. But when someone has control over our education, healthcare and nuclear weapons I want them to be as boring as is humanly possible."


Yes it is always easiest to say nothing – because that’s how the political class likes it.  Except when they're talking under absolute privilege.  So here's NOTHING.
 


Apart from this nothing the partly-REDACTED article read:
Page 2: Candidate Selection goes Pear Shaped


Photo Credits

Telex by Jamie http://www.flickr.com/people/15587432@N02
Patrick_McLoughlin by altogetherfool http://www.flickr.com/photos/altogetherfool/4267349661/
Pandora by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Other photos stolen from Inside Croydon and the Croydon Advertiser
Rear bookcover rear of "The Hunting of the Snark" by Henry Holiday
Oona King by Dan McCurry
John Smith and Derek Hatton by ?
John Torode by Richard Gillin http://www.flickr.com/people/60652642@N00
Peter Hain by US Government
Iain Dale by the Police
Blackadder stolen off the telly
Other Photos stolen from Croydon Council and Croydon Labour
Guido Fawkes deserves to have his content stolen because he is too naughty
Lord Ashcroft card trick on his own website
Multiple Personality Disorder painting by Bahasa Indonesia
Sam Gyimah from his own website
Giles Grandma statue photo by Michael Wade http://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/492