The Brexit thread

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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:13 am

quite the brooch you have there judge! :)


Supreme Court:

Boris Johnson's prorogation of Parliament was unlawful


Massive defeat for PM


“When the Royal Commissioners walked into the House of Lords it was as if they walked in with a blank sheet of paper. The prorogation was also void and of no effect. Parliament has not been prorogued. This is the unanimous judgment of all 11 Justices.” ... ummary.pdf

The full judgment is here ... dgment.pdf ... 3082244098

Carole Cadwalladr

Look at this. Arron Banks’ LeaveEU had pre-prepared a harassment campaign against the ‘Enemies of the People’ - aka Britain’s Supreme Court judges - just in case of this eventuality. Ugly, scary, organised
Image ... r%5Eauthor

The Financial Times - not a lefty or anarchic rag - calls for Boris Johnson to resign as Prime Minister

Boris Johnson’s unlawful conduct has been called to account
UK Supreme Court ruling is an indictment of the abuse of executive power

2 hours ago

The ruling by the UK Supreme Court is a devastating indictment of the abuse of power by a prime minister — and of the holder of that office, Boris Johnson. The 11 judges unanimously concluded that Mr Johnson’s five-week suspension of parliament was an unlawful attempt to silence MPs, at the very moment the UK, through Brexit, faces the biggest shake-up in its constitutional status for decades. Mr Johnson’s claim that the suspension was a routine break before a new legislative session stands exposed. The judges found the prime minister in effect misled MPs, the British people, and the Queen. No future premier will be able to act this way again. The judges’ ruling marks a historic moment in the evolution of the UK constitution.

The court’s decision was a much-needed reminder that, even in the most testing political circumstances, Britain remains a representative democracy underpinned by the rule of law. MPs are elected to exercise their good judgment and take decisions on behalf of constituents. They hold to account a government formed from among their number. The executive is accountable to parliament, and parliament to the people. Removing parliament, even for a matter of weeks, breaks the chain of accountability. The UK system cannot allow a cabal around the prime minister to determine by itself the “will of the people” and attempt to implement it, while sidelining those whom the people elected to represent them. This is the road to tyranny.

The judges issued a judgment of impeccable logic and clarity. To those, including the government and the High Court in London, that argued prorogation is a political matter and no business of the courts they delivered a resounding rejoinder. Courts have for centuries exercised supervisory jurisdiction over whether government actions are lawful. In 1611, a court held that the King — who was then the government — “hath no prerogative but that which the law of the land allows him”.

The power to suspend parliament, the judges found, is limited if it conflicts with parliament’s sovereign power to make laws, and the government’s accountability to parliament. Prorogation is unlawful if its effect prevents parliament from fulfilling its functions — without a very good reason. In one of the most stinging passages of their ruling, the judges found the effect of Mr Johnson’s actions on British democracy was “extreme”, and that the government had put forward no proper justification.

The Supreme Court focused on effect and not, as senior Scottish judges had done, on the government’s presumed motive. Yet in delivering a unanimous judgment whose essence mirrored that of Scotland’s highest court, the judges brought together English and Scottish law. They implicitly demolished the hints from Downing Street that the Scottish judges might somehow be partisan. Since the prime minister’s advice to the Queen was unlawful and void, they ultimately concluded, prorogation was also void. Their judgment shows that the checks and balances in Britain’s unwritten constitution are working.

The spectacle of the courts ruling on parliamentary matters has caused understandable discomfort. Yet the judges intervened not of their own initiative. Their involvement was prompted by the prime minister’s own cavalier actions, and by the disquiet they provoked among many members of the public — including one of Mr Johnson’s Conservative predecessors as premier. In truth, the Supreme Court had little choice but to rule as it did. To find otherwise would have opened a dangerous path to a future prime minister suspending parliament indefinitely, brandishing a prior ruling that such decisions were no matter for the courts.

The ruling will restore some of the lustre to British democracy ground away by the chaotic handling of Brexit. This newspaper had argued that if Mr Johnson’s constitutional chicanery succeeded as intended, the UK would be poorly placed to criticise democratic shortcomings elsewhere. The Supreme Court, a fledgling institution barely 10 years old, has struck a blow for liberal democracy.

When strongman leaders, even in advanced democracies, are attempting to bypass legislatures or due process, the ruling sends a powerful message. In the age of fake news and alternative realities, it is refreshing that judges saw through Downing Street’s skulduggery.

Ardent Brexiters will dismiss the ruling as an “establishment” plot to thwart their determination to see the UK leave the EU at all costs. There have been disgraceful attempts to portray the judges as “enemies of the people”. This was not, however, a judgment on or against Brexit, but on the limits of executive power. The effect is to restore parliament’s ability to ensure the 2016 referendum outcome is respected, but not through a calamitous no-deal exit.

Mr Johnson’s no-deal strategy lies in tatters. Prorogation, always a high-risk gambit, has galvanised MPs to use the short time they had to bind Mr Johnson’s hands with legislation, and cost him his majority. Now this ruling leaves a stain on his character and competence. Faced with such a damning judgment, any premier with a shred of respect for British democracy and the responsibilities of his office would resign.

Mr Johnson has indicated he intends to carry on. He will attempt to brazen out this setback, as he has previous episodes that raised questions over his suitability for office. The reconvened parliament should have no truck with such behaviour, and pass a vote of no confidence in the premier. It should use its right to form a caretaker government that can secure an extension to the October 31 Brexit date and organise a general election. The judges have spoken. Now the people should have their say. This is how Britain’s constitutional democracy works. ... 24ec9edc59
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:18 pm


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Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby Iamwhomiam » Sun Oct 06, 2019 1:57 am


Surprised to see a cartoon trigger a long forgotten memory, a good one at that. The closing scene in a 1957 movie featuring a grumpy admiral having his rectal temperature taken for what seems too long and the pan to his butt with a tulip in full bloom sticking out.

"Don't Go Near the Water", based upon a ''56 novel by William Brinkley, was a very funny movie filled with censored obscenities. It does feature sailors, and one in particular has a remarkable vocabulary. Pardon my distraction, but I was not yet 9 when I accompanied my mother to the theater to see it. I still think it smacks of Ike's final warning, disguised by humor.

McHales Navy was based on this novel.

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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Oct 19, 2019 10:33 am

The UK Parliament just blew up Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans
Parliament just voted to make the prime minister seek a Brexit delay, even if his deal passes.

Jen KirbyOct 19, 2019, 9:51am EDT
Leaders Attend European Council Meeting
Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Brussels on October 17, 2019.
Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images
The British Parliament has made Boris Johnson’s premiership very difficult. Saturday was no exception.

This time, it spoiled the vote on his Brexit deal.

Parliament approved an amendment on Saturday that basically forced Johnson to ask for a Brexit delay, no matter what. It turned the vote on Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal from a dramatic decision to something far less meaningful.

The amendment, introduced by Sir Oliver Letwin, a former Conservative member of Parliament (MP) who’s now an independent, is intended to eliminate the possibility of an “accidental” no-deal Brexit on October 31, the current Brexit deadline.

That’s because even if Johnson’s deal passes, the UK still needs to pass legislation to put this deal — which is essentially a treaty with the EU — into law. In other words, two things have to happen for the UK to leave on October 31 with a deal: voting for Johnson’s Brexit agreement and voting on all the legislation around it.

Some MPs feared that if Johnson’s deal passed on Saturday, the government would try to rush through this legislation, which wouldn’t offer enough time for Parliament to scrutinize it fully. After all, divorcing the EU after decades is kind of a huge thing; the exit took three years, maybe it should take more than a week or two to get the legislation done.

There were also some concerns (unclear how serious) that some hardcore Brexiteers or skeptics of Johnson’s deal might vote for it on Saturday but then block or reject some of the implementing legislation, careening the UK toward a catastrophic no-deal exit on October 31.

So MPs came up with a plan to make sure the approval for the deal is deferred until all that accompanying legislation has passed, which they argue necessitates an extension to make sure there’s enough time to get that all done.

“My aim is to ensure that Boris’s deal succeeds, but that we have an insurance policy which prevents the UK from crashing out on 31 October by mistake if something goes wrong during the passage of the implementing legislation,” Letwin wrote in a note to reporters on Friday.

Essentially, this amendment is a sign that MPs — even if they’re ready to vote for Johnson’s revised deal — don’t really trust Johnson’s government and wanted to put this “insurance policy” in place to guarantee the UK won’t crash out of the EU under any circumstances.

The good news for the prime minister: This amendment is not an outright rejection of Boris Johnson’s deal, it would just postpone that decision.

Of course, there’s still a chance Johnson’s deal won’t pass at all. In that case, Johnson would have to ask for a three-month extension, anyway. Parliament voted on this back in September when they seized control to block a no-deal exit.

The Letwin amendment, then, is basically locking Johnson into asking the EU for a delay, no matter what happens with the deal vote.

There is a caveat to all of this parliamentary drama: All 27 EU leaders must agree unanimously to back an extension of any length. The EU has sent mixed signals on whether it will delay Brexit for a third time, but there’s a decent chance leaders will acquiesce if it means avoiding a costly and catastrophic no-deal exit at the end of the month.

At the same time, EU leaders are exasperated. They have insisted this is the last deal they can possibly make. Though they’ve said a version of this before, this time it really might be.

Johnson has staked his premiership on the promise that he would take the UK out of the European Union by the October 31 deadline, with or without a deal.

Given that, there’s some worry that Johnson might find a loophole — including sending a “second letter” to the EU that basically says, “Never mind what I said, don’t grant extension” — but otherwise there doesn’t seem to be much of a way out.

And Johnson has already gotten in trouble once in his few months in office for flouting the law; it’s probably not a great idea to try again.

Johnson’s Brexit deal isn’t dead yet, then. But this new amendment means, win or lose, Johnson will probably have to ask the EU for a little more time. ... parliament
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Oct 20, 2019 1:48 pm

U.K. Parliament Votes To Delay Vote On Johnson's Breakthrough Brexit Plan
Emma BowmanOctober 19, 20191:25 PM ET

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves No. 10 Downing St. to go to the Houses of Parliament in London on Saturday.
Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
Updated at 8:45 p.m. ET

The British Parliament delayed a vote on a Brexit deal by three months Saturday, another defeat for Prime Minister Boris Johnson amid what had appeared to have been a breakthrough in negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

As demonstrators marched through the streets of London calling for a second referendum, Parliament met for a rare Saturday session to vote on Johnson's new agreement. The session was supposed to be a straight up-and-down vote, but an amendment put forth by former Conservative Oliver Letwin and approved by Parliament delayed the vote by three months.

The amendment puts the brakes on an immediate vote on Johnson's plan, instead requiring Parliament to pass the legislation needed to implement his plan before the vote. This opens up the possibility of the plan being altered in the three-month span, with continued debate and amendments that would not have been possible with an immediate up-and-down vote.

Although Johnson has said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than seek a Brexit extension, he appeared to begrudgingly follow through with the approved amendment on Saturday in a series of conflicting letters to European Union leaders.

Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the EU requesting an extension of the Brexit deadline. European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted, "The extension request has just arrived. I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react."

But that letter was reportedly accompanied by a separate, signed letter expressing his disagreement with an extension. In the second letter, Johnson wrote to Tusk that "a further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners, and the relationship between us."

Tusk and the heads of state and government will have to approve the delay request unanimously. They will meet Sunday morning to discuss Saturday's vote in Britain.

For now, the U.K. is still scheduled to leave the EU on Oct. 31.

In early September, Queen Elizabeth II granted Johnson's request to suspend Parliament for five weeks after it refused to hold a snap election, limiting the body's ability to intervene and stop a no-deal Brexit. That move was later declared illegal by the U.K. Supreme Court, furthering the tension and resentment in Parliament.

Before Saturday's vote, Johnson appealed to the unity of a country that has been divided on the issue for three years and a Parliament that voted down former Prime Minister Theresa May's deal three times.

"Now is the time for this great House of Commons to come together and bring the country together today, as I believe people at home are hoping and expecting," Johnson said.

His Conservative Party does not have a majority, which required him to reach across the aisle on Saturday to opposition lawmakers in the Independence and Labor parties. Although Johnson did have some momentum on his side after the deal was announced, the Letwin Amendment was approved 322 to 306.

Enlarge this image
Demonstrators hold European Union flags and banners during a People's Vote march in London on Saturday.
Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Johnson's plan had the approval of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who called it a "fair and balanced agreement" that avoided the "need for any kind of prolongation," in a joint press conference on Thursday.

NPR's London correspondent Frank Langfitt spoke with Weekend Edition about the differences between Johnson's plan and former Prime Minster Theresa May's previous attempts.

"I think the deal is different in that he got some concessions out of the European Union, so that the U.K. would not always be stuck in a long-term customs relationship with the EU," Langfitt said. "People were afraid that could last forever."

"The other difference is that Prime Minister Johnson is much more charismatic and much more persuasive than Theresa May was."

The protests outside of the House of Commons could not be ignored Saturday, highlighting the divide of opinion over the country's relationship with the EU and over how the original Brexit referendum in 2016 was handled.

"Frankly, there's Brexit fatigue here. People are tired of this, and there's also a concern that if they don't get this done, they'll crash out of the EU."

Of great discussion regarding the implementation of Brexit is the status of a customs border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

On Twitter, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar condemned the Letwin Amendment, saying that Johnson's plan "defends Ireland's interests."

Leo Varadkar

· Oct 19, 2019
The EU & UK agreed a Withdrawal Agreement on Thursday that defends Ireland’s interests. The Commons voted today to defer a decision on whether or not to ratify that agreement. To date, no request for an extension has been made by the UK Government.

Leo Varadkar

Should that happen, President Tusk will consult all 27 Heads of State & Govt on whether or not we will grant one. Extension can only be granted by unanimity. #Brexit

10:19 AM - Oct 19, 2019
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Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Oct 21, 2019 7:35 am

This is startling (courtesy of @nicktolhurst). We knew that Dominic Cummings spent a lot of time in Russia in the 90s, but not that his brother in law used to run the Dmitri Firtash foundation


A "Hard Brexiter" Conservative MP has been under investigation by UK Intelligence agencies so worried are they not only by his “chaotic private life” & blackmail vulnerable private life. But also about his links to Pro Russian state officials & business interests.


John Whittingdale has been a long time member of All-Party Parliamentary groups for Ukraine, Belarus & other former Soviet States has attracted attention for a "persistent pattern of behaviour".


He is close to Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian gas oligarch & ally of Vladimir Putin. As a middleman for the Russian natural gas giant Gazprom, Firtash funneled money into the campaigns of pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine & business ally of now imprisoned Paul Manafort.


For two years Whittingdale dated Natalia Lokhanova, over 20 years younger of Belarus, whose father Nikolay was a USSR military officer. Natalia came to London in 2006 via Moscow from Belarus basing herself close to the Russian embassy.


Whittingdale is a regular visitor to many post Soviet states and is often seen in the company of much younger Russian/Ukrainian/Belarussian women including escorts.


Whittingdale has recived generous financial support from Dmitry Firtash - even though experts & Ukrainian politicians believe Firtash was behind the sentencing of Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011 to hinder Ukraine's European Union integration - for personal financial gain.


Whittingdale's generous hosts for these trips to Eastern Europe have included "entertainment".
Also worth remembering that UK based associates of Firtash have donated thousands of pounds to the Conservative Party.


Whittingdale has spent last few years helping to steer a more relaxed view on Ukraine. Also resisting combined Ukraine civile society/EU attempts to challenge censorship in Firtash TV/media outlets in Ukraine.
All while backing hardest version of Brexit.


Whittingdale's taste for young E European women is notorious but with Dominic Cummings holding reins of power he is now back in favour - Cummings' brother-in-law - Jack Wakefield is a longtime associate of Firtash & even worked as a Director of Firtash Foundation for 5 years.


Why is this Dominic Cummings link so important?

Well here's the kicker....


The Spectator (inhouse Brexit & Tory magazine) has been lobbying for Firtash & other Russian oligarchs for sometime.
The Spectator's commissioning editor you will recall is none other than Ms Mary Wakefield - wife of Dominic Cummings.

Don’t call him an oligarch – meeting Dmitry Firtash | The Spectator
Who is Dmitry Firtash? Can he solve Ukraine’s troubles? And why is he currently under effective house arrest in Vienna, awaiting extradition on corruption charges to the US, with his bail set at a whopping €125 million?

None of these questions has a simple answer — and when I fly to Austria to meet him it’s not even clear if I’m going to ask him. Firtash appears to be up for it, as far as can be ascertained via his barrage of minders, advisers, security and hangers-on. But his expensive American lawyers most definitely aren’t. It might jeopardise his case, they’re saying. Firtash mustn’t say a word about anything.

‘Who do they fucking think they are?’ says one of Firtash’s PRs. ‘I hate American lawyers,’ says another, from a different agency. (Firtash has three different firms representing him: a) because so much is at stake, and b) because, being worth several billion, he can afford it.) The wrangling goes on into the night and through most of the next morning. Besides American lawyers to contend with, there’s also a Rosa Klebb-like minder and several trusted business associates, each with firm and contradictory views on exactly what Firtash must and mustn’t do to better his cause.

While we’re waiting for them to decide, let me tell you why I’m interested. Dmitry Firtash is the Keyser Söze of Ukrainian politics — a mystery figure about whom you hear two very different stories. According to one version, he’s a benign self-made businessman who gives generously to charities around the world, with the power — perhaps greater than any other Ukrainian citizen — to steer his troubled country towards stability and prosperity.

According to the other, completely unproven version, which he denies, he’s Putin’s bagman, another of those crooked oligarchs who made their money through dirty means — and is now about to get his just deserts at the hands of the US legal system, which has the power to extradite him, imprison him and seize his billions.

Now’s our chance to find out, for here he is, finally, in a chair in front of me. He’s 48 and has watchful grey-blue eyes, a beaky broken nose, a close-cropped beard and the air of a man very used to being obeyed. He’s polite, even allowing himself a quick, sweet smile at times, but intimidating. When, for example, his young translator fails to make the grade, the speed with which he is ejected from the room and replaced is terrifying. If he doesn’t like your questions — he irritably batted away my first one, when I tried to get him to sum up, as simply as possible, the political situation in Ukraine — he lets you know. But once he has warmed up he’s unstoppable.

The question that gets him going is when I call him an oligarch — a term he loathes because ‘it belongs to the Nineties, to the era of perestroika’. He launches into a long, involved story which takes in much of his early life and outlines his personal business philosophy. ‘You make up your mind whether I’m an oligarch or not,’ he says with a watchful stare.

Firtash’s story begins in May 1965, when he’s born in the Ukrainian village of Sinkov, of humble parentage — father is a driving instructor, mother is an accountant. Because Ukraine is part of the Soviet Union, Firtash has low expectations for his future — study at Krasnolimansk Railway Vocational School, compulsory military service, then a degree from the National Academy of Internal Affairs in Ukraine, end up as a train driver.

Though he says he never intended to be rich, he clearly had drive and a rebellious streak. He tells how at 18, having landed a place at a college which might have postponed his military service, he spotted a girl he fancied in one of the all-women accommodation blocks. ‘I wasn’t pretty, but I was quick,’ he says. So he arranged a secret assignation in her fifth-floor room.

In the dead of night, he clambered perilously up the concrete balconies and stole into his inamorata’s bedroom. ‘I wasn’t wearing much and I didn’t mess about. I hopped straight into bed with her — but instead of finding something warm, young and tender, I found something larger and older. There was a loud scream.’ Firtash had accidentally got into bed with one of the senior course tutors. The next day, he was expelled, on the train and off to military service.

Like so many entrepreneurs of the era, Firtash made his fortune by cannily exploiting the instability and chaos which followed the Soviet collapse — in his case by acting as the middle man trading Ukrainian food supplies for Central Asian gas. ‘Where Moscow had once made the decisions, now we were on our own,’ he says. ‘None of us knew what we were doing, but we were learning really fast. By then I had a wife and daughter to take care of and my priorities shifted. Now I had to make money.’

This was something for which Firtash clearly had a natural aptitude. He is now one of the biggest players in the Central and Eastern European chemical and energy industry, with plants in Ukraine, Germany, Italy, Cyprus, Tajikistan, Switzerland, Hungary, Austria and Estonia. His companies employ more than 100,000 people, with an annual turnover in 2012 of $6 billion.

What’s his secret? ‘I work very hard — 16- or 17-hour days — with very few weekends off and only see my children on vacations.’ But the other factor in his success, he believes, is his enlightened approach to business, combining the capitalism of the West with the social conscience he learned as a worker in the days of the Soviet Union. ‘If you want people to work well for you, you have to look after them.’

Now you could argue that this is the sort of thing an oligarch would say. (You might also be cynical about the $230 million he has donated in the past three years to charity, such as a scholarship endowment at Cambridge and the Holodomor memorial in Washington.) But it would be a brave man who doubted the burning sincerity of Firtash’s commitment to his homeland: unusually among oligarchs, his children are all educated in the Ukraine, and his money — again much to the concern of his London financial advisers — is in one basket at home, not abroad.

Which is what’s so puzzling about this US extradition attempt: if it really is being done for geopolitical reasons — as many, including Firtash himself, suspect — it could scarcely be more counterproductive. What Ukraine needs is leadership: Firtash, though he has no political ambitions himself (‘yet’, he says), is respected across the country as an employer, a strategist and fixer, with sufficient cachet in both the pro-Russian and Maidan-nationalist camps to hammer out the kind of deal that might offer Ukraine an independent, even prosperous, future.

Among the things that Firtash would like to do — and was doing until his arrest, on the orders of the Americans, in Vienna — is secure Ukraine’s energy independence. In 2006, he negotiated a nifty deal whereby Ukraine could keep its energy costs down by importing some of its gas cheaply from Turkmenistan. Gazprom was cut into the arrangement, so the Russians were happy. But all his good work was undone by his arch-enemy, President Yulia Tymoshenko, who cancelled Firtash’s contract and replaced it with one more favourable to Putin. The result was that the gas price in Ukraine more than doubled, and Ukraine now finds itself the helpless — and indebted (it owes Gazprom $2.2 billion) — victim of Russian energy blackmail.

‘The superpowers don’t care about Ukraine, they just want to use it as a battleground,’ says Firtash. ‘For them it’s just a dot on a map, but for me it is the map. Because of its geographical position, obviously it will always have to look both East and West, but its future belongs with neither. We are an independent country with our flag and we should be able to forge our own destiny.’ ... y-firtash/


Which brings me back to the start.
Now keen googlers will know that 95% of info on this thread is publicly available.

Investigations into Whittingdale were started.
But, for some reason, stalled this....summer.

I'll leave it there.



Ive tried to set up this thread so that as much as possible can actually be confimred via mainstream media reporting.

Feel free to post confirmation links if you like - but try to avoid "more dubious" sites. Theres enough regular media to show this story stands up.

I’m grateful for those - I’m assuming Scottish tweeters - who pointed out that once again quite a few in Scottish media has been working on this story previously (as well as the “usual suspects”).

In case you missed it earlier.

Tory minister John Whittingdale could face intelligence probe over his private life

Whittingdale has links with Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian gas oligarch and ally of Vladimir Putin, who the FBI want on bribery and corruption charges.

07:45, 18 APR 2016Updated07:47, 18 APR 2016New Articles

Probe: Tory minister John Whittingdale could face probe over his private life (Image: Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Probe: Tory minister John Whittingdale could face probe over his private life (Image: Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
BRITISH intelligence services may investigate Tory minister John Whittingdale over a string of claims about his private life.

Spooks could probe Whittingdale’s links to former Soviet states and eastern European women to rule out a blackmail risk.

The Culture Secretary is a member of all-party parliamentary groups for Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Armenia and Moldova.

He has links with Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian gas oligarch and ally of Vladimir Putin, who the FBI want on bribery and corruption charges.

His former lovers include the daughter of a Soviet officer, an ex-porn star and a dominatrix he met online.

The latest revelations followed disclosures by his ex, former Playboy model Stephanie Hudson, of romps in his Commons office and the Savoy.

Stephanie, 36, told a newspaper yesterday how he sent her a picture from a Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s country bolthole, Chequers, in a major breach of protocol.

And she said she saw official papers as he worked at the breakfast table.

Labour MP Neil Coyle called on David Cameron to consider sacking Whittingdale, 56.

Coyle said: “It’s time he acted to save the Culture Secretary from further embarrassing revelations. He needs to examine Whittingdale’s position.”

Last week, Coyle reported the Tory to the parliamentary watchdog over an undeclared trip to the MTV music awards in Amsterdam.

Whittingdale took his then girlfriend, who was later revealed to be a dominatrix – which the MP said he did not know at the time. He claimed the jolly was below Parliament’s
registration threshold.

Coyle added: “Now he’s said to have been breaching security protocol and flashing photos of Chequers as well as allegedly sharing Cabinet documents.”

MI5 and MI6 are understood to be speaking to intelligence officers at the CIA and other friendly countries to see whether any agency such as Russia’s FSB have tried to influence Whittingdale.

He has declared thousands of pounds of trips funded by the Firtash-backed British Ukraine Society – to which he belongs – in the Commons Register.

He has also been spotted with east European women at public events.

Four weeks ago, he went to a dinner at the French Embassy in London with a young blonde he is said to have told guests was Lithuanian. Four years ago, he dated Natalia Lokhanova, then aged 30, who is originally from Belarus.

Her father Nikolay is believed to have been a Soviet military officer.

A former British intelligence officer said: “Whittingdale’s tastes would be of interest to a hostile intelligence agency like Russia’s. It isn’t necessarily what position he is now, it’s what job he might have in future.

“Intelligence officers will be looking to alert local station chiefs to talk to their contacts and make sure there hasn’t been a breach in some way.”

Lifting the lid on her romance with Whittingdale, mum-of-three Stephanie said they met on dating website

They began a relationship which carried on after last year’s election.

Stephanie and her twin sister Samantha were the first twins to appear topless in newspapers together. They were known as The Boobie Twins.

Stephanie also appeared in Playboy and in US soft porn series Hotel Erotica.

On their first date at a Chelsea art gallery, Whittingdale claimed he was a Russian arms dealer – but later owned up to being a Tory MP after she said she admired Margaret Thatcher.

In December 2013, Stephanie and Whittingdale, then the Commons culture committee chairman, got drunk on “the cheapest red wine on the list” in the American Bar at Londons five-star Savoy Hotel. The bill was £87.75.

“We started kissing passionately and it got quite steamy with his hands all over my boobs,” she said.

““We were warned to stop by the staff as it was upsetting other guests, but we soon started again, and were asked to leave. John said we’d better go.”

They also romped in his Commons office.

She revealed how Whittingdale insulted his Essex constituents.

She said: “I once asked him what he was up to and he said he was at a fete in his constituency with some ‘reprobate oiks’ – by which he meant the local people.”

She said divorced Whittingdale studied his Cabinet papers dressed in a blue silk kimono dressing gown at the breakfast table.

Stephanie said: “The Red Box was open on his breakfast table and all the papers were strewn on the table. He would show me his work schedule and the letters when I would sit next to him.”

Ministers should never leave the contents of their Red Boxes where their security could be compromised.

A source close to Whittingdale said last night: “John is a single man. He is entitled to a private life. We are not going to comment on all this tittle-tattle.

“Stephanie Hudson never had access to Government papers.” ... ld-7778045 ... 0828650502
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Oct 22, 2019 11:58 am

The Crime of The Century: A Post Referendum Chronology
EditorOctober 21, 2019
A thought-provoking exposé, shining a light on how, in allowing Brexit’s cheats and liars to avoid punitive justice, our democracy has been left in jeopardy.

Years in the planning, the 23rd June 2016 saw the UK’s representative democracy explode, leaving our parliament broken and our apathetic authorities blindly sifting through a debris field now stretching back over three years.

It’s only natural to believe that in times of national crises we’re protected; believing that living in a modern liberal democracy, our parliament, our executive and our judiciary will collectively enforce electoral laws that not only ensure fairness, confidence and legitimacy of electoral events but also prevent the rich and the strong from manipulating and abusing the weak and the poor.

Michael Gove – Vote Leave Committee Member 2016 – Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 2019.
Yet it’s now abundantly clear that, since June 2016, that protection has suffered a catastrophic failure. The rich and the strong, who are prepared to wantonly bend, break and exploit weaknesses in those laws, have done so with impunity; placing within their grasp their goal of a free market, small state, low tax, deregulated regime in which self-determinism fully replaces the collectivism of the British welfare state and the security of the European Union through the abandonment of hard won personal, environmental and consumer rights, freedoms and protections that we enjoy as EU citizens.

Many believe the answer to the Brexit impasse lies in having another referendum or yet another general election, conveniently ignoring the urgent need to address the legal deficiencies that were exploited to deliver this debacle in the first place, deficiencies that mendacious demagogues exploited as they lied, cheated and used their money to strangle our democracy in 2016.

What you’re about to read is a systemic failure, a systemic failure laid bare, a chronology in which there is a clear pattern of behaviour from those who delivered Brexit through lying, cheating and using money to break electoral law, they went on to lie and cheat the authorities – the Electoral Commission, the police and the NCA who have simply accepted what they have said with little or no oversight or investigation.

This isn’t something that’s hiding in plain sight, it’s in plain sight, staring everyone in the face, yet most of our politicians, our police and our media are looking the other way in what is little more than a daylight political robbery.

We need systemic change, not just our electoral laws but how they’re policed and how developments in media technology are controlled during electoral events.

We’re writing to our MPs to demand that the police, the NCA, the CPS, the Electoral Commission and members of those organisations involved in the 2016 EU referendum campaign are brought before the Home Affairs Committee as a precursor to a judge led public inquiry the likes of which has not been witnessed in British political history.

We suggest you contact your own MPs and demand the same, send them the chronology, you can download it here – ask them the same questions and demand that parliament provides answers.

70,000,000 people living in the UK and the EU are having their rights freedoms and protections taken away on the procured result of a glorified opinion poll; let’s all agree with Priti Patel when she said, “I want criminals to literally feel terror at the thought of breaking the law” because at the moment, those who broke the law to deliver a referendum result – a result that will have negative intergenerational impact – are not only getting away with it, they’re laughing at us and planning their next move.

All talk and no action…for a reason.
The Chronology

(1) March 2017, at the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) awards, held at Huntington Beach CA, Goddard Gunster win the ‘International Consultant of the Year Award’ for their work with LeaveEU and Nigel Farage. Farage gives the award acceptance speech.

Gerry Gunster and the LeaveEU campaign team wins an AAPC award
(2) April 2017, the Electoral Commission announce an investigation into the activities of LeaveEU during the 2016 EU referendum.

(3) May 2017, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announces investigations into the political use of private data amid concerns over allegations involving an analytics firm linked to a Brexit campaign.

(4) September 2017, with the Electoral Commission refusing to investigate Vote Leave, they receive a ‘letter before claim’ from the ‘Good Law Project’ outlining their failure to take any action relating to expenditure of more than £620,000 on services provided by a company called Aggregate IQ, further to the same sum being passed from the designated lead campaigning organisation “Vote Leave” to Mr Darren Grimes, a registered campaigner for the referendum.

(5) October 2017, the Good Law Project issue proceedings challenging the conclusions reached by the Electoral Commission over the spending return of Vote Leave, Mr. Darren Grimes and BeLeave. Shortly afterwards, the Commission agree to re-open its investigation into the relevant transactions.

(6) November 2017, the Electoral Commission, having previously declined to investigate Vote Leave on two occasions, citing a lack of evidence, announce an investigation into Vote Leave, Mr. Darren Grimes, BeLeave and Veterans for Britain.

(7) January 2018, Vote Leave’s lawyers send a ‘Pre-Action Protocol Letter’ indicating that it intended to judicially review the opening of the investigation; but given more details on the decision to investigate, they take no further action.

(8) May 2018, the Electoral Commission announce the result of their investigation into LeaveEU. They find LeaveEU guilty of multiple breaches of electoral laws included in the ‘EU Referendum Act 2015’ and the ‘Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000’ (PPERA) and fine them a total of £70,000.

(9) July 2018, the Electoral Commission announce the result of their investigation into Vote Leave, Mr. Darren Grimes, BeLeave and Veterans for Britain. They find Vote Leave guilty of multiple breaches of PPERA and fine them £61,000. Mr. Darren Grimes is fined £20,000 for an offence under section 117(3) PPERA and BeLeave committed an offence under section 117(4) PPERA. Mr. Darren Grimes is also guilty of an offence under section 117(3) PPERA but in light on the £20,000 fine the Electoral Commission decided not to impose a further fine. Veterans for Britain committed an offence under section 122(4)(b) PPERA and is fined £250.

(10) August 2018, the Electoral Commission decline to investigate the political party which props up the May government, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), over claims it coordinated its Brexit referendum campaign spending with Vote Leave in order to break legal spending limits. The Commission later disclose that even if it had found sufficient evidence of Vote Leave coordinating with the DUP, they decide that there would be no public interest in investigating the matter because Vote Leave had already been found to have coordinated with Mr. Darren Grimes.

(11) September 2018, the Electoral Commission lose a High Court legal challenge, from the Good Law Project, that argued the Commission failed in its duty to regulate the 2016 referendum. MR. Justice Leggatt ruled that the Commission had misunderstood the definition of ‘referendum expenses’ and, as a result of this misinterpretation, issued the wrong advice to Vote Leave in relation to £620,000 which Vote Leave sent, on behalf of Mr. Darren Grimes’ organisation, BeLeave, to a Canadian digital campaign company, AggregateIQ.

a) As a result of this ruling, Vote Leave claim, repeated by most media outlets, that this was the true reason for the massive discrepancy in their spending return and not that they had deliberately set out to circumvent strict spending regulations as the Electoral Commission had claimed.

b) Vote Leave Chief Executive, Matthew Elliott said at the time, “Vote Leave’s decision to give money to BeLeave rested on the advice we sought and were given from the Electoral Commission. We followed that advice, yet we were told that, by having followed that advice, we broke the law…the High Court has now ruled that this advice was wrong…today’s judgement effectively makes the Electoral Commission’s recent decision on Vote Leave redundant.” – see paragraph 24.

(12) November 2018, Shahmir Sanni, a Vote Leave / BeLeave whistleblower, wins his employment tribunal for wrongful dismissal against Tufton St entity, The Taxpayer’s Alliance (TPA). The TPA was founded by Matthew Elliott, Vote Leave’s Chief Executive. Mr. Sanni worked for the TPA following the 2016 EU referendum. By admitting to illegally sacking Mr. Sanni, the TPA were excused from disclosing communications between nine Tufton St entities – The TaxPayers’ Alliance, The office of Peter Whittle, former leader of the UK Independence Party, Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society Europe, The Adam Smith Institute, Leave Means Leave, The Global Warming Policy Foundation, Brexit Central, The Centre for Policy Studies and The Institute for Economic Affairs – all of whom, according to the evidence provided by Mr. Sanni, attended regular co-ordination meetings during the 2016 EU referendum as part of their political campaigning.

(13) November 2018, Vote Leave and BeLeave lose a High Court Judicial Review aimed at getting the findings of the Electoral Commission overruled, they argue that the Electoral Commission did not have the authority to publish their findings. The judgment by Mrs Justice Yip declared: “I do not consider that the claimant’s grounds are arguable”.

(14) February 2019, LeaveEU and Eldon Insurance, owned by its founder Arron Banks, are fined £120,000 over data law breaches. The fines followed an Information Commissioner investigation into the misuse of personal data by political campaigns. The ICO investigation found that more than a million emails sent to LeaveEU subscribers contained marketing for the Eldon Insurance firm’s GoSkippy services. Eldon Insurance were also fined £60,000 for the breach. UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “It is deeply concerning that sensitive personal data, gathered for political purposes, was later used for insurance purposes and vice versa.

(15) February 2019, following an earlier December 2018 decision in the High Court, in which the judge ruled their case was out of time and lacked merit, Wilson and Others v The Prime Minister lose their appeal for a judicial review of the 2016 referendum, specifically the legal validity of the PMs decision and A50 notification (based solely on the outcome of the referendum as the mandate) which the appellant claimed was impaired by the unlawful referendum campaign, as per the Electoral Commission findings in May and July 2018. See Note I below

(16) March 2019, the Central London County Court uphold the decision of the Electoral Commission to fine LeaveEU for four offences during the 2015 EU referendum; aspects of LeaveEU’s appeal were allowed, namely that their £247,000 spend with political consultant ‘Goddard Gunster’ was not reportable as the judge found this was ‘political strategic advice’ to Mr. Arron Banks personally and as such was not a reportable expense under schedule 13 of PPERA. LeaveEU’s fine of £70,000 was reduced by £4,000 to £66,000.

Electoral Commission’s Press Release on LeaveEU’s Appeal Case
a) Additionally, with regard to the £8m total, £6m + £2m, funding provided by Mr. Arron Banks, LeaveEU reported that “The loan agreement, to the LeaveEU campaign, was confirmed by the judge as being from Arron Banks and Rock Services was not a party to it.”

Andy Wigmore’s Victory Tweet Outside Court.
(17) March 2019, the UK privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioners Office, fine Vote Leave £40,000 for sending 196,154 unsolicited text messages during the EU referendum campaign.

(18) March 2019, Vote Leave withdraw their appeal against the Electoral Commission, paying fines and costs totalling £241,000.

Former MP and chair of Vote Leave, Gisela Stuart, defends Vote Leave, explaining that they had unfortunately destroyed their data and couldn’t prove their innocence. Gisela resigned her position as MP in 2017, taking up the role of Chair of Wilton Park, an Executive Agency of The Foreign & Commonwealth Office – Boris Johnson was in charge at the time.
(19) March 2019, Dominic Cummings, campaign director for Vote Leave, is found in contempt of parliament by The House of Commons Committee of Privileges who said, “Cummings’ refusal to give oral evidence to MPs constituted a significant interference in the work of the inquiry.”

(20) May 2019, at the London Assembly, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, confirms on camera, that, after twelve months, assessments, not investigations, of the evidence against LeaveEU and Vote Leave were coming to an end and a decision on whether to proceed to the investigation phase should be made in weeks, not months.

(21) July 2019, Mr. Darren Grimes wins an appeal, at the Central London County Court, against the Electoral Commission, with the judge ruling that the £20,000 fine be rescinded, adding that even if Mr. Grimes had committed an offence it would not have justified the maximum fine of £20,000. – See Note II below

(22) August 2019, the Metropolitan Police send a file on LeaveEU to the CPS for ‘early investigative advice’. In May 2018, the Electoral Commission had referred the responsible person at LeaveEU to the police because they were required, by law, to submit a complete and correct referendum return. It is an offence for that person to knowingly or recklessly make a false declaration. Civil sanctions do not attach to this offence; it can only be pursued via a criminal prosecution.

(23) September 2019, the Metropolitan Police, following the ‘early investigative advice’ from the CPS, conclude that, ‘whilst some technical breaches of electoral law were committed, there is insufficient evidence to justify any further criminal investigation into LeaveEU and cite that the Electoral Commission’s report into LeaveEU’s spending return should be read in conjunction with the County Court Judgment on 21st March 2019 (see paragraph 10) between LeaveEU Group Ltd and the Electoral Commission. – See Note III below

(24) September 2019, the Electoral Commission win an appeal over an interpretation of a point of law on referendum campaign donations and expenditure, which overturns an earlier High Court ruling from September 2018 – see paragraph 11b.

a) The High Court had ruled that three payments, totalling £620,000, made by Vote Leave Limited to an AggregateIQ, on behalf of Mr. Darren Grimes, who ran an unincorporated association called BeLeave, were “referendum expenses”. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, setting aside the previous order made by the High Court, and ruled that the correct interpretation of the legislation is that a donation to a campaigner cannot also be an expense incurred by the donor as maintained by the Electoral Commission.

b) The Electoral Commission welcomed the ruling that confirmed that they had correctly interpreted the law and welcomed the Appeal Courts ruling, saying, “In July 2018 we found significant evidence of undeclared joint spending between the lead campaigner in the EU referendum, Vote Leave, and another campaign group, BeLeave. We fined Vote Leave for this offence; they have since accepted and paid the fine.”

c) The Leave campaigns misinterpret the judgment, believing it to be another victory for the Leave campaigners. An typical example of the misinformation spread by the Leave campaigns and accepted by their supporters.

Misinformation from LeaveEU and a Leave supporting journalist.
(25) September 2019, the NCA find no evidence of any criminal offences committed, under PPERA or company law, by Mr Banks, Ms Bilney, Better for the Country Ltd or Leave.EU and no further action will be taken. – See Note IV below

Electoral Commission

Our statement on the National Crime Agency’s announcement in relation to its investigation into Better for the Country and other associated companies and individuals ... nouncement
Our full statement following the National Crime Agency's announcement is on our website

3:05 AM - Sep 24, 2019
Twitter Ads info and privacy

541 people are talking about this

(26) October 2019, to date, fifteen months since the Electoral Commission referred Vote Leave, the Metropolitan police have not reported on their assessment of the evidence presented to them on Vote Leave’s activities during the 2016 EU referendum – See Note V below


Whilst lawyers and jurists eagerly devoured the legal nuances and the skilful machinations of opposing counsels in this constitutional battle of wits, the majority of people were left bewildered at the all too apparent impossibility of the appellant achieving a successful result.

The government’s argument centred on a seemingly brain wrenching collection of contradictions. Firstly claiming that the application was out of time – the deadline was six weeks after the referendum – but then simultaneously claiming that the illegality, by the Leave campaigns, had not reached the necessary finality, almost three years on from the event.

It was then claimed that the equally necessary materiality, as described in the Representation of the People Act, in terms of cause and effect, had not been proven, yet the strict spending laws only exist to prevent people buying elections and, in the words of the Electoral Commission, “ensure fairness, confidence and LEGITIMACY of an electoral event.” There are no set limits or sliding scale for application of breaking these limits, they’re fixed at a predetermined level and Vote Leave and LeaveEU deliberately set out to break them.

‘Administrative Inconvenience’

Sir James Eadie QC (counsel for the PM) also stated in court that the ‘true position’ was that, Theresa May, in proceeding with her Brexit plan, was well aware of ‘notorious facts’ of the findings of the Electoral Commission, ICO, DCMS, of the police investigations and appeals lost, claiming that those findings were ‘all properly done’ and conceded that the referendum result was unlawful; yet revocation would essentially be an ‘administrative inconvenience’ due to the length of time having passed since the referendum and parliament having moved on, legislated and debated the matter.

Most perplexing of all, for the casual observer, is that the judges agreed with the respondent on this matter, which could be taken as a sign that the judiciary do not wish to be involved in the catastrophe parliament created.


a) In February 2016 Conservative MP and key campaign committee member of Vote Leave, Mr. Steve Baker, wrote to colleagues informing them of a loophole in the referendum legislation which they intended to exploit, explaining: “It is open to the Vote Leave family to create separate legal entities, each of which could spend £700,000. Vote Leave will be able to spend as much money as is necessary to win the referendum.”

“It is open to the Vote Leave family to create separate legal entities, each of which could spend £700,000. Vote Leave will be able to spend as much money as is necessary to win the referendum.”

Steve Baker MP – February 2016
b) PPERA, and the Electoral Commission’s advice booklets, are littered with the phrases, “knew, or ought reasonably to have known” and “without reasonable excuse” – their explanations on what does not constitute a reasonable excuses include, “acting under a misapprehension” and “inadvertence” – once again, these are not acceptable as reasonable excuses.

c) In March 2016 Mr Grimes applied to the Electoral Commission to register as a permitted participant for the EU Referendum. He put down the name of the campaigner as ‘BeLeave’, but ticked the box to say he was applying as an individual. His application as an individual was approved as, at that time, the unincorporated association ‘BeLeave’ was not eligible to register as a permitted participant as it did not exist; it would only have met the eligibility criteria in May 2016 when, by the act of drafting a constitution and agreeing to that constitution, BeLeave’s five Board members created an unincorporated association. That association, BeLeave, came into existence on or around 18 May 2016, no attempt was ever made to register BeLeave.

d) According to the Electoral Commission, Mr. Grimes application was therefore correctly processed at the time, as an individual, he was also given the opportunity to review his application, again, at the time of his application, yet never contacted the Commission. The responsibility to comply with the registration and reporting requirements rested with Mr. Grimes.

e) The ‘BeLeave’ organisation appeared to closely match Mr. Baker’s ‘loophole’ scenario. Whilst Mr. Grimes claimed ‘BeLeave’ was his initiative from the outset – he told the commission that he “ran his own campaign using his own facilities” – the Electoral Commission’s evidence revealed that Vote Leave drafted the constitution for BeLeave, their website was set up by Vote Leave, its content was created by Vote Leave, Mr. Grimes consulted Vote Leave on campaigning, all of BeLeave’s funding came either directly from Vote Leave or was arranged by Vote Leave, and Vote Leave had significant influence over how that money was spent with Vote Leave’s supplier, Aggregate IQ; all actions the Electoral Commission identified as illegally working in pursuance of a common plan with Vote Leave.

f) Whilst BeLeave may have contributed its own design style and input, the services provided by Aggregate IQ to BeLeave used Vote Leave messaging at the behest of BeLeave’s campaign director. It also appears to have had the benefit of Vote Leave data and/or data it obtained, via online resources set up and provided to it by Vote Leave, to target and distribute its campaign material. This was shown by evidence from Facebook that Aggregate IQ used identical target lists for Vote Leave and BeLeave ads, although the BeLeave ads were not run.

g) In April 2019, Mr. Steve Baker MP, whilst appearing on the BBC programme ‘Politics Live’ – when confronted with the email mentioned in paragraph ‘a’ of this note – confirmed that, “at the time I sent it, I believed that it was lawful, now I am extremely angry with the person who badly advised me, they’ve never taken responsibility for poorly advising me, to the point that I wrote that and have ended up sitting here today having to defend it, but I am absolutely clear that my conscience is free of any blemish on this issue and I would point out that that was written before the regulated period and people can make mistakes.” He refused to reveal who advised him.

Steve Baker MP – Vote Leave Referendum Scam
h) In July 2019, Mr. Darren Grimes successfully appealed his £20,000 fine. At the Mayor’s and City of London Court, Judge Marc Dight found that even if BeLeave did not have a formal constitution by January 2016, it was clear it was made up of like-minded people who had an agreement to campaign on Brexit in a certain way.

Judge Dight said Mr. Grimes had tried to meet his obligations to the Commission, in filling out the forms, and that his actions were not dishonest or lacking transparency and, importantly, ruled that the commission had misinterpreted the law, in applying an incorrect interpretation of the common law definition of an unincorporated association, and had set a key legal test that was “too high” to decide whether BeLeave had been properly registered. He also noted the complexity of the registration form that Mr. Grimes had to fill out which the court heard was “difficult to understand.”

i) Outside the court Mr. Grimes stated, “The Electoral Commission’s case was based on an incorrectly ticked box on an application form – something that it had been aware of for over two years and had not been raised in two previous investigations – yet the Commission still saw fit to issue an excessive fine and to spend almost half a million in taxpayer cash pursuing me through the courts.”

Darren Grimes Comfortably Using Scripted Conflation on Politics Live – Before Being Confronted With Reality…
j) This clearly wasn’t the case, there had not been two previous investigations and the Electoral Commission’s case was so much more than an incorrectly ticked box; there was plenty of supporting evidence, they had whistleblower testimonies from Mr Christopher Wylie, Mr Mark Gettleson and Mr Shahmir Sanni, there was even Mr. Steve Baker MP, a member of Vote Leave’s campaign committee, describing in an email how Vote Leave were going to break the strict spending rules in the referendum by setting up separate entities and funding them to the tune of £700,000; exactly what happened with BeLeave, a scenario Mr. Steve Baker admitted was unlawful, on TV, over three years after the 2016 event.

k) This was the weight of evidence presented by Sir James Eadie, counsel for the Electoral Commission. Mr. Grimes’ case was that the Electoral Commission should have done more to point out to him the error on his registration form, despite publishing guidelines and affording Mr. Grimes the opportunity to review his application after submission.

l) Given that BeLeave did not exist at the time of that application – so his applying as an individual was correct – and despite all the evidence – despite Vote Leave and BeLeave losing a judicial review the previous year, despite Vote Leave dropping their appeal and accepting their fine for working with BeLeave to a common plan – the judge decided that it was not beyond reasonable doubt, the threshold in a civil case, and appeared to be both empathetic and sympathetic towards the plight of Mr. Grimes by rescinding his fine.

m) How can BeLeave be guilty, but their responsible person, Mr. Grimes, not be guilty when the Electoral Commission makes it abundantly clear that the responsibility to comply with the registration and reporting requirements rests with the responsible person?

Note III

a) Unable to obtain a copy of the judgment from either the London County Court or the police – it’s unpublished and they’ve both ignored all requests – it’s down to piecing together what happened from a journalist’s social media post, an Electoral Commission press release, a boast from LeaveEU and other publicly available sources.

b) In court, LeaveEU appears to have claimed that American strategist firm ‘Goddard Gunster’ provided strategy advice to Mr. Arron Banks personally, and not LeaveEU, therefore making it a non-reportable expense under PPERA.

c) This news went unreported by the MSM at the time, save for a single Guardian journalist, David Pegg, who tweeted, “The judge found that the group did not need to report spending with the US political consultancy Goddard Gunster because political strategic advice is not a reportable campaign expense under PPERA.”

d) Contemporaneously, LeaveEU claimed, “Goddard Gunster, the judge held, was not campaign expenditure and rules in our favour.”

Gerry Gunster Not Working For LeaveEU
e) It is almost beyond belief that Goddard Gunster only provided advice when there is an abundance of evidence, both pre and post-referendum, that Gerry Gunster was not working for LeaveEU but that their operation was directed by him. This evidence includes TV appearances, social media posts, accepting an award from the AAPC, a parliamentary appearance and a telling news article in PR Week, dated 29th June 2016, in which stated:

“A Goddard Gunster employee told PRWeek that the firm had some of its staff embedded in the LeaveEU office in London, and that 10 staff in the US were assigned to the account, while CEO Gerry Gunster regularly travelled to the UK.”

f) The same article also includes direct quotes from Arron Banks on the activities of Goddard Gunster, in relation to their activities with LeaveEU. Banks said that the social media activity also helped to create; “an extremely useful database that Goddard Gunster was able to mine, allowing it to conduct in-depth demographic polling and recommend precision target-messaging.”

g) He went on to say: “Our ground campaign could be focused on those areas where the ‘Leave’ movement had to make its greatest inroads to tip Brexit over the line. For example, we were able to direct or redirect our nationwide battle bus tour to those areas identified as holding large numbers of ‘persuadables’ – and those persuadables who were most likely to be receptive to the LeaveEU message as opposed to the rather staid, impersonal messaging of other campaign groups.”

h) The above statement by Banks’ echoes what business partner, Andy Wigmore, said on both social media and in interviews to the press, namely that Cambridge Analytica were involved in the beginning, Wigmore said: “Cambridge Analytica provided initial help and guidance to the LeaveEU campaign, which then went on to develop its own artificial intelligence analysis methodology. The AI machine learning was developed in Bristol by 20 mathematicians and actuaries with input from Cambridge Analytica at the very beginning and then executed by Goddard Gunster.”

i) And then in July 2019, over three years after the referendum, Parliament published a letter from former Cambridge Analytica employee, Brittany Kaiser, in which she stated: “Chargeable work was completed for UKIP and LeaveEU, and I have strong reasons to believe that those data sets and analysed data processed by Cambridge Analytica were later used by the LeaveEU campaign without Cambridge Analytica’s further assistance.”

j) Arron Banks finished his PR Week interview by stating: “Goddard Gunster managed a near-exact referendum prediction of fifty-two to forty-eight in favour of Leave, while establishment pollsters got it wrong yet again.”

k) Backing up the PR Week piece was an interview with Gerry Gunster himself in a June edition of the Washingtonian, who, asked by Elaina Plott, “You helped run this campaign from DC. What was a typical day like for you?” Gerry Gunster replied: “Goddard Gunster embedded staff in the LeaveEU office in London, and I myself spent a good deal of time in the UK. And it was not just London—Oxford, Manchester, Bristol, the Midlands and more. But while I was in the US, my typical day started with waking in the wee hours to respond to emails and hold calls with LeaveEU staff before heading into my office.”

Banks at the Master Investor Show March 2017
l) Later that same month, in March 2017, at the Master Investor Show – run by Banks’ business partner, Jim Mellon, – Banks, talking of the EU referendum, stated: “We used some American technology that used artificial intelligence, which funny enough we’re now using on our business so we’ve had some good business wins out of it, but essentially with a very large poll of nearly 20,000 people, using artificial intelligence on social media, we got the result within 0.1%, fifty-two forty-eight, so the technology around using social media to work out trends is much more powerful than traditional polling companies.”

m) Was this evidence presented to the judge? When did the police interview Gerry Gunster and former staff of Goddard Gunster? What did the Electoral Commission rely upon in their case and what did the judge rely upon when making his/her decision? Obtaining the unpublished judgment would be the first step to understanding and answering these vital questions.

Note IV

a) Via ‘Better For The Country Ltd’ Arron Banks donated a total of £8,000,000 to various campaign groups during the 2016 referendum. The source of this large sum of money inevitably drew suspicion due to Banks’ companies chequered performances and his use of opaque offshore entities.

November 2018, Banks on Marr Show Twice Confirms That The Money Was GENERATED by And SUPPLIED by ROCK SERVICES, a British Registered Company.

Once Again, Banks Explains The Source of The £8,000,000
b) When first questioned on the source of the funding, Banks, during an earlier BBC interview, at first claimed it was his own money, a story which then evolved into it being supplied by one of his UK registered companies, Rock Services Ltd, a company which generates money in the UK; a story he also told to camera at the DCMS committee in June 2018 and on the Andrew Marr show in November 2018, above.

c) However, as seen in paragraph 10 of this timeline, LeaveEU appear to have presented evidence in a March 2019 court case which convinced the judge that the money did not originate from Rock Services Ltd but from Banks himself.

d) The NCA released a more definitive explanation in September 2019. Their investigation concluded: (e-g)

e) “Mr Banks took a loan from Rock Holdings Ltd, a company of which he is the ultimate beneficial owner. He was legally entitled to do so.”

f) “Mr Banks was legally entitled, in his capacity as an individual, to release these funds to Better for the Country Ltd, by instructing another of his companies, Rock Services Ltd, to make the transactions on his behalf. The loan was in fact to LeaveEU but the monies were paid to Better for the Country Ltd as it administered the campaign.”

g) “Rock Holdings Ltd was not involved in these transactions in a manner which contravened PPERA.”

h) Whilst Mr. Banks, as the ultimate owner of Rock Holdings, is clearly legally entitled to take a loan from Rock Holdings Ltd – as would be any other director – the company is a legal entity in its own right, a legal entity registered in the Isle of Man and, as with any legal entity, its assets, including money in its accounts, does not belong to its directors or its ultimate owner, it belongs to that legal entity.

i) PPERA clearly states, “Regulated donees should note that the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar do not form part of the UK and that companies registered there are not permissible donors or lenders under PPERA.”

j) Clearly this was not the story that Mr. Banks told to the BBC or the DCMS. How, given the restrictions under PPERA, did a regulated donee accept a loan from an intermediary (Banks) which was ultimately from an impermissible lender – an Isle of Man registered entity – a scenario highlighted as a criminal act, a transaction that would be void, and, as with any money received by the donee impermissibly, would be required to be repaid?

k) There is a precedent for determining the ultimate source of a donation. PPERA states, “It is the legal responsibility of a regulated donee, when receiving a donation, to take all reasonable steps forthwith to satisfy themselves that the source of a donation is permissible within the relevant rules.”

l) It is well known that there are specific rules governing the identification of donors to political parties in Northern Ireland. In 2018, when the Electoral Commission appeared before the DCMS, they were questioned on the true and ultimate source of another opaque donation from the 2016 EU referendum, £434,981 supplied to the DUP by the Constitutional Research Council (CRC), an unincorporated funding organisation fronted by former Scottish Conservative chair, Richard Cook, a funder of the Conservative MP and leader of the European Research Group (ERG), Steve Baker, the author of the infamous memo describing how Vote Leave were going to circumvent EU referendum spending laws.

m) With regard to the donation from the CRC, the then head of the Electoral Commission, Claire Bassett, told the DCMS, “We are restricted by law on what we can say about any donations made before 2017; it is a situation that we do not really want to be in, it is deeply regrettable” whilst Louise Edwards, Head of Regulations at the Electoral Commission, when asked whether there was a common plan between the Constitutional Research Council donating £435,000 to the DUP and their booking of an advert for £280,000 in the Metro newspaper, in London, on behalf of Vote Leave, (including spending £32,000 with AggregateIQ), Ms Edwards replied, “There is not a way for me to answer that question that does not put me in breach of the law, I am afraid”.

n) When asked whether the money from the CRC donated to the DUP was from the UK, and not of foreign origin (which would make it impermissible in UK law), Claire Bassett replied that “we were satisfied that the donors (to CRC) were permissible.”

0) The synergy is clear; as with Banks, the CRC was acting as an intermediary, a conduit for money from another source. The Electoral Commission were satisfied that the ultimate source of the CRC money was permissible, but are unable, under electoral law relating to Northern Ireland, to reveal that source. With Banks, the NCA has identified that the source of the money, used to finance the LeaveEU Group Ltd referendum campaign, was Rock Holdings, an Isle of Man registered entity and therefore impermissible.

p) By way of explanation, when Banks received a loan from Rock Holdings Ltd, that money became his money, in the same way money going into the accounts of Rock Holdings Ltd become its money. The money of an impermissible source.

q) The NCA have not revealed any further details on the ultimate source of the money in the Rock Holdings account, that was used to provide loans to Banks. There are no laws restricting them from doing so.

r) The Electoral Commission state that, “The spending limit is a vital tool, which parties and campaigns are subject to at every election and referendum, to ensure a fixed ceiling on campaign spending. It is one of the KEY rules set out by parliament to ensure fairness, confidence and legitimacy of an electoral event.”

s) Did the NCA fully audit the management accounts and bank accounts, of Rock Holdings Ltd, to determine where the money, used to provide the loan to Banks, came from?

t) In December 2018, Banks confirmed that he had “given the police our bank statements and a full account of where the money came from.” In the same month, Rock Holdings Limited was threatened with charges of dissolution after being found in violation of Manx registry laws when the owners of Rock Holdings Athol Street office, where the company was at that time registered, filed a declaration which told the directors they had ‘no authority’ to use that address. The Isle of Man Company Registry gave Rock Holdings two months’ notice to resolve its situation which prompted the directors to act and secure a valid address. Why did the Electoral Commission state in their press release on the results of the NCA investigation, “We are concerned about the apparent weakness in the law, highlighted by this investigation outcome which allows overseas funds into UK politics”?

u) We have a serious problem in this country. The Electoral Commission and the DCMS have made recommendations to government over our outdated and inadequate electoral laws and they have been ignored.

“We are concerned about the apparent weakness in the law, highlighted by this investigation outcome, which allows overseas funds into UK politics.”

– The Electoral Commission – September 2019
v) The former head of the Electoral Commission, Claire Bassett, whilst still in-post, stated, “there is a challenge, where you’ve got overseas actors, acting overseas to influence in this country.”

Note V

a) In July 2018, Vote Leave was issued with a £61,000 fine by the Electoral Commission, in November 2018, Vote Leave lost a judicial review against that fine with a ‘Cummingsesque’ claim that the regulator did not have the authority to investigate them. In March 2019 they accepted their fine and costs paying out almost £250,000.

b) Vote Leave was fronted mainly by former cabinet and high-profile members of the Conservative party, many of whom are in now power today including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s special advisor, along with many members of his Vote Leave backroom staff.

c) Given that there was no investigation into LeaveEU by the Metropolitan Police – the referral, as confirmed by Cressida Dick, never got past the ‘assessment’ stage which relied on a seventeen month long exercise by a non-dedicated team of officers sifting through thousands of documents from the Electoral Commission and ‘early investigative’ advice given by the CPS on which the Metropolitan Police reached a decision that no criminal investigation would take place, a decision apparently predicated on the evidence provided by the Electoral Commission’s report into LeaveEU and an unpublished judgment in an appeal by LeaveEU which they substantively lost but which allowed key and important elements.

d) Notwithstanding the glacial pace of the Metropolitan police, their decision not to conduct a criminal investigation into LeaveEU is perhaps understandable given that the CPS advice is predicated on a seventeen month old report by the Electoral Commission and a court judgment which (allegedly) removed some criminal elements of the case against LeaveEU thereby muddying the waters of a criminal prosecution. However, this is not the case with Vote Leave; having lost a judicial review over their Electoral Commission fines and then dropping their appeal, paying their fines and costs totalling almost £250,000, there would appear to be very little in the way of prosecuting Vote Leave save for Darren Grimes case where he’s not guilty but his organisation, BeLeave, remain complicit in Vote Leave’s guilt.

e) There’s nothing important riding on the Metropolitan Police’s decision over Vote Leave – just the fact that 70,000,000 people, and hundreds of millions in generations to come, could be losing rights, freedoms and protections afforded by membership of the EU, due to illegal and possible criminal activity of people who are now running the country, and who delivered the result of the 2016 EU referendum. ... -jeopardy/
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Oct 28, 2019 9:02 pm

Brexit: What just happened with UK election vote?
A European Union flag flies outside the Houses of Parliament in London, 23 October 2019Getty Images
The UK parliament has just rejected Boris Johnson's bid to call a snap general election - for a third time - despite the prime minister arguing it would help "get Brexit done". But there remains a chance that the UK could have a pre-Christmas election.

So what just happened?

Does the UK really want another general election?
How did Johnson lose (again)?

Well - and this has an element of irony to it - the leader of the UK's governing Conservative Party cannot just choose to hold an early election.

As a legal requirement, Mr Johnson needs the support of two-thirds of MPs - at least 434 - but is short of seats in the House of Commons, making this tricky.

Without a majority, he has to convince members of the opposition to vote in his favour.

Monday's vote was rejected after the leader of the main opposition Labour Party said he did not trust Mr Johnson and would not agree to a poll until the prospect of a no-deal exit from the European Union had been definitively ruled out.

Labour MPs earlier complained that Mr Johnson's new deal, the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB), contained plans to dilute workers' rights after Brexit.

Word 'adequate' removed from Brexit worker rights plan
It was also suggested that the prime minister could change the election date after MPs had approved a 12 December poll, enabling him to postpone until after the UK had left the EU, effectively forcing through the WAB.

Labour abstained in Monday's ballot, meaning that despite 299 MPs voting in favour and only 70 voting against, the bill failed to get the required 434 votes to pass.

What happens next?

Believe it or not, another vote on whether to have an election on 12 December.

That's right; Mr Johnson is refusing to give up on a pre-Christmas election.

On Tuesday, he will propose a new motion in the House of Commons calling for an early election that will require a simple majority of just one vote to pass in parliament.

He will seek the support of opposition Liberal Democrat and Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs by making the short bill "almost identical" to one proposed earlier by the two parties for an election on 9 December.

Mr Johnson's new motion, however, will be subject to amendments - which could draw out the process.

Will an election sort out Brexit though?

Not necessarily.

The Brexit deal agreed between Mr Johnson and the EU is in limbo after MPs voted against the three-day timetable to pass it through the Commons last week.

But while an election could restore the Conservative Party's majority and give the prime minister more leverage in parliament, an early election also carries risks for Mr Johnson and the Tories.

What is in the new Brexit deal?
Brexit: What happens now?
Leaving the EU by 31 October "do or die" was a key campaign promise in Mr Johnson's bid to become prime minister but he has since accepted an offer from EU leaders to - in principle - extend Brexit until 31 January 2020.

As a result, voters could choose to punish him at the ballot box for failing to fulfil his campaign pledge.

A general election is supposed to take place every five years in the UK. The last election was in June 2017.

Is another referendum likely?

A new vote on Britain's EU membership is one possibility in breaking the stalemate over Brexit.

But organising another public vote would take a minimum of 22 weeks, according to experts at the Constitution Unit at University College London (UCL).

This would consist of at least 12 weeks to pass the legislation required to hold a referendum, plus a further 10 weeks to organise the campaign and hold the vote itself.

Also - and this is a recurring theme here - a government cannot just decide to hold a referendum. Instead, a majority of MPs and Members of the House of Lords would need to agree and vote through the rules of another public vote.

What about the Brexit extension?

EU Council President Donald Tusk said the latest agreed extension was flexible and that the UK could leave before the 31 January 2020 deadline if a withdrawal agreement is approved by the British parliament.

Katya Adler: Brexit dance goes on
The extension will need to be formalised through a written procedure among the 27 other EU nations following agreement from the UK.

An EU official said they hoped for the process to be concluded by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Is no-deal still possible?


While Mr Johnson has formally accepted the EU's offer of a Brexit extension until 31 January 2020, it does not mean that a no-deal Brexit is off the table. Rather, it pushes the possibility further into the future.

No-deal Brexit: How might it affect the EU?
Mr Johnson is likely to continue to try to push his deal through Parliament and if his efforts fail before the deadline for Britain's exit is reached, the UK could leave without a deal.

What is 'no-deal Brexit'?
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Nov 01, 2019 8:01 am

A. J.

In the end we will find it’s all connected- the UK and US election interference, the Brexit debacle. All of it the work of a trans national crime syndicate who managed to figure out the wormhole needed to pit us against one another for their benefit. For money and power.


John Sweeney

Dominic Grieve says Intelligence Committee report on Russian interference in UK politics being blocked by Number Ten? Has the PM something to hide? ... 3216069635


Johnson accused of withholding key report on Russia from voters
Fears that report into security threat posed by Russia may not be published before election

Juliette GarsideFirst published on Thu 31 Oct 2019 08.58 EDT
Boris Johnson
The report was sent to Boris Johnson a fortnight ago and was expected to have been cleared by now. Photograph: James Veysey/Rex/Shutterstock
Downing Street has been accused of sitting on an explosive parliamentary report on the security threat posed by Russia to the UK, which examined allegations that Kremlin-sponsored activity distorted the result of the 2016 EU referendum.

The cross-party intelligence and security committee said it had expected Boris Johnson to approve publication of the 50-page dossier by Thursday – and there was now a risk its publication would be prevented before the general election.

Dominic Grieve, who chairs the committee, complained in the Commons that no explanation for the “apparent delay” had been given by Downing Street, which had been sent a final draft of the report on 17 October.

If Downing Street fails to approve the report before parliament is dissolved on Tuesday, it will not be possible to publish it before the election on 12 December, even though Grieve told MPs it “comments directly on what has been seen as a perceived threat to our democratic processes”.

It is understood that the dossier examines allegations that Russian money has flowed into British politics in general and the Conservative party in particular. It also features claims that Russia launched a major influence operation in 2016 in support of Brexit.

One of those targeted by the Russians at the time was Arron Banks, Nigel Farage’s financial backer. The Briton was offered the chance to invest in a gold deal by Russia’s ambassador to the UK but he ultimately declined. Banks has consistently said that he did not take any money from Russia.

The report is understood to have already been cleared by Britain’s intelligence agencies but a Downing Street spokesman said the approval process “usually takes several weeks to complete”. Sources said the process typically lasts six weeks and the document had only been sent over two weeks ago.

Intelligence and security committee sources responded by saying that Downing Street’s claims were not true and that the normal approval timescale was not six weeks but 10 working days. Opposition politicians accused Johnson of staging a political cover-up ahead of the election.

Ben Bradshaw, the Labour MP for Exeter, asked what ministers had to hide by withholding clearance. “People will be justified in drawing the conclusion that the report’s findings are compromising or worse for the government and the Tory party,” he said.

The intelligence and security committee, which meets regularly when parliament is in session, had been working on a report about Russian attempts to infiltrate Britain’s democratic processes for several months. It had hoped to make its recommendations before the election, which has been widely anticipated for some time.

But Grieve, making a point of order in the Commons on Thursday morning, warned that the release of those recommendations may now not take place. “Parliament and the public ought to have, and must have, access to this report in light of the forthcoming election and it’s really unacceptable for the prime minister to sit on it and deny them that information,” Grieve said.

John Bercow, the Speaker, said ministers would have heard the appeal, adding: “I would hope that as the leader of the house [Jacob Rees-Mogg] is sitting on the frontbench, we might make progress on this matter. It can be expedited, potentially, and the leader might be willing to act as a messenger and we’ll have to see what the result is.”

How do I register to vote in the 2019 general election?

Bercow said he hoped that it would not be necessary for Grieve to have to raise the matter again.

One of those who gave evidence to the committee was William Browder, a financier and human rights campaigner. His testimony raised concerns about the willingness of former British diplomats, intelligence officers and establishment figures to work on behalf of Russian interests.

Browder’s evidence named Boris Johnson’s election adviser Lynton Crosby and former Labour attorney general Peter Goldsmith among those who have conducted advisory and lobbying work on behalf of Russians who wanted to avoid being hit by EU economic sanctions.

When reports of its work first emerged, Lord Goldsmith’s law firm, Debevoise & Plimpton, said it could not comment on confidential matters and that everyone is entitled to legal representation. Crosby’s firm, CTF Partners, said it was not involved in lobbying and simply conducted research on behalf of the law firm.

The intelligence and security committee exists to provide cross-party oversight of the government’s security and intelligence activities. Its reports are cleared by Downing Street to check if there is any information that it believes would be prejudicial to the UK’s national security interests.

Stewart McDonald, the SNP’s defence spokesman, said: “Boris Johnson has now had this report for two weeks and it would be wholly unacceptable for parliament not to be given its contents before being dissolved.” ... are_btn_tw
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Nov 05, 2019 8:08 am



PM accused of cover-up over report on Russian meddling in UK politics
No 10 refuses to clear release of report into Russian political interference before election

Luke Harding
First published on Mon 4 Nov 2019 07.58 EST
Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson has been accused of presiding over a cover-up over No 10’s refusal to allow the 50-page dossier to be released. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images
Boris Johnson was on Monday night accused of presiding over a cover-up after it emerged that No 10 refused to clear the publication of a potentially incendiary report examining Russian infiltration in British politics, including the Conservative party.

Downing Street indicated on Monday that it would not allow a 50-page dossier from the intelligence and security committee to be published before the election, prompting a string of complaints over its suppression.

The committee’s chairman, Dominic Grieve, called the decision “jaw dropping”, saying no reason for the refusal had been given, while Labour and Scottish National party politicians accused No 10 of refusing to recognise the scale of Russian meddling.

Fresh evidence has also emerged of attempts by the Kremlin to infiltrate the Conservatives by a senior Russian diplomat suspected of espionage, who spent five years in London cultivating leading Tories including Johnson himself.

It can now be revealed that Sergey Nalobin – who once described the future prime minister as “our good friend” – lives in a Moscow apartment block known as the “FSB house” because it houses so many employees from the Kremlin’s main spy agency.

The committee’s report is based on analysis from Britain’s intelligence agencies, as well as third-party experts such as the former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, and is subject to a final clearance from Downing Street. That has to come before parliament is dissolved on Tuesday if it is to be released ahead of the election.

Downing Street sources stated that was not now expected to happen in time, claiming the sign-off process typically takes six weeks. A No 10 spokesman added: “There are processes reports such as this have to go through before publication, and the committee is well-informed of these.”

However, it is understood the dossier has already been approved by the intelligence agencies themselves as part of a long clearance process that began in late March. Downing Street was sent a final draft on 17 October and had been expected to sign off the report by the end of last week.

Grieve said: “The protocols are quite clear. If the prime minister has a good reason for preventing publication he should explain to the committee what it is, and do it within 10 days of him receiving the report. If not, it should be published.”

The dossier specifically examines Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 EU referendum. Members of the committee – which meets in secret because of the sensitivity of its work – had wanted to make recommendations to introduce greater safeguards ahead of the December poll.

Ian Lucas, a Labour MP who sits on the culture media and sport select committee, which has conducted related inquiries into the conduct of the EU referendum said “the government needs to come clean about its view on Russian interference in British politics”.

Ministers have argued that there are no examples of successful Russian interference in UK elections, but Lucas said that this needed to be properly tested: “This decision looks like it is designed to avoid proper scrutiny of what we actually know.”

Allegations that Moscow money has flowed into the Conservative party via emigres living in the UK making high-profile donations, were also heard by the committee – although the party has consistently denied receiving money improperly.

In 2014, Lubov Chernukhin – the wife of the former Russian deputy finance minister – paid £160,000 to play tennis with Johnson and David Cameron. The match was the star lot at a Conservative summer party auction. Another guest at the 2013 fundraiser was Vasily Shestakov, Vladimir Putin’s judo partner.

Committee members were also briefed on an extraordinary – and for a while an apparently successful – attempt to penetrate Conservative circles by Nalobin, who instigated a pro-Kremlin parliamentary group, the Conservative Friends of Russia.

During his time in the UK, Nalobin went to exclusive Tory fundraising events and met senior Conservatives. In January 2014 he posed for a photograph with Johnson at an event at city hall in London. Nalobin posted it on Twitter, writing in a caption that the then mayor was “our good friend” who said “warm words” about Russians.

Conservative Friends of Russia held its 2012 launch party in the Russian ambassador’s Kensington garden, with about 250 Russian and British guests present, including Tories who went on to play a prominent role in the referendum campaign. One was Matthew Elliott, now chief executive of pro-Brexit group Vote Leave, alongside Dominic Cummings, now the prime minister’s chief strategist.

Sergey Nalobin
Sergey Nalobin at the launch of Conservative Friends of Russia at the Russian embassy in August 2012. Photograph: Handout
Another guest was Johnson’s future girlfriend Carrie Symonds, a Tory party activist. At the time she worked in the office of John Whittingdale, the pro-Brexit MP who was the group’s honorary vice-president. The group collapsed after revelations of Nalobin’s alleged ties with the Kremlin’s SVR foreign intelligence agency.

Over the weekend, the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, raised questions over Cummings’ connections to Russia, and the levels of security vetting to which he had been subject, after an official whistleblower raised concerns with her.

Thornberry asked if Cummings had been asked about his relationship with members of Conservative Friends of Russia, as well as the purpose of his three-year period of work in post-communist Russia between 1994 and 1997.

The Guardian’s investigation was carried out with the The Insider, an independent Russian news website. Property records show that Nalobin owns an apartment at Michurinskiy Prospect 27, in south-west Moscow. The block’s ties with state spying are so well established that sellers are able to advertise their properties in the “FSB house” at above market rates.

Peers held a special debate about the withheld dossier, after an urgent question from the cross-bench peer David Anderson, a national security expert, who insisted the delay was unjustified. “It invites, I’m afraid, suspicion of the government and its motives,” he said.

Earl Howe, responding for the government, told peers: “The length of time that the government had had for this report is not at all unusual. It was delivered on 17 October – that is not a very long time ago. And the prime minister is entitled to take his view on what the report contains.”

Stewart McDonald, the SNP’s defence spokesman, said: “Parliament is about to be sent packing into a general election without fully understanding the extent to which Russia has meddled in our most recent democratic electoral events.” ... are_btn_tw
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby MacCruiskeen » Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:59 am

^^Harding. Luke fucking Harding, Christ, he's shameless. When did he crawl back to the Groaniad? Who released him from under his stone?

Luke "Assange met Manafort" Harding, the notorious fucking liar and definite spook.
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"Ich kann gar nicht so viel fressen, wie ich kotzen möchte." (Max Liebermann, Berlin, 1933)

26 March 2020: US Space Force NatSec Rocket Launch
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:09 am

Brexit, the ministers, the professor and the spy: how Russia pulls strings in UK
Carole CadwalladrSat 4 Nov 2017 16.00 EDT
The charges filed against a Trump aide shocked the US – but also shed new light on the complex connections that link Russia to Brexit and the Foreign Office

The Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, left, with Joseph Mifsud at the Russian embassy.
On “or about” 25 April 2016, a member of Donald Trump’s campaign team emailed his line manager with good news. His efforts to make contact with the highest levels of power in Moscow had borne fruit: “The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr Trump to meet him when he is ready.”

This was George Papadopoulos, a 30-year-old foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign who was arrested by the FBI in July, it was revealed last week, after lying about a series of meetings with a man the FBI described as “a professor based in London”.

The next sentence in his email added a line of explanation: “The advantage of being in London is that these governments tend to speak a bit more openly in ‘neutral cities’.”

The Papadopoulos indictment is a riveting read – a sober, tautly worded document whose contents may have exploded across the news cycle like a dirty bomb, but which sticks to the facts. In doing so, it could provide not just evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Putin regime, but also the first cold, hard evidence of Britain’s central role.

This is a political scandal in which the stakes keep rising. Evidence of Russian influence keeps mounting. And in Britain, hard questions are only just starting to be asked despite the dramatic developments in the US. Last week also saw two US Senate committees hauling Facebook, Google and Twitter before them. Russian-sourced US election ads they had run had been paid for in roubles, a senator pointed out. Why didn’t Facebook spot that?

But on Brexit, Facebook has said nothing. Not a word. No ads have been scrutinised. Nothing – even though Ben Nimmo of the Atlantic Council thinktank, asked to testify before the senate intelligence committee last week, says evidence of Russian interference online is now “incontrovertible”. He says: “It is frankly implausible to think that we weren’t targeted too.”

Last weekend, the Observer asked why Nigel Farage has not been questioned about his connections to the Trump-Russia investigation, particularly regarding his relationship to Julian Assange, whose WikiLeaks website published thousands of internal Democratic party emails in the run-up to the US election. But last week’s revelations introduce a whole new cast of characters. And at the centre of it all is London – this “neutral city” – playing the same strategic role that Vienna did during the cold war.

Alok Sharma
Alok Sharma: met Mifsud several times. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA
“The entire city is a nest of spies,” a British intelligence source told the Observer this year. “There’s more espionage activity here now than there was even at the height of the cold war.”

On 25 April 2016, the world had no clue about Papadopoulos, about Trump and Russia, or about the man quickly identified as the “London professor” – a 57-year-old Maltese academic, Joseph Mifsud. Reached by journalists, Mifsud confirmed that the US indictment refers to him but denied any knowledge of its claims about links to the Kremlin, or of knowing about “dirt on Hillary” in “thousands of emails”.

But what the document does not spell out – and what the Observer has learned – is that both Mifsud and Papadopoulos also had links into the heart of the British government.

We publish evidence today of several confirmed meetings between Mifsud and Alok Sharma, the MP for Reading West and a Foreign Office minister until June this year. It was this relationship between Mifsud and Sharma that put the “London professor” directly into the orbit of the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, two weeks ago – at a fundraising dinner attended by both Johnson and Mifsud, with Mifsud telling a colleague he was returning to London from Rome to “have dinner with Boris Johnson … re Brexit”.

The Foreign Office has confirmed that a third minister, Tobias Ellwood, met Papadopoulos at the UN general assembly in September 2016. Ellwood ignored multiple attempts by the Observer to contact him and has refused to comment on how the contact was made or what was discussed.

Three Foreign Office ministers approached in three different ways. Yet when asked last week if there was any evidence of Russian interference in British politics, Johnson said: “I haven’t seen a sausage.”

Johnson cannot have been looking very hard. He is far from the first senior politician to be targeted – a group that includes some of his closest colleagues in the Leave campaign. Because what the Observer and Guardian’s investigation into foreign influence in the EU referendum is starting to reveal is that the tentacles of US influence and money, and Russian influence and money, reach much deeper and further into the British political establishment than we have yet understood.

In Britain, on 25 April 2016, the news was dominated by the forthcoming vote. “EU referendum: Boris Johnson claims ‘elites want to remain in Europe to keep hold of power’” said the headline in the Independent. The referendum was less than two months away and Johnson was the figurehead of the official Vote Leave campaign.

The surprise announcement last week from the Electoral Commission of an inquiry into “the true source of donations” to Leave campaigners is focused on Arron Banks – the main donor behind Farage’s fringe Leave.EU campaign. But Johnson was at the head of the “official” campaign – the commission designated Vote Leave as the government-approved campaign, an honour that meant it got to spend £7m, including £600,000 of taxpayers’ money. And although he was still mayor of London, Johnson was Vote Leave’s show pony – the charismatic figurehead who led from the front.

He was not the legal head of the campaign. That was Matthew Elliott, 39, a political strategist who had registered Vote Leave Ltd at Companies House and filed the legal documents with the commission. In 2004, Elliott had founded the TaxPayers’ Alliance, a rightwing pressure group advocating low taxes and minimal government, and he had worked his way up the political ladder to win one of the most coveted and responsible jobs of 2016: chief executive of Vote Leave.

If Johnson wanted to understand how the Russian government had deliberately targeted British political figures and spent years cultivating relationships with key individuals, he could have looked to the man responsible for leading his own campaign.

Matthew Elliott, the former head of Vote Leave, was also a member of Conservative Friends of Russia.
Matthew Elliott, the former head of Vote Leave, was also a member of Conservative Friends of Russia. Photograph: Peter Nicholls / Reuters/Reuters
In 2012 – or possibly earlier – Matthew Elliott was targeted by a man the Home Office now believes was a Russian spy. Sergey Nalobin was the first secretary in the Russian embassy’s political section in London when Elliott met him – a man who, according to a Daily Telegraph report, “was tasked with building relations with MPs [and] a regular fixture on the Westminster drinks circuit and at political party conferences”.

Nalobin was also a man who, in August 2015, had his permission to stay in Britain suddenly revoked. The Home Office refused to renew the visas of four Russian diplomats, normally a rubber-stamping exercise, Nalobin among them. The timing was not a coincidence: a week earlier, the inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko concluded he was “probably murdered on the personal orders of Putin”. [See footnote.]

Nalobin had long been a person of interest. In 2012, he was the key figure at the heart of an organisation called Conservative Friends of Russia, a high-profile new group that threw a high-profile launch in the Russian ambassador’s garden – the same ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko, who was named last week in the FBI documents – and that attracted the endorsement of senior politicians including, initially, Malcolm Rifkind, until he resigned. Rifkind was then chair of the Commons intelligence and security committee.

But the Conservative Friends of Russia was not what it seemed, and nor was Nalobin. A series of reports by the Guardian’s Luke Harding and others revealed that Nalobin was intimately connected to the FSB, and that the Conservative Friends of Russia was a Moscow influence operation.

Sergei Cristo, a Russian-born financier and long-time Conservative activist who helped expose the organisation, told the Observer last week how he was targeted first by Nalobin but quickly became aware that there was something very wrong. “He was trying very hard to find an entry route into the Conservative party, and initially he thought that would be me. I met with him several times and he told me how he could help with fundraising. He said: ‘We have companies. We have Russian companies here in London willing to donate to the party.’ I knew this was illegal, of course. I went away thinking, ‘I wish I was wired.’”

This, he said, was about six months before the group’s launch.

Boris Johnson: at a fundraising dinner that Mifsud also attended two weeks ago.
Boris Johnson: at a fundraising dinner that Mifsud also attended two weeks ago. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters
Cristo reveals an even more extraordinary detail – a detail that he first told to a journalist in 2013 so which has not been inflected by more recent events: “The most pressing question Nalobin asked was whether or not there really was a personal rivalry between David Cameron and Boris Johnson.”

At the time, Cristo thought, “it was completely trivial”. “It was all chatty, chatty, chatty. It was only question he pressed me on. ‘Do you think it’s personal?’ he kept on asking.

“I think he was trying to work out if it was a deep-seated alpha-male-type thing. I do wonder now if they were looking to exploit that antipathy even way back then. It’s very interesting, given the crucial role that Boris played in Brexit.”

Matthew Elliott has never made his association with the Conservative Friends of Russia public. In 2012, he was not publicly known. Since the referendum, he has launched a new organisation, Brexit Central, and the Times reported last week that he was being lined up for a senior role at the head of the party – most likely vice-chairman, as a reassuring “signal of intent on Brexit” for the hardliners.

But photographs from 2012 reveal that he was a founding member of the group and later that year went on a 10-day trip to Moscow with all expenses paid by the Russian government. No names were ever released but on 11 September, Elliott tweeted: “New photos on my Facebook page from my recent trip to Moscow, here’s a teaser! Back to the grind …”

Most extraordinary of all, when he announced his engagement on Twitter on 10 January 2014, the first person to congratulate him was Sergey Nalobin. “@matthew_elliott @SarahBSmithVA congratulations, guys! All the best in the long-long journey.” Sarah Smith – now Elliott’s wife – responded warmly: “thank you!! I’m excited to have a great partner next to me :)

Just over 18 months later, Nalobin was “expelled” from Britain. And yesterday, Elliott declined to answer any questions from the Observer about his relationship with Nalobin or Conservative Friends of Russia. He declined also to explain the nature of the political work he claims to have done in Ukraine in some official biographies.

Did Johnson know of Elliott’s connections to a Russian operative? Probably – because he also knew Nalobin. They are photographed at Russian embassy events together. Did the British intelligence services? An intelligence source told the Observer of “enormous sensitivity” around any investigation of politicians. And Elliott was not an MP, but in 2016 he did hold an official position – designated by an official body, the Electoral Commission. Was his relationship to Nalobin flagged by the security services? If so, by whom, to who? If not, why not?

Will the FBI’s revelations last week finally shine some light on Russia’s relationship with Britain? And if so, what else will we find out? Because it is clear that the relationships and meetings the Observer has uncovered between Papadopoulos, Mifsud and British ministers are likely to be the tip of the iceberg.

Which other ministers were contacted? Who else met them? Are the Conservatives, and indeed other parties, ready to start examining their relationships with Russian individuals and companies, going back years? And who is going to take a stand and force Facebook, Google and Twitter to face parliament and start answering questions?

Bill Browder, an Anglo-American businessman who is leading a global campaign for a “Magnitsky Act” – aimed at punishing Russia for the murder of his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, in Moscow in 2009 – said he was unsurprised by Britain’s role.

“London is one of the main outposts for Russian financial and political influence programmes in the west. It’s floating on a tide of dirty money. All the oligarchs have bases there. They all have homes. All the professional service firms are in London – lawyers, investigations agencies – all running private influence ops on behalf of the oligarchs who are working on behalf of Putin. There’s a huge reluctance in Britain to strangle the golden goose. Because a lot of people very close the centre of power are financially benefiting.”

The question is who? And how? Speaking to the Observer about the inquiry into the sources of funds for his Leave.EU campaign, Banks complained about the focus on him. “There should be an inquiry into all the campaigns, not just us.” And later: “What about Vote Leave?”

Sergey Nalobin
Sergey Nalobin: expelled in 2015.
What about Vote Leave? And what about the new man in the Russian embassy? Some of the suspicion that has encircled Banks has been a result of his Russian wife, Katya, his vocal support of Putin, and the fact that in his memoir, The Bad Boys of Brexit, he is quite open about his Russian contacts, describing how he met a man called “Oleg” in Doncaster at the Ukip conference.

“He was introduced to us as the first secretary at the embassy – in other words, the KGB’s man in London.” “Oleg” then introduced him to a figure now of significant interest to the FBI – Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador to London.

Ukip’s power is all but spent in Britain. It is the Conservatives who now hold the keys to the kingdom. And Sergei Cristo tells me he met another senior Russian diplomat at this year’s Conservative party conference.

Cristo is not a man out to discredit the Conservatives. He is a committed supporter of the party. But he’s also a close friend of Marina Litvinenko, the widow of the man murdered on Putin’s orders. The problem, he says, is that so many MPs and party officials are “hopelessly naive and uneducated” on the subject of Russia.

The rest of us too, perhaps?

• Note added 22 February 2018: On 15 February 2018 the Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, sought correction of the part of this article that says the former Russiam embassy counsellor, Sergey Nalobin, had, in 2015, “had his permission to stay in Britain suddenly revoked”. Mr Yakovenko wrote that this was an allusion to “activities incompatible with diplomatic status” and the Observer should apologise for publishing misleading information about an embassy staffer. The ambassador advised that the UK Foreign Office had recently provided written confirmation that Mr Nalobin had not been expelled. At the readers’ editor’s request the Russian embassy provided copies of its note to the FO on 10 November 2017, which sought an explanation of whether Mr Nalobin had been expelled by having his permission to stay revoked, and the FO’s reply. The FO confirmed the authenticity of its reply, 9 February 2018, which says in part that it “can confirm that Mr Sergey Nalobin was not expelled from the UK. The [relevant FO] Directorate understand that Mr Nalobin left the UK upon the expiry of his vignette [a kind of visa].” While awaiting the FO’s response, the readers’ editor asked the Russian e mbassy to clarify the apparent tension between its statements in 2015, reported by RT, that Mr Nalobin had been expelled, and its current request for correction of that characterisation of his departure in this Observer article. An embassy spokesman did not address the question, and renewed the request for correction. The readers’ editor concluded that in the circumstances correction was not appropriate, but that, to the extent the diplomatic positions had developed and emerged, readers may benefit from an update in the form of this footnote. ... -uk-brexit
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby MacCruiskeen » Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:11 am

MacCruiskeen » Tue Nov 05, 2019 8:59 am wrote:^^Harding. Luke fucking Harding, Christ, he's shameless. When he did crawl back to the Groaniad? Who released him from under his stone?

Luke "Assange met Manafort" Harding, the notorious fucking liar and definite spook.

Why are you copypasting Harding's screeds here? This is at least the second time you've done that, this week alone.
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby alloneword » Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:15 am

Harding wrote:The committee’s report is based on analysis from Britain’s intelligence agencies, as well as third-party experts such as the former MI6 officer Christopher Steele


Seriously, this is the best Harding can come up with?

It's standard drivel from MI6 sock-puppet - and all round shitweasel - Luke Harding, well known for his lies regarding Assange/wikileaks - being promoted by a poster known for their lies regarding Assange/wikileaks.

I'm still waiting for the 'report' into foreign interference in the Brexit referendum that got us into this clusterfuck in the first place.
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:19 am


Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

How Cambridge Analytica fueled a shady global passport bonanza
A controversial billion-dollar citizenship-for-sale business led the elections firm to conduct clandestine campaigns across the Caribbean, insiders say.

In 2010, as elections neared in Saint Kitts and Nevis, a grainy hidden-camera video was uploaded to YouTube. In the anonymously produced clip, voters across the small Eastern Caribbean island nation saw prime minister candidate Lindsey Grant in a hotel room, listening as a British-accented property developer promises him a $1.5 million payment in exchange for a bargain price on a plot of government land.

“What we’re after is making sure you get into power,” says the developer, whose face and voice are obscured. In return, “you will help us. . . how does that sound?”

Grant, a Harvard Law School-educated lawyer running on an anti-corruption platform, appears reluctant, but eventually pushes the bribe higher, to $1.7 million. The video cuts to white text on black: “He sold his country and the people’s land just to win power.”

The video went viral in Saint Kitts, and the incumbent prime minister, Denzil Douglas, was soon re-elected for a fourth term. Douglas denied any knowledge of the sting operation, but across the Caribbean, speculation swirled that it was the work of a clandestine London-based political consultancy: SCL Group.

The now-defunct Anglo-American firm has gained notoriety for its harvesting of Facebook profiles and shady campaign tactics, but the storm of controversy has been building for decades. Before its younger sibling, Cambridge Analytica, worked for Donald Trump, SCL Group claimed to have built a portfolio of political work in three dozen countries, deploying its “behavioral change” tactics in sometimes shaky democracies.

In the Eastern Caribbean, where SCL quietly operated in at least six countries, some of its work had an indirect objective: Assisting a lucrative trade in passports. The sales are legal, and lucrative, with the world’s rich thought to spend over $2 billion on “citizenship by investment,” or CBI. But reporting and interviews with industry insiders show how a nexus of buyers, officials, citizenship agents, and consultants has helped enable criminals and ignited political wildfires that continue to rage even now.

In at least five Caribbean nations, the company’s campaigns were backed by Christian H. Kalin, the chief executive of Henley and Partners, a London-based firm that markets and sells second passports, and helped support politicians thought to be sympathetic to Henley’s interests. With a friendly politician in office, according to people familiar with the arrangement, Henley could then become that country’s primary passport merchant, giving it the right to earn lucrative commissions on every sale.

Where SCL worked on campaigns, in some cases with support from Christian Kalin. View a world map of its elections work. [Map: Wikipedia / Infogram / Fast Company]
“It was a particular way of achieving his strategic objective, which was to supply money and supply campaign provision to put in to power the government that would be conducive to both him and his clients,” Sven Hughes, who worked on the campaigns as SCL’s head of elections from 2009 to 2010, told Fast Company. To win elections, he said, SCL’s then-CEO Alexander Nix regularly turned to questionable techniques, including the hidden-camera video.
Well before the 2010 campaign in Saint Kitts, Henley and Partners worked with Denzil Douglas’s government to turn the country into a citizenship Mecca. For the bargain price of $150,000, approved applicants who donate to the island’s sustainable growth fund can now obtain a passport that, as of 2009, allows visa-free travel to over 100 countries, including the U.K. and the 26-nation European Schengen zone. In Dominica, a similar passport can now be had for $100,000. For those interested in investing in real estate, the passport fees are even lower.

Funds from the passports are now a major source of revenue and investment for these countries, filling holes left by weakening exports and the impacts of hurricanes and climate change: By 2014, passports had become Saint Kitts’s biggest export, with the revenue thought to account for 25% of GDP. Neighboring islands and over 30 countries around the world have set up similar CBI programs, and the U.S. has a related investment scheme, the EB-5 visa. (The use of the EB-5 by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s company is now under federal investigation.)

But Saint Kitts and Dominica offer two of the world’s cheapest, largest, and oldest CBI programs. And, unlike some rich countries that require aspiring citizens to actually reside there, Dominica, which is just 290 square miles, and Saint Kitts, which is only 105 square miles, do not.

Many of the passport holders are from countries with unpopular passports who may otherwise have trouble obtaining travel visas—think Iran, China, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan. The firms say their well-heeled clients are seeking protection against unpredictable situations at home amid an era of terrorism fears and economic instability.

Saint Kitts and Nevis [Photo: Flickr user Boss Tweed]
But the investment programs have also proved popular with a Who’s Who of fugitives and fraudsters. Convicted felons Paul Bilzerian and Roger Ver gave up their U.S. citizenship and now use Saint Kitts passports. Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the illicit marketplace Silk Road, now appealing a life sentence handed down by a U.S. court, was attempting to obtain Dominica citizenship when he was arrested.
Overseas tax evasion is estimated to cost the U.S. as much as $100 billion annually, but Washington’s concerns are larger than taxes. It was a series of “Iranian nationals” seeking to evade global sanctions whom the U.S. Treasury cited in 2014 when it added Saint Kitts’s passports to a watch list, warning financial institutions of their role in “illicit financial activity.”

Alexander Nix [Photo: Sam Barnes/Web Summit via Sportsfile]
The following year, in testimony to the U.S Senate armed services committee, John Kelly, then Marine Corps general and current White House chief of staff, said the passport programs “could be exploited by criminals, terrorists, or other nefarious actors.” Kalin, a wiry Swiss economic citizenship impresario known as “the passport king,” admitted in an interview with 60 Minutes last year that the Saint Kitts program, which his firm helped design and relaunch in 2006, “tended for some time to attract quite a few people that I would never let into the country.”
Like data about the passports—it’s not publicly known how many are out there and who holds them—the precise role of firms like Henley and SCL has also remained mostly in the shadows, the subject of allegations of dirty tricks, kickbacks, and hidden commissions that have circulated across the Caribbean for years. Then in March, as allegations by former SCL employee Christopher Wylie and Channel 4’s reporting documented a litany of misdeeds by the company, details of the Kalin-SCL relationship first began to emerge in a report in The Spectator.

In an interview with Fast Company, Hughes, the former SCL elections head, said that Kalin was “heavily involved” in the campaigns. As part of the partnership, the Henley CEO would supply financing from unknown investors, provide talking points for candidates, and discuss with them various development projects they could expect once in power. “That might be the building of an airport, that might be building a deep seaport, that might be real estate,” said Hughes. It isn’t clear if any such projects materialized.

During all of the campaigns, according to the former SCL employee, Alexander Nix deployed the same kind of underhanded tactics that the future Cambridge Analytica CEO would later brag about to an undercover reporter for Channel 4 News. Hughes, who said he refused to be involved in Nix’s techniques, decided to leave the company after the CEO’s methods began to imperil the safety of his on-the-ground foreign campaign staff. “I said to him, ‘You’re going to get someone killed.'”

In response to questions from Fast Company, Henley and Partners emailed a statement saying that neither the firm nor Kalin “has ever provided funding for any election campaign, and there has never been any form of connection between the granting of any government mandate we have received and any election.” However, as part of its citizenship-by-investment business, Henley “naturally sometimes also interacts with political leaders of opposition parties that are interested in the topic of investment migration for the purpose of their economic-policy agendas.”

Henley’s relationship with SCL, the firm said, was not a “formal working relationship.” Rather, shortly before the 2010 election in Saint Kitts, Nix was introduced to Kalin by the government of the time, “as he was to many other firms and consultants working with the government on economic, political, or social issues in the Caribbean.”

Nix would become Cambridge Analytica’s CEO when the firm was founded in 2012, with backing from the U.S. hedge fund billionaire and Trump donor Robert Mercer. The company, which declared bankruptcy in May, is now under investigation by British and American authorities.

Under questioning from British lawmakers last month, Nix acknowledged that he and Kalin had a “relationship” during SCL’s campaigning in the Caribbean, and that “he may well have made contributions towards the election campaigns.” Pressed on the nature of their relationship, Nix said that Kalin didn’t work on the campaigns, but “certainly had an interest in the outcome of the elections.”

Nix also told lawmakers that the claims he made in the Channel 4 video about deploying bribes and stings during elections were fabricated and “foolish.” Rather, it was he who had been the victim of an “entrapment sting” by the television network, he said. Representatives for SCL did not respond to a request for comment.

Timothy Harris, the prime minister of Saint Kitts, said his government would await the outcome of the British investigation before commenting on SCL’s and Kalin’s work in Saint Kitts. “The electorate needs to know who and what they are voting for and should not be manipulated through the use of clever analytics,” Harris said in an emailed statement to Fast Company.

Harris encountered SCL’s work in 2015, when he was running for office against Denzil Douglas on a pledge to reform the country’s passport program: Nix, according to a report in the Guardian, turned to a team of Israeli hackers to obtain the candidate’s private emails and medical records.

Harris won that election, and amid global scrutiny of the country’s citizenship investor program, Henley and Partners was dismissed as the country’s main passport seller. In 2014, Henley also lost its position as the primary agent for Dominica’s passports, after SCL’s second attempt to unseat incumbent Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit failed.

Cambridge Analytica’s website boasts of its 2010 victory in Saint Kitts and Nevis. View full size here [Screenshot: Cambridge Analytica]
Despite its boasts of having never lost an election, SCL often lost in the Caribbean. The elections firm worked on unsuccessful political campaigns in Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, and Antigua and Barbuda, where it was accused of spreading deliberately false stories. An unsuccessful campaign for the then-governing party in Trinidad in 2013 has drawn the scrutiny of the country’s attorney general.
Ahead of 2010 elections in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves complained that SCL had illegally brought in foreigners on tourist visas to work as political consultants, an accusation echoed in the recent firestorm over Cambridge Analytica’s work for Donald Trump. The fourth-term prime minister—who is alone among the region’s heads of state in resisting citizenship-by-investment programs—also accused foreign actors of spreading a barrage of false stories about him during the campaign.

According to an SCL presentation seen by the Times of London, the firm had launched a “targeted digital attack” against Gonsalves. “Within three weeks every single reference to him on the first two pages of Google . . . referred to the candidate’s horrific track record of corruption, coercion, rape allegations, and victimization,” SCL said in the documents. SCL’s $4 million bill for its work in Saint Vincent that year, according to one series of emails, included $100,000 for “counter operations.”

It was after that campaign that Hughes cut ties with SCL. Nix’s shady, under-the-radar tactics, he said, often left him and SCL’s team of on-the-ground campaign workers in danger. “He’d come in, do one of these leaks, and then fly out and leave the rest of us to pick up the pieces, which left us in a very compromised and sometimes dangerous position.”

Hughes, who is now the CEO of his own London-based communications consultancy, Verbalisation, now sees other dangers in the campaigns he helped run. “Is it acceptable to secretly guide elections with secret money and secret guidance in small countries and overturn the democratic process? Whether or not that’s criminal action or whether or not that’s unethical action, it certainly needs to be investigated.”

“Be ready for a big bill”

Concerns about the passport programs aren’t confined to the Caribbean. When reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bombing in Malta in October, she’d been investigating her country’s own controversial passport sales, and examining links between the government of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Henley and Partners. (The firm has been Malta’s exclusive passport agent since it helped launch its CBI program in 2013.) “The damage caused to Malta by the sale of citizenship is unquantifiable,” Caruana Galizia wrote on her blog about the country’s so-called golden visas. “Malta is not St. Kitts & Nevis. It is interlocked with the rest of the EU.”

At the time of her murder, which remains under investigation, Caruana Galizia was facing dozens of defamation lawsuits, including from Henley as well as the cofounder of Malta’s Pilatus Bank, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad. The son of one of Iran’s richest men, Hasheminejad has been linked to money laundering and other corrupt activities with officials in the prime minister’s inner circle. He was also one of Henley’s most prominent customers: the firm helped him secure a Saint Kitts passport in 2009. (When federal agents arrested him in March at a Washington, D.C. airport on charges of evading U.S. sanctions against Iran, he was carrying four passports.) A spokesperson for Henley said that the firm had no relationship with Hasheminejad, and that it had rejected a proposal of his to collaborate on Malta’s passport program.

Since Henley lost its position as the primary agent for marketing Dominica and Saint Kitts passports, another London-based citizenship firm called CS Global Partners has risen in its place. Founded and led by a former attorney at Henley and Partners, CS Global is said to have been financed in part by a British-Indian investor named Dev Bath. Bath, who served as a director at the firm for over a year, remains a consultant to the company. His LinkedIn profile doesn’t mention CS Global, and describes him only by his title, “Special Representative of St. Kitts and Nevis,” which furnishes him with a diplomatic passport to the country.

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Bath has also hired Lanny J. Davis, the longtime D.C. lobbyist and former special counsel to President Bill Clinton, to help promote Saint Kitts and Dominica passports. In one 2013 advertorial extolling the benefits of investor citizenship, Davis quotes his client, who “became a resident of Saint Kitts many years ago and has become a well-known global business leader.”

Last year, Davis’s lobbying work on behalf of Saint Kitts raised eyebrows in Parliament, particularly around the question of who paid him and his law firm more than $96,000. His services—lobbying U.S. and Canadian authorities to lift their restrictions on the country’s passports—”comes at no cost to our government,” Prime Minister Harris told the National Assembly in 2015. Indeed, as public filings indicate, Davis’s fees were paid by CS Global.

Prime Minister Timothy Harris [Photo: Flickr user Saint Kitts and Nevis Photo Stream]
In an email to Fast Company, Davis said he had ceased representing Bath and Saint Kitts over a year ago. “Dev Bath and CS Global perform a valuable service,” he added. Bath declined to comment for this story.
In recent months, one of Bath’s longtime business partners has thrust the country into a fresh storm of bribery allegations. Peter Singh Virdee, a property magnate also of British-Indian descent, had sought to secure solar energy contracts in the Caribbean as part of a renewable energy venture. In one 2016 phone call, disclosed in a British court in May, Virdee described to an associate the need to entertain the prime minister of Saint Kitts and his entourage in London that evening, “so be ready for a big bill.” In another conversation, Virdee, who also holds an Antiguan passport, said that Saint Kitts’s prime minister had asked for a watch and a pair of shoes.

In a preliminary judgment, the U.K.’s National Crime Agency stated that “the claimants were ready and willing to pay bribes, and had given at least one gift to a Caribbean politician.” Virdee, who was arrested in January 2017 at Heathrow Airport on separate charges of a plot to evade millions dollars in carbon credit taxes, has denied any wrongdoing.

Bath and CS Global have not been linked to the allegations surrounding Virdee. But when asked about Virdee’s association with Bath and Saint Kitts, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s office said that “a historical business relationship that involves CS Global and the country’s CBI program” is now “under review.”

Amid the allegations, Prime Minister Harris denied any impropriety, and in May called for an investigation into the government of his predecessor Denzil Douglas. Douglas, now leader of the opposition, called for Harris to resign. “As a small Caribbean nation, we are fast losing our reputation,” he said in a recent address, “and the lifeblood of this country is being sucked from it as corruption runs amok, and there seems to be a return of the image of Devil’s Island.”

Douglas–who himself has admitted to once meeting Virdee in the presence of Henley & Partners–is currently embroiled in his own passport scandal: It was recently revealed that he also holds a diplomatic passport from Dominica. The second passport is now being examined by Saint Kitts’s High Court.

A win-win—or a race to the bottom

The governments of the Caribbean and the passport firms insist they have stepped up their reviews of applicants and closed loopholes. (In one notorious instance, Saint Kitts had to recall 5,000 passports, because for years the documents did not include the owner’s place of birth.) Continuing reforms, the Prime Minister’s office said in an email, showed that “we are moving in the right direction.” The new vetting process for prospective Saint Kitts citizens, a CS Global spokesperson said, “is among the most strict in the world.” In May the European Union removed the country from an economic black list, citing the government’s commitment to reforming its passport program. (As of March, Dominica remains on a so-called gray list.)

Still, some worry that recent discounts for some passports and a growing applicant pool will drive CBI programs to cut corners. David Jessop, former head president of the London-based nonprofit Caribbean Council, wrote last November that growing competition among the citizenship-by-investment programs risked “becoming a dangerous race to the bottom.” He cited “the sometimes-questionable comments and defensive public relations exercises undertaken by some agents selling CBI programs” and “the questions that remain about the due diligence processes some governments pursue.”

Last year, as part of efforts to raise money to rebuild infrastructure heavily damaged by Hurricane Maria, some Caribbean nations began to drastically cut their passport fees. In Dominica, Antigua, Barbuda, and Grenada, an investor passport can now be obtained through a $100,000 donation to a national fund. And investors seeking to obtain citizenship from Dominica, Saint Kitts, Antigua, or Grenada also have a new option: For an investment of at least $200,000 into a government-approved real estate project, a customer can obtain a passport for about $50,000, half the typical price.

(Paolo Zampolli, a businessman who holds an honorary ambassadorship to the U.N. from Dominica–and who takes credit for introducing Donald Trump to Melania Knauss in 1998–has also claimed some credit for kickstarting this newer passport option: He introduced Dominica’s ambassador to the U.S. to the head of Dubai-based Range Developments, a property firm that now markets the real estate investment program in Dominica and Saint Kitts.)

Scott’s Head, Dominica [Photo: Konstantin Krismer/Wikimedia Commons]
In Saint Kitts, the application process now typically takes three to four months, but an accelerated process also allows clients a guaranteed outcome—including issuance of the passport— in 60 days or fewer. In October, after other impacted islands lowered their prices, Saint Kitts also set up its own Hurricane Relief Fund and reduced the price of citizenship through its real estate investment option, from the standard of rate of $150,000 to just $75,000 for a family of four.
The new fund has brought in record numbers of applicants: Over a five-month period, according to rough statistics released by the prime minister, the island of 50,000 people attracted 1,200 investor passport applications. In April, the head of Dominica’s CIU program said that the country had seen between 1,500 and 2,000 applications over the course of the last year.

The Saint Kitts fund was “a win-win for applicant and country,” Micha Emmett, CS Global Partners CEO, said in a press release. But Douglas, the former prime minister, blasted it as “a blatantly opportunistic move”: Since Saint Kitts had emerged relatively unscathed from Hurricane Maria, the fund had effectively undercut recovery efforts on other islands, he argued.

Opposition parties in both countries continue to raise questions about the programs, including about how much revenue they have earned and where that money is. As of 2014, Saint Kitts’ Sugar Industry Diversification Fund, to which most aspiring citizens had donated, had reached $1.5 billion in Eastern Caribbean dollars, or about U.S. $550 million. However, according to an estimate by Dwyer Astaphan, former minister of national security and tourism, the total donations to the fund should have amounted to a number closer to around $611 million. The discrepancy is due to the passport agents’ override commissions, he alleges, estimating that passport consultants have pocketed some $61 million.

The programs and accounts of the sugar industry fund remain under an independent review, a spokesperson for Harris said it in a statement. “Final numbers have not yet been determined, and as such, any suggestion of a discrepancy is at best, premature.”

In Dominica, opposition leaders have also cited a gross discrepancy between the passport revenues publicly reported to the Treasury—around $9 million between 2014 and 2015—and likely estimated revenues of $30 million that year. Representatives for Dominica’s passport program did not respond to requests for comment, but a spokesperson for CS Global said that all funds received under the program are “regularly outlined and reviewed by Parliament for distribution in the national budget.”

Dominica and Saint Kitts also do not disclose comprehensive data about their normal or diplomatic passport holders. For instance, Dominica’s January 2017 Official Gazette listed the 2011 passport recipients: 288, compared with a total island population of around 80,000. In February 2017, as revelations emerged that the government had sold diplomatic passports to alleged criminals, public frustration over the passport sales boiled over into violence. After demonstrations in the capital Roseau deteriorated into vandalism, police in riot gear used tear gas against the crowd.

In the wake of the protests, a number of people were arrested, including an opposition Member of Parliament, an opposition Senator, and two other opposition politicians. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit accused “irresponsible politicians” with the opposition of conducting a “concerted and orchestrated campaign against the citizenship by investment program.” Skerrit also promised reforms to the way the country reviews prospective citizens, and expressed regret, he said, “at the unfortunate turn of events with respect to a few persons holding diplomatic passports becoming persons of interest to foreign countries and external security organizations.”

Cleaning up the Eastern Caribbean passport mess likely requires larger sociopolitical changes that are unlikely to occur soon. One measure, however, might be close to a quick fix: laws against non-citizens paying for or participating in election activities. Of course, this would still not prevent holders of investor passports from participating. But it might help preclude quickie carpetbagging of the type practiced by firms like Cambridge Analytica.

Meanwhile, both islands’ passport programs continue to flourish, thanks to tight relationships with industry partners. In April, Dominica appointed Nuri Katz as its ambassador to the Russian Federation, whom a government press release identifies as “a founding member of a number of businesses in Canada, Russia, and Ukraine.” (Katz holds a number of passports.) The government’s announcement about his appointment, however, does not mention his occupation, which suggests a conflict of interest: Katz is also president of Apex Capital, another prominent passport firm. The company is currently offering several real estate investment options in Saint Kitts and Dominica.

Ann Marlowe, a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute, is a writer and financial investigator in New York. Follow her at @annmarlowe.

With additional reporting by Alex Pasternack (@pasternack). ... rt-bonanza
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