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Friday, March 03, 2006 

Cheek by Jowell.

There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there are the lies told by Tessa Jowell. She expects the public to believe that despite signing a joint-remortaging of her home with her husband so that he could take part in an investment opportunity, that she then never bothered to ask whether that loan had then been paid off, at least until recently. Her husband, David Mills, apparently also never bothered to tell her that he had paid off that mortgage just 10 weeks later, with a gift which, depending on who you believe, either came from Silvio Berlusconi, or Diego Attanasio, a shipping magnate and convicted criminal.

The inquiry by Sir Gus O'Donnell was nothing of the sort. He didn't investigate the source of the money, whether Jowell told the truth or any other of the byzantine details of the storm surrounding Jowell and her husband. He simply ruled that it was up to the Prime Minister to decide if Jowell had broken the ministerial code. He took at face value Jowell's statement that she had not been aware of the gift of £350,000 until 2004, when it was decided that the money was taxable. As it was then not a gift and classified as earnings, there was no need for Jowell to report it to her permanent secretary. As you would expect, Tony Blair consequently ruled her not guilty of any wrong-doing.

The whole thing smacks in the face of common sense. What kind of marriage do Tessa Jowell and David Mills have in that they apparently don't talk to each other about financial matters, despite having mortgage burdens hanging over their heads? You would think that any normal couple would be concerned about having to pay back a mortgage of £400,000. Obviously not for this couple. According to Jowell, Mills must not discuss any investment matters with her either, nor gifts or earnings that he apparently makes, as she didn't know until 2004 that someone had paid him £350,000. You would think that would be something which would crop up at the dinner table, the fact that someone had just given you a huge sum of money that could instantly be used to pay off a debt, or as it seems, that he had just remembered he had money sitting in a hedge fund that could be used to pay off the mortgage he had took out to fund another investment.

All of this will seem to barmy to the average person. They are meant to believe that such sums of money are so piffling that they don't warrant discussion, that Jowell doesn't ask her husband what he's currently working on, or seemingly isn't concerned at all, despite the possible implications due to her being a government minister. This is without even getting started into the possibility that the money came from Berlusconi as a result of Mills giving favourable evidence for him in a corruption case.

It seems that for now Jowell is safe, despite the whole incident stinking to high heaven. The reason, rather than her innocence, seems to be because she's "popular". The Sun starts its leader by saying:

IT IS hard to dislike Tessa Jowell . . . which is why she clings to office for the time being.

Apparently the new "caring 'n' compassionate" Tories also didn't bother to raise too much fuss, as they also recognise her as being popular. Really? Are we talking about the same minister that laid herself on top of a roulette table at a casino for the cameras, and who introduced the bill which would have deregulated gambling even more that it already is, allowing "supercasinos" to open all over the country, thankfully now reduced to just one being opened on a trial period? Is this the same minister which some tabloids attacked for introducing 24 hour drinking? Apparently because she was "instrumental" in the Olympic bid, we can forgive her for the first thing, and while I was never bothered about the second, it seems everyone else can forgive her for that as well.

As the Guardian puts it in its leader, the only way that incidents such as this can be sorted out fairly and properly is for a nominated independent person to carry out a full inquiry, not a civil servant directly involved with the government, or for the prime minister himself. Until then, we're supposed to believe that Tessa Jowell is either an idiot or a liar. I'd rather believe that she's both.

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And the one thing that everyone seem not to want to ask,'where did the $600000' come from?'
If it was declared as earings to the Inland revenue, earnings from where?. I thought the police nowhad powers under the proceeds of crime act that if you are unable to prove where the money came from it could be seized.
And how convenient, the multimillion pound 'labour couple' are now splitting for a 'trial seperation'!

The tax treatment of the money is a red herring planted by Tony's spin doctors.

ANY payment related - however remotely - to a taxpayer's job is taxable. Payments to politicians are by definition intended to influence them, and would not be made but for their position of power.

In other words, if we look to tax law to determine whether something is a "gift", no payment to a grasping pol will ever be a "gift".

Tessa must resign TODAY.

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