Anorak News | Buried: Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt Put On Troughing Leave

Buried: Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt Put On Troughing Leave

by | 23rd, March 2010

Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt Put On Troughing Leave – THREE former Labour Cabinet Ministers were last night suspended by the Labour Party in a move which probably signals the total collapse of their political careers.

Labour Pigs For Hire, Allegedly: Hewitt, Byers And Hoon

Earlier the UK Prime Minister had refused to launch an inquiry into the alleged behaviour of the former close colleagues but after a Channel 4 screening of a Sting operation angry Labour MPs demanded immediate action.

Party sources said Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt had been suspended pending a full investigation, in what could be a “hammer blow” for Labour’s election chances, with echoes of the “sleaze” allegations that helped to bring down the Tories.

The decision was said to have been taken by Chief Whip Nick Brown and the party’s general secretary, Ray Collins, only hours after the screening of last night’s Channel 4 Dispatches documentary.

In a (Labour Pigs) “sting” operation, the ex-ministers were secretly filmed by an undercover reporter discussing the possibility of working for what they thought was an American lobby company.

The disciplinary move came after angry scenes at the weekly meeting last night of the Parliamentary Labour Party, where a number of MPs demanded something had to be done.

The decision for an immediate suspension is seen as a victory for the angry Labour MPs, who had demanded the whip be suspended from the former ministers. A meeting had already been arranged for today to consider this move.

Also suspended was Luton MP Margaret Moran who is already branded as Miss Piggy in the MPs’ expenses row.

All the UK Nationals have coverage:

The Times
version here

Stephen Byers new scandal… this was the minister involved when his spin-doctor, press aide Jo Moore. made the ‘This Is A Very Good Day to Bury Bad News’ comment as New York’s twin towers collapsed.

‘Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt were all suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party over comments to a reporter posing as a lobbyist for Channel 4’s Dispatches.

Mr Byers, the former Transport Secretary, told the reporter that he was a “cab for hire” for up to £5,000 a day, while Ms Hewitt, a former Health Secretary, recommended paying a think-tank to sit next to a minister at dinner.

Mr Hoon, who as Chief Whip used to be in charge of party discipline, shocked Labour insiders by telling the undercover reporter that his diary was largely free in April — the month of the general election campaign.’

The Guardian has much the same news coverage but makes a comparison between UK Premier Gordon Brown twin disasters yesterday Stephen Byers and Tony Woodley (The Unite unionists leading the British Airways strike) The Blog analysis was made before the suspension but still worth a look.

‘These are bad times for Stephen Byers. It may come to nothing, but there is dark talk that he should be suspended from the parliamentary party, or even the party itself for bringing Labour into disrepute.

‘Some in Downing Street think he is doing more damage to the party than Tony Woodley, the joint general secretary of Unite.

‘Either way between the BA picket lines and Byers announcing he is a cab for hire, Brown is losing more precious time than he would like voters to devote to taking “another long hard look” at the Tories.’

Tory MP Sir John Butterfill (another Dickensian name  to enjoy) who was also featured in the programme, had referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, John Lyon.

Over in The Telegraph the story is reported straight and then concentrates on Premier Brown’s role and his transparent attempt to sweep the issue away:

‘Earlier, the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, dismissed calls for a Whitehall investigation into the affair, sparking accusations of a cover-up.

‘The Prime Minister said he did not believe it was necessary for a formal inquiry into whether ministers changed policy after being approached by Labour MPs acting on behalf of private firms.

‘The Conservatives demanded that the Prime Minister order a formal investigation into whether the ministerial code of conduct had been broken.

‘However, a spokesman for Mr Brown said the Prime Minister was “satisfied” that there had been no impropriety on the part of ministers in the Transport and Business departments. “The Prime Minister has seen the statements from the departments and is satisfied that there is no impropriety.”

Eric Pickles, the Tory chairman, said: “This looks increasingly like a cover-up at the heart of Government.’

The Parliamentary Labour Party shows signs of the disaffection which downed John Major’s Government over “sleaze” and demanded, and then got, action – from the Party rather than it’s Leader and that is very bad new indeed for Gordon Brown

Posted: 23rd, March 2010 | In: Key Posts, Politicians Comments (19) | TrackBack | Permalink