Plebgate comes to the courts

This weekend the Inforrm blog  ran a interesting preview of the start of the so called ” plebgate” libel case in the courts which halted the political career of Andrew Mitchell, the former international development secretary and chief whip.

The incident became infamous after The Sun published that Mitchell had sworn at the police protecting Downing Street and called them plebs for refusing to open the gates to allow him to wheel his bike through them.

I reproduce their blog below which includes a lot of good references to TV coverage and media articles on the subject.

On Monday 17 November 2014 the most high profile libel trial of the year will begin in Court 13 at 10.30am before Mr Justice Mitting.  This the joint trial of preliminary issues in two claims and is now listed for two weeks (reduced from the original three).

As is well known, the claim arises out of an incident at the gate of Downing Street on 12 September 2012 when words were exchanged between the then Government Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell MP and a police officer, PC Toby Rowland.  On 21 September 2012, the Sun reported that Mr Mitchell has shouted “you’re fucking plebs“.  This incident became known as “Plebgate“.

On 7 March 2013, Mr Mitchell issued defamation proceedings against the Sun.  It filed a defence on 17 May 2013 pleading justification and a Reynolds defence.  This case gained early notoriety in legal circles because the Master disallowed the whole of the claimant’s costs due to the late filing of a costs budget.  This decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal (Mitchell v News Group [2013] EWCA Civ 1537).

On 12 December 2013 PC Rowland issued a libel claim against against Mr Mitchell based on statements made by Mr Mitchell on six occasions between December 2012 and December 2013 in or via the media.  PC Rowland complained that, in these statements, Mr Mitchell accused him of fabricating allegations and evidence against Mr Mitchell, spreading these to the media as part of a plot to frame Mr Mitchell, and deliberately destroying Mr Mitchell’s career.  Mr Mitchell’s Defence is that these allegations are true.

The case has been before the Courts on a number of occasions.  There have been several applications for third party disclosure from the Metropolitan Police in these actions.  Judgments were given on these on 27 March ([2014] EWHC 879 (QB)) and 11 June ([2014] EWHC 1885 (QB)).

On 24 July 2014 Warby J ordered that each of those actions should be tried by a Judge sitting without a jury, and that there should be a joint trial of certain preliminary issues in the actions, starting on 17 November 2014.  Warby J gave a judgment explaining why he had ordered the trial of preliminary issues ([2014] EWHC 2615 (QB)).

In September 2014, the Sun filed an Amended Defence in which it relied on seventeen incidents which, it alleged, showed “high handed and rude” behaviour of Mr Mitchell towards police officers. There was a report of the contents of the Defence in the Press Gazette.

Warby J conducted a pre-trial review on 23 and 24 October 2014 and made orders permitting the parties to rely on expert evidence in phonetics and “field of vision/trajectory analysis” or optometry.  He also refused to exclude the “similar fact evidence” relied on by NGN and PC Rowland concerning other alleged incidents between Mr Mitchell and police officers ([2014] EWHC 3590 (QB)).

Mr Mitchell later filed an Amended Reply in to the Sun’s Amended Defence rebutting itsReynolds defence.  There was a report of the contents of the Amended Reply in the Press Gazette.

Mitting J will try three preliminary issues.  The main ones are, in each action,

  • what natural and ordinary meaning(s) the words complained of bore, and
  • whether in such meaning(s) they were substantially true.

Mr Mitchell is represented by solicitors Atkins Thomson, who have instructed James Price QC and Victoria Jolliffe.  News Group Newspapers are represented by Simons Muirhead and Burton, who have instructed Gavin Millar QC and Adam Wolanski.  PC Rowland is represented by Slater and Gordon LLP, who have instructed Desmond Browne QC and Catrin Evans.

We will have regular reports on the trial.

There was a preview of the trial in Saturday’s Guardian by Owen Bowcott: “Multimillion pound Plebgate libel case comes to court“.

The Channel 4 news item including the CCTV footage of Mr Mitchell leaving Downing Street on the night in question can be viewed here:

Result: NHS acts on a serious medical misdiagnosis on the Isles of Scilly

Isles of Scilly; beautiful and tranquil but medically problematic

Isles of Scilly; beautiful and tranquil but medically problematic

Readers of this blog may just remember that over three years ago I suffered a serious injury – a triple shoulder fracture – when I tripped and fell awkwardly on a rocky path on Tresco on the Isles of Scilly.

An accident 28 miles off mainland Britain is always a tricky problem – but mine was compounded by the failure of both a duty doctor and nurse at St Mary’s Hospital – the GP led hospital on the islands – to realise this had happened. It was never X rayed and both staff thought I had bruised and sprained my shoulder.

 It was only when my wife made consult my own GP in Berkhamsted – a week after the  accident- that I was sent off to Watford General Hospital who discovered I had been walking around with three broken bones – and  the main bone between my shoulder and elbow had almost come out of its socket. Due to heroic efforts by one administrator at Watford they managed to find me a bed and I had a  five-hour operation to put me back together. This I might say after physiotherapy is  now 95 per cent back to normal. I have also been full of praise about the surgeon who did it,Andrew Irwin.
I put in two complaints to the NHS authorities in Isle of Scilly – one about the service – when I discovered the hospital had an X-ray machine but only a radiographer available for two hours a week. So bad luck if you had an accident outside Tuesday afternoon.

 I also complained about the doctor’s failure to diagnose the problem – and got an apology and found the doctor had been sent for retraining to deal with accidents on the mainland.

 Until today I had not heard anything positive about the paucity of X-ray services, only a rather defensive reaction saying that it was difficult to do anything. It certainly made me worried given the Isles of Scilly is a mecca for all sorts of sports from sailing, windsurfing,diving,rock climbing as well as great walking country.

Imagine my surprise to receive a communication through NHS Choices today to say the hospital has now replaced its ageing X-ray equipment with a new digital X ray – presumably allowing computer images to be sent to other major hospitals. It added: “Extending access to a radiographer is work in progress and is being looked into by the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group and the Islands Health and Well Being Board. With regards to staff training, MIU training up-dates are provided twice a year by the MIU Lead. She will revisit limb examinations on her next visit. “

 Well it may have taken over three years but I am glad that some action is being taken. To my mind it shows that it is worth complaining if the NHS fails to deliver – authorities do appear to take note, even if it takes time.

Result! West Herts Hospitals Trust changes patient ambulance services after scandal of a 5 hour wait

West Herts acted on complaint

West Herts acted on complaint

My complaint about the appalling situation that left my wife, recovering from a stroke, waiting five hours for a privatised patient ambulance at Hemel Hempstead Urgent Care Centre to take her back to Gossoms End rehab centre in Berkhamsted has yielded results.
The West Herts Hospitals Trust, which manages the contract for Medical Services Ltd, the private company providing the ambulances, ordered an investigation into the incident and a review of the service.
The inquiry confirmed that my wife, Margaret, had in fact, waited 5 hours 15 minutes for the ambulance.
It then found the following damning facts:
The excessive delay was caused, as I expected, by the company supplying insufficient numbers of ambulances to do the job. They had only two vehicles – an ambulance and a seven seater minibus – on that Saturday afternoon and evening – to supply the entire needs of West Hertfordshire.
The company did not manage the call -indeed it appears it disappeared off their radar because they didn’t have proper management controls to check why nobody had turned up.
Neither the company nor Hemel Hemsptead Urgent Care Centre even reported the delay – which amounted to a big breach of Medical Services Ltd contract – until days after the event. Indeed there is a hint in the report they may not have bothered – if I had not publicly raised it in this blog and with the Berkhamsted and Tring Gazette.
The report is honest enough to admit that both Medical Services and the West Herts Health Trust have let my wife down. West Herts admit ” it could have been avoided with closer controls and proactive management of the activity levels.” The investigators also found “no examples of good practice ” in managing this contract.
The good news is that West Herts and Medical Services Ltd have pinpointed deficiencies in the service and are taking action to put things right.
The main changes are:
Medical Services will contract some patient ambulance services to a taxi firm where people are mobile enough to get in a taxi.This will mean that people like my wife who couldn’t get out of her wheelchair to get in a taxi will get priority ambulance treatment.
Medical services Ltd will review ambulance rosters to put more on at the weekend and employ an additional member of staff at Watford.
The senior management at Medical Services Ltd will take direct charge for a trial period of their control room and take action if anybody is waiting for more than an hour.
West Herts are also strengthening their management procedures and using the information to change the procurement of new contracts. This includes financial penalties for breach of contract – all patients not to wait for more than two hours is written into current contract.
There are two lessons to be learned from this. Far too many people are happy just to grumble rather than complain if the NHS service is not up to scratch. this shows if you do complain you can get something done.
Second, West Herts Hospitals Trust are to be congratulated for taking the complaint on the chin and doing something about it. They have also been honest and open in releasing the report to me without having to go to the trouble of putting in a Freedom of Information request.
The proof of the pudding will now be whether the services does improve – but I see Medical Services Ltd contract is up for renewal next May. They had better step up to the plate.

Coming your way: £3.8 billion to spend on public health

Norman Lamb: off the cuff and off piste at Localis  Pic courtesy of The Guardian

Norman Lamb: off the cuff and off piste at Localis
Pic courtesy of The Guardian

In the middle of the biggest wave of austerity to hit England since the 1930s a cool £3.8 billion will be handed over to your local town hall and local NHS from 2015. The aim will be to switch money from your big hospital to your local community to spend on public health and social care.
Do you trust your local council to spend it wisely? Who will know what it has been spent on? and it will it unleash clever new ideas as promised to help local people?
This was a point of a press conference yesterday by the rather arcane titled think tank,Localis,to publish a report asking precisely that. Read it here.
It was launched by a Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb, who began well by throwing his boring Whitehall brief on the floor and launching a passionate off the cuff speech calling for new ideas to stimulate local public health services.
As he was off piste, he refreshingly condemned those private companies exploiting lowly paid care workers, some even on below minimum wage rates,or zero hour contracts, and not being paid for travel between seeing different customers. He might have added that they should join a good union like Unite or GMB to take up their plight, but then he is a Liberal Democrat.
What is interesting about this initiative is that it might do some good. It means more freedom and money for local people to find ways to help the elderly, disabled, the local alcoholics and drug takers and if combined with better housing, transport, planning, job creation and children’s services it might make a difference.
But it is a big IF and it is clear from the Localis report that people have to be made accountable for how this money is spent and that has not been properly worked out. As the brilliant local government expert Tony Travers put it, that you know better who to complain about the dustbins than you do over public health. And he did not get a satisfactory answer from the minister.
In Berkhamsted as a previous blog pointed out we already have the makings of this at Gossoms End, a NHS community hospital with a GP surgery, a nursery, physio and local sheltered housing attached to get good local care. The minister said that the people of Great Yarmouth and Yeovil are also soon to benefit from new community schemes.
In the meantime an invitation to see Gossoms End is still there, Norman. That is if you can get your bossy civil servants to give you any space in your diary. And they may lynch you for throwing away their boring prepared speech.

New Privatised NHS: Medical Services Ltd broke patient ambulance contract

The 5 hr wait ambulance: Picture taken by me at Hemel Hempstead Urgent Care Centre

The 5 hr wait ambulance: Picture taken by me at Hemel Hempstead Urgent Care Centre

Following my personal exposure of Medical Services Ltd appalling provision for weekend patient ambulance services, my local newspaper, the Gazette, took up the story. the experience onvolved waiting five hours for an ambulance to come and pick up my wife, Margaret, who recently had stroke, from Hemel Hempstead Urgent Care Centre.
Their report reveals that not only were the company at fault but it is clear that the people responsible for managing and overseeing the contract on behalf of the NHS were also to blame.
It is now revealed that Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group require Medical Services Ltd ( gross profit £7m a year) to collect all patients within two hours. The contract says:
“The Contractor will collect patients from clinics within 60 minutes of being requested by the Department in 90% of cases and within 120 minutes on 100% of cases.”
So this amounts to a blatant breach of contract and if as staff at Hemel Hempstead Urgent Care Centre, say they are regularly leaving patients for up to four hours, this is not an isolated case.
There are also a serious questions for the West Herts Health Trust who are supposed to manage this contract.
Were they asleep when Medical Services Ltd were providing just one ambulance for patient transport and collecting patients from Bedford, Luton, Letchworth and Hitchin hospitals. Or were Medical Services Ltd two timing the authority by using the same ambulance for contracts with other health trusts? Did they allow Medical Services Ltd to close their Watford depot at weekends so all ambulances will have to travel from Luton to pick up patients at Watford General. Great guardians of taxpayers money and patients interests, I don’t think.
Why should the public put up with shoddy providers who flout contracts and complacent NHS supervisors who don’t check up on them?
If you’ve had a bad waiting experience with a private or public ambulance taking you back from hospital you can always use the contact me point on this website or contact the Gazette series of papers to complain. Just give me the details, day, time and wait.
Or you can now go one better. Samantha Jones, the chief executive of West Herts Hospitals Trust, has promised an inquiry after the publication of this blog and would like to hear from anybody who has had a bad or good experience using the patients ambulance service from watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals. Her email is

The New Privatised NHS : Wait five hours for a patient transport ambulance

Discreet logo of Medical Services on" NHS " ambulance. Pic taken by myself

Discreet logo of Medical Services on” NHS ” ambulance. Pic taken by myself

Medical Services Ltd is not a name instantly recognised by the general public. Their website claims they are the nation’s leader in the providing integrated patient transport and is bulging with testimonials from a grateful public.
The Anglo- Danish company (Falck a Danish private fire and ambulance company has just paid for a 45 per cent stake and put a director on the board) claims to be Britain’s biggest private ambulance provider, operating in London,Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and North West England.
It is well placed to make a lot of money as the NHS is progressively privatised,having according to its latest company accounts,a turnover of £29m, gross profits of £7m, and operating profits of £577,000.
However its PR appeal does not live up to reality. I am in the position of caring for my wife Margaret, who suffered a stroke while we were on holiday.
As previous posts on this site show, she received amazing treatment from the NHS when it happened on the Isles of Scilly and is receiving very good loving care and physio at Gossoms End rehab unit in Berkhamsted.
At the moment she can’t stand up or walk unaided and can only travel in ambulances.
Last weekend she had to get an X-ray – after toppling over – to make sure she had not broken her wrist. She received a speedy transit to Hemel Hempstead urgent care unit in an NHS staffed ambulance and was seen, X rayed,and sorted by the doctor’s co-operative who run the centre.
But then things went wrong. We were told we had to wait two hours. Two hours became three and then four. We pressed staff at the centre to find out whether this ambulance would ever turn up. Finally nearly five hours later it did, the driver saying it had only heard about the job half an hour ago when he started work on the night shift
Checking with staff I discovered that the ” nation’s leader in integrated patient transport ” is regularly leaving vulnerable disabled people for four hours before it picks them up.They said the Luton centre was rude to NHS staff and was fairly callous about patients having to wait in distress.
Later I discovered that Medical Services Ltd had just ONE patient transport ambulance on duty on Saturday evening covering the whole of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire from Letchworth to Watford and Dunstable to Bedford. They have a depot in Watford, with ambulances there, but they close it at weekends. No wonder it took five hours.
Next day I penned a pretty angry e-mail to one Joe Sheehan, managing director of Medical Services ( salary £120,000 last year – a 20 per cent rise). I suspect it caused him a bit of indigestion over Sunday lunch at his Kent home but I will credit him that he did respond to me -including sending me his mobile phone number.
Also to his credit he investigated it, admitted it happened and apologised for a ” sub standard service”.
He has also promised short-term action to remedy some of my complaints by rostering extra staff at the weekend so people won’t wait so long and raise the issue with the NHS commissioners who contracted him to do the work.
I have also sought an explanation from the East of England Ambulance Trust. They pointed out, see their comment on this blog, that they don’t commissioned his company. But they have got in touch with the Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group who are now contacting Medical Services Ltd about the delay. I hope to find out when they let contracts for patient transport whether they specify standards of service or staffing cover. They could have a share of the blame if they don’t.
I suspect however most people would never have thought of even finding out who owned the ambulance that came to pick them up – they would have assumed as a member of the public did when I was photographing the ambulance – that it is the NHS.
This is why I am told NHS staff at hospitals, urgent care centres, and the front line drivers ( this one was courtesy himself) bear the brunt of public anger for shoddy services while I fear the management of these private companies just collect the money and never have to face the public or be hauled to account.
This managing director – to be fair to him – seems to have smelt the coffee. He had better. The public deserve better.

Loving care at Gossoms End: An unsung NHS success story

The view of Gossoms End garden from the terrace of the dining room. A good NHS facility

The view of Gossoms End garden from the terrace of the dining room. A good NHS facility

The  NHS is taking a beating from the press and media at the moment – just at the point  Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, wants to open it up to the private sector. Here is a rather heart warming story of why it is still very good. Not everybody is being neglected by uncaring nurses and health professionals.

The entrance to Gossoms End Community Hospital.| Pic courtesy: NHS Herts

The entrance to Gossoms End Community Hospital.| Pic courtesy: NHS Herts

Unless you live in the Chilterns town of Berkhamsted you probably will never have heard of Gossoms  End Community Hospital named after an ancient hamlet adjoining the town.

This unsung place is providing excellent physiotherapy for my wife, Margaret, who is recovering from a stroke after a rather dramatic rescue by air ambulance from the Isles of Scilly – see my earlier blog  at David Hencke.

What is particularly good is that some one has properly planned this facility so that stroke victims and people recovering from serious injuries can get proper physiotherapy and nursing care in a decent environment. The hospital unlike Watford, the main accident and emergency hospital for West Herts, is under no pressure to throw people out at the earliest opportunity. The cost of running it is much less than using a ward in acute hospital.

But the real key is that this is a nurse and physiotherapy led unit – with a weekly visit from a consultant and a doctor on call. The result is that the driving force  behind the care is to find the most suitable  rehab treatment for the individual patient.

Also if there is an emergency – my wife was discovered to have two new blood clots on her lungs – the patient can be taken for urgent medical care at Watford General Hospital. In her case suspicions by the doctor at Gossoms End led her to being scanned and then treated at Watford and she was able to go back to Gossoms End for  rehab after five days.

There are other human qualities. It is small – just 20 beds – some patients like my wife have their own room.The food is home cooked on the premises, there is a cheery dining room overlooking a small park. There is a terrace and gardens outside. It also does out-patient physiotherapy,  has a GP surgery attached and is surrounded by sheltered housing. Even two private retirement developments are now located near this hospital. My sister-in-law , who is a community nurse, was so impressed that she thought it might be a private facility. But it is not. Indeed it has just had a £200,000 refurbishment ( see

Berkhamsted is extremely lucky to have this facility. From what I can see there are other such places – but no national directory of how many there are. It seems this provision is very hit and miss.

Yet at the same time the coalition and Labour are supposed to be planning major changes to help Britain’s elderly population by concentrating funds to keep them fit and healthy and provide proper support. I challenge  Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat minister responsible for social care, and Andy Burnham, Labour ‘s shadow health secretary, to visit Gossoms End and see how the unsung part of the NHS is working. They need to listen, learn and then act. So far the pair of them are ignoring my emails.Perhaps the minister and the opposition health spokesman aren’t bovvered.

My receovering wife, Margaret; my daughter, anne, and grandchildren Tegan, Leon,Ryan and Daryan on the terrace at Gossoms End

My recovering wife, Margaret; my daughter, Anne, and grandchildren Tegan, Leon,Ryan and Daryan on the terrace at Gossoms End

PS Many thanks to all those who sent Margaret get  well cards, messages of support and  have taken the time to come and visit her. You  have all been very kind and caring.

My Blog in 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

This blog was viewed about 82,000 times in 2012. This modest jump takes the total number of hits to over 167,000 since it was launched three years ago – meaning the number of hits increased by nearly a quarter in a year. As revealed in the full report from WordPress the most heavily read blog was the one disclosing that NHS Direct was facing near oblivion after losing out to GP’s co-operatives and private profit making companies. This has attracted 5400 views – 3560 on one day – just 44 short of  an all time time record for this site.

The second biggest hit was the official inspector’s report disclosing strip searching of women at Gatwick Airport and the humiliation of gay people by border and customs staffs. this attracted 3839 hits and is still regularly getting traffic.

Two of the other big hits are about scandals in the privatisation of the London fire services  and the Whitehall tax scam which  earned me Political Journalist of the Year this year.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude turned out to be the sixth most popular read in 2012 at 2,549 on the tale of how he was always late paying his utility bills and  service charges on his Kennington flat – even though the taxpayer was picking up the tab.

Finally thanks to Twitter, Guido Fawkes,Facebook, the London FBU and Liberal Conspiracy as top referrers to this site. and also to the indefatigable Mrs Angry from Barnet for making the most comments, always noisy and always right!

Click here to see the complete report.

Those magnificent recycling men and their flying machines

Jumbo jet awaits its fate in the Cotswolds

 Pictures:Tony Hutchings

In the depths of the countryside in the Cotswolds there is an amazingly good story about a recycling success that no-one has noticed. Jets as young as seven years old from major airlines like easyJet are being ” parted out” and 100 per cent recycled in a green revolution started as a family business.

Your Boeing 737 is having its engines, flying gear, brakes, seats re-used as spares for other aircraft. The lightweight aluminium is being turned in beer cans and artists and sculptors are buying plane spare parts to turn into standard lamps, mirrors and coffee tables.

another jet awaits its fate

The full story is in this week’s Sunday Times magazine but here are some of the amazing pictures of the people taken by my Berkhamsted friend and photographer Tony Hutchings. He can be contacted at

Planes at ASI's scrapyard in the Cotswolds

Politically this an extraordinary good news story. The firm ASI (Aircraft Salvage International ) -see their website at  is run by father and son team Mark and Bradley Gregory and has created some 40 or more jobs from scratch. The ” green ” revolution enables all the  plane parts to be reused and means that passengers are now flying in brand new more fuel-efficient jobs when they go on holiday.

Star Wars feel to the stripped inside of a jet

The author pretends to be a pilot

The government should be shouting this success from the rooftops, the environmentalists should be pleased and questions should be asked why the much larger motor industry has recycling rates at much lower recycling rates and still a blight on the countryside.

 At the moment there is just silence on these remarkable achievements.

Reported to HMRC:The £100,000 a year Treasury minister too poor to pay an intern

David Gauke MP, the Treasury minister who wants his intern to work for free for at least six months

Today the website graduatefog reports that David Gauke has been reported to HM Revenue and Customs for being in breach of the minimum wage legislation for offering an unpaid ” training post” in his constituency. As readers of this blog know this is not the first time he has had advertised for a six month unpaid vacancy. So perhaps HMRC should take other recent appointments into consideration.+
Since this blog appeared Mr Gauke has attacked as ” morally repugnant” people who pay cash to builders, cleaners etc. if they beleive it is part of tax avoidance. But presumably this does not arise for his interns – as they work for free anyway.

After a Budget that gave  tax cuts for the rich and pay freezes and job losses for the poor, step forward, David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, forced to answer questions on the pasty tax U turn today. He is the man who will oversee the tax cuts in the new finance bill and has overall responsibility for HM Revenue.and Customs. He is also in charge of policing the minimum wage when unscrupulous employers avoid paying staff ( you couldn’t make this up)

His big contribution to help Britain  moving is to offer one new personal job at his constituency office in Rickmansworth, Herts. There is only one problem. You need to either have rich parents ( who will give you an allowance) or a lot of inherited wealth.  There is no pay and you must be Tory inclined( and obviously believe working for free is a good Tory policy)

The advert is here.

As a minimum condition you must work for him for  nothing for six months  if not a year or more and you better have at your own expense, learnt advance computer skills ( doesn’t sound that Mr Gauke is computer savvy).
As it says: “Duties will include administration, basic correspondence, diary management, fundraising, campaigning and related tasks. The intern will also have the opportunity to work one day a week in the Westminster office.”

Now I understand as his constituent that Mr Gauke is very hard up. He only has an income of just over £100,000 a year – with his £98,750 salary and he claims from the taxpayer a London living allowance of £3379.15 a year ( desperate problem for MPs having to pay for higher London prices except for the taxpayer paid subsidised food in Parliament)

Funnily enough his expenses paid by the taypayer for the last financial year come to almost the same £98,680.93 as his salary including some £78,000 on staff ( presumably in Westminster rather than Rickmansworth), another £9000+ on accommodation and £10,000+ on administration. So the poor man only has £200,000 going through his accounts.

Then there are his two homes to maintain by Tory standards well below any mansion tax level. But  poor man,since this terrible crackdown on  Mps expenses he has had to lose  such a lot.  He did grab £15,000 a year  in mortgage interest payments ,a  quarterly £687 maintenance charge and car parking fees- all paid  from the  taxpayer on his Westminster Bridge Road apartment in London which he paid  £285,000 in 2007.  Mind you he has had a £30,000 rise in his income since the coalition came to power.

Incidently none of this latest expenses information is on his personal website – which  on this issue doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2009. No doubt this will be done free of charge by his new employee.

What one might have expected from a government with one million young people on the dole – is that Mr Gauke might have just gone down to the Watford or Hemel Hempstead dole office- and given a leg up to some Tory inclined youngster on the dole. Or he might  like many other Mps in his party just decide to pay a minimum wage to one of the newly unemployed graduates. But obviously paying £6 an hour would send him and his wife to the bankruptcy courts. For Mr Gauke, it is not Greed is Good  but Exploitation is Excellent.

Perhaps as a resident of Berkhamsted in his constituency we should launch an appeal for the cash stricken Treasury minister or send food parcels to his new recruit so he can at least survive on an egg sandwich.

Internaware  who campaign at @internaware against exploiting interns are not impressed. Gus Baker said: “Revenue and Customs have set up a hit squad to enforce the minimum wage for interns and yet the minister in charge is refusing to pay the people in his own office.

“David Gauke… is also putting an opportunity out of the reach of the vast majority of young people who can’t afford to work for free.

“At a time of high youth unemployment when young people desperately need to demonstrate experience on their CVs, this is completely irresponsible.”

Mr Gauke is very comfortable with this. He told BBC News which followed this up : “It’s advertising for a post for volunteers. Lots of people want to do it. It’s good experience.

“It involves visiting my local Conservative Association, getting some experience of Westminster.

“I think that’s perfectly reasonable and those that have had the experience of working there have enjoyed it and found it very good experience.”

Anyway for those who want to tell him what they think his e-mail at Parliament is  and the constituency office address for food parcels is Scotsbridge House
Scots Hill, Croxley Green,Rickmansworth Hertfordshire WD3 3BB.