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Archive for October, 2009

BBC: Peers face lobbying-for-cash ban

Peers face lobbying-for-cash ban

BBC: Peers are set to be banned from taking payments to advise companies on how to lobby Parliament, in the wake of cash for influence allegations.

Lords would also get their own standards watchdog under the proposals, Lords leader Baroness Royall has said.

The recommended changes follow an inquiry chaired by Lord Eames.

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Date set for Iraq war public hearings

Guardian:

Panel to start hearing evidence on 24 November in London
• Witnesses including Tony Blair will have to testify in public

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McNulty told to repay £14,000 of expenses

Independent: Tony McNulty, former employment minister, had to make a humiliating apology in the Commons after claiming expenses on a property occupied rent-free by his parents.

He was also ordered to pay back almost £14,000 to the taxpayer following an investigation into his use of expenses by Westminster’s sleaze watchdog. In a statement to Parliament yesterday, he said he accepted the punishment “with no complaint” and apologised “without reservation”.

It comes just two weeks after Jacqui Smith, the former Home Secretary, had to apologise to colleagues for wrongly designating her family home as her second home, allowing her to claim expenses on it.

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Herbert Smith and Lovells win coveted Treasury work

Times: Herbert Smith and Lovells, the City law firms, have won coveted roles advising the Government on preserving the stability of the financial system, The Times has learnt.

Several top City firms were in contention for three places on a legal panel established by the Treasury to advise it on implementing legislation aimed at avoiding banking collapses. Herbert Smith and Lovells were selected alongside Slaughter and May, the Treasury’s adviser on banking matters, the Treasury confirmed last night.

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Law lords decide Sigma SIV dispute

Times: Investors in the world’s largest structured investment vehicle (SIV) are set to recover their money after the UK’s highest court clarified how the remains of Sigma Finance Corporation should be divided among competing creditors.

Sigma, worth $27 billion at its peak, collapsed in October 2008 owing investors around $9 billion, substantially more than the value of its investments.

In the first ruling in a business case from the new Supreme Court, five law lords today said investors in Sigma should be treated equally and each take a proportional share of what remains.

The ruling, which applies to investors claiming around $6.2 billion, overturns previous decisions at the High Court and Court of Appeal, which both said investors should be paid out according to how soon their investments in Sigma matured.

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Tony Blair’s bid for EU presidency sinks

Guardian: Tony Blair’s hopes of becoming Europe’s first sitting president were receding fast last night as Britain admitted his chances of success were “fading” after the continent’s centre-right leaders made it clear one of their own must have the post.

Hours after Gordon Brown delivered his strongest statement of support for Blair – disclosing that he had spoken to him earlier this week – British sources indicated that the former prime minister was unlikely to assume the high-profile job.

“It would be right to describe Tony’s chances as fading,” one source said. “Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel are not terribly enthusiastic. Silvio Berlusconi remains his strongest backer.”

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Ex-minister faces expenses rebuke

BBC: Former minister Tony McNulty is to be rebuked for his expenses claims following an inquiry and asked to repay about £13,000, the BBC understands.

Mr McNulty has been investigated by the parliamentary standards watchdog for claiming the second home allowance for a property in which his parents lived.

The Harrow property was eight miles away from his main central London home.

MPs face wide-ranging cuts to their second homes and other expenses, under proposals from an independent inquiry.

Mr McNulty, who has maintained he did not break the rules, is likely to be asked to apologise to Parliament.

Criticism

If he does, he will become the second senior Labour figure to publicly apologise for their actions regarding the second home allowance after former home secretary Jacqui Smith did so earlier this month.

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