Sunday, 14 August 2011

Gus O'Donnell fights to keep Whitehall mandarins out of prison

Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell is fighting a desperate battle with MPs and journalists in refusing to disclose the scale of potential theft and fraud amongst those using the government procurement card (GPC). Limited disclosure of transactions to date has revealed that senior civil servants are illegally charging personal expenditure to the cards - otherwise known as stealing - on a widespread basis. It is difficult to estimate, but likely that theft from the taxpayer runs into at least hundreds of pounds by individual Whitehall mandarins. O'Donnell is desperate to keep details from the public including 'improper spending' (theft) on booze, fine-dining, theatres, furniture, clothing and electrical goods by the Whitehall nomenklatura

With sentences now being handed down for theft including six months imprisonment for theft of £3.50 of bottled water, and five months for possession of a stolen pair of shorts, value unknown but unlikely to be over £10, O'Donnell's efforts to 'forgive' his civil servants all thefts under £500 is out of tune with the mood of the nation and the actions of the courts. There is no reason why a civil servant who has improperly defrauded the taxpayer out of £3.50 for bottled water on the GPC should not also serve six months in prison. 

If Cameron's 'zero tolerance' means anything, it must extend to not only the immediate dismissal of any civil servant guilty of theft, but their prosecution in the courts. There cannot be one law for the poor and dispossessed and another for the privileged elite of Whitehall. To this end, there must be a full criminal investigation into spending on the GPC. It's time for Cameron to over-rule his chief mandarin. 


Greg Tingey said...

Rotten right through, top-to-bottom, and sideways as well.

Coupled with Camoron's treasonous defence cuts, we're going to lose the next one.

Was it like this in France in 1937-8?

Barnacle Bill said...

Unfortunately the leniency shown to our elected representatives over their own criminal actions will be mirrored by the way our non-elected rulers are treated.

We may have the odd sacrificial lambs to sate the public outrage but you can be sure the majority will still enjoy the fruits of their theft from our pockets.

HMRC should have been called in to investigate our MPs, then when they had finished in the HoC, they could have moved into Whitehall.

Anonymous said...

"Coupled with Camoron's treasonous defence cuts, we're going to lose the next one."

Who you calling 'WE' paleface?

I am an ex tory, not to vote Tory again while the following people are in the party: David Cameron, Ken Clarke, Theresa May, that'll do for now.

Anonymous said...

The various companies that I have worked for all had very strict policies on expenses and helping oneself to the stock. One of the very first items that all staff were told about on their first day. The penalty was instant dismissal, with NO exceptions. Despite this, people did still help themselves to cash, goods, or try to filch things from suppliers.

The reason behind the policy was simple; allow people to take a penny, and some will feel that they can take £1. Allow them to take a packet of crips and they'll take a multipack bag of 12 packets. Allow them a can of beer, and they'll take a case of whisky. Several managers were dismissed, a couple of area managers, one regional manager, and even one director was allowed to go, following being caught with goods.

For a while, I was a school governor. I was asked to take part in a series of meetings to help the LEA deal with a couple of schools designated as underperforming. I and my governor colleagues did a full days work, then travelled at our own expense to the meetings in the evening, and spent many tedious hours listening to LEA officers telling us what they were doing to try to put things right (generally rather little). These same people were all claiming 50p per mile for travel (even if they shared a car), they all claimed overtime, and time off in lieu as well (including the director of Education who was on £90k a year).

I doubt very much that anything will be done (they look after their own), but I would like to see some of the not so civil servants being introduced to the concept of punishment for improper use of benefits.

And Greg, I think that you'll find it was like this from about 1930 to 1939.

Cromwell said...

Assuming there is oversight of credit expenses ie that the monthly bill is reviewed by a manager (I am that naive) for discrepancies, still does not preclude fraud.

There is the well-known scam of the manager inviting the underling to an expensive lunch with a bunch of the managers cronies, the bill being picked up by the underling and when it is submitted at month-end signed of by the manager. Essentially no oversight of abuse.

I am certain that "necessary office equipment" could be bought using the same ruse.

The only defence against such thievery is good and honest management, and since most the incumbents feel put-upon because they are expected to put in a days work I have no expectation that honesty is in great supply amongst the civil service.

Camoron is emotionally incapable of dealing directly with his head of civil service-that might be nasty.

Raedwald said...


1. £1bn a year in total is spent on the GPC
2. Expenditure on individual cards of under £1,000 a month is not examined

It's effectively an invitation to card holders to increase their salary by £11,000 a year.

Anonymous said...

Do they think [actually they must do], that the nation does not reward these shills enough already?

It is the sense of entitlement which galls, the theft is minor when compared with the waste of government departments - £7 billions on a NHS computer system that does not work - for starters. Or, sending £11 billion overseas to be spent on dubious projects and calling it 'foreign aid' purely on the whim of our latest unelected leader [no say so for the electorate].

Then, the latest wheeze, in the Times: "Asylum Housing providers cash in."

- UK Borders Agency, accomodation providers [for asylum seekers] paid, PPNW ['Priority Properties North West'] £1.2 million, which includes a minor stipend of £558K for the managing director!

Glory be! The Public money muck spreader, is still pumping like there is no tomorrow!

Gallovidian said...

Another excellent post.

measured said...

Well, first of all you know Cameron isn't going to and secondly, in the majority of incidents rioters will have also committed trespass.

That's not to say civil servants should get away with thieving or (as must be widespread practice) never encroaching on the tasks of others, challenging or criticising others, in order to safeguard their own roles.

What's the country new mantra? Self Interest Rules OK. .

Woodsy42 said...

"2. Expenditure on individual cards of under £1,000 a month is not examined
It's effectively an invitation to card holders to increase their salary by £11,000 a year."

Funny old world you live in Raedwald, there are 12 months in a year where I live :-)

Anonymous said...

Dear Woodsy42.
Yes, 12 months in a year, and at £1000 per month that is on the limit.
Make it a mere £900-ish a month and who is going to ask questions....

Anonymous said...

£900 or £1000 per month, doesn't make much difference.

This is benefits in kind and should be of interest to the IR.

I know, they are the civil service too ..


Anonymous said...

I'm a Civil Servant, but nowhere near senior enough to be granted a procurement card.

I rather expect that Cameron won't force the issue against GoD. He needs the senior Civil Service to implement his policy changes and that means not 'taking them on' in a fight which might expose their allegedly fraudulent activities with public money.

The Civil Service can be obstructive at the best of times; publicly challenging some individuals' integrity would probably result in discreet but effective action to stymie policy reforms.

I don't condone that at all - but that's the way it is. When MP's Ministers' expenses were being examined and many individuals were found to have been defrauding taxpayers on a grand scale, a missive was issued by GoD reminding us of the Civil Service Code (ie don't criticise Ministers); you can imagine the reaction of the rank and file!

Anonymous said...

Ordinary decent people need to form a Union. Not a Trade Union but a People's Union.

Only by collective action can people regain the power, the loss of which, results in the unaccountable looting of the public purse by our parasitical administrative class.

Such a union would not have the aim of achieving power for itself, but of diminishing the power of those who abuse it by their thieving and dictatorial behaviour.

Several million like-minded people could form a People's Union for the purpose of restoring the authority (consensus) for government to ordinary people and holding the government to account for its serial misuse of power.

How could influence be exerted? By the traditional withdrawal of labour; by universal withdrawal of cooperation with the state; by mass peaceful demonstration; by the ability to collectively withdraw all funds from a bank; by exposing the abuses of a poitical party and thereby showing why it does not deserve to be in government.

The aims of a People's Union would be simply to expose abuse and restore the democratic accountability of government to the people of the UK.

Ten million people paying a subscription of £5 a year would give such a Union sufficient resources.

Just a thought...

Demetrius said...

To quote Sir Winston Churchill "Collar the lot".