But that’s the legal bit

His awful moaning to the women who charged him £200 a night about how he can’t get by on a Lords allowance of £200 a day is the worst element of the whole scandal. “I do spend it on wine and different things,” he remarked.

Is there any real question that he should remain in the House? That he should not be expelled?
In reality the allowance for peers is £300 a day, though it does not apply to Sewel. He is paid £120,000 a year, made up of his salary for his part-time work chairing committees in the Lords (£84,525) and his allowance of £36,000 for maintaining a home in London. He complains that he is struggling, and when one of the women asks if his £200 allowance pays for his lunch, he replies: “It’s not lunch luvvie darling, it’s paying for this”. Wow. Is there any real question that he should remain in the House? That he should not be expelled?

But paying a tart is legal you idiot.

And amazingly the British system of jurisprudence is that we don’t punish people for doing things which are legal.

51 thoughts on “But that’s the legal bit”

  1. It bangs on about this stuff being paid for by ‘public money’. I assume this means that all spending by any public sector worker should be scrutinised, and controlled by Government edict to the satisfaction of Guardian contributors.

    Can’t have MPs using ‘public money’ to send their children to private schools, or HNS consultants buying ‘planet-destroying’ Range Rovers, or teachers spending on anything at all Ms Moore dislikes, can we.

  2. Tim,
    You’ve misread this completely, “you idiot”.

    Moore is complaining about the apparent sense of entitlement, and she’s right.

    This Sewel is a spoilt and whining 12 year old boy, and that’s wht he shouldn’t be in the House.

    He should be in detention.

  3. The left want magical laws. Paying for sex should be illegal. Except the cases where the woman is a fully paid up member of the feminist sisterhood, has a successful blog, an international bestseller in print in all languages (including esperanto) and has produced a self help video on the lesser and greater arcana of femdom. In such cases the left feel that the law should not be enforced, just the tarts clients named and shamed and then forced to attend sex slavery awareness classes held by the two Julies.

  4. Can anyone advise on Sewel’s alleged ‘grace and favour flat in Dolphin Square with a £1000 not £3000 rent. Why does he get one, or is Moore dissembling / fantasizing?

    Apart from the drugs this sounds more and more like hot air. I wonder which bits are embellishments.

  5. He is a parasite. But he is one of legions. Why should he be rousted because he has been caught enjoying himself with the proceeds of parasitism in a SEX/drug fashion.

    It is his entire parasitical political/bureaucratic class that should be punished by being put out of business not one idiot who has offended the prodnose senior anti-sex league.

  6. “And amazingly the British system of jurisprudence is that we don’t punish people for doing things which are legal”

    No, we don’t. But that’s only because we have plenty of ex-judicial means of punishing people who do legal stuff we don’t like…

  7. Why do lords get £300 pd tax free? If it’s expenses there shld be receipts for actual and necessary expenditure, if it’s income then tax laws shld apply.
    This is something Hodges et al shld be investigating if they are serious about “fair tax”.
    UK govt like other Western democracies is recreating a feudal society divided into estates distinguished by their state privileges-or lack thereof.

  8. @dee

    They get a daily allowance for days when they work rather than a salary, since it’s unnecessary for Lords (who tend to be subject specialists) to be there every day.

    You can talk about the numbers, however the HoL costs less than 20% of the cost of the Commons.

  9. Amazing article. The core of her article is that it’s an abuse of taxpayer subsidy and salary. OK, let’s accept that for a minute (I agree there’s a lot of “he spent it on what?
    “moralising going on)

    Her only conclusion is that Sewel should go. Where’s the insight? How will the next guy not take this route? Why wasn’t it spotted earlier? Has the whole remuneration issue moved on at all since duck houses and moat clearing?

    Yawn.

  10. @Jonah : the question is does the £ 300 = remuneration-whatever the method of calculation-or expenses. Whichever it is the rules shld be the same as for everyone else. But they are not. The lords are a privileged tax class.
    If we ask why this is so, then it is instructive to go back and examine the problems raised by the embezzlement being practised under the previous expenses regime.

  11. Amazing the way the police have barged in, raiding the flat, teams of officers, sniffer dogs, the lot.

    Sewel should have just stuck to grooming and sexually exploiting under age girls in Bradford. The police would have left him to it for decades.

  12. Hmm, I would hope that we can kick out our rulers for more reasons than committing criminal acts. Spending expenses taken from my pocket on coke and hookers is taking the piss. I don’t care whether it is illegal or not, he is taking the piss.

  13. the British system of jurisprudence is that we don’t punish people for doing things which are legal.

    Tim, what are you on about? The British system of jurisprudence regards criminal punishment. Suzanne Moore is suggesting that Sewel should leave his seat in the Lords. Losing your job is not a criminal punishment.

    Would anyone here be making this argument if a private company decided to sack an employee for doing things which are legal but which bring the firm into disrepute? I’m OK with, say, a firm of solicitors having a rule that their receptionists aren’t allowed to have brightly coloured mohicans and multiple facial piercings. A lot of companies have codes of conduct about what you may not do even while not at work, partly because of reputation, partly because of blackmail risk. Banks do.

  14. Jack C,

    “Moore is complaining about the apparent sense of entitlement, and she’s right.”

    For God’s sake, he was taking the piss. You’re at a party, you don’t give the correct answer, you give the funny lie because the honest answer is dull.

    It doesn’t even matter if he feels entitled. What matters is whether he’s worth the money. And a week ago, no-one was complaining about whether he was. After he chooses to spend some of that money on legal hookers and a drug that many people in the media enjoy, he’s suddenly not.

  15. Giovanni Botulismo

    Would anyone here be making this argument if a private company decided to sack an employee for doing things which are legal but which bring the firm into disrepute?

    As usual, Squander Two nails it neatly. Whether Sewel should stay or go isn’t really about legality or otherwise. Stripped of his title would be very satisfying, too.

  16. Squander Two,

    “Would anyone here be making this argument if a private company decided to sack an employee for doing things which are legal but which bring the firm into disrepute? I’m OK with, say, a firm of solicitors having a rule that their receptionists aren’t allowed to have brightly coloured mohicans and multiple facial piercings.”

    You’ve never left the office in a stinking mood, travelled all the way to your home, got in the door and dumped all the shit about your day on the wife, bad mouthing your company, letting off some steam under the reasonable expectation of that being a private space?

    And if I had planted a hidden microphone in your home and recorded all of that, and it got published on the internet, you’d meekly resign when your employer had said that you had brought the company into disrepute. Or maybe you and your wife like some kinky games. And I plant a hidden camera and film you and publish something about it and who you work for. And your employer thinks that your weird fun makes customers uncomfortable and fires you. You’d be OK with that?

  17. Rob,

    “Hmm, I would hope that we can kick out our rulers for more reasons than committing criminal acts. Spending expenses taken from my pocket on coke and hookers is taking the piss. I don’t care whether it is illegal or not, he is taking the piss.”

    Why shouldn’t he spend his expenses on hookers? He’s done a job, the rules say he should get expenses. Maybe he shouldn’t get those expenses. I’ve been in favour of Lords reform for years. But whether he spends that money on starving children in Africa, donkey sanctuaries or hookers is entirely his business.

  18. Someone will correct me if I’m wrong. I’m sure that the public accounts committee found that before The Lords were reformed and the hereditary peers kicked out, that it won hands down in offering value for money against costs. Another Labour f*ck up. and including the dripping wet Tories.

  19. Anon is correct. The only real issue is not about what he did–but whether his well-paid “job” (and that of all of them) should exist at all.

  20. Anon,
    Nice try, but really.

    No one comes out well from this, not the prostitutes, not the Sun and not the Sewel.

    Ordinarily, I couldn’t care less what Sewel got up to, but the positions he held made him a blackmail risk and a hypocrite. He knew he would have to go if caught.

    When you’re in clover, don’t whinge about it is my advice.

  21. Anon,

    What, frankly, the utter fuck do you even think you’re on about? Your attempt at an analogy is verging on brain-dead.

    > You’ve never left the office in a stinking mood …

    No-one has suggested Sewel lose his seat for being in a bad mood.

    > … travelled all the way to your home, got in the door and dumped all the shit about your day on the wife …

    No-one has suggested Sewel lose his seat for saying anything, good or bad, to his wife.

    > … bad mouthing your company …

    No-one has suggested Sewel lose his seat for bad-mouthing the Lords.

    > … letting off some steam …

    No-one has suggested Sewel lose his seat for letting off some steam.

    > … under the reasonable expectation of that being a private space?

    No-one with any brain whatsoever expects a cocaine party with a load of prostitutes to be a reliably private space. I would be amazed if everyone on every military committee hasn’t had this explained to them clearly by someone from MI5.

    > And if I had planted a hidden microphone in your home and recorded all of that, and it got published on the internet …

    … then, if you were a journalist, you’d need to argue a public interest case to get away with it. If there were none, you’d be breaking various laws and I’d have a civil case against you too. This is one of many reasons I’m quite happy not being a politician.

    Sewel probably has a case against The Sun — it’s not as if they got him to sign a release form for the footage, so at the very least he could demand a royalty for his performance. But he is in a position where trying to bring such a case would only damage his reputation and the House’s even further, so he won’t.

    > you’d meekly resign when your employer had said that you had brought the company into disrepute.

    Ha! You’ve clearly not met my employer.

    But, again, it depends who one’s employer is. If I were an MP or a lord, then yes, absolutely, damn right I would. Profumo’s resignation and his subsequent career are the gold standard of how a public figure should behave when they break the rules. He understood the higher standard to which those in public office should rightly be held and that breaking that standard mattered. (My grandmother wrote to him when he was working in the East-End poorhouse and received a very gracious letter in reply.)

    > Or maybe you and your wife like some kinky games. And I plant a hidden camera and film you and publish something about it and who you work for. And your employer thinks that your weird fun makes customers uncomfortable and fires you. You’d be OK with that?

    No-one has suggested Sewel lose his seat for having sex with his wife.

    Again, if you did that, you would be breaking the law and I would have a civil case against you. I would also have a case against my employer unless they had a rule along the lines of “We will sack you if you are ever proven to have had consensual sex with your wife in private.”

    People have suggested Sewel lose his seat for breaking the law, for breaking the rules, for breaking the rules that it was his job to enforce, for breaking the rules that he said were important rules that one should be expelled from the House for breaking, and for making himself a blackmail risk.

    > Why shouldn’t he spend his expenses on hookers?

    Do you not know what the word “expenses” means?

  22. Jack C,

    “Ordinarily, I couldn’t care less what Sewel got up to, but the positions he held made him a blackmail risk and a hypocrite. He knew he would have to go if caught.”

    And if he’d been going to cross-dressing parties, something that would be a blackmail risk, do you think he’d be judged like he is now? Or would the Guardian have attacked the Sun for invasion of privacy and not accepting alternative lifestyles? Blackmail risk is just nonsense.

    As for hypocrisy, where? OK, he voted for some bills on prostitution, but he hardly led them. What else? “Standards”? And how does shagging a hooker affect him doing his job well, which is the point of standards?

  23. S2,

    “But, again, it depends who one’s employer is. If I were an MP or a lord, then yes, absolutely, damn right I would. Profumo’s resignation and his subsequent career are the gold standard of how a public figure should behave when they break the rules. He understood the higher standard to which those in public office should rightly be held and that breaking that standard mattered. (My grandmother wrote to him when he was working in the East-End poorhouse and received a very gracious letter in reply.)”

    Profumo was secretary of state for war, having sex with a prostitute who was friendly with some Russians at the height of the cold war. That’s a pretty big reason for him resigning because it puts one of those “bin emptying” tasks of government at risk.

    Is Sewel in that position? Is he secretary of war? Or on the intelligence committee? Would The Sun run a similar story and would people be justifying risk of blackmail if he was at a cross-dressing party that his wife didn’t know about? Would the Guardian then be joining in with pillorying him, or defending his choices?

    I mean, it’s all a bit sleazy, but so what? Do you hire a plumber that’s a devout Christian and screws up the job, or a plumber who gets it sorted and goes off to a BDSM party? So, why don’t we judge politicians in the same way?

    “Do you not know what the word “expenses” means?”

    In this context, yes. He gets expenses for turning up at the Lords. He then spent that on hookers. If I use my car for work purposes and claim expenses, I get cash and spend it on shopping, clothes and blu-rayss. I don’t expect the expense office to criticise my choice of Zero Dark Thirty any more than someone spending expenses he’s entitled to on hookers and blow.

  24. S2,

    “No-one with any brain whatsoever expects a cocaine party with a load of prostitutes to be a reliably private space. I would be amazed if everyone on every military committee hasn’t had this explained to them clearly by someone from MI5.”

    This was Sewel’s private home. And people should expect that to be a reliably private space. I’m not sure where the law sits on this as he invited these women in. I’m sure that Sun journalists would be just fine and dandy if I turned up at their family home as a carpet cleaner and then filmed the inside of their home and wouldn’t feel at all violated.

  25. “Do you not know what the word “expenses” means?”-S2
    ” If I use my car for work purposes”-Anon

    If instead of an allowance S had expenses then the issue wld not arise (absent embezzlement) bc payments to the daughters of joy cld not be claimed as an expense.

    The “allowance” system is justified as “expenses” but with no questions asked and no receipts required it is not the expenses system every other taxpayer is subject to. It’s tax free cash which does not speak its name.

    The lords used to have an expenses system but this was changed, for reasons which must now be all too obvious. Expect the H of C to follow suit and later the higher echelons of the civil service-the system is already entrenched on the continent.

  26. No one’s addressing the real question.

    Whilst smoking weed gives me a raging hard on, snorting coke always makes my John Thomas as limp as a decomposed jelly fish.

    Presumably this isn’t the case with Sewel.

    So why isn’t research being done on this?

    That’s the question that really needs answering.

  27. > Profumo was secretary of state for war, having sex with a prostitute who was friendly with some Russians at the height of the cold war. That’s a pretty big reason for him resigning

    And yet it is not the reason he resigned. If you’re going to opine on this stuff, learn about it.

    > He gets expenses for turning up at the Lords.

    No, he gets an allowance for turning up at the Lords.

    > If I use my car for work purposes and claim expenses, I get cash and spend it on shopping, clothes and blu-rayss. I don’t expect the expense office to criticise my choice of Zero Dark Thirty

    No, if your work pay you an allowance for using your car, you can then spend it on whatever you want. If they pay you expenses, you have to submit receipts for petrol and the distance you travel is subject to audit. They’re not the same thing, and Dee is spot on about the way Parliament is using allowances to get round the expenses scandal. Again, this is one rule for the lords and masters and another for the plebs.

  28. > I’m sure that Sun journalists would be just fine and dandy if I turned up at their family home as a carpet cleaner and then filmed the inside of their home and wouldn’t feel at all violated.

    Sorry, what are you saying here? That Sewel did nothing wrong or that he feels violated? That doing something wrong shouldn’t matter if you feel violated?

  29. @S2

    > He gets expenses for turning up at the Lords.

    No, he gets an allowance for turning up at the Lords.

    What is an allowance: reimbursement of expenses or remuneration? If the latter why is it not subject to tax?

  30. > As for hypocrisy, where?

    This is what Sewel himself said, quite indignantly, in response to the suggestion that lords could claim the allowance just for turning up:

    The scheme for claiming the allowance, from which peers meet their subsistence and overnight accommodation costs, requires members to certify that “they are receiving the allowance in respect of parliamentary work”.

    So there you go. You, Anon, may not think it matters what the allowance gets spent on. Lord Sewel said that it does matter: it’s for subsistence and overnight accommodation. Since he was, as you say, in his own house, the prostitutes and cocaine must be “subsistence”.

    I can’t find the quote right now, but he was also on record that it is quite right that lords be expelled from the House for breaking the rules that it turned out he was breaking himself. How is that not hypocrisy?

    > And if he’d been going to cross-dressing parties, something that would be a blackmail risk, do you think he’d be judged like he is now? Or would the Guardian have attacked the Sun for invasion of privacy and not accepting alternative lifestyles?

    If that ever happens, I’ll start giving a fuck. I don’t actually care what The Guardian or The Sun say, so see no need to defend either of them, either in this real situation or your hypothetical one. I don’t think Sewel should have resigned because of what The Sun did; he should have resigned because of what he did.

    I should add that Tim started this thread by making a quite specific point about Suzanne Moore’s claim that Sewel should lose his seat because of some stuff he did which was not illegal. That nit-picking argument aside, he did in fact break the law as well. You appear to have decided that, because some of what he did was legal, he should also be defended over the illegal stuff.

    For instance, back to this again:

    > I’m sure that Sun journalists would be just fine and dandy if I turned up at their family home as a carpet cleaner and then filmed the inside of their home and wouldn’t feel at all violated.

    In your hypothetical situation, is this Sun journalist breaking the law or the Sun’s rules or both and does your investigation uncover that fact?

  31. What is an allowance: reimbursement of expenses or remuneration?

    Neither, it is an allowance.

    If the latter why is it not subject to tax?

    Hmm, who writes tax law? Ah, yes, the politicians.

    Why haven’t the Commons tried this? Because their expenses entitlements are so significant that the allowance figure would be so high that there would be uproar.

    Mind you, £300 per day, call it three days per week on average, tax free, is on the order of £75,000. Added to his £120k, that’s not bad wedge.

  32. I reckon if you were in a senior position at a high profile private company and you did that on film you’d be sacked. Even if it was in your own home and you thought it was going to stay private. Say a partner at Goldman Sachs laughing about the financial crash and how you spent your bonus on blow or a BP exec laughing about seagulls soaked in oil and calling the chairman a cunt they’d be fired pretty quick I’d have thought.

  33. DJ

    In those sort of examples, BP / Goldman etc, wouldn’t they “resign” instead. Reputation of the company, poor personal judgement, etc..

  34. PF,
    Sewel has also resigned, and it isn’t clear whether he would have been booted out if he hadn’t. (He would have had a better idea than most, as he was involved in formulating and enforcing the new rules).

  35. SE
    But why is the allowance paid? To remunerate or to reimburse?
    The word allowance is a semantic trick to provide a remuneration tax free. The lords have practised this kind of deception before : they redefined “residence” to prevent prosecutions for embezzlement under the old expenses regime.
    It’s quite easy to test by looking at it from the IRS’ point of view: if someone pays you (and you are not graced with ermine) £300 as consideration for provision of services you cannot avoid tax by calling it an allowance and if you claim it’s reimbursement of expenses you will have to provide receipts.
    This is much bigger than S: it shows the intrinsic corruption of public life in UK.

  36. Sebastian Weetabix

    This spasm of morality all because some douce wee Aberdonian fancied a snort and a fuck with a consenting tart in his flat. In the meantime paedos and expenses troughers stalk the earth unmolested by plod. Makes you proud to British, doesn’t it?

    His real problem is being a typically thrifty Aberdonian he gave a post-dated cheque to a low rent tart to save a bit of money. Should have spent the money on a professional like the Tories do. Then he’d still be doing it now.

  37. “Should have been more clear – £300 per day, three days per week, tax-free, is on the order of a taxed income of £75,000.”

    Can’t be arsed to do even that simple maths but is that allowing for recess etc?

  38. AndrewC – I suspect the coke is part for the girls before and part for him in the come down period.

  39. Surreptitious Evil

    It’s quite easy to test by looking at it from the IRS’ point of view:

    Harder from HMRC’s PoV, of course.

  40. “Interested

    AndrewC – I suspect the coke is part for the girls before and part for him in the come down period.”

    Ah, that makes more sense.

  41. S2,

    “And yet it is not the reason he resigned. If you’re going to opine on this stuff, learn about it.”

    I’m well aware of why Profumo resigned, and I’m perfectly happy for ministers, MPs and peers to make a personal choice based on their sexual conduct. That doesn’t mean that they have to resign for their sexual conduct. However, in Profumo’s case, his job was untenable anyway for the connections I described.

    And we don’t generally police sexual conduct in the way we once did. MPs caught committing adultery rarely resign, and we don’t view giving someone money as a terrible thing, so why is paying for a prostitute any worse than adultery?

    “So there you go. You, Anon, may not think it matters what the allowance gets spent on. Lord Sewel said that it does matter: it’s for subsistence and overnight accommodation. Since he was, as you say, in his own house, the prostitutes and cocaine must be “subsistence”.”

    No, he said that “from which peers meet their subsistence and overnight accommodation costs”. That means that it is an amount to cover those costs, but does not specify only for those costs. His point was about people only be paid when they turned up.

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