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What exactly was Jacqui Smith's crime?

(37 Posts)
SpeedyGonzalez Wed 24-Aug-11 20:03:12

She gave a charity contribution and helped a bit with rehabilitation of some convicts at the end of their prison sentence. it's apparently a scandal.

Is it really worth the big hoo-ha? She could, I'm sure, have paid top dollar for some excellent quality work, but instead she helped out some folks who needed it. The attempt to link it to her expenses fiddling is a weak effort at trying to slander her. Or am I missing something here?

SpeedyGonzalez Wed 24-Aug-11 22:51:02


fivegomadindorset Wed 24-Aug-11 22:54:14

Maybe becuae she is still an MP and they could have had access to documents

luweewu Wed 24-Aug-11 23:10:30

Maybe Because ,

I'm not a MP , but I need some cheap labour to fix up my house , how do I go about hiring them for an unspecified amount for them to fix my house?

fivegomadindorset Wed 24-Aug-11 23:23:30

Approach your local prison, a friend of my parents when he was in prison went outside with a group to lay a patio. It was an open prison so not hard core offenders.

SpeedyGonzalez Thu 25-Aug-11 00:06:27

Yeah, you see this is what I don't get. You can either choose a cynical 'she's a tight wad' explanation, or an uncynical 'she was helping people who needed it' explanation.

Is she known as a cynical, tight-fisted, self-serving caa? I really don't know enough about her to answer that myself. If yes, than I can see why you'd go for the cynical option. If no, then I think cynicism in this case is unwarranted.

For example. I quite happily buy good quality secondhand stuff off ebay, I search for discount vouchers online, etc - to save money. I also quite happily pay full price for good quality stuff if I can't get it at a discount. I also quite happily give generously to charity.

If I were to make a charity donation to have prisoners do some DIY work for me, would that make me tightfisted?

Toobluntforboss Thu 25-Aug-11 00:10:06

The difference is her position - it appears she was using her position purely for her own gain. Whatever her 'real' reasons were, she should have realised that she was taking advantage and thought twice.

SpeedyGonzalez Thu 25-Aug-11 00:11:08

But neither she nor the charity realised it was not allowed.

Ponders Thu 25-Aug-11 00:11:16

well...I would like to hear a justification from the organisation responsible for providing work for the offenders before crucifying her, but after all they are meant to be working in, & for the good of, the community - not painting her enormous great house at (presumably) a knock-down rate.

and she did deny that it had happened initially (always a bad sign)

and she was one of those who put in an inflated expenses claim in the days before the shit hit the fan (not to mention her DH's porn rentals hmm)

Ponders Thu 25-Aug-11 00:12:58

if this is what "community service" is supposed to mean then they should starts publishing lists of services available, what they're charged at, & who gets the money...grin

HerdOfTinyElephants Thu 25-Aug-11 00:22:47

If you're the former Home Secretary then you bloody well ought to know that it's not allowed. And if you're the charity involved then you bloody well ought to know that it's not allowed, too. When two such pieces of breathtaking ignorance conveniently coincide with Ms Smith getting her house painted for free (or at knock-down rates) people get a bit cynical and suspicious.

It's possible, of course, that nowhere in the area were there any schools, hospitals, libraries or other community buildings that needed redecoration; possible that there was no graffiti in any public area that needed to be painted over. And if so, and as a result they really NEEDED to paint a private residence it's further possible that there were no other available properties around belonging to anyone with a greater need than an MP. Possible, but not hugely likely.

Blueberties Thu 25-Aug-11 00:24:40

It's supposed to be work for the community, not for the benefit of a private individual who could well afford to use a professional who let's be honest probably needs the work right now.

On the cheap, exploitation, theft of services from local community, I-can-do-what-I-likism.

They could have been painting some old pensioner's bathroom or mowing a lawn for a disabled person.

You only think there's nothing wrong with it because she's a Labour MP. Bit stupid if you don't mind me saying so. You'd think differently if it was DC.

Blueberties Thu 25-Aug-11 00:25:35

Well HerdofElephants is quite right of course and more articulate than me about it.

SpeedyGonzalez Thu 25-Aug-11 01:00:14

Firstly I wouldn't expect a Home Sec to be that familiar with such fine minutiae. I'd want them to be focused on the bigger things.

I do agree, though, that the charity should have known, that is their job.

So she denied it at first, huh? D'oh! Massive own goal! and yes - I do remember she was embroiled in Expenses And Porngate, not her finest hour, nor her dufus DH's.

The justification she gave for using them was that they didn't have any other jobs booked - again this comes down to the charity, who really should have organised their schedule better. It sounds, on the face of it, that they are significantly lacking in the organisational side of things.

So you assume I'm a Labour supporter, Blueberties? Bit stupid, if you don't mind me saying so! grin

Blueberties Thu 25-Aug-11 01:02:04

I don't mind you saying so.

It's all looking a bit thin for your thesis SG. She should have known to check. She was no innocent in this.

It actually is the tip of the iceberg of politico-self-entitlement, and we really do know how deep that iceberg is formed.

SpeedyGonzalez Thu 25-Aug-11 01:08:03

Thesis? You DO have an overactive imagination! grin I've said all along that I "don't get" why there's been a big hoo-ha over this. In other words, the jury is out. If that sounds like a thesis to you I hope you're not in academia!


TheSecondComing Thu 25-Aug-11 01:09:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LeBJOF Thu 25-Aug-11 01:11:09

I love that the patio-layers weren't hard core grin

SpeedyGonzalez Thu 25-Aug-11 01:16:41

Gasp! I didn't know that, TSC! and there I was wondering how on earth she forgave him...

Chortle at "hard core"! I missed that first time round - blimey, you're sharp, LeBJOF! grin

WhereYouLeftIt Thu 25-Aug-11 01:30:19

Statement from the charity involved from The Independent -

^"Batchley Support Group is a charity and seeks to supplement any funding with earned income to help pay for the work it does within the community.

It does undertake paid work for individuals who can pay the market rate in order to be able to subsidise work on the homes of those who would otherwise struggle to pay and to pay for projects that will benefit the whole of the community.

The resettlement to work project was agreed with HMP Hewell before current support group staff were in place.

The group has not found any documentation stipulating exactly what prisoners can or cannot do as part of the agreement."

You see, when I saw this on the news, I was a bit like yourself, OP. Prisoners being given work experience to help them get a job on release. Don't politicians, spouting about community service, often bring up images of pensioners' homes and gardens being tidied and repaired by people in fetching high-vis tabards/jumpsuits? OK, JS isn't a pensioner, but going by that statement, she's supposedly paid market rate; which allows the charity to buy the paint for the pensioner/community.

She's damned if she does and she's damned if she doesn't. I can quite imagine The Sun, had she just hired someone out of Yellow Pages, would have complained at her overlooking the charity and reducing work experience opportunities for plucky prisoners trying to turn their lives around.

LeBJOF Thu 25-Aug-11 01:34:02

I wasn't sharp enough to suss that about the teenage son- that makes complete sense! <kicks self> grin

Blueberties Thu 25-Aug-11 07:33:19

Oh excuse me SG - I should have said - the jury's not out, she's so wrong, it's pretty dim to imagine that's anything but bleeding obvious. Sorry if I was difficult to understand.

Ponders Thu 25-Aug-11 09:26:48

she hasn't paid anything - she donated some plants for a pond hmm

(they were collected from her home by the charity, so presumably came out of her garden)

Ponders Thu 25-Aug-11 09:29:08


'A spokesman for the charity said it funded its work by supplementing donations with “earned income” from “individuals who can pay the market rate”.
It said in a statement: “The group does agree in retrospect that undertaking work on Ms Smith’s home may not have been the best use of prisoners’ time, though it should be pointed out that the donation made for the work has enabled Batchley Support Group to carry out much-needed work in the community.
“The previous day plants donated from Ms Smith were collected by a member of staff and two prisoners from the resettlement to work programme. These plants were to be used as part of a pond restoration project at Hewell Prison.”'

It doesn't mention money (although of course she may have donated since...)

NormanTebbit Thu 25-Aug-11 09:34:45

Social worker friend was telling me he had clients, ex offenders working at Tesco for months in the depots etc for dole. At the end of the trial period they are given an 'interview' and then ditched.

I don't know what to think about it really. I think people should get at least minimum wage for a day's work.

But it's not exactly Watergate is it.

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