Police have arrested a Euro MP representing the East of England on suspicion of obtaining money by deception.
Tom Wise, who was elected for the UK Independence Party but who now sits as an Independent, is being investigated by detectives on behalf of the European Parliament authorities in Brussels.
Last night, a spokeswoman for Bedfordshire Police, which is conducting the inquiry, said: “I cannot confirm the name but we have arrested a man on suspicion of obtaining money by deception. At this stage we cannot say how many counts this is on.”
Mr Wise is one of seven Euro MPs representing the six counties of the East of England – Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire – who were elected in 2004.Mr Wise, who lives in Leighton Buzzard, hit the headlines in May this year when he was accused by a national newspaper of bragging to an undercover reporter how he had spent a day “shamelessly dodging work” and how he “milks the taxpayers for thousands every week in allowance and expenses claims.”
After the story was published, Mr Wise replied on his website: “There is abuse across the EU, with millions of euros squandered on pointless, minority serving interests and the system of remunerating MEPs is part of it.
“I claim that which is available to me. I do not fiddle, embezzle or otherwise operate any scam for the purposes of unlawfully extracting more than this. I believe the system is disgraceful and should be changed.”
In February 2007, Mr Wise was suspended by UKIP when at the centre of a European Parliament inquiry over allegations he claimed money to pay for one of his staff’s wages but did not pass all the cash on to her.At the time, UKIP said he had been suspended “for failure to provide information responding to alleged fraud irregularities that are now being investigated by OLAF (the European anti-fraud body).”
Following the withdrawal of the UKIP whip, Mr Wise has sat as an Independent in the Parliament, although he is still aligned to the Independence and Democracy group.
A spokesman for the European Parliament’s London office said Euro MPs were governed by the same rules as those affecting MPs in the country they represent. Mr Wise, formerly political adviser and office manager in Chelmsford for UKIP’s first Euro MP Jeffrey Titford, would be disbarred from office if he was found guilty and receives a jail term exceeding 12 months. Mr Wise, who has been bailed by police, said last night he had voluntarily attended the police station and agreed to return for a further interview at a later date.
Should we or should we not give the go-ahead to ‘polyclinics’ within the NHS? This is the biggest question facing health service policy. It faces us here in Norfolk and Norwich, because there is a proposal to replace the walk-in health centre in Thorpe St Andrew with a city centre ‘polyclinic’. That would apparently be a health centre grouping several GP practices with new facilities.
I want to take an indirect approach to the question that I raised, above. I am going to talk about a book which can I think put us in a much better position to maybe answer it.
The book is Alysson Pollock’s magisterial NHS plc. The opening lines of its closing chapter, “The emerging health care market”, make the stakes starkly evident: “The NHS is being dismantled and privatised. Very soon every part of it will have been ‘unbundled’ and commodified… a new business dynamic is taking charge of the ways in which services are provided and patients are responded to. The dramatic costs involved – in terms of loss of equal access and universal standards, as well as of money – are concealed by claims of ‘commercial confidentiality’.”
Our Government’s most brilliant achievement of spin has not been its – exposed and now failed – effort to conceal the truth over why it attacked Iraq, but its – largely successful – concealment of the destruction under its tutelage of Labour’s greatest ever achievement. It is an act of true political brilliance that the NHS is being dismantled by the Party that created it whilst successfully posing as its saviour.
But, as Pollock predicted, this PR success too is unravelling. The NHS is in serious financial trouble, and for the first time ever, more citizens now trust the Tories (heaven help us!) with the NHS than New Labour. This is the backdrop to the Government’s announcement of the polyclinic initiative.
Now, the NHS was never perfect. Indeed, Pollock herself details how it was perhaps fatally compromised by primary care (i.e. doctors’ surgeries) never being nationalised. One could add to that something that Pollock neglects to address: the deep importance of prevention, and how ultimately what we need is not only to defend the NHS, but to transform it into a national wellness service, with a smaller budget for its big hospitals.
But the NHS was incredible value for money; it was the envy of the world in countries from Moscow and Havana to Berlin and Washington. And I’ve started speaking in the past tense since, for now, the NHS is half-abolished. It is dying; or rather, being killed, because of dogmatic beliefs that private solutions must trump public ones. It is on the way to becoming little more than a kite-mark for numerous outsourced profit-making operations.
If one wants to understand how the NHS has been cherry-picked, cream-skimmed, and bled dry financially by the private sector, at the bidding of the party that once upon a time created it, then there is one thing above all that one needs to do: read Allysson Pollock’s book.
And then, I think, a potential answer to our question emerges. ‘Polyclinics’ could be a very fine thing. Why shouldn’t people have easy access, in the city centre, to a ser of facilities where they can be treated for a wide variety of ills? Since the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital was so foolishly moved out to the edge of the city, we have lacked anything like this. Polyclinics could be a new form of community hospitals, in effect, but with simple walk-in access.
Just two things: (1) This had better not be at the expense of existing well-functioning facilities, such as that in Thorpe, and such as various good doctor’s surgeries around the city. There is a very real worry that polyclinics would in effect compete with existing doctors, and drive them into the ground.
And (2) It had better not be a trojan horse for privatisation. Pollock points out how the Government is trying to engineer more and more private involvement in the NHS. And the big worry about polyclinics is that they will, on the Government’s current plans, be open to private companies to run. That is very bad news indeed.
If we are to have polyclinics, then let them be run by the NHS. Not, as could happen under the current proposals, by the likes of Tesco…
Green Party lead Euro-Candidate Councillor Rupert Read today announced his support to local residents’ bid for the preservation of a Cold War era bunker on Chartwell Road near the Constitution Hill roundabout in Norwich.
Councillor Read said, “The use of this site for a road side restaurant is clearly inappropriate. The site should be preserved and turned over to community use.”
“This bunker is a relic from a time when the Cold War was very real and could have easily led to Nuclear War. It is part of our history and a memorial to a war that thankfully never happened.”
Campaigners are attempting to raise the money necessary to buy the site and are due to apply to English Heritage.
Councillor Read added, “I urge the owner of the site to reconsider and allow campaigners the time they need to raise the money to buy the site.”
Go to Peter Cranie’s blog to vote for who YOU want to be the next Leader and Deputy Leader of the Green Party:
Below, important news on the failure of the E.U. to take
action to curb incineration.
If the EuroParl had done what our Green MPs suggested, then it would have
made it harder and less attractive for Norfolk County Council to build an
incinerator at King's Lynn (or at Costessey, still not 100% out of the
question). Unfortunately, they didn't…
SOUTH EAST GREEN EURO-MP LABELS EU VOTE ON DIRECTIVE A 'WASTED OPPORTUNITY'
A plenary vote in the European Parliament today, which sealed an agreement
on a second Council reading for the crucial EU Waste Framework Directive,
was little more than a 'wasted opportunity', said the South East's Green MEP
Dr Lucas MEP said: "This patchwork compromise containing both positive and
negative elements is a major lost opportunity to have made real progress on
waste prevention. As well as promoting incineration, the compromise also
includes two potential loopholes that are likely to haunt us in the future.
"It introduces new definitions for 'by-products' and when 'waste ceases to
be a waste'. This creates possibilities to unduly escape waste legislation
and may well lead to a new series of court cases."
She continued: "Today's compromise means that instead of EU waste
stabilisation and reduction targets we only get Commission studies on waste
prevention. Instead of clear and ambitious targets for waste reuse and
recycling, we get non-binding targets for 2020 that many Member States have
"And rather than establishing separate collection and composting of
bio-waste, this is left to the goodwill of Member States – and subject to
yet another Commission study.
"The compromise is also a missed opportunity for climate change policy. An
ambitious European waste policy could and should make an important
contribution to reducing CO2 emissions through consequent waste prevention,
recycling, and the composting of bio-waste – but the political will is
unfortunately still lacking to make this happen."