Norman's on the war-path again

by Stephen Tall on October 11, 2007

Norman Baker, Lib Dem Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, and scourge of the Establishment, has called for the head of Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, who’s racked up £365,000 travel expenses in the last three years:

“It is incredible that Sir John Bourn has seen fit to run up gigantic bills for largesse at the taxpayers’ expense. Even more serious is appearing to accept hospitality from companies such as BAE which compromises the independent and professional standing essential to someone in this post. The time has come for him to call it a day in the interests of good administration.”

Norman has also criticised the Speaker of the Commons, Michael Martin, for hiring – at a cost of over £20,000 of public money – famed city libel law firm, Carter-Ruck, to challenge claims about his impartiality during debates. (Should make for an interesting moment of frisson in the Chamber the next time Norman tries to catch the Speaker’s eye.)

“This is a deeply worrying figure. Of course it’s right that there should be legal advice available to all members of the House of Commons. But in this case it appears the very expensive Carter-Ruck has effectively been used to issue press releases and that those instructing them have been content to sign blank cheques irrespective of the cost to the taxpayer.”

Norman may wish to have a quiet word with Lib Dem colleague, Nick Harvey, the MPs’ representative on the House of Commons Commission who approved the Speaker’s request for taxpayers to pick up the tab for defending his integrity.