I read this morning of The Commonwealth Secretariat, which provided employment to a chisel-jawed Australian-Canadian lawyer, (several boxes ticked there in terms of Commonwealth), called Joshua Brien. I only read it because reporting of his trial was banned by Judge Martin Griffith, but the order was lifted yesterday after an application by the Evening Standard. Brien has been found guilty of three counts of fraud involving misappropriated client funds, the Daily Mail saying the value was £1.3m, while the Standard calling it £600k. Whatever the sum and sadly for Joshua, by the time I finish writing today’s tips, he’ll have been sentenced to a six-stretch. The Kneesup rule of judicial thumb is one year per £100k of unarmed, non-violent crime, so I’m guessing he’ll get six to seven years. His fraud started with removing £140k from The Cook Islands account, which if you ran the Cook Islands, I would have thought you’d have noticed. They didn’t, and the Commonwealth Secretariat’s blistering incompetence only came to light at a US Law firm where he was their go-to guy for Marine Law as it is applied to the Commonwealth.
Do you think me harsh when I use the words incompetence? Brien’s wife, the doe-eyed Melissa Khemina, has noticeably avoided using her husband’s name possibly in a sensible career-saving move. She was also unluckily the CS anti-corruption specialist! She was entirely innocent of any wrongdoing, which involved a charge of money laundering, a technical term for having had a bloody good time at someone else’s expense without an invitation. She was cleared of all wrongdoing and will not be spending time with her husband of whatever status, in the near future. The CS is run, lest we forget, by Baroness Scotland who has made it her personal fiefdom, amidst a near-constant barrage of criticism involving the usual portfolio of New Labour words, such as cronyism and corruption.
Luckily for the cause of Common Sense, Baroness Scotland could effectively be sacked in the next few weeks from her £160,000 pa job. She is being challenged for the role, by the PM-supported Kenyan politician Monica Juma, to be the next head of the Commonwealth.
If Juma is successful, it will bring to an ignominious end, a disgraceful five-year period of, at the very least, mismanagement. Often referred to as Baroness Brazen, the former Labour Cabinet minister has been ridiculed and loathed in equal measure ever since her first three months in office, when details emerged of a Nicky Haslam makeover of her grace-and-favour Mayfair residence. The bill is said to have included £24,000 for a bathroom; £8,000 to repair curtains; £307 for a lavatory seat; £5,000 to replace locks and £360 for two electrical sockets. The former deputy head of Baroness Scotland’s private office later won nearly £300k in compensation after claiming he had been wrongly blamed by her for leaks about her spending. Her defence was that claims against her were “outright lies, half-truths and innuendo”. She was however accused publically of “circumventing” competitive tendering rules when she gave her old mate, Lord Patel of Bradford, £250k in commission or fees. The timing couldn’t have been better because it transpired that Patel’s company was contracted to carry out a review of her Commonwealth Secretariat, but the audit committee said the firm was “apparently insolvent” at the time with debts of nearly £50,000. In fact, Auditors said that procurement rules had been waived by the Secretariat on over 50 occasions. It was also alleged that she appointed political allies to key posts in the Secretariat. Normally the incumbent is automatically given a second term, but my man at the coal-face, says a Zoom meeting is being planned for next month at which the skids will be greased and the carpet whipped away.
Talking of whipped away, today’s tips
1:40 DONCASTER Cazoo Flying Scotsman Stakes Cl1 (2yo) 7f
RAZZLE DAZZLE Win
2:10 DONCASTER Wainwright Flying Childers Stakes (G2) Cl1 (2yo) 5f
2:40 DONCASTER Doncaster Cup Stakes (G2) Cl1 (3yo+) 2m2f
3:15 DONCASTER racehorselotto.com Mallard Hcap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 1m6½f
Emmett Mullins, bottom-weight, 3lb claimer – It’s a plot!
SEVENNA STAR e/w
3:45 DONCASTER Cazoo Hcap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 6½f