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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bringing back the clones

This has been the week for jaw-dropping stories and this one in yesterday's Telegraph does not disappoint.

The paper says that former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott has blamed a "cloned" government credit card for what appears to be excessive spending by his officials. He believes that fraud is the "only explanation" after records suggested that staff in his private office used a card to spend more than £15,000 in bars, restaurants and cafés over two years:

A bill for £456 was run up at an Australian casino in 2004 when the then-Cabinet minister was visiting to review the country's gambling laws.

Speaking to the Hull Daily Mail, Lord Prescott stressed that he had never personally held a government procurement card.

He highlighted payments such as £2,000 on the same day from a camera shop in China and £360 at two golf clubs in Kent.

"I have got no idea about particular entries," he said.

"You would certainly remember anyone buying £2,000 worth of camera gear but it's news to me.

"The same thing with the golf – I don't even play bloody golf.

"It has been established some cards were cloned and that is the only explanation for some of the things on here."

Lord Prescott questioned a £296 spend on three separate trips to the London Eye.

"I've only been on the thing once in my life and that was then I showing Mayor Daley from Chicago around, so why should there be three different entries?" he said.

"It is possible someone cloned the card and that is what has shown up in some of these entries.

"I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to clarify this immediately."

It is easy to be cynical of course but there is clearly something amiss here. Of course now Lord Prescott has demanded an inquiry we may find out exactly what happened sooner than expected.
Why aren't your labour readers commenting on this????
I once belonged to Labour International's outpost in Chicago and our wee group met up with the former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott while he was visiting Chicago during the last Democratic Convention held in Chicago (i.e., not the notorious 1968 one when Daley Senior (Richard Daley) was Mayor of Chicago) and Chicago cops went a bit wild.

Our wee group met with Prescott (had a meal with him); I was not at that meal, but our wee group (me not present) had a good time - lest that was what I was told some time thereafter. I was tied up (not literally) with attending law school while holding down a full time job on the Magnificent Mile. I met the actual PM ("our Tony") when he visited Chicago to give a speech at Chicago's Economic Club annual dinner/bash. I took along the second partner in charge at former "Laff, Whitesel, Conte and Sarat", a law firm on Chicago's Magnificent Mile (I was in Chicago a week or so ago to attend a 10 year law school reunion at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Magnificent Mile (next block to my old firm) and blow me backwards, I thought I caught a glimpse of John Prescott wearing a skirt, but it turned out to be a huge statute of Marilyn Monroe in her most famous pose on the plaza in front of 401 North Michigan where I used to work. Yes, me, a former council house kid off, inter alia, Trowbridge council estate on the eastern fringe of Cardiff, South Wales; a former pupil of Greenway Junior School and before that Cefn Onn infant and junior schools on Llanishen council estate.

How things change - Marilyn Monroe and John Prescott, one gone and never forgotten and then there's John Prescott with his love of Chicago - so I will say this: John is a good old sort, just don't punch him, he can and will fight back with his fists. I like him, he's a character and I guess part of the old school - that part of Labour that the ordinary working man/woman once related too before it dominated with public school toffs. God Bless You John! May you come out of this nonsense 'clean as a whistle' you old sod!
Sorry, but when Peter mentioned Chicago and John Prescott in the same post ... I lost it a bit.

PS and for sake of accuracy: Laff Whitesel merged with Michael Best (MB had/has offices in the same building, 401 N Michigan on Chicago's "Magnificent Mile"). Charles Laff and Warren Whitesel were (and as far as I know) very good lawyers, they hired me as a technical assistant (at the time I was a Research Officer at Bath University), so they must be good!

I can recommend "64" as a cheap place to have lunch (on weekdays) just across Michigan Avenue bridge. If you are flush with cash, you could eat at the still new Donald Trump International Hotel and Tower - a short walk west from the Magnificent Mile - this area is very safe at night because it is full of tourists and the Mayor of Chicago (former and present) like to ensure it stays safe. I never felt exposed or vulnerable while on the Magnificent Mile - there are lots of police - many in plain clothes, and when there's a big political event on - the Secret Service mix with the folks.

But if you are ever in town, try having a meal (weekdays at lunchtime) in the Signature Room in John Hancock - the view of the lake front from the 95th floor of the John Hancock is STUNNING.

It's where (when I was a literally a freshly minted lawyer) I took my employer's/firm secretaries (and my mum who flew in to see me) for lunch on the day I was sworn in as a US lawyer by the Illinois S. Ct., and just before that swearing in I was sworn in as a U.S. Citizen in Federal Court - a double whammy, something that I was told had never happened before, an immigrant from Cardiff, Wales sworn in as a U.S. citizen and lawyer on the same morning. Actually it was a triple whammy as (if I recall correctly) it was my mother’s birthday (so a triple whammy) so you can only imagine my mum’s excitement at seeing one of her three Welsh sons sworn in as a USC and then as a lawyer on the same morning and on her birthday! A former council house kid from Cardiff – it was historic, but no one knew back home knew of the Welsh son who was sworn in as a USC and lawyer on the same May morning in the magnificent city of Chicago. I am not aware that this stunning achievement has been repeated by anyone from Wales. It made the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin® (or one of their products) but not the Western Mail or Echo.

That night I took mum on a pre-arranged trip to Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory to see a Chihuly's exhibition of his (then) latest glass/art work. Later I took mum to see Bellagio in Vegas to see Chihuly Glass Ceiling. If you ever visit Las Vegas, baby, you have to sit under that ceiling!


Sorry, clarification:

PS and for sake of accuracy: Laff Whitesel merged with Michael Best (MB had/has offices in the same building, 401 N Michigan on Chicago's "Magnificent Mile"). Charles Laff and Warren Whitesel were (and as far as I know) very good ACTIVE lawyers (meaning they are still in practice and not retired), they hired me as a technical assistant (at the time I was a Research Officer at Bath University), so they must be good!

They were and still are very good lawyers, just that I don't know for sure if they are still active ("active" has a special meaning). cw
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