It is only weeks since we heard about Giles Chichester, Tory MEP for the SW tarnishing EU politics - now we hear that one of the other SW Tory MEP's, Caroline Jackson, is in the spotlight. She is apparently getting paid £6,000 a year for advising disposal and recycling company Shanks on how to comply with EU legislation. Meanwhile Jackson has been one of the MEPs charged with drawing up a new EU directive on waste disposal.
Update: Giles Chichester was cleared of corruption charges. See here.
While she denies receiving advice from Shanks, the EU rules are quite clear and require MEPs to declare such engagements before taking part in draft proposals - something Jackson failed to do. The Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance GAIA said: "Jackson is accepting money from Shanks plc, a waste company with a terrible record of pollution and financial interests in landfills and incinerators. The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, (GAIA) is calling on the president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, to reject MEP Jackson's text for the WFD and launch an inquiry into her conflict of interest with the waste industry." The Alliance claims that Ms Jackson is biased towards the waste industry's position in the Waste Framework Directive (WFD). It said: "The WFD is a directive which will clearly benefit the waste industry and not the communities which will have incinerator companies like Shanks as their neighbours. "Because of its pro-industry, anti-environment content, and the flawed process through which it was created, GAIA is calling for the EU Parliament to reject the WFD proposal."
David Cameron's attempts to clean up the Tory sleaze cannot come soon enough...Let us also not forget it was The Telegraph last month that learnt that 15 out of 28 Tory MEPs have failed to disclose full details of how they spend staff and office allowances worth over £200,000 every year. Four MEPs have completely failed to publish any details identifying companies that handle their allowances or have refused to reveal the number of assistants, or relatives, they employ with public money. A further 11 have not fully complied with the requirements – mostly by failing to disclose the names of the companies handling their expenses. This has become a crucial issue after several MEPs admitted their money was paid to companies owned by themselves or families. While the two SW Tory MEPs Neil Parish and Caroline Jackson along with Robert Sturdy, employ at least seven assistants between them, have also failed to publish details of how they spend allowances.
However it is clear that Cameron wont have an easy ride with his reform plans - it is reported that Conservative MEPs are in open revolt over the announcement to reform auditing their MEPs expenses. A secret Conservative memo referred to his proposals as, amongst other things, "half-baked" and "a PR disaster that would "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory". The memo was apparently found on a photocopier in Strasbourg!