Crime commissioner Vera Baird is being investigated by the Ministry of Justice after awarding her own charity more than half a million pounds of taxpayers’ cash

Martin McGartland (Account suspended) made this Freedom of Information request to Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was refused by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner.

Martin McGartland (Account suspended)

Martin McGartland

16 April 2015

Dear Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner,

Under the FOIA 2000 I would like you to supply me with information concerning news reports "Crime commissioner Vera Baird is being investigated by the Ministry of Justice after awarding her own charity more than half a million pounds of taxpayers’ cash"; http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/nort... as follows;

1. The report says states '... half a million pounds of taxpayers’ cash ...', what is the amount awarded to her own 'charity'?

2. Supply all information you hold (breakdown) concerning any salaries, allowances or any other payment paid to any employees, directors and or any other person/s from monies from the charity (no need to include personal information, just the amounts & why they were paid).

3. Supply full breakdown of all/any items (those over £500.00) purchased from charity funds.

4. Supply full breakdown of all awards, payments and or monies paid to any individual or organisation from the charity.

5. Supply full details, amounts of any income paid to (including all/any donations) the charity from any other individual or ororganisation.

Please ensure this request is answered within the 20 working day time limit.

Yours faithfully,

Martin McGartland

Martin McGartland (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Vera Baird ...

Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Home Affairs committee, said: ‘Northumbria police appears to have developed its own soap opera. ‘It is totally inappropriate for a PCC to set up any organisation in which they have an interest of whatever kind using public money.’

Vera Baird has been in the news in the past "Vera Baird: Solicitor General tried to claim cost of Christmas tree and decorations " after Vera Baird, QC, the Solicitor General, put through a £286 expenses claim for "miscellaneous items" but Commons officials spotted that the receipts were for festive decorations and refused to pay....

By Martin Beckford , Daily Telegraph

7:30AM BST 09 May 2009

Vera Baird: Solicitor General tried to claim cost of Christmas tree and decorations

One of the Government's chief lawyers tried to claim get taxpayers to foot the bill for her Christmas tree and baubles.

Her £4,570 bill for furniture was also cut down because the items were deemed too "luxurious", and she was told she could not claim £349 for a metal wall sculpture. However she did manage to get tens of thousands of pounds of public money to pay for a new roof, flooring, windows and a porch at her second home.

Mrs Baird, who is the deputy to the Attorney General, the Government's chief legal adviser, has been the MP for Redcar, North Yorks, since 2001.

In order to claim Additional Costs Allowance she designates a flat in Crouch End, north London, as her main home and nominates a four-bedroom house in her constituency as her second residence.

In 2004-5 she claimed £4,309.20 in mortgage interest payments, but spent £7,916.30 on repairs, decoration and furnishings.
In subsequent years she claimed many thousands of pounds for various repairs and renovations. But in 2007-08, her expenses bill for Christmas decorations was rejected. The receipts show that she spent £29.97 in early December 2006 at her local branch of Woolworths on 24 baubles, 20 "snowflake" lights and an extension lead.

At another shop she spent £5.48 on decorations, and, at a third, £214.97 on what appear to be 48in and 72in artificial Christmas trees.

Mrs Baird yesterday said: "I used my allowances claim to furnish and maintain my house. I did not take issue with the fees office for rejecting claims, I was grateful for their guidance on how the rules should be interpreted." She added: "I still have these decorations which of course I had paid for myself and I used them last Christmas as well."

Profile: Vera Baird

Job: Solicitor General

Salary: £125,602

Total second home claims

2004-05: £17,633

2005-06: £19,485

2006-07: £19,191

2007-08: £19,728

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopi...

She was also in the news after being banned from driving after she was caught speeding \998mph)...

Ex-solicitor general Vera Baird banned from driving

23 June 2010, BBC South East Wales

The former solicitor general Vera Baird has been banned from driving for six months after travelling at nearly 100mph along the M4 motorway.

Magistrates in Pontypridd rejected the QC's arguments to keep her licence. She claimed it would cause her hardship winding up her parliamentary affairs.

Former MP Baird, of Crouch End, London, lost her Redcar seat in May's election.

She was given five penalty points, which added to those already on her licence gave her an automatic ban.

She was also fined £400.

Baird, 60, had previously been found guilty in her absence but the case was reopened when she explained she had never received a summons.

Ms Baird was caught on camera driving at 98mph near Miskin in south Wales en route to visit an injured friend in Limeslade Bay near Swansea.

She said in court: "I can only imagine that, almost at the end of the journey somewhere around Pontypridd, that I unfortunately went too fast."

It was a fast bit of driving. I have no complaints, the magistrates listened carefully and were perfectly reasonable
Vera Baird

Representing herself, she told magistrates as a former MP she was still entitled to claim expenses while winding up her office, and she would now need to use taxis to send papers if she could not drive, meaning the cost would fall on public funding.

"There does not seem a lot of point in that," she said.

However the bench decided she would not suffer hardship as she had an employee who could drive and do the work instead.

Ms Baird also said she had researched the penalties which could be imposed, which were either between four and six penalty points, or a 28-day driving ban, and asked the magistrates to impose the latter.

She was told that was not warranted.

Baird also said three of the seven existing penalty points on her licence expired on Wednesday, but as they were current when she was caught speeding last August, they took the total to a level that triggered an automatic six-month ban.

Following the case, she said: "It was a fast bit of driving. I have no complaints, the magistrates listened carefully and were perfectly reasonable.

"I did think they were good arguments of mine but the magistrates considered with care and I can't ask for any more than that."

http://www.bbc.com/news/10396311

Hanora Brennan left an annotation ()

Who does this woman think she is? It's high time this parasitic system was abolished and rogues such as Vera Baird sacked from her job.

Enquiries, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner

Dear Mr McGartland,

Subject: Freedom of Information Acknowledgement – Reference 111415

I refer to the request, which you have made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for records held by this office.

Your request was received by this department on 16 April 2015.

A final decision on your request would normally be sent to you within 20 working days of receipt of your request. This means that you can expect to receive your decision by 15 May 2015.

There are some limited situations under the Freedom of Information Act, which could mean that the period for a final decision may be longer than the normal 20 working days. If this occurs in your request, we will promptly advise you in writing.

Should our final decision not reach you on time, please feel free to call the contact officer named to discuss any problems that may have arisen.

If you have not heard from us once the allotted time has expired, you are automatically entitled to appeal to this department for a review of the matter. This review is a full and new examination of the matter, and is carried out by a more senior member of staff of this office.

In the event that you need to make such an appeal, you can do so by writing to Kevin Payne of this department at the details given below. You should state that you are appealing because an initial decision was not sent to you within the time permitted. In that event, you would normally have 40 days (after the original decision should have been sent to you) in which time to make the appeal.

Yours sincerely.

Kevin

Kevin Payne
Office of Mrs Vera Baird QC
Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria

show quoted sections

Enquiries, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner

1 Attachment

Dear Mr McGartland,

Subject: Freedom of Information Acknowledgement – Reference 111415

 

I refer to the request, which you have made under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 for records held by this office.

 

Your request was received by this department on 16 April 2015.

As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of
access to information held by a Public Authority (including the Police
Crime Commissioner), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.

You asked:

Under the FOIA 2000 I would like you to supply me with information
concerning news reports  "Crime commissioner Vera Baird is being      
 investigated by the Ministry of Justice after awarding her own charity
more than half a million pounds of taxpayers’ cash";
 [1]http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/nort...
as follows;

1.  The report says states '... half a million pounds of taxpayers’ cash
...', what is the amount awarded to her own 'charity'?

2.  Supply all information you hold (breakdown) concerning any salaries,
allowances or any other payment paid to any employees, directors and or
any other person/s from monies from the charity (no need to include
personal information, just the amounts & why they were paid).

3.  Supply full breakdown of all/any items (those over £500.00) purchased
from charity funds.

4.  Supply full breakdown of all awards, payments and or monies paid to
any individual or organisation from the charity.

5.  Supply full details, amounts of any income paid to (including all/any
donations) the charity from any other individual or ororganisation.

In response:

We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I
provide a response for your attention.

This request appears to be based on an inaccurate press story which was
corrected the same day. Articles making clear that there was never any
investigation by the Ministry of Justice and apologising for the original
story were published in national press.

1. No information held. There is no charity, though there is one in the
process of registration. Grants allocated by the Office of the Police and
Crime Commissioner are published on the website and when the grant is
finalised to Victims First Northumbria, it will be published there, a link
to the website is attached below:
[2]http://www.northumbria-pcc.gov.uk/police...

2. No information held.

3. No information held.
4. No information held.

5. No information held.

You may be interested to know that Northumbria Police & Crime Commissioner
routinely publish information via the Disclosure Log.  The aim of the
Disclosure Log is to promote openness and transparency by voluntarily
placing information into the public arena.

The Disclosure Log contains copies of some of the information that has
been disclosed by Northumbria Police & Crime Commissioner in response to
requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Whilst it is not possible to publish all responses we will endeavour to
publish those where we feel that the information disclosed is in the
public interest.

The Disclosure Log will be updated once responses have been sent to the
requester.

I have provided the relevant link below.

[3]http://www.northumbria-pcc.gov.uk/transp...

The information we have supplied to you is likely to contain intellectual
property rights of Northumbria Police & Crime Commissioner.  Your use of
the information must be strictly in accordance with the Copyright Designs
and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) or such other applicable legislation.
 In particular, you must not re-use this information for any commercial
purpose.

How to complain

If you are unhappy with our decision or do not consider that we have
handled your request properly and we are unable to resolve this issue
informally, you are entitled to make a formal complaint to us under our
complaints procedure which is attached.

If you are still unhappy after we have investigated your complaint and
reported to you the outcome, you may complain directly to the Information
Commissioner’s Office and request that they investigate to ascertain
whether we have dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.

Yours sincerely.

Kevin Payne
Office of Mrs Vera Baird QC
Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/nort...
2. http://www.northumbria-pcc.gov.uk/police...
3. http://www.northumbria-pcc.gov.uk/transp...