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Dave Beans

Jacqui Smith Used Community Payback Convicts To "redecorate Her House"

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Why am I not surprised, although the Wail did well the HP in the article title...


Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith used two day-release prisoners to paint her £450,000 home when they should have been doing community work. Prison bosses have now launched an investigation into how the pair, who were working for free as part of a back-to-work scheme and meant to be improving parks and clearing up rubbish-strewn streams, instead ended up spending two days redecorating a room in Miss Smith’s house last month.

It also emerged that, as payment for the work, Miss Smith donated an unspecified amount to a local charity which organised the project, the Batchley Support Group.

Miss Smith stepped down from her Cabinet role weeks after it was revealed she billed the taxpayer for the £67 cost of hiring two adult movies watched by her husband, as part of her expenses.

And last year she lost her seat after a public backlash over a £116,000 expenses claim.

A Prison Service spokeswoman confirmed they knew nothing at the time and the project has since been suspended She said: ‘The decision to provide prisoners for this work was taken without consultation with HMP Hewell or the Ministry of Justice and was a mistake. ‘Offenders should work on projects which help the whole community.

‘The scheme has been suspended while a full internal investigation is undertaken.’

The prisoners were doing unpaid work, supervised by Batchley staff, as part of a ‘resettlement to work’ strategy. The Prison Service often works with charities and councils to do community-based unpaid work projects carried out by convicts.

The Batchley Support Group is based in Miss Smith’s hometown of Redditch. On its website, it describes itself as ‘a community-based neighbourhood association’ which aims to ‘build resident participation and involvement in community activities’ and ‘advance social inclusion and lifelong learning’.

Among its projects are a tool loan scheme, community drop-in and advice sessions and support groups for vulnerable and older people. No-one from the charity could be contacted for comment last night. Miss Smith is not believed to have any official links to the charity.

Miss Smith, who was Home Secretary from June 2007 to June 2009 under the previous Labour government, lost her Redditch seat in the general elections last year after becoming embroiled in the MPs’ expenses scandal.

The 48-year-old, who has two sons, suffered huge embarrassment in 2009 when it was revealed she had claimed for two pay-per-view pornographic films watched by husband Richard Timney. She had initially refused to step down from her Cabinet role but did so weeks later. Miss Smith was also criticised for claiming £116,000 over six years to pay for a second home in London, but it was later revealed that she was in fact staying in a house owned by her sister.

She had to make a public apology after Mr Timney, who was also her parliamentary aide, was forced to admit he watched the two pay-per-view films in early 2009, before the main MPs’ expenses scandal broke. Earlier this year, Miss Smith was ridiculed after making a documentary on pornography for BBC radio.

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  • 343 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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