Wherever you look in this whole sorry saga, there they are, permitting this, allowing that and occasionally vetoing the other. “I discussed it in advance with the Fees Office” – how many times have we heard that recently?
In a particularly sordid little vignette, it seems we paid for ‘life coaching’ classes for the girlfriend and PA of Andrew Turner MP, a young woman whose ‘fiery’ nature led to ‘a poisonous atmosphere’ in the constituency office.
Turner had to pay £10,250 in compensation to a former office manager for unfair dismissal; the unfortunate man had previously been subjected by the charming Miss Dennett to a 20-minute "tirade" that left his "knees knocking and his stomach churning".
. Other employees gave evidence that Mr Turner was "very weak" and that Miss Dennett appeared "fiery", "especially when crossed or if she'd taken a liquid lunch". The tribunal chairman ruled that Mr Turner supported his girlfriend ahead of staff – even though her treatment of other workers was "far below acceptable".
And here’s the icing on the cake – Mr Turner claimed £6,471 of the compensation bill on expenses. The delightful Miss Dennett, too, was in contact with the Fees Office; in 2005, in an email to them, she wrote: "Look forward to receiving the money – I shall then be able to spend it on lots of booze so that the forthcoming election goes in an alcoholic blur. What do you think?"
Turner’s defence for this was that it was a shared joke between people in regular contact. If the Fees Office is staffed with people who enjoy sharing jokes with the likes of Miss Dennett, I think we should be very worried indeed.