Minister quits over handling of Covid loans fraud
Conservative minister Lord Agnew resigned in the House of Lords yesterday over how the government has handled fraudulent Covid loans.
In response to a Labour question about the £4.3bn of Covid loans written off by the Treasury, he read out a dramatic speech venting his anger.
The Minister accused the Treasury of having “no knowledge” or “little interest” in the consequences of fraud to the economy.
Although he stated his resignation was not an attack on the Prime Minister, he said he couldn’t stay in good conscience.
Lord Agnew read: “Given that I am the minister for counter-fraud, it would be somewhat dishonest to stay on in that role if I am incapable of doing it properly.
It is for this reason that I have sadly decided to tender my resignation as a Minister across the Treasury and Cabinet Office with immediate effect.”
He criticized the government’s “arrogance, indolence and ignorance” in response to Covid loans fraud.
The Minister called out “schoolboy errors,” such as giving over 1,000 companies Covid loans despite them not trading.
He described the oversight of the scheme as “nothing less than woeful.”
Lord Agnew added: “I hope that as a virtually unknown minister beyond this place, it might prompt others more important beyond me to get behind this and sort it out.”
Concluding with “thank you and goodbye,” the resignation speech was met with a round of applause as he strode out of the chamber.
The Bounce Bank Loan Scheme was introduced in April 2020, intending to save smaller businesses from failing due to the pandemic.
Following applications from a quarter of UK businesses, 1.5 million loans were handed out with a sum of £47bn.
It is estimated that a 11% of these Covid loans were fraudulent.
Shadow chancellor, Labour’s Rachel Reeves responded: “That the government’s own anti-fraud minister feels he is unable to defend the government’s record on billions of pounds of taxpayer cash gifted to criminals tells you all you need to know about the incompetence of this government.
It should be a source of enduring shame to the chancellor that he has so casually written off £4.3bn of taxpayers’ money that is now in the hands of criminals and gangs.”
Reeves added: “Labour would treat every pound of taxpayer money with the respect it deserves.”
In Lord Agnew’s speech, he apologized for the inconvenience his resignation will cause the Prime Minister.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said: “We are grateful to Lord Agnew for the significant contribution he has made to government.
“On the wider issues that he’s raised, we introduced our unprecedented Covid support schemes at speed to protect jobs and livelihoods, helping millions of people across the UK, including nearly 12 million on the furlough scheme alone.
“We’ve always been clear fraud is unacceptable and are taking action against those abusing the system, with 150,000 ineligible claims blocked, £500m recovered last year, and the HMRC tax protection taskforce is expected to recover an additional £1bn of taxpayers’ money.”
What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here: https://www.facebook.com/NorthEastUpdates
Sunderland suspend Jack Diamond after player is charged with rape and sexual assault
A Sunderland football player on loan to Lincoln FC has had his loan terminated after he was charged with rape.
Jack Diamond, 23, had been arrested after a sexual assault in Washington, Tyne and Wear, last year.
Northumbria Police launched an investigation, but have now charged him with one count of rape and one count of sexual assault.
Lincoln City FC said the player’s loan contract had been terminated “with immediate effect”.
His home club, Sunderland AFC, said he had been suspended pending the outcome of legal proceedings.
In a statement, it said: “Sunderland AFC has been notified that criminal charges have been brought against Jack Diamond by the Crown Prosecution Service.”
“As this matter is subject to a legal process, the club will not be making any further statement at this time”.
The incident is alleged to have happened in May last year.
Mr Diamond, of Fatfield, also Washington, is due to appear before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court in May.
Paul O’Grady Dies Aged 67, Just Weeks After Newcastle Theatre Performance
TV presenter and comedian Paul O’Grady has died at the age of 67, just weeks after starring in a Newcastle theatre production.
The TV star, who was from Birkenhead on Merseyside, died “unexpectedly but peacefully” on Tuesday evening, a statement said.
His partner Andre Portasio made this statement: “It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening.”
“We ask, at this difficult time, that whilst you celebrate his life you also respect our privacy as we come to terms with this loss.
“He will be greatly missed by his loved ones, friends, family, animals and all those who enjoyed his humour, wit and compassion.
“I know that he would want me to thank you for all the love you have shown him over the years.”
The TV star, starred in a theatre prodution of Annie just weeks ago in Newcastle as it returned to Newcastle’s Theatre Royal from March 7-11.
O’Grady starred as the role of Miss Hannigan, the head of the orphanage who hates children. He had been due to perform the show across the UK up until November this year.
Karen’s Diner on Tour is BACK IN NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE!!
Karen’s Diner on Tour coming to town on tour and ‘well if y’all show up in force we’ll either come as a longer term pop up or simply just stay put for a while until we’ve insulted everyone in the North East!’
Get your tickets here: Karens Diner Newcastle tickets
We have spoken to the top Karen who assures everyone who went last time that Bottomless means BOTTOMLESS!
At our pop-up Karen’s you will be greeted and waited upon by rude waiters who in return are expecting you to give it full Karen. A place where you can complain until the cows come home because we literally don’t care. You can expect good food, good fun and a dining experience like you’ve never had before. Let us know if it’s your birthday, if your name is Karen and for the love of Karen don’t ask to speak to the manager….
Your ticket includes a delicious BOTTOMLESS pizza and BOTTOMLESS prossecco or select spirits and mixers as well as select soft drinks drinks for a full 90mins
*We cater for all allergens
You will get full and authentic Karen experience – our games, our waitstaff and the full works. Decent food provided by the venue (we hope) and BOTTOMLESS booze for those who love a drink. This is a dining experience like no other – literally. Come enjoy the OG Karen’s from OG Karen’s.
Don’t accept imitations – book now to avoid missing out!
See our two below YouTube videos from the last time they were in the toon to see what to expect…
Follow our channel for more local videos…
*affiliate link – we may receive payment for sales for this event.
Sports1 year ago
Newcastle transfer rumours as January window approaches
Best of North East1 year ago
Top 10: Date Ideas In Newcastle
News1 year ago
Local mum left with serious injuries after being spiked
Sports1 year ago
Rumours: How could Newcastle line-up after the January transfer window?
Featured1 year ago
North-East Collection Points For Ukraine Donations
Featured1 year ago
Humanitarian aid for Ukraine collection point in Newcastle
Sports1 year ago
Favourites to sign for Newcastle in January, according to SkyBet
Sports10 months ago
Six potential strikers that would improve Newcastle’s attack