Porn on expenses – nothing to hide, Jacqui Smith?

There’s something oddly, uh, gratifying about today’s revelation that the nation has been paying for Jacqui Smith’s husband to watch porn.

In case you’ve been busy with F1, the boat race, large amounts of roast food and sundry other matters, here’s the story from the Beeb:

The Home Secretary’s husband has said sorry for embarrassing his wife after two adult films were viewed at their home, then claimed for on expenses.

Richard Timney, who is also Jacqui Smith’s parliamentary aide, said he understood why people might be angry.

Ms Smith said she “mistakenly” claimed for a TV package when billing for a web connection and would repay the cash.

Gratifying, that is, because it is obviously cripplingly embarrassing for all concerned. Let us count the ways.

1. How in the name of arse can you claim for a broadband/TV package “by mistake”? They’re ubiquitous. And we, the great unwashed self-employed, have to watch out for this trap all the time. I deliberately refrained from buying a phone/internet package, for example, because I wanted there to be no doubt whatsoever about my ring-fenced internet costs. If we ordinary citizens make this kind of “mistake”, we get clobbered with penalties.

2. What does it say about Jacqui’s relationship with her hubby that she could be “furious and mortified” with him over a bit of porn. I mean, it’s not as if… Actually, no. Let’s not even go there.

3. It’s embarrassing professionally. This woman has publicly inveighed against lapdancing clubs and instituted nigh-on unworkable prostitution legislation in the name of women’s rights.

4. She’s already under investigation for claiming that her “normal residence” is her sister’s spare room. Which gave rise to the treasurable little headline:

Smith expenses ‘all above board’

Hokay then.

5. He watched porn and then claimed it on his wife’s expenses! Of course it’s embarrassing!

And why, you might ask, am I, um, handwringing over this in quite so prurient a fashion?

Simple. This is just the kind of happy little vignette that it’s apparently just fine for three hundred thousand civil servants and ministers to know about the rest of us. Every internet transaction, every site visit, every email.  So what if outrage, mortification and a publicly damaged relationship results? At least the government have been able to verify to their own satisfaction that you’re not doing anything wrong.

Come to think of it, if adult-rated content were to show up in anybody’s records, Jacqui would probably be the first to advocate just nipping in to people’s private purchases and checking them for, say, consensual violent content.

Because if you’ve got nothing to hide, and you haven’t broken any laws, you have nothing to fear from having your privacy invaded.

Right, Jacqui?

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32 Comments

  • I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t understand ‘Ocean’s Thirteen’ – I didn’t bother to watch it again though.

  • Considering the wholesale abuses of the system running into tens of thousands of pounds that have been highlighted in the last few weeks, it’s difficult to imagine we’d discussing Mr Timney’s £21 for pay-per-view movies, if two of them hadn’t been adult-rated.

  • Obviously it was wrong that she did this. We’ll never know whether it truly was a mistake, or deliberate, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt when there’s no proper evidence that it was deliberate.

    Saying that, I have to add that it doesn’t matter that two of the films were “adult” (there were two other films claimed as well). What matters is that they were films. Full stop. So her husband watches “adult films”? Big deal. I see no moral difference between her claiming expenses on Ocean’s 13, and claiming expenses on an “adult film”. The fact that the “adult” part is emphasized is basically part of a smear campaign by the Sunday Express, which broke this story, knowing how that would really get their prudish readers really riled.

    [By the way, I used “adult” because the p-word seems to be blocked, as the site accused me of spamming when I tried to post a comment with that word in it]

  • Alex –
    you mean “pron” films…?

  • Felix:

    “Alex –
    you mean “pron” films…?”

    Well yeah, but I don’t like using the word “pron” if I can help it, when I can get by with real words. But if it works for you that’s fine.

  • By the way, I think the current poll is flawed. Where is the option for “it depends what the other parties are offering”. For instance, if they start offering Vince the Chancellorship or giving us Proportional Representation, and/or some other policies, that’s how to decide who should form Government. Which party we think is going to make the country better by implementing things we think will work.

  • Much more likely it was one of her sons that watched the film and the dad is covering for him.

  • It’s dissapointing that as a woman, you say..

    ” What does it say about Jacqui’s relationship with her hubby that she could be “furious and mortified” with him over a bit of porn.”

    Given the huge damage that all porn does (no matter how supposedly ‘soft’) to women.

  • Can’t one even write “pornographic”.

  • Has anyone considered that they might have watched it together, and now having been rumbled the husband is taking the rap so that Smith can save her job? No, I didnt think so… women dont like porn because it’s evil. Of course, silly me.

  • Alix Mortimer 30th Mar '09 - 8:41am

    Anon1, do I gather you’ve lost a comment? I’ve had a look in spam and moderation, but nothing there. Sorry, I think it must have gone straight into the ether.

  • Alix

    No, I was just responding to the earlier discussion about having to use “pron” instead of “p*rn”. “Pornographic” seems to get through.

  • “Do we know whether this is actually against the rules or not?”

    One report I read said that MPs were allowed to claim for TV services, but only if they were exclusively for work purposes.

  • I don’t think we’re being fair. All that happened was that when he was asked “do you want to watch ‘Hot and Raunchy’ he pressed yes rather than no.

    If Alan Partridge can make that mistake than so can anyone else 🙂

    More seriously the government is completely boxed in on this. Jacqui Smith can’t go over this without setting the bar very low for when there are dozens of these stories when the MPs expenses receipts are published later in the year.

  • “MPs can claim for subscription television services but they have to be used wholly, exclusively and necessarily to perform their duties.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7971221.stm

  • Anonymous1 – maybe she was doing Home Office research on the effect of porn on older couples? 😉

  • I dont understand what her husband was apologising for. He didn’t submit the expenses claim. Probably ordered to, to shift the spotlight from his wife.

  • Mark Williams 30th Mar '09 - 3:24pm

    Perhaps, if Ms Smith hadn’t banished her husband to her second home and had allowed him to stay in London at their main home, this nerver would have happened.

  • “Given the huge damage that all porn does (no matter how supposedly ’soft’) to women.”

    It is suggested that one of the films may not have involved any women

  • Hywel, dont try to wriggle out of this!

    Porn harms women – even when they arent in it, arent watching it, arent making money from it, and arent even missing Neighbours because of it…

    The mere fact that some porn of some kind exists somewhere, harms women! That’s an inescapable FACT.

    You have been feminized. Thank-you, drive-through.

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