Thursday, July 14, 2011
Finance firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers allegedly gave gifts to Games chief John Scott, time to the reform public sector to stamp out hospitality
Scotland is a corrupt country and there appears little appetite to reform it; that is why trust in politics, politicians and institutions has fallen so badly.
People don’t believe their political leaders make a difference, to some extent you vote for the least objectionable.
John Scott was the head of Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games before he quit his quit his £180,000-a-year job as chief executive.
He allegedly took free gifts and hospitality from a global finance firm.
The questions which come to mind are why was he ever allowed to do so?
And why was regulation not in place to ban this practice?
The reason is that politicians like their little treats as well, their freebies to concerts, football games and memberships of golf courses.
You could argue when a politician takes a gift or hospitality, they are being bought to some extent.
There are however circumstances were politicians and senior officers have to attend as part of their professional duties.
But what role does attending a football match, the golf championships or concert achieve, what is the civic function there?
There isn’t any.
You could describe it as casual bribery.
John Scott hit problems when he allegedly did not register free tax advice from Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
PwC has a number of contracts with the Commonwealth Games event.
PwC allegedly offered Mr Scott a number of “gratuities and gifts” while he was head of the sporting extravaganza.
They included a round of golf in October 2009 and a “plus one” invitation to Chardon D’Or French restaurant in the city for dinner and a cookery demonstration in the same month.
Scott accepted both the offers.
What did this have to do with his job?
There is such a thing as a hospitality register; you could say it is a transparent registry of ‘official’ bribes to buy influence.
But it is all above board because it is done in the open, instead of politicians and senior officers getting brown envelopes stuffed with cash, they get gifts and gratuities.
John Scott did declined an invitation to a Take That concert at Hampden Park last month, just days before he resigned but he should never have been offered that in the first place.
Other events attended by Scott were trips to some of the most prestigious events of the sporting calendar, tennis at Wimbledon, cricket at The Oval and the Open Golf Championship at St Andrew’s.
Offers were also made to the former chief executive to attend several rugby matches at Murrayfield, dinners at restaurants and a weekend at T in the Park.
Did Pricewaterhouse Coopers ever offer the same hospitality to the people of the bottom?
No, buying influence with the janitor does have the same commercial advantage.
According to the Glasgow 2014 gifts and gratuities policy, an offer must be declined if it is inappropriately lavish or disproportionate, or intended to influence procurement or sponsorship decisions.
Self regulation and judgment calls, any offer is intended influence procurement or sponsorship decisions because they are part of a sales pitch.
And that is totally wrong.
Politicians should lead by example and do so by refusing to accept gratuities and gifts.
If they attend an event it is in their capacity as an elected representative doing an official function.
Sitting in the audience getting a freebie isn’t on!
We have a culture of official bribery in this country but that is “okay” because they declare it!
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University