The invoices were stamped “approved for payment” and signed by Heather Simpson. The Parliamentary Service has specifically said the MPs authorise the expenditure, not them.
But the real potential smoking gun is the strong hint that The Parliamentary Service has been reluctant to pay for them, and only did so under direct order from the PM’s Chief of Staff.
You see they were not paid until 17 November – three months after they were produced. And they were only paid for after a letter from the PM’s Chief of Staff saying:
The publications were created and issued in compliance with established procedures.
“To my knowledge, they comply with all applicable laws and procedures for such publications. That is an entirely sufficient certification for your requirements.
Kindly ensure that the payments are made without further delay.
If Labour wishes to persist with its spin that they acted within the rules and Parliamentary Service approved the pledge cards, they need to reveal all correspondence between them, and PS on the issue.
I have *never* known the need for such a letter to accompany invoices to be paid. The only possible situation where it would be needed is where the PS has expressed serious misgivings over the expenditure. And again I can think of no reasons for a three month delay in payment, except PS resisting. Note the reference to “further” dleay clearing indicating PS had been delaying.
On the face of it, this evidence fatally undermines Labour’s claims, and shows the defence to be a tissue of lies.