As of this morning, shadow attorney general Lady Chakrabarti has not uttered a word in the House of Lords since taking her seat on September 13, causing some in Westminster to wonder what she is doing there.
But even if her tones have not been heard in the upper chamber, she has been happy to speak elsewhere – for a fee.
— Griffith University (@Griffith_Uni) October 24, 2016
According to new disclosures in the Lords register of interests, the Labour frontbencher flew to Brisbane recently to give a speech at Griffith University.
Parliament was sitting at the time, but Chakrabarti was thousands of miles away delivering a lecture, which was a sell-out, titled “On Liberty”.
The university said: “Drawing on her own work in high-profile campaigns, from privacy laws to anti-terror legislation, Shami will illustrate the threats to our democratic institutions and show why our rights are paramount in upholding democracy.”
The irony is that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has spent his entire political life raging against the House of Lords as one of the most anti-democratic institutions in the world. And yet he parachuted Chakrabarti in there and gave her a front bench post without either of them worrying about it.
Chakrabarti was in Brisbane for six days, from October 21 to 27, where she apparently gave “a formal lecture” and chaired “two seminar discussions”.
She has not divulged the amount she was paid but as Heat Street has previously noted she usually charges between £2,500 and £5,000 for after-dinner speaking engagements.
On top of her fee, all travel costs, accommodation and “some” hospitality was also paid by Griffith University, Chakrabarti declared.
Last week Lord Mitchell accused Chakrabarti and Corbyn in a parliamentary speech of a “massive stitch-up” over her rapid rise from non-Labour Party member to Labour peer and shadow cabinet member in the space of a few months.
Whenever she sees fit to make her maiden speech, it’ll have to be impressive if she is to avoid further such attacks.