Update 7 October 2016: Last night it was confirmed that Diane Abbott will now serve as shadow home secretary, just three months after being appointed shadow health secretary. This makes Heat Street’s run-through of some highlights in her recent financial history, first published on 7 July 2016, no less relevant. Here they are again:
Now that Diane Abbott’s close friend, Jeremy Corbyn, has assembled his new shadow cabinet, Abbott has been confirmed as the latest shadow health secretary.
— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) July 6, 2016
But the question must be asked: is Miss Abbott the greediest person to have filled this important post?
Flicking back through parliamentary records, one can see that in November 2012 she charged the National Obesity Forum £300 for giving a speech at its annual conference.
Childhood obesity is a topic on which Ms Abbott has spoken frequently (for nothing) in the media. Presumably she will again in her new job.
Yet it’s clear she’s just as happy doing so when there’s money involved.
More recently, in November 2015, Abbott journeyed to Uganda for four days to visit various organisations and charities involved in tackling AIDS and HIV. Arguably, this trip will have been useful to her new health brief.
It was paid for by two UK organisations – Stop AIDS, and AIDS Alliance.
She went with a member of staff. Flights cost £2,784; accommodation cost £380.52; and “other travel” cost £172.
Yet on top of this necessary expenditure Abbott claimed what she politely referred to as “per diems” – daily expenses – of £183.
Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world.
How on earth did Abbott rack up such expenses?
And could she not have dipped into her own pocket instead of relying on the largesse of two charities whose precious funds are meant to be used to fight AIDS? After all, she has made hundreds of thousands of pounds on top of her MP’s salary via the BBC and other outfits over the years – only some of which paid for her son’s private education.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, though.
Diane Abbott is the woman who accepted a £3,000 freebie from crisis-hit Venezuela; who criticized David Cameron for failing to crack down on tax havens having trousered £2,500 for giving a speech in Jersey; who charged ITV News £300 for filming a contribution to an obituary item; and who in 2013 appeared on a celebrity edition of ITV game show The Chase in which she won £1,000. She donated the money to a sickle cell charity but what viewers did not realise was that Abbott also quietly banked a £5,000 fee for her appearance.