02/05/2012 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Jeremy Paxman.

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Over 2,000 senior figures in the public service are employed on


deals that may allow them to pay less tax. This letter, leaked to


Newsnight, makes plain the extent of special arrangements that


trouble the Treasury. How do these deals get done? How


much might it cost the taxpayer to end them?


Virtually impossible he did it himself, but no indication of who


else might have been involved, an inquest leaves the death of an MI6


operative, an abiding mystery. The coroner today blamed the


Intelligence Service and the police for mistakes that may have made


this case harder to solve. And she said she believed it was an


unlawful killing. The two men wrestling for the


presidency of France slug it out this evening, we review their


performances. A last flush of campaigning in the


elections in Wales tomorrow. Although there are some obstacles


to overcome. See you on Thursday. That is if I'm awake, mind. In his


budget statement the Chancellor described aggressive tax avoidance


as morally repugnant, yet now we learn there are thousands of senior


figures in the public sector, who knows maybe even in the Treasury,


maybe even in George Osborne's office, working on arrangements


which do not require them to pay tax at source. Newsnight as


obtained the results of the inquiry, ordered after we revealed that the


boss of Student Loans Company was on a similar deal.


It is a letter to the Chancellor, George Osborne, from the Chief


Treasury Secretary, Danny Alexander. It is marked "restricted", no


wonder. It contains the information that over 2,000, highly-paid,


senior public servants, are working off the payroll, avoiding tax.


The tax arrangements of the head of the student lone company, Ed Lester,


raised a stink earlier this year, when we revealed he was being paid


by the Government through a private company, based on his home on the


Thames t reduced his tax bill by the thousands. It seems over 2,000


other public servants are doing the same. I am completely shocked. When


Newsnight first broke this story, I thought it was a rogue individual.


What we have now learned from this letter is it is endemic across the


senior Civil Service. This is particularly important here,


because what the public sector should be doing is leading by


example. The Whitehall letter was first obtained by David Hencke was


investigative website Xaro News, he says the thousands the Government


has identified as "off-payroll" is larger. It it doesn't include the


whole of the NHS or the academy schools and other places. It is far


worse than 2000, you suspect? worse. And it is extraordinary that


we have had a Government in for two years, and this has been going on,


without ministers having the slightest clue, that this was


happening. Election Alexander, who signed off


on Ed Lester arrangements, suggests, in his leaked letter, he's shocked


by the sheer scale of the "off- payroll deals" involving civil


servants, that is people earning a certain amount of money. He wants


board members and senior officers to be compelled to go on staff. He


wants full details of income tax and national insurance for anyone


engaged for more than six months and paid more than �220 a day, he


wants it all brought in in three months. A Treasury adviser told me


at least they are doing something, the last Government did nothing,


after being questioned about the leak. This is a cabinet that has


called excessive tax avoidance as morally repugnant. But they could


be biting off more than they can chew looking at these payroll deals.


Base cost is the national insurance that Government would have to find.


On �58,200, that would bring in, per person, an additional �8 though


031, of cost, -- �8,031, and brings an extra cost in. That is only that


amount, if they were earning more than that? If the earnings are


greater, I would have expected the average to be between �75,000-


�80,000 a year, with a number of that 2,000 earning well in excess


of �100,000. What will the cost be in national insurance contributions


overall? The cost in national insurance would be in the region of


�30 million a year. On top of that there are pensions, holiday pay,


and a variety of statutory employment rights. The danger is,


if it is not handled carefully, recouping lost tax revenue could


cost the country a fortune. Meanwhile, what's the position of


the people whose job it is to chase down tax avoidance? I find it


astonishing that the Revenue & Customs don't seem to have spotted


this. Either they knew all about it, and like Ed Lester approved it all,


or else they didn't seem to be doing their job very well. Because


how have all these people, who may only have one major controlling job,


managed to escape tax and national insurance. A story that began at Ed


Lester's private company on the Thames, has dredged up thousands of


tax avoidance deals in the Government. The Treasury Secretary


believes he can change it all in three months. An ambitious man.


Let's discuss this with the Conservative MP Richard Bacon, with


Emma Boon of the Taxpayers' Alliance, and the General Secretary


of the FDA, the trade union for top civil servants. 2,000, are you


surprised it is so high? actually, when we last discussed it,


I said it was wider than we expect. I think it is rife across the local


Government and health service. health service isn't even included


in these figures? Indeed it is not, but the letter today suggests the


Health Secretary and the Education Secretary should take a close look


in their areas, that is right. Goodness knows it may even be


possible that one or two people are doing it in the BBC. Quite possible,


I don't know who? I don't either. But there are people like Reed


Consulting, and Henar, who are employing people who work for the


BBC. There is a lot of it going on, I think it is wrong. Where people


are public servants they should pay tax. Hang on a second, some of


these people may be your members, is it legitimate? At senior levels,


this should not be happening. If you are at a board level


appointment, in the Civil Service, you should be fully employed by the


department. In fact, I think most people R I think we will find that


most of these 2,000 people are not in senior roles, many of them, in


fact, will not be in the Civil Service, they will be in arm's


length quangos or bodies, they will be technical consultants, IT and HR


and other technical professions. That does happen in the wider


economy, where you have short-term posts. What I found disturbing was


the length of time some of these people had been in this kind of


role, paid off the books. As you know, Ed Lester, this was a senior


figure, he ran the Student Loan Company? I don't know if anybody


will defend that, actually. Most is senior civil servants were pretty


upset about it. Most people pay their taxes, and expect to, they


think it is very unfair if colleagues are not being treated in


exactly the same way. From a Taxpayers' Alliance point of view,


this may actually be saving the taxpayer money? I don't think it is,


though. We don't know? First of all, it is the sense of unfairness about


it is an important fact. You can't look at this blindly from an


economic perspective and say is this saving us money. The situation


here, these people are claiming that they are consultants, these


people n many cases, have been working for up to two years in the


same post. 40% of them over two years? May have only had one client,


being paid in this way, and not paying your tax through PAYE and


having it deducted at source, and paying national insurance


contributions, as you should, and sitting alongside people in the


same office, doing a very similar role, who are paying a lot more tax


than you are, is unfair, and secondly of all, these people claim


they are consultants. They are clearly doing something that should


be as a salaried role, they should pay through PAYE, like everybody


else. We don't know precisely what they are doing, do we? We do need


more details about that. What happens next? Two marks out of


three, certainly one-and-a-half marks out of three for the Treasury


part starting to dig into this and get to the Bart -- starting to dig


into this and get to the bottom of it. It is all very well for an


edict to come out of the Terek and I welcome it, today the equality


and Human Rights Commission, I was told today agreed an existing 17


interims to be continued for a further year. It is one thing for


the Treasury to say something, but for it to actually happen on the


ground is another. I would expect there are a lot of people in the


administration who would like to continue in the old sweet way


continuing for many years, it will big rigour and political drive from


the top to deal with it. I hope George Osborne will go further,


David Cameron is very concerned about this, he wrote me a letter


saying that, they have to take this very, very seriously. You think


there is a good chance that the Government will break contracts


that it has legally entered into it? It is not easy to break


contracts, it depending on what they say, you don't want to make


lawyers rich. In the interim they should be able to break and get rid


of with break clauses fairly easily. These people can't have it both


ways, they can't be paid as interim staff and then claim the rights of


people on the payroll, it is a different way of being employed.


it is necessary to change the law, we changed the law in shopping


hours for the Olympics and in the last few minutes of the last


session in parliament. If they want a quick bill they can have one, I


can get it through. We might be able to put on bells and whistles


and get a bypass for my area as well. If you look at how long this


has been going on, according to the letter 40% of these people have


been on these kind of contracts for at least two years, going back to


the previous Government as well. There are long-term issues here as


well. For those people in senior roles, rather than the contractors,


there is an issue about pay levels in the senior Civil Service, which


often are below, this is being used as a way of getting round some of


the pay levels. We need an intelligent debate about fair


levels of pay in senior roles.S That the argument used to justify


this sort of arrangement, that it is the only way to get people in


from the private sector? I don't think it justifies that, I think it


highlights that there is an issue about where we set pay levels.


Public sector pay levels will never mirror the private sector, I don't


think most people will say they should, you have to have an


intelligent debate. Recently we have had a different approach to


recruitment bans and freezes, we need to get round it. We need to be


intelligent about it, you shouldn't be holding a senior management role


and being paid in this way, it is unethical. If the consequence was


you drove away talented people who said they wouldn't work here any mo,


they will go back to the private sector or wherever they have come


from, that would be bad from a tax- payers' point of view, wouldn't it?


Nobody will say we will drive away talented people, there is a


difference between want to go hire and retain staff at a senior level


of the Civil Service, and want to go renumerate them well and pay a


pension and retain them. And short- term contracts like an IT expert,


for a short period of time in a specific project, paying them in a


different way and they make their own tax arrangements, these are


different things that shouldn't be confused. How is it that the Civil


Service is still the fast stream, we take the brightest people into


the Civil Service, but the career formation and the way the culture


is structured as such, that 20 years later, they are not all, by


any means n a position to take top management roles. They don't have


the management skills to marshall the combination of people, money


and time and technology in the way that any manager has to do to fill


the top roles. That is why 40% of director-generals are coming from


the outside. It is a good thing providing fresh blood. But at the


bottom of the Civil Service, with the fast stream, there is still a


big unresolved issue there in terms of career formation, it needs to be


addressed. There are other issues around skills formation. Why isn't


Government able to generate good IT people, for example. To be fair I


don't think we have been very successful in some of the HR roles.


We need to stand back and see what skills you need in central


Government and the wider public sector over the next five to ten


years. Generate the people with the skills and pay them in a way that


keeps them and doesn't just leave them trained up and then rushing


out into the private sector to get very much higher pay. For you the


decisive thing is do these people have managerial responsibility as


opposed to being a specialist? think that is important, if you are


in a senior management role, board level or below that, there is no


question these arrangements shouldn't operate. That should be


the same in the arm's length bodies. The Ed Lester case, without the


detail of that, highlighted an anomily, it was not right, it


shouldn't have happened, it was clearly happening under the last


Government, it is continuing under this Government, it shouldn't be


the case. We also have to recognise on the short-term, technical


specialists, this is an economy- wide issue. A coroner trying to


decide how a brilliant young MI6 operative met his death has failed


to come up with an answer. The best she could manage was a narrative


verdict. How Gareth Williams ended up naked and dead inside a locked


bag remains a mistreatment the inquest did disclose some unusual


behaviour by the MI6 man, by one of the world's crack intelligence


agencies and by the police. Someone else must have been involved. But


there is no answer as to who. Our diplomatic editor reports. Williams,


a maths prodigy who joined GCHQ aged 21, with a degree and PhD


under his belt. Fit, brilliant but complex, when sent on attachment to


MI6, unhappy with work. Even after a week's hearings, his death is


little clearer. The coroner, Fiona Little comfort, then, for a family


still morning its loss. Our grief is exacerbated by the failure of


his employers at MI6 to take even the most basic inquiries as to his


where abouts and welfare, which any reasonable employer would have


taken. We are also extremely disappointed over the reluctance


and failure of MI6 to make available relevant information.


This was the scene at an MI6 flat in PIMCO in cough 2010. -- August


2010 women's designer clothing lay carefully bagged, and arrayed on


the bed. Mr Williams had spent more than �20,000 on his collection.


There was a red wig too, and other personal collections. These


discoveries soon leaked out, the In the bathroom, his naked body lay


in a zipped up waterproof sports bag. It had festered for eight days


in the August heat, before it was finally found. But why had his MI6


bosses allowed so much time to pass before getting the police involved.


They apologised for that today, and insisted they would change their


procedures. I think the delay that happened in reporting the fact that


he was missing was highly unfortunate, it is very disturbing


that it happened. To be fair to the Secret Intelligence Service, they


themselves have acknowledged that was a serious fault. They have


apologised for that. They are making sure that kind of thing


can't happen again. I have no reason to believe it was systemic.


But it certainly shouldn't have happened on that occasion.


coroner's court saw evidence like this, an expert trying to zip


himself into the bag and lock it. The witnesses felt it was virtually


impossible to do that alone. Was he forced in, or was it consensual,


maybe a sex game gone wrong. Forensic experts would have found


that question easier to answer, if the body had been found after just


a day or two. The body, particularly in a summer months and


warm environment, starts to undergo changes after death quite rapidly,


within a day or so. Particularly if the body is enclosed within another


compartment, such as a suitcase, or a bag or something like that.


Because there is no air currents there, and therefore, the botty


will become discoloured. Marks such as bruises, scratches, that kind of


thing, will not be visible. It also emerged this week, that MI6


was in possession of computer flash drive, memory device, and a similar


sports bag used by Mr Williams. The investigating detectives hadn't


known about that. Because the specialist police liaising with MI6


hadn't told them. The coroner was unhappy about it. But could the


police have pushed harder? I think you do have quite a difficult


procedural problem, that always applies in a democracy, where you


have Secret Services, which by their nature handle information


that simply cannot be brought into the public domain, without real


damage to the national security interest. And a police inquiry, or


the normal interests of justice. We are always grappling with how you


create struck tour that is meet that requirement. Summing up today,


the coroner avoided a specific verdict, and said much was still


unclear. Yet at the end of her At the end of her narrative, the


coroner expressed her sympathies to Mr Williams family. And her voice


faltered with emotion as she did so. In truth, of course, this inquest,


because it has failed to answer so many key questions, will not give


the former intelligence officer's family the closure they desire. It


will also leave the way open for those who wish to spin conspiracy


theories about his death. Outside the police were adamant their


investigation goes on. And their appeal to someone who may have been


with Gareth Williams that August night, revealed something about


their assumptions of how he may have died. It's highly likely that


a third party was involved in Gareth's death. I urge anyone who


knows Gareth, who had contact with him, to search their conscience and


come forward with any information about what happened that night, on


the 16th of August 2010. The last hours of Gareth Williams and the


events in his flat will continue to excite comment to the sorrow of his


family. But investigators believe there could still be a good chance


of solving the case, even if that takes years.


Philip Davies is director of the Brunel Centre for Intelligence and


Security Studies, Harry Ferguson is a former MI6 officer. This is


highly embarrassing for MI6? coming on top of rendition and the


Iraq war it is a series of incidents. The problem being, in


large part, that MI6, or SIS, does not seem like a concerned employer,


it took them a terribly long time to realise that he was gone. Then


to snotify anybody, and then there is -- notify anybody, then there is


all the other events afterwards? can see a couple of possible


factors that might have been driving it. One of them might be


that he was a GCHQ officer, on se connedment to SIS, the operations


have been high because of Afghanistan, it is conceivable


people might have thought he was yanked back to GCHQ, and waiting


for a memo. If they thought he was doing something risky and


inappropriate, they would have rather than make a report and a


security vetting process, and ruin his career, they thought they would


take it up with him informally. didn't turn up to a meeting?


Sometimes people don't. What do you make of it? Somebody dropped the


Bill ball. You wouldn't allow that kind of -- Somebody dropped the


ball. You wouldn't allow that kind of thing happening in any


organisation. He could have been kidnapped, extremist groups in this


country could have decided to nab something, it is a big enough


building, it is not the Cold War, but seven days is a long time. All


organisations make mistakes, like managers make mistakes, it is clear


from the inquest that no action was taken against line managers. That


SIS didn't feel any action was necessary to correct this. That is


worrying. What should they have done? They should have immediately


sent someone around to the flat and found out where he was. I was on a


radio programme earlier on, an old hand in the 1960s, he said in his


day, if you were an hour late for work, somebody was out trying to


find out where you were. Classic Cold War times, but even so. This


was a guy on attachment from GCHQ, it is not as if he was a top secret,


he was a spy? That was a guy so valuable he was to assist on SIS


operations from GCHQ, he had knowledge through cryptography,


extremely valuable. You have somebody not part of your


organisation, you are responsible for them. It is like a guest in


your family. If they go missing you should know. It is like looking


after somebody else's child. It is very important. Because he worked


in a small unit, and he's an outsider, they let this go. What do


you imagine will be going through the mind of senior people in the


Intelligence Service now? I would imagine there will be serious


thinking about their own security protocols, revisiting vetting


standards. They may be wondering if there were things to be picked up


during his regular vetting top-ups. The other thing to keep in mind is


he's a GCHQ guy on se connedment to SIS, I conned -- se conneded to SIS,


I wonder what the relations are like between the two groups, he was


in their care. Are you not uncomfortable about the stuff about


his private life that was leaked? We don't know enough about how or


why it was leaked. I don't want to say more before I have formed any


particular judgment about that. It was odd, but on the whole, the


whole evidence trail, part of this problem has been handled relatively


poorly. The say SIS handled material that should have been


subject to chain of evidence standards. And the SO15 officer


should have been more attentive to these things. It was suggested that


the S015 guy was there as an intelligence liaison Counter


terrorism policing and SIS operational activities. If you


think people are doing CID chain of evidence responsibilities, that is


a slightly different professional interest. And entirely different


sort of policeman one might say? The police do seem to have acted


oddly in this? It is very difficult for them. You are dealing with a


secret organisation, you can't go in and use a search warrant, you


can't question witnesses, you have to rely on what you told. Yvette


Cooper said in the Intelligence Security Committee, the problem is


you can't control what you are told, you are told by the people what you


need to know about, that is the problem for the police, it is a


closed world. A lot of the officers are star struck by the fact they


are dealing with spooks for real, and don't push it hard enough when


they are investigating. This is even a more peculiar quality about


this, of course we had the police, mostly in the form of indoctrinated


Special Branch practitioners, go into Vauxhall Cross, as part of the


death of Princess Diana. They had effectively free run of the central


registry. They were able to talk to the relevant officers and officials


involved. They had, it had to be conducted inside the headquarters.


The first point we said is that SIS has a precedent in being able to


take another investigation to come in and handle it. Possibly the


police are more familiar with how to do this now, than they would


have been in the old days. In which case, it is even more bizarre, even


more singular, that given you have got that legacy, that they handled


the investigatory chain of evidence side of things so poorly in The


Willy will case. It is more inconsistent with precedent. What


about all the stuff about visits to websites, and women's dresses and


all that sort of stuff. Are you surprised by that? Personally? Yes.


But not in terms of the service. In the 1970s Morris Oldfield, who some


believe was the basis for Smiley in the books, was found to be a


homosexual in later life, despite being vetted numerous times. The


new enhanced vetting process should put an end to this, you are


supposed to be honest, and once you are honest you are not


blackmailable. Not that he had these tendencies, if he did, but


the fact he never received the pastoral support a lonely guy, away


from home, should have received. He worked in a small unit, and from


all the evidence given to the unit, he was left pretty much to his


devices. That is a security breach waiting to happen, even if it is


not a personal tragedy, as it is in this case. I agree with that. I


will leave it with that. I agree with that entirely. Do you think we


will ever get to the bottom of this? It is very, very rare that


something remains a mystery indefinitely? It could be quite a


long time before we do. If they have opened up new alternative


routes for conducting the investigation, there is a decent


chance they will come to the end of the trail. There is a non-zero


possibility, I wouldn't rule it out rbgts but the trail may lead abroad


--, but the trail may lead abroad, the third party may not be from the


UK, there could be a foreign interest here. What is your feeling,


will it ever be satisfactorily answered? No, SIS is a closed world,


there is no mechanism for investigating fully. The


intelligence committee was set up in the early days, they had an


investigator, he was quickly disposed of. You will never be able,


unless the right mechanisms are introduced, you will never get what


was really happening there. With the question of whether or not


there was someone involved, there was a failure of management and


Pastoral support here. That is the real worry.


In a moment we will have reaction to the French presidential debate


that finish add few moments ago, a mere two-and-a-half hours after it


started. While the people of France are


preparing to choose their President, the people of Wales are readying


themselves to pick new local authorities. The entire country,


apart from Anglesey, which is caught in some space time


discontinuum, and doesn't have elections until next year, gets to


choose tomorrow. There will be a big troubling question for Wales,


not answered by tomorrow's elections, sadly, is what on earth


has gone wrong with education there. Since it got its own Government,


relative achievement has plummeted. On a sodden May Day in Caerphilly,


even Tommy Cooper, the town's funnyiest son, is looking too grey


to lift spirits. With the prospects of tomorrow's local elections it is


hard to spot. But Caerphilly, fought over before, is again a key,


if not a lower key battleground. Labour is key to regain this


council, in a valleys heartland, before four years of a Plaid Cymru


administration. Keen enough to combat the rain and a certain lack


of voter commitment. Thank you very much for your time. I'll be there.


See you on Thursday. That's if I'm awake! Strictly local problems will


help decide the election. So too will views on questions which


affect all of Wales, such as schools. Education is an important


issue in the campaign. Pupils' attainment level in Wales have


fallen steadily since devolution, they are now lower than in England,


Scotland or Northern Ireland. The question now, does Wales need more


English-style reforms, testing, league tables, independence for


schools, or should it preserve its own, more comprehensive approach?


Tests of a sample number of Welsh 15-year-olds, under the


international assessment, show a decline in reading ability between


The Welsh Education Minister said it was an unacceptable performance


in overall attainment. These pupils show what can be achieved. Their


school is one of the best in Wales. 85% here are from families classed


as deprived. Science, like all other objects, except English, is


taught in Welsh. Only 2% of pupils in this school speak Welsh at home.


But Welsh education, here and in other parts of Wales, is


increasingly popular. Bileft-wing usualism itself promote


-- biling ualism itself promotes cognitive thinking. They might read


it in English and discuss it in Welsh, they have to understand the


work to do that, it is not reproducing. Bringing all schools


up to the standards of this school will take a lot of extra cash.


Currently Wales spends �600 less a year on each pupil than England.


Labour says it will reduce the shortfall by spending at least 1%


more on education than the block grant the Welsh Government gets


from Westminster. It will give schools more control over the money.


It is about further investment going in, whether that is school


buildings or going into initiatives such as the foundation phase, such


as Flying Start, to look at their very young children and give that


extra support, at that age, and continue in the investment. It is


not a short-term fix, it is, over the long-term, and Welsh Labour are


in there for the long-term. Labour is bringing in other reforms too,


Wales abolished SATs tests and league tables, it is placing


schools into bands, according to reviews. Plaid Cymru shared power


with Labour until last year. There is several things we should be


doing, not to introduce the free market happening in England. We


were against academys, and banding that the Welsh Labour Government is


doing, we need to concentrate more on core skills, that is the reading


and writing skills, ensuring those are there and safely there.


The Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay was set up to enable Wales to find


distinctively Welsh solutions to Welsh problems. But in the fierce


debates here, over education, some have questioned whether the country


has now diverged too far in policy. Welsh Conservatives want schools


all still council controlled, to be able to free themselves from the


local authorities as they can in England. We have to look at what


suits Wales. Where I am uncomfortable, is we will look at


anything, anything, as long as it is not exactly the same as England.


Because that, I think, is totally self-defeating. If we want to be


the best of the best, we must look at the best of the best and


implement that. Liberal Democrats talk more of working through local


authorities. Our view is that there is a need to look at the inspection


regime, and the quality of school leaders. And, perhaps, to have more


robustle cha eing, the reality as far as local Government is


concerned. Is that ultimately they are responsible for those school


improvement services. Certainly there is a lot of work to be done.


The decisions of the assembly and the Welsh Government wofpbt be


directly affected by tomorrow -- won't be directly affected by


tomorrow's elections, the vote will certainly reflect the changing


political mood, in a country whose confidence in its ability to


educate its young people, has now been severely shaken.


The last big event of the fight for the presidency of France ended a


few minutes ago. Nicolas Sarkozy and his socialist challenger,


Francois Hollande, squared up on television for a knock them down,


drag them out debate, which mattered more to Sarkozy than


Hollande. Not a single poll has shown Sarkozy will hang on to the


presidency. Hollande might have had a charisma bypass, but he offers


France, and he says the rest of Europe, an alternative to austerity.


Who can forget thiser receiptically charged classic of French cinemas


seen here on a lovingly curated print from the Newsnight vaults. On


TV screens across France tonight, another red-hot tete-a-tete, not


Belle De Jour this time, mais non, it is beau de jour, as France


decides who will be her consort for the next five years. First to


arrive for a televised debate, the French socialist, Francois Hollande,


nicknamed flamy, because he's sweet and comforting, no bland and a bit


wobbly. Then the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, accompanied by his wife,


the former model, Carla Bruni, who seemed to take her low-key


sartorial cue, from her husband. As a giant clock ensured equal time


for interlocuteurs, Hollande accused Sarkozy of passing the buck


for the country's problems. TRANSLATION: It is never your fault,


5-10% of unemployment is not your fault either, it is the fault of


the crisis. You are never responsible, are you. Watched by


their pert, Prime Minister time hosts, the two men also traded


views on the safety or otherwise of nuclear power, following the


disaster in Japan. TRANSLATION: have the safest nuclear energy in


the world, it is recognised as such, in Fukasima it was not the energy,


it was the tsunami, as you know. As part of our commitment to


covering the French elections, Newsnight has these exclusive


pictures from inside a French restaurant in London tonight.


Where supporters of Monsieur Sarkozy have been following the


debate and emotions are running high. Back in the French capital,


the exchanges were growing increasingly tense, and personal.


TRANSLATION: You can't stop people to vote for me, no more than I can


call for your, the people who support you to vote in your favour.


But having said that, you wanted to be a victim of five years, France


has been hurt, divided, has suffered. So many words have been


said, not by some of your assistants, but by yourself. In


that kind of debate. Please let me tell you.


TRANSLATION: In that kind of debate, please, let me tell you, enough


difficulties are a problem, enough things I have managed to do, others


I have not succeeded to do. We don't need to add outrageous words


and lies. The politicians also clashed over immigration, and


France's cultural identity. Quite a warm-up for Sunday's decisive vote.


Here now, different to the agenda, but simply divided, two candidates


hoping to be the first member of the French National Assembly


representing the seat of northern Europe. French people living


everywhere from Iceland to Finland, since most of them live in west


London, it is known as the constituency to most as south


Kensington. What for you was the most exciting


point of this debate? I think the first time Nicolas Sarkozy could


ask the real questions to Francois Hollande. Until now he didn't want


to answer any questions, he was complete low avoiding any debate.


It was a good -- completely avoiding any debate. It was a good


starting point to have finally a debate. You take a complete low


contrary view, being of the opposite persuasion. What was the


exciting moment in it? It was all in all to see that Mr Hollande has


a very strong personality. He was both firm, stable, convincing,


straight forward, where as Mr Sarkozy appeared as irrational,


nervous, he was both patronising and appearing as a victim. That's


not what we want as President. is Francois Hollande so dull, then,


if he's so charasmatic in this debate? I think he has started his


campaign one year ago, he has defined a programme, he's sticking


to his line, sticking to his ideas. He has very convincing arguments,


and he doesn't keep changing his mind just like Mr Sarkozy has been


doing. There is also a chance he might be a bit nicer about Britain


than Mr Sarkozy has been? I think Francois Hollande is changing his


mind, he's proposing things which actually are not correct. Even the


number he presented time were not correct. So how could you trust


someone who doesn't know what he's talking about, and start to make


announcements and criticising Nicolas Sarkozy who is trying to do


his best to save France during the financial crisis. Interesting isn't


it that most French people don't share your analysis, not a single


poll showing Sarkozy will win? Today we had an extra point on the


poll today. We can see the French people start. Not enough to still?


We will see on Sunday. OK. I'm intrigued by the two of you, you


are sitting in the studio in London, discussing French politics, about


to face off against each other in a constituency which actually is not


in France at all. This is a very, very odd state of affairs, isn't


it? I don't know if it is odd, I think it is quite interesting and


progressive, this idea that French citizens can live abroad, so they


travel with their passport, and their right to vote. They keep this


political link to their country. What do you think of this, don't


you find it slightly bizarre? at all, for the last 30 years


French people have been asking to have a representative for French


people living abroad. I think it is a good step. One thing that is very


important, Francois Hollande actually voted against it t the


socialists are against it, so today it is very good. People are within


their rights to move out of France, because they find the tax regime,


for example, a bit burdensome, and still retain the right to choose


the Government there? It is no question of leaving the country to


avoid tax. For whatever reason they leave the country, some of them do


leave for that reason, as you know? That is onlyers of the expats. For


the 99 % of other French people living abroad, they represent


France, and work in French companies, or bring their expertise.


Also they come back to France. They have got another% pective of what


is going on in France -- perspective of what is going on in


France. Nicolas Sarkozy thinks the French people living abroad are


very important. Given how we know that French public opinion has


appeared to have divided thus far on the basis of the first round,


18% going to the French National Front. Isn't it very odd to see a


socialist candidate trying to get some of that vote? People who would


otherwise vote National Front? Believe me, if you watched the


debate this evening, you wouldn't think that Mr Hollande tried to


attract any votes. What he said is that he would be fair and tough on


security, just like the last socialist Government has been. But


he hasn't followed the line of Mr Sarkozy, which has been in the last


few weeks, talking about halal meat, swimming pools, women and men being


divided in swimming pools. Things that are not real concerns for the


French people. Your candidate, Mr Sarkozy, knows he needs to get some


of this National Front folk doesn't he? There is no question of getting


the vote of the National Front. It is a question of responding to 18%


of the population, who has those questions. In the real world he has


to get some of that vote in order to be in with a chance, right now


it doesn't looks a if he has much of a chance? We will see on Sunday.


In the real world, the Telegraph described the National Front as a


racist party, that is what it is. Aren't you uncomfortable at the


idea of trying to court that vote? A lot of people vote National Front,


not because they were for Marine Le Pen, it is because they wanted to


show they were not happy about some policies. They want some issues


related to immigration, because it is a big problem in France. Until


now, the immigration was only the issue of the National Front, and it


is now 18% of the population complaining about it.


We have to do something about it. Do you think when Monsieur Hollande


says he's going to offer Europe another model for how to deal with


this economic crisis, is he serious? I think he is. If he gets


elected by over 20-25 million French people, I think he would


benefit from a strong democratic legislative to put forward some new


proposals. He doesn't necessarily want to ask 25 other states to


forget about what they have agreed. He does claim there will be a


model? Yes, but he says he agrees with fiscal responsibility, he


thinks it is very important. He also reminded the French people


tonight that the public debt has been doubled under the right-wing


Government in France in the last ten years. So fiscal responsibility


is not necessarily where he is...That Is not right, it is


incorrect. It is incorrect. 250 billion were debts carried on since


1974. Also 200,000 billion of debts also from the financial crisis, and


all the other countries of Europe had it. So it is not that it is


coming from the five years of Nicolas Sarkozy.


Thank you very much. Tomorrow morning's front pages,


some of them, the Guardian goes with the story of the SIS operative


who was found dead in the suitcase, and the coroner unable to discern


That's all from Newsnight tonight, Kirsty is here tomorrow after the


polls close. Good evening, after a respite from


the rain it returns tonight into the morning, across the Midland,


southern England and Wales. Heavy downpours in places. Risks of


further flooding in one or two spots. Brightening up in the south


coast, north of the rainband a fine day. North West of England fine.


Feeling cool under the rainband, it should continue to affect parts of


the Midland, East Anglia into the afternoon. The southern most


They will be rain in the counties, after a bit of rain in


the morning, a largely dry day in store. Sunny spells possible, not


especially warm, any sunshine and temperature also lift a little.


Still remaining cloudy in Wales, further rain into the afternoon.


North Wales staying largely dry and bright. You couldn't rule out a few


spots of rain. For Northern Ireland there will be sunny spells to take


us throughout the day. Western areas a fine day in store.


Cloud gathering to the far north later on. Northerly winds really


digging in, they will eventually get to southern parts of England


and Wales, Friday could be a bit warmer for some of you, with dry


conditions around for you for a time. Not completely dry, a few