Andy McSmith's Diary: Doughty MP battling for a constituent facing 30 years in a Dominican jail
Our man in Westminster
A year ago, Nicole Reyes, from Cardiff, a Thomas Cook representative working in the Dominican Republic, went for a Friday night out at a hotel with friends. Her husband, a local man named Jorge Quintanilla, joined her later. By the end of the evening, he was dead and she was in prison, where she has been ever since. She could be there for 30 years although, as of today, she had not been formally charged with any offence.
On the way home, she was driving a Toyota sports-utility vehicle and he was riding alongside her on a motorbike, on an unlit road, when he came off the bike and went under the car.
Ms Reyes’s mother, Jen Clements, alleges: “At first they accepted that it was just a motor accident. Then his family stepped in and said it was homicide. They’ve got no witnesses and no evidence. We have two witnesses who were at the scene who says it was just an accident.
“There was a court hearing last week but Nicole’s lawyer was ill and couldn’t make it and sent a certificate, but the judge wouldn’t accept the sick certificate. She banned the lawyer from taking the case in the court, so we had to go out there and get another lawyer.”
She says the case has cost her and her husband Mike, a solicitor, £100,000 before a trial has even begun. It was due to start today.
Stephen Doughty, the Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, has been pushing the Foreign Office to put pressure on the Dominican government to move the trial away from Puerto Plata, the scene of Mr Quintanilla’s death, where his family’s lawyer has been on television accusing Ms Reyes of murder and allegedly whipping up public opinion into a state which will make an open-minded jury hard to find.
Mr Doughty said: “I don’t know whether she is innocent or guilty because it’s a long way away, but I am very concerned about whether she will get a fair trial. The discussions I have had with officials from the Dominican embassy have not stopped me being concerned.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which Mrs Clements angrily accuses of ignoring her daughter’s plight, say that it is watching the case “very closely” and that “consular officials at the British embassy have raised welfare concerns on a regular basis”.
‘She calls me sweetie’: Ed on the love of his life
An interview in the current edition of Now magazine contains all the information we need about the sex life of Ed Miliband.
That he dated Stephanie Flanders has been well publicised, so I will not go over that again, not least because I hear that Ms Flanders would very much like to have the matter laid to rest.
The future Labour leader did not waste time dating girls while he was at school, and so was not a bit like Nick Clegg, who had slept with “not more than 30” women before he met his wife, we learn.
“I was a late developer,” he admits. “I’m not going to compare myself to Nick Clegg in any way.
“I was quite square and serious. Girls came a bit later – university and after.”
Romance with Justine began when she went all the way to Doncaster North to help him secure the Labour nomination.
“I really feel so lucky. She’s so much the rock of my life.
“It sounds a bit corny, but I wouldn’t be doing this job and I wouldn’t be happy without her…
“We call each other sweetie,” he added.
The second coming of ‘Dyna-Rod’
One effect of the rise of Ukip is that it has allowed ex-Tories whose political careers self-destructed long ago to grab another moment in the spotlight. The anti-EU party’s latest high-profile convert is Rod Richards, a former Welsh minister who now hopes to be a Ukip MEP. Many years ago, John Major’s Back to Basics campaign turned into a farce when a sequence of ministers were caught with their pants down. Rod Richards, a married father of three, was the 10th to be forced out of office by tabloid revelations. His peccadillo was graphically recounted under the headline “My romp in the Commons with randy Dyna-Rod: Minister loved risk, says mistress”. Later, he admitted to a drink problem. It is most generous of Ukip to offer him a way back.
The end is nigh for Savile inquiries
It sometimes seems that each inquiry thrown up by the Jimmy Savile scandal only begets another inquiry. There are investigations under way at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Leeds General Infirmary and Broadmoor, and inside the Department of Health. Sometimes it seems they will go on inquiring forever in an inquiry fest without end. But no... In a little-noticed answer to a Commons question on Monday, the health minister Norman Lamb said: “It is anticipated that the investigations will be completed and the final report published by the end of the year.”
Criminals – your media needs you!
Are you corrupt? Do you know anyone in a position of trust who takes back handers? Have you used this information to gain an illegal advantage for yourself? Should you be in prison? If the answer to these questions is yes, then there was a period when The Guardian wanted to hear from you. Their website asked: “Have you ever attempted to bribe someone – and if so, what was the response?”. The page has since been taken down.
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