The national media have been consumed by former lord chancellor Jack Straw’s extra-curricular activities – but to Obiter readers his fondness for a paid assignment will have come as no surprise.
It has been something of a hobby of ours to tot up the register of Straw’s earnings at the end of each year. Last year was a good one, with more than £100,000 brought in (on top of his £67,000 MP’s salary) through speeches, newspaper articles and consultancy fees.
This was matched by his earnings in 2013, which included £30,703 for his memoirs (currently available for £8.99 on Amazon). According to the declaration Straw has been paid by a commodity trader, a private equity house and a military thinktank since stepping down from the front benches.
All of which meant that when the member for Blackburn, who is retiring from parliament in May, was filmed saying that £5,000 a day was the going rate for speeches, Obiter was not nearly as shocked as the hacks of Fleet Street.
Claimant lawyers will be forgiven for a moment of schadenfreude. Straw was, after all, the man who called for referral fees to be criminalised and described the claims industry as a ‘racket’.