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  1. Wealth
May 23, 2009

Meet the UK's Deep Throat

By Spear's

The biggest scandal to rock British politics in 300 years was started by an American freelance writer in London.

As the MP’s Expenses Scandal rumbles on into its 16th day, Parliament lies decimated and a furious public claim the scalp of Speaker Michael Martin, former SAS officer John Wick is unveiled as the scandal’s conduit. But the identity of the source remains a mystery. No longer.

The biggest scandal to rock British politics in 300 years was started quietly back in 2005 by an American freelance writer and journalism teacher living in London: Heather Brooke.

Ms. Brooke, an American former investigative reporter in Washington State and South Carolina, moved about 10 years ago to Britain, her parents’ birthplace. She entered her modest request in 2005 for details of the expense claims of British members of Parliament under the newly promulgated Freedom of Information Act.

When the House of Commons fought back fiercely, Ms. Brooke won a High Court case against the House of Commons for the full disclosure of MPs’ second homes allowances.

The rest, as they say, is history — except, so far, Ms. Brooke, who has been largely ignored here in the UK.

Another mysterious matter is how much money changed hands. Estimates that the Telegraph paid as much as £300,000 for the computerized disks appear to be based on claims by the rival Times that a whistleblower initially approached them demanding £250,000, a sum they will forever regret not paying.

Some reports, though, claim the whistleblower (unclear whether it’s Ms. Brooke, Mr. Wick or someone else) may have been paid as little as £95,000 by the Telegraph, who have reinvented themselves as the clever kids on Fleet Street and are the real winners in the scandal — except for maybe Ms. Brooke, whose journalism career will now be assured.

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