LibDem MP Norman Baker, one of the scourges of David MacClean’s odious bill to suppress information about MPs expenses has unearthed the fact that Macavity’s Vicar on Earth, Ed Balls, has helped himself to £5,000 worth of junket freebie to attend a meeting of the shadowy Bilderberg Group of businessmen and politicians.

This group meets in considerable privacy to enable a free and unfettered discourse on a wide range of affairs and attendance is by invitation only. One of the clear and strict rules of the group is that all invitees attend in a private and not an official capacity: this is an important rule which underpins the very nature of the group and its discussions, such that it enables people to speak their minds freely without the constraints of collective responsibility.

Balls though has decided that, whilst he is no doubt honoured and flattered to be asked to attend (and one does not begrudge him his invitation), he is damned if he is also going to be out of pocket in order to take up the invitation. Thus the Taxpayer picks up the bill.

The explanation: a Treasury spokesman said Mr Balls had attended “in his capacity as a minister” and confirmed that all expenses had been met from public funds. This is in clear defiance of the Bilderberg’s Groups Rules and cannot therefore be right.

Mr. Balls should have the balls to cough up £5000 immediately.