When BA’s cabin crew struggled to control rowdy reality TV star Matthew Mawhinney on a flight from the Caribbean earlier this year, he shouted, “Come on and f ****** search who is my mother… “
The Too Hot To Handle contestant soon learned that being the son of Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Scotland was of no help to him: he was fined £ 3,000 by a court after admitting to using “abusive” language and apologizing for his “shameful” conduct.
From now on, it is Mawhinney’s mother who is in the spotlight; in a matter of weeks, she could become the first person to be effectively dismissed from her £ 160,000-a-year job.
This is the grim prospect of Baroness Scotland, the first woman to hold the prestigious post, after it emerged that she was facing the challenge of Kenyan politician, Monica Juma, to lead the organization.
In a matter of weeks, Baroness Scotland could become the first person to be effectively fired from her £ 160,000-a-year job
Oxford-trained Dr Juma, 58, is expected to gain the support of Boris Johnson and other key Commonwealth leaders.
If successful, it will end Baroness Scotland’s controversial five years as head of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Nicknamed Baroness Brazen or Baroness Shameless, the former Labor cabinet minister has been prosecuted by allegations of extravagance, cronyism and revolt by some Commonwealth leaders.
Indeed, she had barely stepped under the desk in 2016 when extraordinary details of a lavish makeover of her residence of Grace and Favor in Mayfair were revealed.
The bill would have included £ 24,000 for a bathroom; £ 8,000 to repair the curtains; £ 307 for a toilet seat; £ 5,000 to replace the locks and £ 360 for two electrical outlets.
Baroness Scotland was reportedly advised by famous interior designer Nicky Haslam and six of the 28 rooms were decorated with Farrow & Ball or Sanderson paint, priced at £ 5,000 and wallpaper at £ 100 a roll.
Baroness Scotland’s former deputy chief of staff went on to win nearly £ 300,000 in compensation after claiming she had been wrongly blamed by her for leaks about her spending.
Baroness Scotland, 66, whose salary includes a generous pension, a driver and private health coverage, dismissed the extravagant claims as “outright lies, half-truths and innuendos”.
The Commonwealth Secretary General with her son Matthew Mawhinney who appeared on the Too Hot to Handle TV show
It was “absolute nonsense” that she abused public money, she insisted, denying any wrongdoing of any kind.
But Lady Scotland’s reputation suffered another blow when a report by an auditor criticized her for a £ 250,000 commission paid to a company run by her Labor colleague Lord Patel of Bradford.
She was accused of having “circumvented” the usual rules of competitive tendering by assigning the commission to KYA Global, owned by Patel. He had served alongside him as a minister in Gordon Brown’s government.
Patel’s company was hired to conduct a review of its Commonwealth Secretariat, but the audit committee said the company was ‘apparently insolvent’ at the time with debts of nearly £ 50,000.
Auditors stated that procurement rules have been lifted by the Secretariat more than 50 times. In addition, it is alleged that she appointed political allies to key posts in the Secretariat.
Enraged by the exposure of such criticism by whistleblowers and the media, Lady Scotland complained to Ipso, the press watchdog, who dismissed most of her complaints in 2017.
Monica Juma (pictured), 58, an Oxford graduate, is expected to gain support from Boris Johnson and other key Commonwealth leaders
In 2018, high-level political figures in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada were determined to prevent the Baroness of Scotland from automatically receiving a second four-year term, as is customary.
However, due to the global pandemic, the biannual meetings of Commonwealth Heads of Government, at which such decisions are made, have not taken place.
But, frustrated by her determination to hang on to her duties, some Commonwealth leaders may oppose her at a Zoom meeting next month.
Boris Johnson stepped up the pressure on her last year by suspending Britain’s £ 4.7million annual grant to the Commonwealth Secretariat, arguing that a majority of her leaders wanted her to leave.
No further funding would come from the UK government until the Secretariat got its finances in order – and included new whistleblower protection.
This meant that the Secretariat, run from Marlborough House in Westminster, was in danger of going bankrupt.
Provocative, Dominica-born Baroness Scotland accused the Prime Minister of a “fake news” style attempt to undermine her and vowed she was “going nowhere”.
His allies claimed the attempt to oust him was led by predominantly white member nations who did not want a black woman.
Critics, meanwhile, have claimed her supporters are playing ‘the Meghan card’ – a reference to claims that the Duchess of Sussex’s criticism is partly race-related.
If Baroness Scotland’s detractors had tried to invent a better suited candidate to face her, they would have found it difficult to improve the lot of Kenya’s Defense Minister Dr Monica Juma.
After earning a Masters and Doctorate in Philosophy at Oxford, she joined the Kenya Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pioneered its counterterrorism policy and worked for the UN.
A senior diplomat told the Daily Mail: “Baroness Scotland’s supporters cannot play the race card against Monica Juma. She is extremely respected in Africa and beyond and, as a former diplomat, she has skills that Scotland lacks, which has an unfortunate tendency to mistreat people.
“Even the Caribbean countries that have supported it in the past are losing patience with it.
“The Commonwealth Secretariat has wasted money and covered up wrongdoing – yet it is teaching member states, including some of the poorest countries on the planet, the need for transparency and prudence. It cannot continue.