Unfinished business

The MPs expenses saga rumbles on and on, with the revelation that MPs have paid back over £800,000 with another £400,000 outstanding. There are still unanswered questions about some individuals (such as Nadine Dorries who suggested that the affair had led MPs to consider suicide, which was an interesting way of deflecting attention from her own claims).

Locally, Jeremy Wright has won the appeal that I mentioned the other week. Even though he has clearly admitted that his claim for nearly £800 in mobile phone bills was against the guidelined in the “Green Book”, it seems that he was able to argue that poor advice combined with a possible lower cost than a landline meant that he shouldn’t have to pay the money back. Personally, I’d say that quibbling such a low amount when it was known to be technically against the rules looks petty. I doubt he couldn’t afford to pay the money back, or that he would be judged more harshly than MPs who have been caught out to the tune of tens of thousands.

Jeremy Wright – because he’s worth it (800 quid)

I did see this story before Christmas, but I didn’t get around to blogging it until now. Hopefully it won’t be completely forgotten about in the next few months…

Jeremy Wright, current MP for Rugby & Kenilworth, and standing in the far safer seat of Kenilworth and Southam later in the year, was found to have overclaimed nearly £800 in mobile phone charges in his second home expenses. Sir Thomas Legg has determined that this should be repaid, and Wright himself has conceded that the claim was not technically allowable. But still, Jezzer is appealing against it anyway (Coventry Telegraph).

In a couple of weeks we should hear whether our (soon to be ex-) MP will need to cough up, or has been allowed to keep the lucre. Either way, it does seem to be a trend among local Tories to make ‘mistakes’ with their expenses, eh?

On the Martin Heatley case, I have had a full response from my local councillor, John Vereker CBE, to the questions about the standards hearing and here it is, over two emails:

Dear Mr Richards

My apologies for not replying to your earlier email. I should, as you say, have acknowledged it.

I note your views on the matter of Martin Heatley but I can assure you, as a member of the panel which examined these issues in detail, that they are not substantiated by the evidence.

Yours sincerely

John Vereker

and (following a further question about whether ‘not substantiated by the evidence’ means that the report showing all the evidence was incorrect):

Dear Mr Richards

I note your comments. The panel’s decision is final and was based on a thorough examination of the facts. There is no suggestion of errors within the auditors report.
The minutes of the meeting are available on the council’s website.

Yours sincerely

John  Vereker

Well, I guess that’s that then. The guy has been claiming for car journeys that are oddly far longer than necessary, for First Class rail tickets that he shouldn’t have, and all he gets is a slap on the wrist and told to pay back only the £200 most obviously over claimed.

And that must be ok, because his pal from the Masons says so.

The full report on the Standards hearing is available (with notes by the original complainant) here: http://www.greennuneaton.org.uk/wex/kkwp/?page_id=25