David Laws issues statement on his expenses and sexuality

David Laws has apologised, promised to pay back up to £40,000, and referred himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner after the Telegraph published expenses claims showing he rented a room from his partner.

The paper’s story shows that David:

  • David claimed between £700 and £950 a month between 2004 and 2007 to sub-let a room in a flat in Kennington, south London, owned by his partner who was also registered as living at the property;
  • from 2007, David then began claiming of £920 a month to rent the second bedroom from a new house bought by his partner, who also lived there.

David has issued a statement, published by the paper, as follows:

I’ve been involved in a relationship with James Lundie since around 2001 — about two years after first moving in with him. Our relationship has been unknown to both family and friends throughout that time. James and I are intensely private people. We made the decision to keep our relationship private and believed that was our right. Clearly that cannot now remain the case.

“My motivation throughout has not been to maximise profit but to simply protect our privacy and my wish not to reveal my sexuality.

“I claimed back the costs of sharing a home in Kennington with James from 2001 to June 2007. In June 2007, James bought a new home in London and I continued to claim back my share of the costs. I extended the mortgage on my Somerset property, for which I do not claim any allowances or expenses, to help James purchase the new property.

“In 2006 the Green Book rules were changed to prohibit payments to partners. At no point did I consider myself to be in breach of the rules which in 2009 defined partner as ‘one of a couple … who although not married to each-other or civil partners are living together and treat each-other as spouses’.

“Although we were living together we did not treat each other as spouses. For example we do not share bank accounts and indeed have separate social lives. However, I now accept that this was open to interpretation and will immediately pay back the costs of the rent and other housing costs I claimed from the time the rules changed until August 2009.”

I think many people will have a fair amount of sympathy for David’s position. Clearly in an effort to maintain his privacy, he has kept secret his domestic arrangements; and any form of secrecy will lead some to place the worst possible interpretation on it.

However his explanation seems not only reasonable – he was justified in claiming for a place to stay in London, and did so – but also entirely human. The furore last year over some Labour and Tory MPs’ expenses was driven by the fact that many were claiming for accommodation they didn’t live in (at least not much), a clear abuse of the system. No-one seems to be suggesting that David didn’t use this room as his place to stay in London when working in Parliament. And as has been pointed out, if David and his partner had been registered officially as “partners” on the deeds, he would have been perfectly entitled to claim the expenses he claimed as his second home allowance.

For an intensely private man, the publicity that results from the Telegraph’s revelations will be deeply painful. I hope he and Jamie emerge the other side stronger, and able to live their lives openly without fear of newspaper intrusion.

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  • I am convinced I have heard this “news” before, some weeks ago, on a podcast or other… I agreed with his reasoning then and I do now. I also think he ought to donate something to a cause to make up though…

  • i hate to day it, but i don’t think this i going to be solved by a charitable donation… claiming almost 1k a month from the taxpayer to keep your private life private is somewhat problematic…

  • @Andrea
    If this isn’t news, the obvious Q would be who has most to gain by the story suddenly appearing again now? Unless of course it’s just the old British press thing, build them up and then knock them down.

  • The drip-drip of reports from the Daily Telegraph (the Expense Files) is deeply damaging to the political process and I wish they would publish all they know and get it all out in the open. I had hoped the General election would have drawn a line under this affair. Whilst it is right that MPs (and others in receipt of public funds) should expect to be open scrutiny, I do not think it is justified to disrupt an individual’s private life.

  • I think his remarks about not considering James his ‘partner’ are disingenuous at best. I respect his right to keep his relationship and sexuality private, but that doesn’t in any way justify the expenses claim, which was fundamentally dishonest. I would like to see higher standards from all our politicians. I don’t suspend judgement just ‘cos I voted LibDem.

  • Poor guy. I’m afraid he will have to resign. How can he talk to the public about cuts in services that their taxes pay for, when he is using their taxes like this? It makes his position untenable. I think the Telegraph realised it at just the “right” time – i.e. when it could do the most damage to his career just as it was about to seriously take off.

  • I think the issue here is whether he has broken the rules.

    Paying back money is all very well and I suspect he’s paying back in order to make it clear that he didn’t do this for gain. The problem is that paying back can be seen as admission of guilt – even though he may actually not be guilty of any true material breach of the rules.

    Look at the totality of his claims, he appears to have only been claiming for the fair share of the costs related to his accommodation in London. This is the same as lots of other MPs from non London constituencies. The problem seems to be the technical rules relating to a contract to let a room / share bills with James Lundie and whether this was disallowed after 2006 until 2009 when David moved.

    The amount claimed seems perfectly reasonable – it is the technical interpretation of ‘partner – living as a couple’ which is at issue.

    This will clearly now be examined by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

    I hope that some common sense will apply here, the arrangements haven’t been made to make money but to pay for reasonable costs.

  • Well Darling flipped his home 4 times and he stayed. That won’t stop the Labour party making hay with this. I wonder why this story appeared now. Cui bono?.

  • You’re obviously on his side. If he wasn’t in your party I expect your judgement might be somewhat less charitable. Bottom line – millionaire claims expenses money from taxpayer against the rules. It smells.

  • Unhappy Member 28th May '10 - 11:10pm

    Absolute tosh. The gender of his partner is irrelevant. Either way, male or female, this is against the rules, period. What is it with MPs that makes them think the activists on the ground are going to keep delivering their damned leaflets, writing their press releases and organising their election campaigns when they can’t manage to keep their bloody noses clean? If you think the rules are wrong, fine, change the rules, but don’t just ignore them! These people are supposed to be setting the law of the land and they can’t stick to it themselves! I’m fed up of it.

  • Oh dear. He has my sympathy, but really…. he should have seen this coming and dealt with it “long” before now. Appalling lack of judgement 🙁

  • Although, on the plus side, there’s always this to cheer me up: http://conservativehome.blogs.com/centreright/2010/05/what-david-laws-did-with-a-pot-plant.html

  • If Laws had said “I did nothing wrong” & refused to pay any money back, that would have been a different situation. The fact he is paying the money back is itself an admission of guilt. He has to go & go now, ideally by Clegg sacking him. Whatever route it has tobe fast, do it now.Dont let this drag on over the w/e.

  • @Raeki
    absolutely – there’s something sadly and fundamentally dishonest about it… the most annoying this is that the right-wing press will now be able to make hay with it… yet again, there is a disconnect between public interest and interesting to the public, but in this instance, what the hell was he thinking? If this one can be sidelined, i’m actually quite worried… i respect him greatly, but a serious lapse of judgement, and we are trying to be fostering a new style of govt….

  • Regrettably David Laws, a rare talent, will have to stand down from his position. There’s no other way!

    We can’t have double standards. There has to be a deterrent too. After the expenses scandal of last year he must have known this was a ticking bomb which could bring the party into disrepute – so why accept the government position?

    Do the honourable thing and resign, chill out, sort the home life out, write some papers, make a come back when the money is repaid.

  • There’s only one appropriate quote, and that’s the one from the laughing policeman., to wit;


    Repeat ad infinitum…

  • I don’t like his explanation of “partner”. That strikes me as intellectually dishonest, a deliberately constructed favorable interpretation no reasonable person would have.

    I have sympathy with his desire to keep things private, but he has shown a serious lack of judgment here.

  • This is an interesting case, because although it’s clearly quite possible to view Laws as having broken the rules by not treating Lundie as his partner, had he treated Lundie as his partner, he would have been entitled to claim the same amount of money – just under a different rule. It’s clear that Laws’ intention wasn’t to steal money from the taxpayer; quite apart from everything else, he’s rich enough as it is and seems to take a thoroughly frugal attitude to these things. Nevertheless, this will be extremely easy to paint badly, as the Labour party – and probably some Tories – now will. One wonders why the Telegraph decided to print this stuff now and not during the expenses scandal. If one accepts that Laws did nothing substantively wrong – as i think seems clear to anyone who considers the facts and hears Laws’ explanation – then this looks like the Telegraph outing him. I, for one, am disgusted.

  • Seriously folks, the most enthusiastic cutter of all is taking £40k from the public purse to rent a room at his boyfriend’s house….


  • Oh dear, the whiter than white LibDems are starting to look a little dingy. Laws, by his own admission, deliberately set out to deceive. If Cameron doesn’t remove him, Clegg must. I shan’t old my breath though.

  • Leo, sorry, frugality doesn’t extend to £1k a month of taxpayer’s money…l how the hell do we sell that to voters. Naivety in the extreme is the kindest way to put it. I agree that this has been obviously politically timed, but given everything else that’s been ‘outed’ (in expenses terms) over the last year how did he expect this to remain outside of the public domain?

  • I don’t care about his sexuality. What I care about is that he went into Cabinet knowing that this story could destabilise the government. What a selfish decision to make.

  • Paul McKeown 28th May '10 - 11:30pm

    I posted this in the LDV Video thread about David Laws, as I wasn’t aware of this thread at the time. If the moderators would delete the copy in the other thread, please, as it more appropriate here?

    Obviously I don’t know anything further about this than what is reported in the Telegraph and on the BBC. I am a Liberal Democrat through and through and wish the party and all its representatives well. I can also understand and sympathise with David Laws’ wish for privacy with regard to his personal life: after all whose business is it, apart from his own.

    It seems to me that this could destroy his career unless he deals with it adequately – and I for one do not want that to happen. Our country needs his clear leadership and expertise at this critical time for the economy. He must explain everything in detail to the House and apologise fully. Mere contrition will not be sufficient, even paying back the expenses wrongly claimed will not be adequate.

    He must explain in person to the nation about why he has wanted to keep his relationship with another man secret. He must explain the embarrassment that he has felt at the idea of coming out. The public will be sympathetic to that and understand it. I can accept that David Laws will hate this, but he has to do it.

    But he needs to make a grand gesture, too, to demonstrate that he understands that he has betrayed the trust of the public, of his party and of parliament. Something like foregoing his ministerial salary for the next year or donating it to charity. Something dramatic, something that will hurt, something real. Whatever it is, it must not be mere words.

    We need David Laws to be a success as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. He must take bold steps, otherwise he will be lost, and his loss will be ours. I trust he can do it.

  • Disaster!

    Who’s going to cut all thoseteaching jobs now!?

  • If he was so keen to keep his relationship quiet, and considering he’s not exactly short of cash, why didn’t he just cover his London expenses himself? If he’d have done that, there would have been no prying.

    He was exceptionally sanctimonious about his expenses before, while doing something which he must have known clearly broke the rules. The idea that he thought this guy was not his partner is just laughable. Equally is the fact that he was renting the ‘second bedroom’ in James’ house which, presumably, is untrue.

    I do have some sympathy for him on a personal level, but he has shown a colossal error of judgement which he has compounded by paying the money back while still saying that his arrangements were ‘open to interpretation.’

  • These posters laying into David Laws (above) are either Tory trolls posing as outraged members, or members so guileless they are putty in the media’s hands.

    (1) David Laws has claimed reasonable living expenses, as he is entitled to do.

    (2) The definition of “partner” within the meaning of these rules is unclear. David Laws is entitled to have the ambiguity interpreted in his favour.

    (3) Paying back the money is not an admission of guilt.

    Now we have disposed of the spurious allegations of dishonesty and expenses fiddling, let’s ask some really fundamental questions, shall we?

    (1) The media must have known about this prior to the General Election. Why did they not use it to stop David holding his seat?

    (2) Why is the public so obsessed with trivia while blind to the big picture? Those politicians who do really serious wrong, like starting illegal wars, ruining the economy, taking away our liberties, etc, get away Scot free, and in some cases are rewarded with honours and riches beyond the dreams of most. Is it because the media, being mouthpieces for the US military-industrial-complex and their billionaire allies, are out to destroy the public’s faith in democratic politics, thereby removing any possibility that the political process can stop US global hegemony and the control agenda in their tracks?

  • @Paul McKeown

    He had every right to keep his ‘private’ live private. Its the use of deception and the public purse that is the problem.

  • I hope he manages to survive this, but I fear the worst. If he wasn’t a Lib Dem, I would judge this quite harshly, despite the mitigating circumstances. It would be such a shame to lose such an awesomely gifted individual.

  • I think Alix’s interpretation is spot on – to repeat, had Laws behaved as though Landie were his partner, he would have been able to claim the same amount of money, if not more. When you appreciate that basic fact, you can see that Laws was trying to basically pay a partner’s share, while not declaring himself to have a partner to the Parliamentary Authorities for privacy reasons. His claims for large rounded amounts for utility bills look much dodgier, however. The most charitable explanation is that he was claiming that extra money to supplement the figure he was paying towards the cost of the mortgage, in view of the fact that he couldn’t claim as much as he would have had he been able to openly declare that he was paying for half of the mortgage. I agree with Alix on the notion that Laws should probably have just taken the hit – he’s rich enough to have done so. During the expenses scandal there were many who had done things that were procedurally but not substantively just. Laws appears to have done something that is the opposite – he has probably broken rules, but not by doing anything hugely wrong.

    On the wider politics of this:
    This will hurt the coalition, make no mistake. Laws made an impressive debut on Wednesday and Labour couldn’t lay a finger on him. Now there’ll be homophobic innuendo from the Mail and righteous indignation from Labour, and every time Laws announces a big cut (which he will have to do frequently), people will think of the £40k that everyone said he fiddled. That undermines him, that undermines the government’s deficit reduction programme. In a secretary of state for health, or for defence, this wouldn’t be job-threatening. When we’re talking Chief Sec. in the current climate, it seems like it may be. Nick Clegg had better come out guns blazing in defence of Laws, and David Cameron had better not hang him out to dry either. He’s one of the coalition cabinet’s most talented individuals, and if they let him go over this they’ll have made a grave error. He’s paying back the £40k and he has just been outed in a terrible way by the Daily Telegraph. If that’s not punishment enough, i don’t know what is.

  • Ryan M, Have you looked at the rules? The rules, which are vague, changed and have since changed. The Green Book principles have not been broken, they are applicable.

    Laws was claiming money under an arrangement that was agreed when he started and he didn’t change it. The green book makes it clear that Laws would be entitled to claim this money one way or another, its not fraud. So what is it that he’s done wrong?

    I’m not sure that whoever advised him to pay up is right – I suspect he’s entitled to the money.

    To get this resolved fairly he’s done the only thing possible which is self refer to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner who should be able to rule on the matter quickly.

  • Ok, given our various pronouncement, we really need to not try and play this on the letter of the law – the spirit of the law is clear. I hate the timing and intent, but bottom line is why the hell didn’t he have the forethought to see this coming? it’s not a question of the ‘why the telegraph didn’t report it’ – we know what they are. we are supposed to be better. If he knew this was an issue (claiming £1k a month on potentially dubious grounds is an issue…) then why didn’t he handle it – come clean or don’t, but don’t take a cabinet post in a controversial coalition and risk undermining everything that has been gained and worked for!!

  • Keith Browning 28th May '10 - 11:41pm

    Who has to gain most from this? The Tory right I think.

    He must have been doing far too good a job as a minister and putting his Tory colleagues to shame.

  • Paul McKeown 28th May '10 - 11:42pm


    Agreed. Sex can make a fool of all of us, even such a richly talented mind.

  • Am I right in thinking that £950 per month is much less than most MPs would claim per month for London accommodation. I am struggling to see what he’s done wrong. I suspect difficulty is that a benefit claimant would not be treated with same flexibility. It would be assumed that the other person in the property was supporting the claimant even if that was not actually the case. It’s the benefits system that is wrong in those circumstances.

    I’m not sure that David Laws’ boyfriend, who does not share any finances with him should be expected to subsidise the costs of him being an MP. Surely that is the alternative.

  • “(2) The definition of “partner” within the meaning of these rules is unclear. David Laws is entitled to have the ambiguity interpreted in his favour.”

    Oh, please. He’s been in a relationship with him for a decade. As justification for claiming he’s not his partner, he points to separate bank accounts – which many couples have – and separate social lives. Given their families *and* friends din’t know about their relationship, the fact that had different social circles isn’t exactly a revelation.

    Strikes me that he had three options:
    1. Go on the mortgage with James and claim perfectly legitimately.
    2. In an effort to keep his private life private, pay the costs of staying in London from his own pocket.
    3. Claim for costs while pretending that he was a lodger.

    Now I can understand why he chose option 3, and have some degree of sympathy. But it was the wrong option and, particularly given the portfolio he’s got, he should quit now or be sacked.

  • “Ryan M, Have you looked at the rules? The rules, which are vague, changed and have since changed. The Green Book principles have not been broken, they are applicable. ”

    I should clarify.

    My only concern is that I think David is being very naive if he thinks his explanation will be accepted by the public, the right wing media etc. And ultimately, that is going to dictate his future.

    Personally, I love David Laws (platonically). I hope there isn’t anything coming from this in terms of his position. But, the circumstances of this are going to make him a complete duck in a barrel.

  • Paul McKeown 28th May '10 - 11:47pm

    @Keith Browning

    … it had better not have been someone from the Lib Dem left or there will be bloodshed. There have been enough rumours about skullduggery, undermining and enemies within, within the last few years, to last me a lifetime.

  • and he is presiding over massive cuts for the poor

  • @ keith – “Who has to gain most from this? The Tory right I think”
    that’s precisely why he should have foreseen that this would be an issue and forestalled it…

  • One other point: note that the Daily Telegraph uses an insinuatory headline for this story: “Treasury Chief David Laws, his secret lover and the £40,000 claim”, inviting you to join up the dots and conclude, ‘sleaze’, much as Nick Clegg’s Telegraph smear was “Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem donors and payments into his private bank account”. It’s their tactic of choice when they can’t accuse someone of anything substantive; it’s just insinuation.

  • One wonders what else the Telegraph is going to bring up on the new ministers and from the shadow cabinet.

    Unfortunately for David I suspect he’s going to be on the backbenches very soon. He’s probably going to have to fall on his sword for the sake of the government. A shame, because he’s proven himself a skilled politician.

  • Alix, that’s naivety in the extreme – what he does to other consenting adults is of no interest whatsoever – in the same way what i do shouldn’t be. The point is, while he has a right to privacy, he doesn’t have a right to underpin that with tax[ayer’s cash…

  • ROB SHEFFIELD 28th May '10 - 11:51pm

    I will not be at all surprised if David Laws- a multi millionaire who gave taxpayers money to his partner- manages to squeak out of this large pile of brownstuff !

    The ‘Dem’ part of CONDEM have already showed themselves adept at forgetting previous positions of principle instantaneously in order to scramble into office.

    I fully expect David Laws to continue that cynical expediency in order to stay in government.

    What with 55% gerrymandering, CGT, nuclear power and student fees as just a sample we are rapidly getting the full perception on this increasingly dodgy and pragmatic (in the worst definition of that word) administration.

  • There is such a thing as an honourable resignation. One which comes with an immediate admission of error, coupled with the (valid I think) claim that the error was essentially technical and that there was no intention to do more than obtain a refund of expenses reasonably incurred.

    That way, you can serve a penance on the back benches with a hope and expectation to make a comeback. That’s the best expectation now.

  • I hope he stays… poor fellow

  • While it looks to be a pretty straight forward breach of the letter of the law, I’ve got a *lot* of sympathy for how David’s approached it, and I’d be extremely disappointed if it led to him having to jump before he’s pushed. So far as I can tell, the money was very definitely used for the exact purpose it was intended – to subsidise an MP’s accommodation in the vicinity of Westminster.

    It’s quite easy to say that he should have either have taken a hit personally or been open about his relationship. It’s also well and good to say that not publicly announcing his relationship sends the wrong message to other LGBT people. However, from admittedly much more minor personal experience, sometimes you just have to get the heck on with doing what you do without being a rallying point for other people. David looks to be doing a great job so far, both on the handling of his brief and of improving the public image of the party (or was, until the Telegraph stepped in, perhaps) and that shouldn’t come with the additional obligation to LGBT martyrdom. If he wants to stick with being a kick-ass Chief Secretary without making a sideshow of his personal identity, then good on him.

    The taxpayer is no worse off than had he taken the alternate route, save for an imagined entitlement to information which they absolutely didn’t need to judge how he was using the money he was allowed. He made a private judgement which in my opinion was perfectly reasonable and reasoned. It’s just extremely unfortunate that this has come to light in a climate created by former Westminster colleagues being apparently unable to make such common sense decisions about their expenses off their own back.

    He’s broken the rules, but duck island and moat cleaning this ain’t. Please don’t let’s hang him out to dry for what amounts to a primarily technical misdemeanour.

  • I’m sorry. But 1) In this day and age I’m nor sure it is reasonable for anyone’s sexuality be something kept hidden. Who cares? Perhaps his parents may have issues, but really this isn’t the 1950s anymore. If his sexuallity was was such a significant problme for him, then didnt he realise he’d have to publicly deal with it given his career? Wouldn’t it have been wiser before standing for election to have ‘that chat’ with his family? Far better, surely than a man from a tabloid arriving to ask his parents some questions out of the blue, or have the ‘revelation’ spread all over the front pages and surprise them, even?

    I can see how this developed from one harmless little white lie to buy time for him and his partner manage their lives together as they hoped. But one little white lie lead to another and then another. Now the consequences are potentially devastating not only for himself but for his party, the coalition and the electorate and perhaps also for his personal life.

    Where is the evidence of wisdom and spine. I don’t see why if politicians can keep their families private then why couldn’t David have just been quietly honest and insisted on domestic privacy like everyone else. It might have been difficult. I’m sure government office is difficult too. Standing up for all sorts of minority groups is often difficult.

    2) Not got a few bob in the bank already? He must be either awfully bad at managing his finances or was severely underpaid in his previous positions.

    It’s really bad judgement. I was sincerely hoping for so much better from our politicians. It looks like, with only 3 weeks into this new government, I’m still, as a tax payer being taken for a ride. I was hoping for the best policitcal leaders we have, after all that is what we pay for, and that is what we thought we were electing. I really had hoped for a fresh start and a fresh collection of wise, sincere and able group. I fear the Conservatives and this only heightens that fear. I give up. I really do.

    I don’t know if he should survive politically, but I do hope our politicians learn from his past judgements and where he finds himself tonight.

  • Paul McKeown 29th May '10 - 12:06am


    Seems a sensible way of looking at this.

  • PS
    When I said ‘If his sexuallity was was such a significant problem for him’ I meant a problem in that he wanted to keep it private, not that he necessarily struggled with who he was.

    I’m really sad at this.

  • I can’t believe how quick the clothes of government supporters have become such a comfortable fit for some of you on here. Laws has admitted claiming public money by deception. And you think he is still suitable to be in his position!

  • I don’t give a monkey’s about his sexuality or private arrangements, but this is David Laws who in March 2009 said “I hope that other MPs will join me in publishing their expenses as early as possible. The system needs to be made much more open and transparent, so that it cannot be abused.”

    What happened to ” If you want things to be different, really different, choose the party that is different”?

  • Well, I’m a Tory, and I back Laws 100%. He’s probably the most talented member of the Cabinet, and vital to the economic stability of the UK – we can’t let him go over this!

  • Oh dear. Future editions of the Green Book to include

    “x.1.2.4 Members are not to have sexual relations with those to whom they also pay rent (unless it was Christmas… and you were very drunk).”

    Given they didn’t have a shared bank account it was rather ambiguous. While I realise ‘ceasar’s wife’ applies… er… how… involved do you have to be with the person from whom you’re renting a room according to the Green Book at present? I’d put money on it that it doesn’t say. He wasn’t profiting from it because he didn’t own the bank account to which the money was being paid. He was legitimately renting property from someone with whom he also happened to have a sexual relationship. My flatmate rented our third room to someone she’d had an occasional sexual relationship with. If he had been a politician would he have been unable to claim it on expenses?

    David to stay! I voted LibDem to get David a job at the treasury (actually I wanted him to be Education Secretary, but that’s another story)! I will have been betrayed if David steps down and, as it’s the current fashion, will thereafter immediately join the Labour party (for no apparent reason).

  • @Stephen Mullen

    From 2006 it has been against the rules to make payments to a partner, out of expenses.

  • @ Alix – it was the ‘failing to send the right message’ bit i was referring too – i may have misunderstood you… this isn’t a question about whether he is gay or not – it’s not our business per se – but i don’t see how he can reasonably be living with somebody since 2001 and not expect for them to be seen as a partner – i’ve been with my wife that long, and it’s a reasonable conclusion to leap to surely?
    In any case, for a man of his intelligence, it should have been obvious this would be an issue. Yes the Telegraph are playing politics with the timing, and the Mail will make the most of it – especially in homophobic terms, which is despicable – but bottom line is, he should have foreseen that this would happen – he knew what had been submitted as expenses, and as a lib Dem when we’ve been shouting about how clean we are, he should have known he’d be a huge scalp…
    this isn’t about his lifestyle choice, it’s about his political judgement, credibility and £920pcm of taxpayers money… i hate to lose his expertise, but politically this his horribly damaging.

  • @Jayu “Laws has admitted claiming public money by deception”

    Really – please tell me where he’s said that? It’s not in the statement he made, David Laws said

    “Although we were living together we did not treat each other as spouses. For example we do not share bank accounts and indeed have separate social lives. However, I now accept that this was open to interpretation and will immediately pay back the costs of the rent and other housing costs I claimed from the time the rules changed until August 2009.”

    He’s referred himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner so that the matter can be judged impartially.

  • Duncan, this isn’t occassional sex, it’s a long term relationship – you’re being a wee bit disingenuous. We don’t know the details of their personal finances, but to suggesthe wasn’t profiting is strange – was the money going straight out of his account to his partner? Was his partner then paying for other things (food etc)? the rules are unclear and problematic, but that is why, in claiming the ground of new politics, we needed to be squeaky clean…

  • I thought these expenses were published properly, in line with the requirements, as rent and expenses for Westminster accommodation.

    What wasn’t published was that David Laws had a relationship with James Lundie. The tax payer wouldn’t have paid any more or any less if that relationship had been published. Question: Is the relationship a purely private matter?

    In terms of news management, this is about as bad as it gets and may not be salvageable.
    However, whether anything wrong has actually been perpetrated is an altogether different matter.

  • @Ashley – “As far as I can see, they’re not in a civil partnership, therefore they are NOT/were not spouses so therefore they weren’t breaking any rules surely?”

    If they had a shared bank account or had shared the ownership of the property (the mortgage) then it would clearly have been unacceptable, as he would have been charging for rent paid to himself. However that not being the case then it appears to be rent charged by a third party to with whom he happened to have a relationship (however long term). The complication arises because (a) without knowing the details we can assume he might have had arrangements with James which are often uncommon in standard rental situations (shared groceries, shared bed) and which are more commonly found in setups when one is in a relationship with the other (b) as with rules brought in regarding employing family members or letting relatives rent homes paid for under the 2nd homes allowance when parliament is not in session there is a general concern with public money going to those with whom the MP has a close relationship (familial, sexual, personal whatever). This would appear to fall under that category but one cannot help but think it’s reasonable that David didn’t decide to live elsewhere.

    The complication arises because he’s clearly in a situation which is different from that of a standard lodger and MPs (and especially ministers) are expected to be whiter-than-white as regards use of public money or offices in a way which benefits personal acquaintances of whatever sort. For these reasons I think he should probably pay back the money and apologise. Woops! He’s done that. Okay, can we get on with letting him run the country’s finances now? John Prescott wasn’t forced to resign, kept his ministerial salary and he was screwing his diary secretary with the office doors open. This is a man who followed the letter of the law on expenses. Gove, Clarke and Lansley all used the ability to flip 2nd homes designations to commit acts very-close-to-but-apparently-not fraud. This is nothing.

  • @Dom – I appreciate that and the 2nd post I wrote after the first in fact makes that exact point. Nonetheless there aren’t any laws or Green Book rules against being in a relationship with your landlord for however long. New politics be damned; I’m concerned about my ability to sleep soundly knowing the Treasury’s in good hands.

  • Everyone seems to be getting hung up on ‘the letter of the law’ – this isn’t about the letter of the law. Regardless of his reasoning, he’s been claiming taxpayers money to pay his partner for living with him. We can’t say ‘other people have done worse’ – what kind of defence is that?

  • @Paul

    I should have said, with the aid of deception. Did you read the part where Laws say that he extended his mortgage on his Yeovil property in order to help the ‘person he was in a relationship with’ buy the property that he was to claim expenses for. All the while living the lie that this was purely a business transaction. See where the deception plays a part? Laws himself said that his convoluted arrangements were a result of trying to conceal something. that strkes me as an admission of the use of deception.

  • Chris Cook has just ‘tweeted’:

    “If Laws had “declared” his relationship, he could have got the taxpayer to pay the whole mortgage. Whatever this is, it isn’t corruption.” – a point worth noting, I feel.

  • Johnny Williams 29th May '10 - 12:36am

    David Laws acts as a Minister in charge of Billions of pounds of decisions. He had a secret which was so vital to him that he was willing to compromise himself. Imagine such a Minister being subject to blackmail by vested interests in this terrible recession. He has to an Honourable Member who is whiter than white. Why does he want to pay back £40,000 pounds now that he has been outed in this dreadful manner. If he felt those payments were fair, stood the test of voter transparency and were within the exisitng rules, he should have offered no money back. His only honourable course is to resign immediately as the Country cannot have confidence in a Minisrter with such poor and naive judgement, when our Nations Economic future is at stake.. A great pity, he showed such skill and such promise but he cannot stay now…… Cameron and Clegg must let him go. I feel deeply sorry for this clearly talented and hard working individual who valued his private secret world above and beyond the interests of his Country. I could never trust such a man.

  • Paul McKeown 29th May '10 - 12:37am


    Very sensible statement.

    But Laws needs to get the homo-obsessed-queer-bashing-rightwing-Cameron-is-an-extreme-leftwing-socialist-tabloids off his back.

    Complete openness about his sexuality and his relationships and his personal need for privacy. Complete openness about his expense claims and a reasonable explanation as to why he should not resign over it. And some form of gesture to make amends, as forgiveness requires a clear demonstration of genuine contrition.

    Either that or resign and take the Chiltern Hundreds. There would be no point going to the backbenches, if recall is to be pushed through in this parliament. He would surely be the first victim.

  • Would anyone care to tell us what one can rent for £950 a month in Central London? The Tory trolls here won’t, I suspect, because they don’t want to have to admit that David Laws was giving the public exceptional value for money.

  • Paul McKeown 29th May '10 - 12:43am


    I suspect the trolls aren’t Tory; the Tories want Laws as our new Gladstone. The trolls are Labourite; several have already been noted on other threads for sour grapes.

  • @Johnny – I reiterate my point that the Education, Health and Justice secretaries manipulated their 2nd homes designations to commit acts which could reasonably (though not legally) described as fraudulent. Many of those who obeyed the letter but not the spirit of the law in the recent expenses scandals were compelled to pay back sums claimed consistent with the rules at the time they were made. This is a man who decided not to claim for a joint mortgage rather than have his relationship be outed and whose expenses passed scrutiny at the height of the expenses scandal. His decision to offer to pay back the £40,000 (out his own pocket, presumably; so he’ll now have made a loss from performing his duties as a representative) is presumably a PR move. I don’t believe he should be compelled to repay it myself, though I also felt that way about Ming Campbell’s claim and he was compelled to repay. It will be up to the Parliamentary Standards Commission as it should be.

  • @jayu – okay so the deception was to do with concealing the relationship with Lundie (he was perfectly entitled to keep his private life private in my opinion). Lending money to Lundie would not be disclosable either, although he’s now made that public too.

    The expenses claimed he would have been entitled to by any interpretation of the rules, deception was not necessary to obtain the money. The amount claimed is low for rent in London and was clearly not made for personal gain.

    Whether he’s done anything wrong will need to be determined by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

  • With their vicious prurience and veiled homophobia, the trolls in this thread are sounding a bit like the late Mr James Muchdisliked (aka Jim Wellbeloved MP), who was denounced by John Pardoe as a “sanctimonious muckraker of the first order” for his obsessive, repetitive questions about what Lord Lambton might have told Mrs Norma Levy in bed.

  • @Paul – “Complete openness about his sexuality and his relationships and his personal need for privacy.”

    He’s evidently not comfortable being entirely open about his sexuality. That’s a legitimate decision for him to make and it should not be a condition of holding political office in this country that one is compelled to be.

    “Complete openness about his expense claims and a reasonable explanation as to why he should not resign over it. And some form of gesture to make amends, as forgiveness requires a clear demonstration of genuine contrition.”

    I believe that is what is happening at present.

  • ROB SHEFFIELD 29th May '10 - 12:52am

    keith 12:10

    “but this is David Laws who in March 2009 said “I hope that other MPs will join me in publishing their expenses as early as possible. The system needs to be made much more open and transparent, so that it cannot be abused.”

    Absolutely- bad judgement *and* a hypocrite to boot. He should fall on his sword with immediate effect- but he won’t becuase he likes the power and office too much. So much for the ‘new politics’ 🙂

    I will be interested to see whether Clameronegg- so keen to decry Brown for being a ditherer when they had the inifinitely easier job of being in opposiiton- will have kicked him out by tomorrow evening.

  • @Ashley – Right enough. The complication here however is mainly due to the fact that his having been in this relationship for a decade means the arrangement was (as Dom says) probably closer to a relationship than an arrangement such as you describe and moreover that there are (now) restrictions on MPs doing things which would be entirely legal in the private sector such as hiring spouses or relatives due to concerns about the way public money is spent. I think this might be (reasonably?) used as a reason to compel him to repay the £40,000 though as I said I don’t think that should be the finding.

  • He is effectively being discriminated against for being gay and in the closet.

    His accommodation claim was much less than the maximum amount. He was claiming about £11k per year compared with the maximum of £21k which was claimed by many MPs–including David Cameron. He could have taken out a joint mortgage and then the claim would have been totally above board. So why didn’t he do this–as he says it was because he was gay and in the closet.

    Does anyone seriously think this would be a story if the circumstances were identical but he had paid the money to a female partner?

    This story is simply gay-bashing of the most horrible kind.

    Reading the Telegraph story, it’s written in as a nasty, trashy tabloid smear with no attempt at balance. This is the first move by the Telegraph to disrupt the coalition, and it won’t be the last. They are distraught at the loss of influence of the Tory right and they are effectively an enemy of the coalition government. Presumably the story is the result of an unholy alliance with Labour spin doctors: they couldn’t feed it to the left wing papers who would not have touched such a nasty story.

    I don’t think Laws has handled the situation that well so far–not surprising as he must be in shock. I hope he has some good advisers to help him deal with the media He needs to step up his game tomorrow.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th May '10 - 12:58am

    I think describing Laws as “an intensely private man” is a bit rich, considering how rarely he’s been off our TV screens during the last few weeks.

    With the best will in the world, if he was so concerned to keep his relationship a secret, he shouldn’t have broken the rules.

  • @Rob Sheffield – Given you’re a Labour supporter I wonder if you could tell us whether you’ll be voting for Ed Balls. Ed Balls, along with his spouse (also a cabinet minister) flipped his 2nd homes designation three times so he could work his way up to a £465,000 property (paid for by the taxpayer) in a better schools district, so his children didn’t have to go to the school in their original locality. When he was Minister for Schools. I’m afraid David Laws being in a relationship with someone he happened to rent property from doesn’t really compare. If David repays the £40,000 the taxpayer has been forced to pay to house him in London, perhaps Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper would consider paying the treasury the £465,000 the taxpayer is finding for them.

    How much were we paying Lord Prescott to screw his diary secretary again?

  • @ROB “I hope that other MPs will join me in publishing their expenses as early as possible. The system needs to be made much more open and transparent, so that it cannot be abused.”

    Absolutely right – can’t see how you think that is hypocritical – Laws hasn’t hidden his expenses and has not claimed for money he wouldn’t reasonably be entitled to. If anything the quote is spot on the issue – what we are discussing here relates to loose terminology.

    Shame we still have a system that hasn’t been changed because of the dither by Gordon Brown

  • David Allen 29th May '10 - 1:07am

    What the public understands are the benefit rules. If you claim benefits, and you don’t declare the existence of a partner, you will get done for fraud. It doesn’t matter a jot whether you are talking about a spouse, a civil partner, a non-civil partner, a live-in person who you don’t want to call a partner, a same-sex partner, or an opposite-sex partner. The benefits office treats them all the same. And if you told them your partner couldn’t really be a real partner because you didn’t have a joint bank account – well, prepare yourself for a blast of derisive laughter!

  • @Anthony “With the best will in the world, if he was so concerned to keep his relationship a secret, he shouldn’t have broken the rules.”

    Yes, indeed he may not have broken the rules – we will learn from the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner in due course. Still I suppose guilty until proven innocent applies…

  • Keith McBurney 29th May '10 - 1:09am

    What does the Law have to say about claiming and/or obtaining money under false pretences, whether intentionally or not?

    What was / is the nature and extent of this partnership? When did it begin? When did David Law as an individual recognise and acknowledge it for what it became to himself and to the partner, and as an MP to the public in particular as his constituency employers and in general as his pay & pension and allowances & expenses provider.

    If at any stage David Laws wished to protect any personal, pubic or private relationship he did or did not have with the partner, he had simple remediies: declare it, rent the accommodation from his own pocket, and accept the electoral consequences if any; declare it, rent accommodation paid by the public purse elsewhere, and accept the electoral consequences if any; not declare it, rent accommodation paid by the public purse elsewhere, and accept the electoral consequences if any when the relationship was made public by himself or others.

    Instead, until forced rather than being obliged to acknowledge the nature and extent of the partnership, he seems to have denied – both to himself, the partner and the public – the public financial or electoral (if any) costs and support and he brought to the relationship, now coupled with the loss of privacy he sought to preserve amid further as yet unknown costs to himself, the partner, and the public.

    As to the latter, the jury is out until the evidence is heard and the judge has summed up. And as yet, it would seem this process will not take place in a public courtroom, but in-House as if his MPeers were judge and jury.

    Where’s the love? Is it the love that we fool ourselves with, as i have irresponsibly and so not solely at my own cost?

  • ROB SHEFFIELD 29th May '10 - 1:22am

    Duncan 12:58am:
    Hhhmm- sorry but the CONDEM motley crew are in power now and are clearly intent on hanging on after being exposed as not having been truthful. If you want to argue about Ed Balls do so on the many Labour blogs there are out there- perhaps you might like to go and inanely insult Macguire on his blog or Campbell 🙂

    Paul 1.00am:
    Then it is shame he was not absolutely clear (one could say ‘honest’) when he published his expenses i.e. the breach of the regulations he is now being held up for and which has “shocked” a previous parliamentary standards chief. His actions are deeply hypocritical given that quote. Of course there is also the ‘realpolitk’ of being found out as acting improperly in a financial sense with taxpayers money and doing so at a time when his (relished) decisions will cost thousands of people their jobs and hundreds of thousands of people their services and benefits.

    Let’s see how long this goes on before he gets swingeing cut from the government.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th May '10 - 1:25am


    “… he may not have broken the rules …”

    I’m sorry, but if the best defence he can come up with is a quibble about having separate bank accounts, then I think it’s clear beyond reasonable doubt that he has broken the rules.

    After all these scandals over MPs’ expenses, it’s getting pretty bloody exasperating to hear yet another one saying “But the rules should’t apply to me because …”

  • @David Allen interesting point.

    Actually benefits rules are different. that said if David Laws had declared his relationship as you say he would have been entitled to more money, the full mortgeg interest rather than the £900 to £950 per month contribution he claimed.

    @Keith McBurney the matter is to be investigated by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner not MPs, an independent adjudicator.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th May '10 - 1:30am

    “… if David Laws had declared his relationship as you say he would have been entitled to more money …”

    And that’s another argument that really doesn’t impress me at all – that he broke the rules, but it’s OK because if he had gone about it in a different way he could have claimed even more money.

  • @Anthony so let me get this clear you believe that he’s deliberate set out to take money that he wasn’t entitled to?Or are we talking about a technical rule breach?

    The matter is to be investigated by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th May '10 - 1:40am


    I think he clearly broke the rules.

    You’re the one who doesn’t seem to be able to make up his mind about that.

  • allentaylorhoad 29th May '10 - 1:40am

    Although I left the party a couple of weeks ago, I feel immensely sorry for David Laws and quite shocked by some of the sanctimonious comments on here. Have none of you ever made a mistake or been guilty of bad judgement? I’m not a religious person but “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” seems to be appropriate. I was shocked at the treatment which Charlie Kennedy received because of his drink problem too.

    Sadly, but judging by past ‘scandals’ under both Tory and Labour governments, David will almost certainly have to resign, as his position has been compromised. If he tries to stay on there will be the drip-drip of poison from the Tory tabloids until he is forced out. It will probably be better for him and everyone else if he goes quickly.

    Although I will probably support Labour in future (if it becomes more libertarian), I suspect that the trolls on here are mainly Labour ones, but I think ‘The Daily Telegraph’ has its own agenda in destabilising the coalition. Considering the way in which George Osborne called in the Tory press poodles to advise them on smearing Nick Clegg after the first PM debate, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was behind this, as David Laws has made him look out of his depth as Chancellor.

  • @Paul

    He would not have been able to claim for the mortgage as it was not in his name. And as he and Ludie were in a long term relationship by 2006, he was breaking the rules that prohibit payments to partners.

    If this was a senior government minister, two or three months ago, would you have been as supportive of said minister?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th May '10 - 1:55am

    “Have none of you ever made a mistake or been guilty of bad judgement? I’m not a religious person but “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” seems to be appropriate.”

    I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but no – I have never claimed public money in breach of the rules – let alone £40,000 of public money.

    Please bear in mind that for many people that is a hell of a lot of money.

  • steve wilson 29th May '10 - 1:56am

    Someone above said:

    Seriously folks, the most enthusiastic cutter of all is taking £40k from the public purse to rent a room at his boyfriend’s house….

    spot on

  • ROB SHEFFIELD 29th May '10 - 1:56am

    Paul 1.26am
    “if David Laws had declared his relationship as you say he would have been entitled to more money, the full mortgeg (sic) interest rather than the £900 to £950 per month contribution he claimed. ”

    WRONG = Since 2006, parliamentary rules have banned MPs from “leasing accommodation from a partner”.

    As the Lib Dem supporting Grauniad reports this morning:
    “…between 2004 and 2007, Laws claimed between £700 and £950 a month to sub-let a room in a flat in Kennington, south London. This flat was owned by Lundie, who was also registered as living at the property. Lundie sold it for a profit of £193,000 in 2007. He then bought a house nearby for £510,000. (Laws) began claiming rent for the “second bedroom” in this property. His claims were £920 a month. Lundie also lived at the property. Laws registered his main home as in his Yeovil constituency.

    He broke the rules Paul: get over it and move on.

    The question now is does Laws go honourably or is he pushed by Cameron and Clegg who-0 let us all remind ourselves- would be screaming in hi-pitched public schoolboy tones had this been Liam Byrne before May 6th…

  • Cornish tory 29th May '10 - 2:24am

    How iliberal most of these comments are. His property claims are far less than most others. From 2006 with a change in definition, it is arguable that his boyfriend was his partner, as defined (or rather as not defined) but only arguable. He chose to keep his sexuality secret, a mistake- probably, he will not be the first Liberal to do so. he is undoubtedly the best minister you have. Fight to keep him.

  • Peter Jones 29th May '10 - 2:25am

    The following observations are taken from my posts to a facebook group here:


    They may add to the debate by introducing some facts.

    “For the parliamentary expenses year 2007-08, David Laws claimed £19,251 of ACA (Additional Costs Allowance) or second home expenses against an annual claim limit of £23,083.00. This is a good sign as most MPs appeared to have steered their claims to either hit the limit or fall what they assume is a respectable distance, perhaps £100, short. The … See moregeneral pattern of targetting the annual limit seems to be undeniable on the evidence.

    On the other hand, a quick glance at his unreceipted expense claims perhaps raises questions. Have a look:


    Other years


    ” … the then new rule of receipts being required for items of £25 or over was introduced from 1 April 2008. The expense year is 1 April to 31 March. The new rule was agreed by a HoC subcommittee, forgotten name, but have copious info on all this, a few weeks before and its coming into effect will have been know about beforehand. If … See moreyou look at the expenses claims for 2007-08, link already posted, you will see that David Laws reduced his claims with effect from March 2008. Coincidence? Thereafter his reduced claims are supported by a rental ageement, third page in the file.

    Prior to the new receipts rule, … , his claims are at least partly questionable. His food claims are low against the monthly limit of £400, when many MPs claimed at or near the maximum. His questionable claims though include a regular £120 pcm for cleaning and service charges of typically £100 – £200 which you might have though were part of the rental?

    According to the DT, ” Mr Laws said: “I claimed back the costs of sharing a home in Kennington with James from 2001 to June 2007. In June 2007, James bought a new home in London and I continued to claim back my share of the costs.” and yet the size of his claims does not seem to vary, significantly, over the period of this swapover. However, the increase in his rental claim from £920 to £950 from July 2007 does perhaps support a change in arrangements from around July.

    Overall,he does have questions to answer but as he’s referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards I would guess the DT will not, for the time being, push it any further. As he was not required to produce receipts at the time he will not be asked for receipts now. We can each form our own overall judgement. As he has said he will repay the $40,000 rental the worst punishment is likely to be being asked to apologise but he may be able to make the case of no case to answer, saying his partner was not a partner in the usual sense or at least according to his interpretation of the rules!

    … my guess, that’s all it can be, is that he will stay on and be OK, but it probably depends on the press and it does taint the government. Very sad. Considering he did not make maximum claims and didn’t claim double rental/mortgages, there are cases of that, or stock up on furniture etc I think I accept that this isn’t a case of greed, but someone making what he felt were fair and reasonable claims, but that’s not how it will be betrayed or how many will see it.

    On your earlier remark, yes, the MPs’ expenses scandal is about greed but I think it’s more than just greed. It’s about how most of them see themselves as there to enjoy status and to enrich and generally serve themselves. If they don’t start out like that it’s how they become. There are decent and honest MPs, quite a few, of all parties, but I think a good number, perhaps the majority are corrupt. Labour has so many corrupt MPs it presumably wasn’t prepared to suffer the publicity to remove them.”

  • What I find ‘galling’ is the fact that even in this day and age we are STILL obsessed by sexuality.

    What I find even more GALLING is that David Laws thought that he should have to ‘hide’ his sexuality.

    I am now 39 years old and I’ve NEVER had to hide my sexuality (OK, apart from the first three years when I was a Prison Officer in a notorious prison in South London) and started a gay youth group at 15 years old.

    Whilst I do feel for David, I also think that he should have known better – for FLUKS SAKE – claiming rent for a room in the same house as your partner is just not on. For me, if it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right and this certainly doesn’t feel right . . .


  • mynamegoeshere 29th May '10 - 2:38am

    Why is there so much American English in this thread? I would bet money it’s not by Americans but by Britons.

    ‘What is it with…’

    Makes no sense at all, except to an American.


    It’s a full stop.

    ‘there is a disconnect between’

    ‘disconnect’ is a verb, not a noun. You mean ‘disconnection’.

    If you stop copying American media you might invent the next stage in our nation by yourselves rather than following in the trail of a foreign one.

  • I feel sorry for the guy.. for a start sorry that he felt (that anyone still does in this day and age) compelled to hide his relationship.
    Did he make an error of judgement (in not thinking that it’d be found out, especially when he took a cabinet post)? sure.
    Did he ‘steal’ anything from the taxpayer? no. (It’s rather normal for partners of any sex to share the rent/mortgage/pay rent to the one that has the mortgage, especially with the prices in London. And not claiming anything would have been just as suspicious).

    The way I feel about it has nothing to do with the party he’s from. I wouldn’t feel any different if he was Tory or Labour (whilst there’s plenty of the claims from LibDems, including Nick Clegg’s, that I find ludicrous, even if they were within the rules).

    I’m afraid though that he might have to go, which is a loss for the country 🙁 .. I hope they can find a way for it not to happen.

    btw, am I being paranoid or does nobody think it a weird coincidence that this breaks the very day after he snubbed Alistair Campbell..

  • Keith McBurney 29th May '10 - 3:00am

    Paul @ 1.26am 29 May

    “@Keith McBurney [1.09am] the matter is to be investigated by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner not MPs, an independent adjudicator.”

    Thanks for the clarification. And what then if the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner finds or does not find a case to answer?

  • Haven’t read all the comments, but people are missing something. If he had revealed his relationship, he could’ve claimed more money. Let me be clear: HE CLAIMED LESS THAN HE WAS ENTITLED TO. David Laws wishing to keep his sexuality private SAVED THE TAXPAYER MONEY.

    Btw, here is a good article in the Times in which he has further commented:


    I seriously suggest everyone read that article. He even says there that this relationship is the only one he’s ever had. No-one should be angry at David Laws. We should be heartbroken for him.

  • Andrea Gill 29th May '10 - 3:23am

    @Chris_Sh – there are a few other people who seem to recall the same thing, but I couldn’t swear it was about David Laws…

  • Andrea Gill 29th May '10 - 3:32am

    It was completely LEGAL for him to claim this until it was decided that partners were an exemption – to stop claiming expenses would have been an admission that he is in a gay relationship with his “landlord”. Considering that until this filthy media slur, neither family was aware of this relationship, David Laws’s actions are entirely understandable and the sheer idea that he could get “sacked over this is not only shocking but also depressing.

    David Laws is one of the greatest assets to our government, and destroying him over what basically amounts to a homophobic slur is astonishingly sickening!

  • Andrea Gill 29th May '10 - 3:35am

    @Alex – £40K over five+ years as rent. Condemn that and you’re frankly out of touch with reality.

  • ROB SHEFFIELD 29th May '10 - 3:46am

    @Alex 3:18am
    “Haven’t read all the comments, but people are missing something. If he had revealed his relationship, he could’ve claimed more money”

    Damned by your own comment I am afraid. Let me paste in one of those comments you have wilfully ignored.

    Paul 1.26am
    “if David Laws had declared his relationship as you say he would have been entitled to more money, the full mortgeg (sic) interest rather than the £900 to £950 per month contribution he claimed. ”

    WRONG = Since 2006, parliamentary rules have banned MPs from “leasing accommodation from a partner”.

    As the Lib Dem supporting Grauniad newspaper reports this morning:
    “…between 2004 and 2007, Laws claimed between £700 and £950 a month to sub-let a room in a flat in Kennington, south London. This flat was owned by Lundie, who was also registered as living at the property. Lundie sold it for a profit of £193,000 in 2007. He then bought a house nearby for £510,000. (Laws) began claiming rent for the “second bedroom” in this property. His claims were £920 a month. Lundie also lived at the property. Laws registered his main home as in his Yeovil constituency.”

    He broke the rules since 2006 (with a questionable approach to financial recording prior to that) and he is going to have to go.

    @Andrea Gill 3:32 am
    “this filthy media slur”; “David Laws’s actions are entirely understandable”

    He broke the rules whether straight, gay, Bi or transgender.

    get over it- this is not about prejudice: unless you- as I am- are prejudiced against politicians who behave with breathtaking hypocrisy and whose actions constitute financial impropriety by fleecing the taxpayer at a time when they are cutting spending services and benefits from hundreds of thousands of people ! I don’t know if you are from the UK but 40,000 pounds is a lot of money to the vast majority of people here.

  • @Rob, you’re obviously not from London because £900/month for rent is pretty standard.. even cheap.

  • ROB SHEFFIELD 29th May '10 - 4:31am

    @Sandra F 4:15am

    If it was 400 pounds as opposed to 40,000 he is still going to have to go as he broke the rules- the actual point here despite the numerous comments such as yours amounting to misdirection.

    Oh and I guess you are from London as you clearly seem to equate it with the UK populations experience. I think you’ll find via vox pop on the news over this weekend that the point about 40,000 pounds being a lot of money to the majority of the people in this country holds. Especially when its 40,000 pounds that has been fleeced from the public funds. No ‘new politics’ with CONDEM we now all know.

  • We have some night owls here don’t we? 🙂

    The more I think about this the more I think it is being ridiculously overdone.

    This isn’t a claim that was entirely frivolous like moat cleaning, manure or duck islands. It is money that was, if technically incorrectly, being used for its intended purpose and actually at that in a very cost effective way.

    He owes has apologised, and that is entirely right. He has preemted an inquiry that may very well exonerate him by agreeing to pay back the money, and frankly it is to nations loss if this exceptionally able man was forced to leave his current position.

    You live and learn. I’m sure Laws has learnt his lesson here, and he has paid a price in the invasion of his personal relations being exposed to the world.

    Well done the torygraph, they have made thir point. Everyone can chunder away, now lets let him get on with the very serious task of fixing the horrific state of the nations finances.

  • Forgive the littany of typos in my last post. It is 4.40 AM.

  • i dont know why u are all complaining about tory press. Sadly the liberal democrats are now in the tory party and must not be surprised when they pay the price for that. I see CGT is on the way out. The tories will not bring that in and have a fairer taxation system. I understand that some people have been genuine in thinking that they can join with the tories and bring fairness but I remember all those years under tory government and they have not changed. Law can no longer front the cuts. Is Clegg too busy at Hay to support him –

  • the media did not invent the story – if you lie down with tigers dont be surprised if they eat you

  • The whole expenses ‘scandal’ is false and wrong on a number of levels, it demonstrates how little the public know or care about politics and politicians until money is involved and we are having our strings pulled by some self-righteous people at the Telegraph and elsewhere. I thought we had a system of law based on precedent and which was not retrospective – going back 2, 3 or 4 years and criticising expense claims made under the system and culture that was then the norm is wrong. A line should have drawn and members should have told from here on your claims will be subjected to scrutiny, these are the rules, and so on.

  • A line should have been drawn, I should have said.

  • Just on the point of the public perception of whether or not £40,000 is a lot of money, my daughter’s rent for a modest 2 bedroomed terraced house is £800 per month – somewhat more than £40,000 over five years, but a typical rent for such a property in the south of England. She is on housing benefit.

  • Silent Hunter 29th May '10 - 7:45am

    I don’t care a jot about his sexuality; that’s his business – I DO care that he has fiddled his expenses.

    He should be sacked; or the much vaunted “cleaning up of Parliament” will count for nought.

  • My only comment is to wish David and Jamie happiness together.

    They are both lovely people.

  • Richard Hill 29th May '10 - 7:52am

    Everybody on the fiddle justifies it in thier own mind. He has ripped of the taxpayers and now he should pay the price.

  • paula fields 29th May '10 - 8:16am

    How many people move house with their landlord? They are partners who, like i do, hold separate bank accounts and have separate social lives from their partner. If he was claiming housing benefit he would have been treated as a partner. He could not have claimed the mortgage because he wasn’t the owner; he was passing tax payers money to his partner who is the one who has been enriched by this arrangement. The details of the expenses proves that he is deceptive – did he really need £150 a month to clean the second bedroom? And aren’t repairs and maintenance the responsibility of the landlord? If you look at the details he was claiming for shared household expenses. Before we feel sorry for him we do have to remember this is not a hard-up family trying to make ends meet but two professional high earners. They desire the money for the purposes of luxury – luxuries, in this age of austerity, that they want to deny others. The coalition has rushed the cuts – cutting £65 billion in two weeks when most people would take longer to prune their household budgets carefully. The result, 10,000 fewer university places. David Laws put himself in charge and is denying university opportunities that would cost very little and would secure the future knowledge economy. I don’t think he is so very talented that we need to jump through hoops to defend him.

  • Those of you defending his position in this case really need to take a long look at yourselves. He has basically enriched his boyfriend via the public purse, joined in the chorus of disapproval of moats and porno videos, yet secretly been sustaining this shabby deceit. Worst of all though he has made gay relationships look furtive, unstable and grubby by his duplicitous behaviour, thereby giving ammunition to your new right wing bedfellows, (are they your spouses yet?). He must resign immediately

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th May '10 - 8:46am

    “IMO what David Laws has admitted to was in accordance with the spirit of the rules, although it was not in complete accordance with the actual rules themselves.
    This compares favorably with the numerous figures who have escaped censure for sticking within the letter of the law, while flagrantly abusing the generosity of the taxpayer.”

    The trouble is, when politicians abuse the system but don’t break the letter of the law, the defence is “It was within the rules”. And when they do break the rules, the defence is “There would have been a way of claiming just as much money within the rules”.

  • Am I the only one who honestly doesn’t care about MPs expenses? I didn’t care when the story first broke and I care even less now. Objectively in comparison to how much a country costs to run the expenses aren’t much and I don’t think that having … creative … expenditure claims is any more of a mark of corruption or betrayal than a politician lying. Which is more or less par from the course for a majority of them.

    Besides which, by the looks of things, either Laws isn’t breaking the letter of the law or he’s being snagged on a technicality. If I didn’t get angry at the MP who had the duck moat, or did up his house to look like a castle or Jacqui Smith’s husband’s porn I’m certainly not going to get riled over this.

  • gramsci's eyes 29th May '10 - 9:03am

    Mmmhhh Mr Axeman of the Treasury.

    I think you will find that if you went for a benefit claim then if you were living with someone and sharing a bed with them for a couple of years; then I think you would find you would be classified as a partner.

    If you wish your defence to be one of semantics then be aware that that too is open to interpretation. Let me think of a word that would describe someone who gives money to the person they are having sex with and also helps them get loans ect, but categorically the receiver, in the words of the tax funded giver, is not their partner in any sense. I think the definition would also point out that it is the oldest profession in the world.

    So do not treat us as fools with your Clinton defence. Why not just state the standard line of the rich and powerful. “it was a lapse of judgement”.

    It was a long judgement though wasn’t it. Weighing up the pros and cons of taking money from taxpayers when it was clearly against the spirit of the rules, filling in those pesky forms every year, rationalising that your suffering repressed psychology deserves the public money to support your public persona. But hey, it is not that much anyway, just the cost of a nurse. After all the interest on my bank accounts is a lot more than the money for my rent.

    Is that how the head talk went? Just a lapse of judgment, a systematic , fill those pesky forms in every year, lapse of judgement.

    Mind you it must have been a very anxious time during the expenses scandal. Such a lucky escape is only proof of my worth. But how soon it was over and on the debris you gifted us the light of the new politics. A new dawn to the sunny uplands of integrity for your followers. It would so work if only some of the flock did not look back. Don’t look you cry, there are only red wolves in the forest and the maggots in the fetid undergrowth of the media.

    “I have paid the money back I did nothing wrong” is your mantra. It should be Mea Maxima Culpa – your political epitaph

  • stuart fileding 29th May '10 - 9:07am

    DunKhan, it is about double standards, not anger. The problem with politicians, bankers, etc is that they think austerity is for others. In order, to be effective politicians need to be ‘of’ the people and this white, male, millionaire coalition is going to run in to trouble for this reason. There decision to introduce a ridiculous amendment to make men accused of rape anonymous is a simple demonstration of this – neither party had this in the manifesto and it implies that woman are liars. Only a cabinet of public school boys could come up with this on the spur of the moment.

  • i like laws, didn’t know it was a secret he was gay and hope that wont be an issue. I think that if he stays on we lose credibility, if he stands down then he de facto accepts guilt and we lose one of the most able politicians in one of the countries most difficult times.

    Neither of these are attractive options. Maybe under the guise of a new politics Clegg could declare a new approach. Laws remains in his post whilst the investigation continues (to a set and public timetable) but has his ministerial salary and any trappings stopped. This would at least defeat the argument that politicians are only in it for what they can get.

    I think that politicaly Clegg needs to be the one to take action if the reputation of the lib dems is not to be tarnished.

  • paula fields 29th May '10 - 9:13am

    I wonder when the standards commissioner probes will he look to see if there ever was a cleaner – or was this a lie? It certainly is odd when you look at the month by month expense accounts that the amount drops when he has to provide receipts. This also occurs with the other expenses. Having to provide receipts seemed to put the frighteners on. Can we really trust him – if it took transparency to force him to change his expenses claims. Is he really honourable?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th May '10 - 9:20am

    “It was completely LEGAL for him to claim this until it was decided that partners were an exemption – to stop claiming expenses would have been an admission that he is in a gay relationship with his “landlord”.”

    This really is an odd defence of someone who has broken the rules – if he hadn’t broken the rules it would have been an admission of … something that was true.

    But in any case, it’s a totally spurious defence. He did stop breaking the rules in September 2009, when he started renting a separate flat. And no one took that as an “admission” of anything.

  • I’m really sorry to see this. Now I believe David should resign.

    And Nick Clegg really should have a star chamber for his Cabinet nominees.

  • For all their huffing and puffing, none of the homophobic trolls posting in this thread has succeeded in pointing to anything that David Laws has done that is unlawful, against the rules or in any way wrong – unlike the “Torygraph’s” former proprietor, who is currently sitting on a slop-bucket in a Forida nick.

    What I find very, very perplexing is the choice of target and the timing. The “Torygraph” exists to promote the interests of the US military-industrial-petrochemical complex and its billionaire allies. It is inconceivable that this story would have been run without the express clearance of some very senior people in Washington. Why David Laws, and why now?

    David Laws is the Lib Dem politician whose actions are most in tune with the aims and objectives of the US elite. He is a devout free-marketeer, he is helping to prop up a Tory government, and he has power of life or death over specific spending programmes. Are there perhaps those within the US elite – on the military side, maybe – who consider that the (albeit temporary) reining in of the control agenda is too high a price to pay for a Tory government? Or has David indicated, on some social occasion in the presence of rich Americans, that he would not support war wthi Iran? And why now? The “Torygraph” could have run this story before the election with the possible result that the Tories had an extra MP from Yeovil.

    There is something we are not being told. What is it?

  • Andy R – I think that is probably the best thing that can be done. I am disappointed that he allowed himself to get outed like this, he must have known that it was going to come out. he should have declared it to the standards committee himself when the expenses scandal broke. Okay so he did not want people to know he was gay but its not as if its any big deal these days. I don’t think he should resign, he should ride the storm.

  • gramsci's eyes 29th May '10 - 9:29am

    Fear not followers I have words from the very mouth of our beloved David. From his very own website, “the book of Laws” supplied by the brethren of Yeovil and their holy website.

    It is written : “The crisis over MPs expenses has been hugely damaging to confidence in British politics and politicians, and Parliament needs to act swiftly to introduce all of the recommendations of the Kelly Review. These must not be watered down in any way.” “But I will continue to be as prudent as I can with my own personal expenses, and this is what local residents expect from all MPs.”

    I read nothing followers on the holy site about the Serpent of Tempations or the Dark Lords of the Media. Fear not though, the Oracle of Ribble Valley predicts they just might get mentioned in the expected new translation of our most holiest of books. “The Blessed New Politics”.

    All blessings on the Dear Leader Nick and Homage to the Great Leader Cam- il Ron (but you can call me Dave).

  • What I would like to know, is how long have the Telegraph sat on this story?, and why they have released it now?

  • Sir Alistair Graham on Sky News says Laws should step down..


    Can’t help thinking he’s right…

  • Nishma, Harrow 29th May '10 - 9:35am

    Firstly, £950 a month rent in London is cheap, especially where David was renting. He would have had to pay someone. Does it matter if it was his ‘partner’?

    We have no idea or any right to judge the status of his relationship, only he and Jamie know this.

    What worries me most is that a whole string of Lib Dem men have felt the need to hide their sexuality, Simon Hughes,Mark Oaten etc.I appreciate all these men are of an age where it may have been unacceptable to their parents or other family members, but I am sad that they have gone through most of their lives having to hide an important aspect of their lives.

    David has a brilliant mind and I hope stays and gets the opportunity to apply it.

  • DunKhan – I totally agree with you on the expenses, it was never a big deal to me. There are double standards everywhere, how many people would not be doing the same if they had the chance? How many people are complaining about this and are avoiding tax, How many people are complaining and cheating the benefits system? I cannot stand the holier than thou attitude.

  • Great to see that at least some Lib Dems are remaining consistent with the principles they showed when the expenses storm first hit. The rest of you, spinning furiously, flip-flopping, taking positions you would absolutely never do if this was a Tory or Labour Minister are a disgrace. Accusations of homophobia! Claiming that Laws has to stay ‘in the national interest’! What a convenient get-out. What exactly would someone have to do for their departure to outweigh the national interest – eat babies?

  • Sesenco

    I can tell you exactly what was “wrong” with his actions. he has enriched his lover from the public purse in a way which would have been undeniable had the relationship been a heterosexual one, but because he wished to cloak his love life in secrecy he was able to rent rooms from his “landlord” in a way which is directly against the rules. The real shame about this is that it plays up the the prejudices of true homophobes who believe that gay relationships are unstable, dishonest, shady. The attempts of so many on here to defend his position simply shows how quickly you have become adept at twisting facts to keep power.

  • paula fields 29th May '10 - 9:44am

    Posters who are critical are not homophobic and it is a cheap accusation; that he was sharing with a same sex partner enabled him to hide the relationship and make the expense claims – apart from that it is not relevant. It is disappointing that he his his sexuality in an era which was opening up the right of gay people to live openly together. I was bought up prior to the 1967 act and I can understand the fear of homosexuals then but not now. Now it is important to be honest so that the clock is not turned back – and Laws failed to see the social importance of this. If you have an embarrassing disability you can’t hide – so why should a priviliged man hide? I don’t like this. We used to say the personal is political and that was the climate in David Laws youth. I find the idea that the Telegraph was sitting on this story unlikely. I suspect it came to light and it was too good a story to miss – I suspect they are disappointed because they have relished David as an axeman.

  • “Had he and James behaved as a couple, there would have been no issue about him claiming money to have somewhere to live in London.”

    If they had behaved as a couple, there certainly would have been an issue about him claiming money to pay to his partner. The rules prohibit it. The options were:

    1) Keep relationship private. Don’t claim money to pay partner.
    2) Be open about relationship. Don’t claim money to pay partner.
    3) Be open about relationship. Claim money for paying rent to someone other than your partner.
    4) Keep relationship private. Claim money to pay partner. Hope you don’t get found out. If you do, try to spin it by claiming your interpretation of ‘partner’ is different.

    Unluckily, David Laws chose the last option.

  • @ David, looks to me like proof that they do not care at all for the good of the country, or democracy, they are desperately trying to hang on to the “old politics”, for the good of the party that they support. They are however taking the route of selecting elements of someone’s private life, and prejudicing public opinion against them. I believe this can be done to anybody, and I certainly believe that it is possible to do it to many Conservative M.P.’s, the difference is that the Telegraph do not want to do it to one of them.

  • N Makhno,

    David Laws has not enriched his lover. The money he claimed was LESS than the market value of the property he was renting, and LESS than most MPs claim. In any event, David Laws was perfectly entitled to claim these sums.

    Now, perhaps you would care to enlighten us as to how you feel about four Labour MPs (three former and one serving) going on trial was actual FRAUD arising out of their expenses claims? Any fulminations? Any mock moral indignation?

    And you might also tell us how you feel about the Labour Party’s flag being soaked, not in the blood of its martyred dead, but the blood of 1.3 million Iraqis.

  • Sesenko

    I am sorry but under the rules you cannot claim rent which is paid to your partner. Is that or is that not what he did?

  • So if I’ve understood it correctly, the taxpayer is quids in on this and David Laws has just helped pay down the deficit a bit further with an extra 40,000?

  • stuart fileding 29th May '10 - 10:10am

    If David Laws was an honest man he would have sought confidential advice in 2006 when the rules changed. He would have asked if his relationship appeared spousal or if they could be deemed to lead separate lives and therefore not partners. He could have done this without revealing his sexuality. There is no defence in law of not knowing – a benefit claimant would be expected to reveal the nature of the relationship or risk being found guilt of fraud. To defend him by bleating on about those in the labour party with their hands in the till is hypocritical.
    There is something sad about this party that gays hide in the closet in order to reach positions of power – whilst there are no women in leadership positions. The party smells of hypocrisy in this too. You are not the socially open party you think you are. I voted lib dem in 1997 and following elections – but not anymore – you don’t know what you are getting.

  • At the very least, Laws should step aside until the Parliamentary Commissioner has investigated.

  • @Sesenco.

    Your attempts to spin and deflect are looking a little embarrassing.

    “In any event, David Laws was perfectly entitled to claim these sums.”

    No, he wasn’t. You cannot claim money to pay to a partner.

    “enlighten us as to how you feel about four Labour MPs (three former and one serving) going on trial”

    They deserve everything that is thrown at them.

    “you might also tell us how you feel about the Labour Party’s flag being soaked, not in the blood of its martyred dead, but the blood of 1.3 million Iraqis.”

    The war was wrong. What relevance does that have to this issue? Are are you suggesting that as long as the coalition doesn’t take us into war, Lib Dem and Tory MPs are beyond reproach for any other issue? How odd.

  • @stuart fileding
    A benefit claimant would be deemed not to be living with someone “as if they were married” if they maintained separate banking arrangements, and different social lives.

    I do think that if it turns out all David Laws has to do is pay the money back, then when people are found guilty of making fraudulent benefits claims, then the same standard should apply.

  • “a benefit claimant would be expected to reveal the nature of the relationship or risk being found guilt of fraud.”

    Quite. I’m certainly looking forward to the Lib Dems pressing their Tory partners for changes in benefit rules which allow flexible and unconventional relationships to stay beyond the reach of claims investigators. After all, if ‘we’re not partners’ is a good enough excuse for millionaire David Laws to claim rent payments for someone he sleeps with, why not a struggling benefit claimant in Hackney?

  • “A benefit claimant would be deemed not to be living with someone “as if they were married” if they maintained separate banking arrangements, and different social lives.”

    Have you ever been subjected to the sort of investigation that claimants have to go through to prove this?

  • @Alix

    “I can only assume that you just don’t accept that people can have different views to yours on what constitutes a partnership.”

    Well, you assume wrong.


  • N Makhno and Peter,

    David Laws did not rent property from his partner, in fact he did not have a partner, as both of you well know.


    You are pontificating from the fake moral vantage point of belonging to a political party that claims to be the party of organised labour, when in fact it has proved in office to be every bit as unprincipled a tool of international economic and military elites as the Tories.

    David Laws hasn’t started an illegal war, he hasn’t lied to Parliament, he hasn’t sold peerages. He has acted honestly and properly and has kept to the rules. You, or I, might not like what he is doing as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, but he is doing nothing that is not consistent with his well-known and undisguised free-market beliefs.

    Remind me how many votes Labour got in Yeovil?

  • @ Alix

    Sorry, bit of a rude response. I hate it when people say ‘I assume you think…’

    Basically, I do probably agree with you. But I think that where I use ‘partner’ I would just as comfortably use f***buddy’ (I’m gay, I do know about other types of relationship!). I simply don’t think an MP should be paying public money into the pocket of someone they sleep with, however infrequently and whatever the domestic set-up. And I expect them to realise that it is inappropriate. Especially when they are about to embark on a round of cuts to public services.

  • “You are pontificating from the fake moral vantage point of belonging to a political party that claims to be the party of organised labour”

    I can’t speak for N Makhno, but please point me to the evidence that I belong to the Labour Party. Any chance of an apology?

    And as I just said to Alix, Forget ‘partner’, how about ‘f***buddy’? Does that make him claiming the cash ok? Within the terms of the rules, yes, But ethically?

  • Clearly I’m a bit thick, because my understanding of the phrase “on the fiddle” is when someone lies in order to make more money than they’re entitled to. But apparently David Laws is “on the fiddle” for lying to keep his personal life private and in the process made less money than he would have been entitled to if he’d declared James as his partner. Shows just how low some sections of the press and parliament will stoop.

    My real confusion though is with a system of rules so moronic that it prohibits rent payments to “partners”. So if you’re sleeping with someone they should give you free accomodation? Interesting – I’ll have to suggest that to my boyfriend later, I could do with the extra cash… Not sure he’ll go for it though!

  • @Catherine
    “My real confusion though is with a system of rules so moronic that it prohibits rent payments to “partners”

    Out of interest, do you think the same about housing benefit rules?

  • It’s also occured to me that surely any relationship where you feel obliged to pay rent to your boyfriend can’t really be called a spousal one.


    I’m not at all sure about that (with regard to politicians) – would you propose massively increasing their salaries and expenses when the economy is good? Surely you’d be guilty of double standards yourself if you want to impose a little extra austerity on MPs but aren’t willing to give them extra prosperity when things recover for the rest of us. As far as I’m concerned, having their expenses tied to the state of the economy isn’t really very viable and although the expenses system shouldn’t have been so open to abuse in the first place I can’t really place the blame at the politicians feet for taking advantage of such a flawed system.

    When the (admittedly lax) rules were adhered but stretched to their limit it it’s just slightly abusing the perks of the job – equivalent to using the company car on some non-company business, claiming a first-class rail ticket on the company card, using your employee discount for your friends, optimistically interpreting how much the contents of that suitcase your lost was actually worth. Even if it involves much larger sums of money the class of wrong-doing of the expenses scandal is of an everyday variety that plenty of ordinary people do themselves and don’t bat an eyelid about.

    Bankers are a different story – my issue with them is that they constantly push for more unregulated markets but when they run up on a reef suddenly they aren’t so bothered about the free market libertarian stuff any more and want government funding to help them completely fail to even attempt to adapt as they should under a free market. As their business is so important sadly the government has no choice but to accept their blazen hypocricy and bail out their business. I also think the idea of investment banking introduces variables that are essentially random into capitalism and so make the success or even survival (re: Cadburys) of businesses tied to things which have nothing to do with what the business is actually doing – which sort of defeats the whole point of capitalism.

    Anonymity for rape cases is sort of a completely different topic but, oh well, I’ll bite. The proposal was made at a conference a few years ago, I don’t know why it resurfaced. The idea behind it was not to imply that women are liars so much as to improve the prospects of those who actually were falsely accused. Of course, in my view, the rape conviction rate is so low that I think that if you’re looking at that area of the law then you really have bigger fish to fry – the rate of false accusation isn’t really the biggest problem.

    Imo, if you are going to have anonymity for defendants you should really have it with all serious crimes or only for high profile cases (and regardless of the crime). An old (but not close) friend of mine is on trial for murder and I suspect that if he is shown to be innocent that he’s not exactly going to be able to just pick up where he left off any more than if it was a rape case.


    Glad I’m not alone in this! 🙂

  • Even though I hope Laws survives this, I am somewhat surprised at the blase attitude of many of his supporters on this blog. The truth is that Clegg, rather stupidly, tried to make hay out of the relatively better record in the expenses scandal of Lib Dem MPs against Tory and Labour ones. This incident is coming back to bite Clegg, more than Laws himself. And as this coalition seeks to be above reproach and to be seen to be above reproach, it does raise a very difficult questionas to how Laws should be treated. Any cold, unbiased analysis of the situation would result in the same finding. If Laws is left en poste, Clegg takes a hit on this question. If he is expelled from government, we all take a hit by losing a talent who is perfectly placed at a time of national difficulty.

    So, in the end, I blame Clegg 😉

  • gramsci's eyes 29th May '10 - 10:58am

    Aaah Senseco – I see you can only turn to the tactics used in the politics of Ulster for 30 years – They call it “whataboutary”. It is the only defence when your position is bankrupt.

  • Sesenko

    So this hinges on the definition of “partner”. It has already been pointed out that you seem to require a much more ‘liberal’ definition of the term for a millionaire than for a poor benefit claimant, and maybe for a gay man than a heterosexual one, all so that he can claim money which would otherwise have been rightly denied to him and his “landlord.” Please, my political affiliations are irrelevant here, the fact is he has been claiming large sums of money which would have been denied him and his “landlord” had they been open about their relationship. It stinks and he must go.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th May '10 - 10:59am

    “… in fact he did not have a partner, as both of you well know.”

    They had been living together for ten years and had had a sexual relationship for eight years. Obviously the rules were intended to cover people in that situation. It’s just ridiculous to claim otherwise.

    How much ice do you think that argument would cut if Laws were an ordinary benefit claimant, rather than a parliamentary one?

  • welcome to the new politics, same as the old politics…

    it’s a tragic personal situation for david laws and i feel a lot of sympathy for the guy. i don’t think he’s acted out of personal gain and it’s certainly not as bad as all the house flipping, false invoices etc. however, it smells bad, and if you have to start nitpicking over the definition of ‘partner’ then you’re really beginning to lose the argument.

    here’s the test for nick clegg – laws is a key component in the coalition, to get rid of him will undermine its stabilitiy. but to let him stay will destroy any good faith he has with the public on cleaning up politics. cameron and brown copped out when it came to the expenses scandel, sacrificing the expendable backbenches while excusing frontbenchers who did the same or worse. it’s a terrible decision to make, but i think clegg has to be bold, act quick and remove laws before his hand is forced by media/public pressure, or cameron beats him to it.

  • @Peter – yes, I absolutely do. If two (or indeed more!) people want to live together they shouldn’t be penalised financially for it. I don’t give a toss whether they’re sleeping together or not. I don’t care whether they love each other, like each other, are indifferent to each other, or can’t stand each other (though the latter might make for an interesting home environment). It’s none of my business, or the benefit agency’s business.

    And although I haven’t had time to scrutinise this section of the coalition agreement , I think that’s what is meant by “ending the couple penalty”? I don’t agree with sponsoring people to get married/civil partnered, but nor do I agree with effectively charging people more money if they’re living together – surely the tax/benefit system should be completely neutral about people’s personal relationships?

    IMO, everyone is morally entitled to a certain amount of financial support if they can’t meet their own housing costs. That amount should be determined by how much it costs to buy a reasonable standard of accomodation in the general area they live. If they’re willing to accept a lower standard of accomodation by sharing their living space (and possibly bed space) with a partner, then that’s their choice.

  • stuart fileding 29th May '10 - 11:07am

    DunKhan, I don’t disagree about bankers but think the politicians come from the same elite. They expect to have their hands in the till but think others should be hounded and punished. They think it is OK if they just give back the money if caught whereas the benefit claimant should go to prison. So David Laws didn’t have receipts and his claim went down once asked to provide them! My point about the plan to change the rape law was to illustrate that policy making on the hoof (not in any manifesto) is bad policy-making and that this arrogant and elitist white male cabinet is going to fail because of this. NuLabour failed because of its authoritarianism and because Gordon over-rated his worth. But it is this elitism that will be the death of the coalition – it will become more and more rotten – however, long it takes, I can’t see how it can renew itself after such a flawed start in terms of people at the top.

  • @Catherine

    “IMO, everyone is morally entitled to a certain amount of financial support if they can’t meet their own housing costs.”

    The man is a multi millionaire. If he was so adamant about keeping his private life private, then he should have footed the bill himself. I know of many people who will forego benefits because they feel the information requested is too intrusive. That’s a price they are willing to pay. Why wasn’t Laws willing to do the same?

  • @ N Makhno

    “Please, my political affiliations are irrelevant here”

    I fear that will fall on deaf ears. Sesenko appears to regard him/herself as some kind of Trollfinder General, determined to persecute all non true-believers by reference to an imagined political position. Like some kind of twisted progeny of Stalin and Joe McCarthy.

  • Paul McKeown 29th May '10 - 11:20am

    I’m glad I slept on this before posting further.

    The number of “haha, up yours,” posts is an inditement of the partisan nature of our political discourse. And those posters making dirty little innuendos, they are sick dogs.

    David Laws has asked the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to investigate and report on his expenses claims in relation to this matter. We should wait to hear what the Commissioner has to say on this matter, further comment is pointless speculation, overly emotional, or mere politicking at this point.

    There is a prima facie case to suspect that the rules governing parliamentary expenses are neither rational nor fair. Those rules should be carefully examined to establish whether or not that is or is not the case, and if so what modification what be appropriate. This should take place when the furore has died down.

    My sincere hope is that David Laws will be absolved or that the Commissioner will find a technical breach or that Laws has broken the rules established but that the rules themselves were not fair or were discrimatory. If this is the verdict, then it would be a blessing for our nation in these bleak economic times. His talents are sorely needed and the public has felt reassured to have someone with such an obvious command of financial matters in the role of Chief Secretary to the Treasury. If, however, the Commissioner’s verdict is more negative than this, then Laws should leave parliament. There would be no point waiting for the inevitable recall.

    I wish David Laws the very best of good fortune, whatever the eventual outcome of this matter.

    I would recommend that he should make a public donation to a charity that helps gay men and women deal with the thorny issue of coming out. I am not surprised that it remains a problem, but it is a sad state of affairs. I would also recommend that he should deal very openly with the painful personal issues involved; the public would be for the greater part sympathetic, and it would almost certainly help other people (including parents) dealing with similar issues.

  • @ Peter “A benefit claimant would be deemed not to be living with someone “as if they were married” if they maintained separate banking arrangements, and different social lives.”

    Have you ever been subjected to the sort of investigation that claimants have to go through to prove this?”

    Yes I have.

  • @ jayu – I was talking about housing benefit, not suggesting that David Laws himself didn’t have enough money.

    The reason David, along with ALL non-London MPs, are entitled to claim money for accomodation is because their job requires them to live in two places, thus incurring double the housing costs. The fact that he was living with someone he was also sleeping with should be completely irrelevant. So f*ing what? If he had bought another house and charged the taxpayer £1700 a month for the mortgage (like another millionaire also called David did) and then James had moved in with him, nobody would even be talking about this. But no, he lives in James’ house, charges the taxpayer for a rather modest £950 a month, tries to keep a modicum of privacy and parts of the media call for his head. It’s pathetic.

    The man is a multi millionaire. If he was so adamant about keeping his private life private, then he should have footed the bill himself.

    Because if MPs stop claiming second home allowances that will ultimately mean politics is closed to people without the money to “foot the bill themselves”. The wealthy can afford not to claim the second home allowance. The poor cannot. If you really want millionaire MPs to waive their entitlements then don’t complain when we end up with MPs who are only in parliament because they can afford to buy their seats. Personally, I’d prefer people to be elected for their personal qualities, not because they’re rich enough to say “I won’t claim any expenses”.

  • @Catherine

    Let me pose this question to you, that I also posted on the other thread.

    Supposing he was heterosexual, and had a wife. Him and his wife had a very open relationship, and he had a long term mistress. Now let’s say he chose to ‘rent’ a room in his mistress’ home. In order to keep his private life private, he decides not to reveal the true extent of his relationship with his ‘landlady’. Would you still be defending him?

  • @RCM
    “A benefit claimant would be deemed not to be living with someone “as if they were married” if they maintained separate banking arrangements, and different social lives.”

    “Have you ever been subjected to the sort of investigation that claimants have to go through to prove this?”

    “Yes I have.”

    In that case, you should know that it is much more complicated than simply ‘maintaining separate banking arrangements and different social lives”. Although you may have perhaps been lucky. I have worked with claimants who have been deemed ‘partners’ despite having separate addresses, on the grounds that one spends 4 nights a week at the other’s flat. Routinely people are asked how many times they have sex with each other, as this is presumed to be an indication of their relationship status. Home investigations are common, in which 2 people living in a one-bedroom flat are deemed partners because it is not believed possible that they could share a bed without being in a relationship, or that one could sleep on the sofa. It is not as black and white as you appear to suggest.

    I hope therefore that those supporting the right of David Laws to have the rules interpreted in his favour, since he does not consider his relationship to be spousal or partnership in nature, will be vigorous in their pursuit of changing the rules and practices of local authorities with regard to housing benefit, so that the poorest in society are accorded the same dignity.

  • @ jayu

    Provided he weren’t double-claiming on his expenses, yes of course I’d support that – i.e. if his wife lived at his constituency home which he paid for himself, but he claimed rent for a second home in London, but happened to be sleeping with the landlady. What would be wrong with that? How would that be unfair to the taxpayer? If he weren’t sleeping with his landlady, he still have to pay rent somewhere else, which the taxpayer would fund.

    I’m genuinely baffled at this apparent notion that one person in a couple gets away with not paying anything towards housing costs. I live with my partner, in a flat that he has owned since before we met, but naturally I pay rent. It would never occur to me that I should get to live here for free – that would be a bizarre arrangement, and I don’t know of anyone amongst my friends, acquaintances, family or work colleagues who hasn’t contributed to the costs of accomodation they share with their partner. I mean seriously – does anyone here have such an arrangement?

    Although I must admit that would be a fun slogan for prospective MPs: “vote for me – I’m sexy enough to seduce my landlady and get her to waive my rent so you won’t have to pay my expenses”.

  • @ Colin Ross
    “He did wrong – and I am surprised so many people are defending him, would you if he was a Tory or Labour?”

    If a story with such an unbalanced perspective, and such suspicious timing, had been published by the Mirror, or various papers had done the same to Labour, then, yes. I would be less personally concerned about the political consequences to those parties, because I do not choose to support them. My support of the Liberal Democrat Party is based on agreement with the principles of liberalism, not some delusion that all Lib Dems are perfect.

  • @Catherine

    You seem to be missing the point. Since 2006 it has been against the parliamentary rules to make any payments to partners from expenses. The rules do not state that the partner has to foot the whole of the bill. The rules do not state that the MP is entitled to live cost free at the expense of the partner. This private arrangement between Laws and his partner should have been paid out of his own private purse not the public one,which would be the same for heterosexual partners.

  • I don’t think this is actually a very serious issue. If he had been on the mortgage then he’d have been able to claim the same money.

    If he has to go over this then its total double standards given the number of home flippers that stayed in the Cabinet under Labour when that is a much clearer abuse of the system for financial gain at the public’s expense

  • His sexuality is of course irrelevant, but don’t you despair that with the election only a few weeks gone, the MPs are back in the headlines with their sleazy behaviour over their expenses claims…

  • @ Dom

    thing is, he wasn’t claiming it to keep his life private, he was claiming it to pay rent for the place he lived. The only reason it wasn’t legitimate is because he wanted to keep his private life private, had he not wanted to maintain his privacy and declared his relationship he would have been entitled to claim it anyway.

    This seems a far cry from the other expense scandals, where MP’s were using the rules to make money whilst not breaking them, whereas here we have a man who was using and claiming expenses for the very reasons they were meant to be, but fell foul of the technicalities of how he could claim due to understandable personal reasons.

    We have MP’s who didn’t break rules but abused them for personal gain, and now an MP who did break the rules but didn’t make any personal gain, paying £920 a month sounds almost exactly like the kind of cost one person would incur if sharing a house in London, I know a few people in London who may consider this a bit on the cheap side.

  • @ Colin Ross
    “He did wrong – and I am surprised so many people are defending him, would you if he was a Tory or Labour?”

    Yes, if their circumstances were similar of course I would. As with all the other expense cases it’s the principle, not the letter of the law which is important to me.

  • @ Jayu

    “Supposing he was heterosexual, and had a wife. Him and his wife had a very open relationship, and he had a long term mistress. Now let’s say he chose to ‘rent’ a room in his mistress’ home. In order to keep his private life private, he decides not to reveal the true extent of his relationship with his ‘landlady’. Would you still be defending him?”

    So what you’re asking is “If the circumstances were different to those which are actually the case, would you still support him?” Seems a strange thing to ask, and I don’t really see why it’s relevant.

  • but people; what did he REALLY do wrong

    he actually SAVED the taxpayer money by renting a room. even if they were sleeping together in the same room he still needed somewhere to stay, and this is much cheaper than a mortgage AND cheaper than a hotel

    you bigots on here CANNOT win BOTH ways…x

  • It will be a very sad thing indeed if we have to lose someone of obvious talent and ability simply because he wanted to keep his sexuality a matter of private concern rather than public attention.

    The truths as I see them:

    1. He was entitled to expenses for staying in London as any MP who has a constituancy further afield is due.
    2. £920 a month is from what I know of London costs a reasonable expense for sharing a house
    3. Had he decided to publicly admit his relationship he would have been entitled to claim this cost under a different rule.

    In my mind these pretty much clear him from a moral point of view. There was no need for any of this unless it was to maintain privacy, as he didn’t claim anything he wasn’t entitled to in some other way. Also he wasn’t claiming a cost that was unreasonable for accommodation… £920 a month, there are some flats near Cambridge station which cost more than that to rent.

    To hound a man out of office for claiming ridiculous and outrageous costs is one thing, to do it to someone competent, especially given how difficult his position is to do, purely because he wanted some privacy in his life, is quite another, and unacceptable.

  • Well all those saying Clegg or Cameron has to get rid of him… there is another choice.

    Clegg should defend him publically, take on the pathetically biased media and go and use some of this new found public recognition to actually argue against the papers and put the case that the guy didn’t morally do anything wrong, that he retains his principles and is there fore fit to remain at his post… after all, we gave MP’s a lot of crap for not breaking the rules but acting immorally (and rightly so), why shouldn’t we support to someone who did break the rules but didn’t act immorally?

  • There is something very wrong about this millionaire claiming tax payers money whilst at the same time ruthlessly telling many workers they have to put up with cuts and job losses. By supporting spending cuts now we will dip into a depression and it will be the private sector who suffer most as people cut back on spending (ie. in recent months I have found myself buying clothes and shoes from chairty shops, making my own sandwiches for work rather than keeping the sandwich shop in business, drastically cutting down my spend in the local pub, doing without a holiday abroad this year, totally stopping buying CD’s and instead joining my local music library – 8 CD’s a day for £32 a year, my iPod will be packed!, doing without my morning paper, using only Tesco and the like for shopping and going for as many “half price” and “get one free” deals as I can. The knock on effect to the economy when we all start behaving like this will be massive. Meanwhile, the rich will get tax cuts. Nice.

    The slogan “we’re all in this together” is sick and patronising – we are not all in this together – 23 of the cabinet are millionaires who will not be affected by any cuts made or the pathetic 5% cut in their wages.

    Self-serving hypocrics the lot of them. That’s the last time I vote Lib-Dem. Talk about meet the news boss – same as the old boss.

  • Stuart Mitchell 29th May '10 - 2:43pm

    I have great sympathy for Laws as a person. Anybody who, in this day and age, feels the need to conceal his sexuality from family and friends clearly has some deep personal problems. I wish him well in coping with them.

    But the suggestion that his espenses claims were somehow necessary to protect his privacy is risible. To excuse him this clear breach of the rules, when you have just spent months crucifying Labour and Tory politicians for offences which in many cases were much more trivial, would be political double standards of the worst possible kind. Laws MUST go – any remotely objective person can see that.

    If Laws is allowed to stay, then all this sanctimonious rhetoric about “cleaning up politics” will come to cause nothing but humiliation for the government.

  • Malcolm Todd 29th May '10 - 2:50pm

    @John Gray – you realise that “doing without a holiday abroad this year” will actually help the British economy rather than hurt it? For which, of course, we all thank you. (Unless it was just thoughtless, LibDem-bashing rhetoric, in which case we just snigger gently at you.)

  • I wish people stopped comparing this to the Benefits rule.
    the reason for the Benefit rules is that Benefits are MEANS TESTED whilst MP expenses are not (though I don’t agree with the benefit rule anyway, because why should a partner be expected to subsidise the other? Especially when both are paying taxes separately. I lived for 4 years with a boyfriend who was paying HIS mortgage, and I was contributing by paying the day to day bills. Despite the fact he was working (albeit on low pay) and I was first a student then unemployed (not claiming benefit, different country and system anyway), I never thought I should have a free ride.).

  • john Hoffman 29th May '10 - 2:58pm

    This is the most wonderful kerfuffle! Money and sex–and gay money and sex at that!

    And important people. Well, one of them is important. I look forward to tabloid revelations about Laws’ (non) partner.

    Imagine a man living with his girlfriend, helping to pay the mortgage or rent, plus maintenance expenses, plus having sex. They lead separate ‘social lives’–she likes chick flicks and nights out with the girls; he prefers football games and few pints at the pub. Sensibly, they maintain separate bank accounts.

    They maintain they are not partners nor spouses because they are intensely ‘private’ and their mums don’t approve.

    You think anyone in a benefits office–or whatever–would fall for this?

    Two more points:

    1. Laws has already admitted to a financial interest in the second flat–although he has omitted to specify what it is:

    “In June 2007, James bought a new home in London and I continued to claim back my share of the costs. I extended the mortgage on my Somerset property, for which I do not claim any allowances or expenses, to help James purchase the new property.”

    Oh! Isn’t this what any lodger does when his landlord moves to new, much more expensive place? Help foot the bill? Perhaps, if the landlord is also your boyfriend, which out of intense privacy regarding your Mums you refuse to admit.

    2. When receipts for maintenance, etc, were suddenly required in 2006, Laws’ claims fell precipitously. Did he suddenly cut his out goings? Who believes that?

    No, he was fiddling his expenses, at our expense. When he couldn’t do it any longer he stopped.

    I may be wrong.

    But he could easily refute me by publishing his receipts for the claims prior to 2006.

    Any bets this paragon of Liberal integrity will?

  • It would be wisest not to say too much until the heat cools. My first reaction was along the lines of ‘how could such an intelligent man have thought that claiming expenses in this way would deflect attention indefinitely from his living arrangements?’ (expletives omitted!!). However, the reality is that there was no fuss about expenses while he was claiming the money and there are many arguments identified in the comments above to support the view that he was not acting improperly (except in a limited technical sense).

    I am much more worried about the damage this might do to the coalition’s standing in the eyes of the public. Coming only hours after the incredible stupidity of someone in No. 10 trying to get changes to the BBC TV Question Time panel, it feels like our senior politicians have learned nothing from recent events.

    I sincerely hope that ALL government ministers will review ALL aspects of their lives, financial and otherwise, to see what might bounce back at them when revealed in the press.

  • I’m a Labour supporter and voter and personally the longer he tries to cling to power the better for us as it will just get more and more embarrassing for the coalition government. Cameron will obviously tell Clegg that he has to get rid of him and I would expect an announcement by Monday. How can he ever stand up in the Commons and justify cut-backs he won’t be howled down just laughed out of the place,

    As to those who say it ‘s old news what a load of tosh – this level of rip-off would have hit the headlines at any time. As to the sexuality issue then if he wanted it private then fine but why make the claim – he is independently wealthy and his partner doesn’t seem to be short of a bob or two.

    And the aqrgument that he could have claimed more if he had been open about the partnership is fatuous – he wanted it secret. Have any of you actually thought about the threat of blackmail that he was exposing himself to – what would he have done in those circumstances. Would he have paid-up or provided valuable info to the blackmailer – who knows? He has shown that at his core he is weak and with his government position he could have cost the country dearly.

    But I’m sure there’s more to come when his earlier claims for utility bills are trawled over – especially as they dropped significantly when receipts became necessary – this one has a long way to run and the media scent blood.

    By the way my partner has just advised we are ‘divorced’ as we don’t have a joint bank account and we pursue separate social lives and unlike Laws I didn’t extend my mortgage to let her buy a bigger house. I think this part of the excuse is the one that annoys me most as he is painting himself as a simpleton and even I am [prepared to accept that he isn’t that.

    Still I suppose Laws and his partner will be elegible for Cameron’s partner allowance now lol.

  • Oh, and I forgot to say – Laws has lied to family, friends and associates for years about his true self. Is this really the behaviour that we expect from a senior British politician who has obviously been leading a double life of deceit for a decade at least.

    Of course he is entitled to a private life but we all know that when you enter public service that right is basically extinguished and your life becomes an open book.

    Also, Laws didn’t come clean until he was trapped in a corner by the Telegraph – if he had had the courage to be open without being pressured into it then I certaily would have had some respect for him but he would still have needed to resign.

  • First things first: this poor guy is in a terrible position, he must be feeling dreadful. But that’s as a person.

    As politician in the current situation with everyone knowing about te focus on expenses and the public’s disillusion with politics and politicians, he should have known better. And he should have acted differently.

    As for the “new politics”, purleeez!

    Tom Harris has a number of pertinent questions for Mr Laws.. here..


    He should try to answer them….

  • Before I got cut off earlier this afternoon by the sheer volume of traffic, I was in the process of answering a Labour troll who insisted that the Liberal Democrats are not “morally superior” as he says we claim to be. Here is my answer:

    The Liberal Democrats ARE morally superior to the Labour and Conservative parties. That is because the Liberal Democrats, alone among the major parties, refused to go along with Cheney’s illegal war for oil in Iraq that killed £1.3 million people and fuelled Islamist terrorism. We are an independent political party and we base what we do on fundamental values. Unlike our main opponents, we are not the toilet-paper of North American oligarchs.

    One of the Labour trolls has tried to distance himself from the billionaire worshipping, war criminal element within his party by saying he doesn’t go with the New Labour Project – even though, presumably, he was happy to serve under 16 years of Blair and Brown. What does he go with, then? Comrade Enver Hoxha’s scientific doctrine? This is a serious point, not just a partisan jibe. The Labour Party needs to decide what it is for. Being against the government is not enough. It has to have a purpose in life, and having ditched socialism, and Blair/Mandelsonism about to get the postumous chop courtesy of the two Eds, it doesn’t appear to have one.

  • @ STUART

    Again, I’m afraid I can’t agree on that one – a certain subsect of both groups have a great capability for amorality and selfishness and both groups have claimed for public money recently but imo the similarities end there. My issue with bankers in general is more what I had talked about earlier regarding introducing random variables into the equation. Recently my issue has been that after living by the sword they refuse to die from it – they widely espouse libertarian ideals of deregulation and therefore “increased competitiveness” – knowing full well that under that system the weak do and should die, Suddenly when the last hoorah comes and everything is falling apart around their heads they realise the error of their ways and do all they can to avoid the consequences.

    I can see the parallel you are trying to make but I’m not sure it applies in this case. From here it looks like he’s within the letter of the law, if not necessarily the spirit of it. A benefits claimant who claimed falsely who was within the letter of the law but not in the spirit of it would be let off. Abuse of a system isn’t something I approve of but it’s not something that is so wrong that I can bring myself to care about if the consequences to whoever loses out aren’t large particularly in politics where the need to toe the party line to have any real success in the field necessitates a substantial deal of dishonesty anyway. I see no reason to get flustered about the expenses in particular when a greater deal of hypocricy, lies, dishonesty etc. occurs just in the day to day business of politics – it’s also sadly unavoidable.

    The rape law wasn’t made on the hoof – it had been proposed a long time previously and was just brought up again. It’s not a good policy but I wouldn’t call it policy on the hoof. It’s something that was discussed extensively at an earlier date.
    “DunKhan, I don’t disagree about bankers but think the politicians come from the same elite. They expect to have their hands in the till but think others should be hounded and punished. They think it is OK if they just give back the money if caught whereas the benefit claimant should go to prison. So David Laws didn’t have receipts and his claim went down once asked to provide them! My point about the plan to change the rape law was to illustrate that policy making on the hoof (not in any manifesto) is bad policy-making and that this arrogant and elitist white male cabinet is going to fail because of this. NuLabour failed because of its authoritarianism and because Gordon over-rated his worth. But it is this elitism that will be the death of the coalition – it will become more and more rotten – however, long it takes, I can’t see how it can renew itself after such a flawed start in terms of people at the top.”

  • @Peter – yes I do know that it is more complicated than simply having separate money arrangements and social lives – but I know when my own relationship with someone was investigated, those two standards were used, they were not all that was applied, but they were included.

    If you are concerned about the arbitrary nature of some judgements on benefits claimants, and the system being so complicated and out of date, you might want to consider not allowing the Daily Telegraph to tell you what to think – I do not believe that they are in this to help innocent folk who have found themselves needing to make use of our welfare state.

  • Thinking about it, I think he absolutely had to go. Whatever the counterfactuals, he deceived about his relationship with his landlord and got taxpayers money out of it. It doesn’t matter that he could have got more if he had been honest. And as to his desire for privacy, if he wanted privacy he shouldn’t have claimed anything, then it wouldn’t have been an issue. Sorry to see him go, hope he will stay in politics and get back to government, but it is right that he resigns, especially as he is leading an economy drive in government.

  • @Geoff Williams

    I would certainly agree. And you can already see, from some of the other Sunday papers, that they are looking at The Daily Telegraph’s role in all this. There does seem to be some disagreement over this “scandal”. Some see it as solely a tragedy of a man who sought to keep his private life, private. Others think that regardless the reasons, he obviously and expressly tried to deceive the taxpayers. This will rumble on for sure, but I am deeply disappointed for Laws, sorry that he cannot have a private life, and hope he will forgive the media and decide to return to front line politics at the earliest opportunity.

  • @Geoff Williams,

    Have a look at the Conservatives’ blogs and chats – some have decided it was a very important bust of a terribly corrupt politician, but many are saying that they will never buy the Telegraph again. Fortunately there are people in this country who are more interested in the good of the country than believing every piece of malicious gossip it is possible to print.

  • The big sticking point for me is that I don’t understand how it would be more discrete to claim money than not to. If I wanted to keep something secret I’d hate to hand in receipts for it to my work every month.

  • Jessie Skinner 1st Jun '10 - 12:19am

    I am worried about what has been done to Mr Laws and his partner by the Daily Telegraph. The grounds used were wrongly claimed expenses, but possibly the real reason was to reveal Mr Laws sexuality and therefore to sell newspapers, and to destabilise the coalition government.
    Society needs to grow up as far as its reaction to differences in sexuality is concerned.
    I was completely conviced by Mr Laws statement, and feel nothing but sympathy for him in having his privacy invaded in this way.
    I would like to express my hope that his family will show him love and understanding, and to wish him and James every happiness for the future.
    Also, I look forward to seeing him back in government soon.

  • Cornish Tory 1st Jun '10 - 1:16am

    This is an assasination attempt on the coalition, by attacking the brightest Liberal in the cabinet. David Laws made a mistake, he should have claimed double or not at all. There is a terrible whiff of homophobia here. Not everyone wants or needs to disclose the secrets of the bedroom (or the second bedroom!). David laws should not have made an issue about his expenses at the general election; comparing himself favourably against other West Country MPs.
    As a nation we have grown up, those of us born before the legalisation of homosexuality have been liberated.My own party has abondoned not only section 28 but most of the baggage that went with it. I cannot understand why so many Liberals have hesitated about their own position. But we are individuals and we should not require everyone to open their hearts in public.
    Despite being a Westcountry Tory, with a DNA to attack Liberals from birth!, I adimire David Laws, hope that he will soon be back and wish him well.

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