Sunday’s dodgy money round-up: Conservative (update)

For the Conservatives, today’s papers bring bad news for four different MPs: the MP couple who were able to carry on claiming for the cost of a home even after they had paid for it, the one who employed someone at the other end of the country and there’s more about Derek Conway.

UPDATE: And then there is the case of Anthony Steen…

Husband and wife MP couple, the Wintertons, are facing scrutiny for continuing to claim money for the cost of the second home after the mortgage had been paid off. As the role of being an MP involves work split between your constituency and Westminster, most MPs end up needing to live in two places and – given the need for a second home has been caused by the job – they are, reasonably enough, funds to help with this.

However, having been claiming for the cost of the mortgage, once that was paid off the Wintertons transferred their home to a trust (a way of reducing the inheritance tax burden for their children) and were then able to carry on claiming money, because now it technically was for the rent they paid to the trust. The Daily Mail has more.

The Daily Mail also has the story of Conservative MP Bob Spink who employed his partner’s daughter, even though she was at sixth-form at the time, and also continued employing his ex-wife, even after she moved to the other end of the country, away from both Westminster and his constituency. (Note that Mr Spink’s defence over the former really only covers the subsequent period when the daughter was at university).

The Derek Conway latest is this from the News of the World: he “sacked his loyal secretary and gave his WIFE the job, the News of the World can reveal. And when shocked Susan Davenport questioned his decision, the swaggering politician flew into a rage, bellowing: ‘No one gets in my way! I will crush you! Crush you!’ … The only time Susan witnessed Conway show any sympathy for a constituent was when one wrote in complaining that he had two homosexuals living next door. Susan said: ‘Conway read out the letter and said, ‘I totally understand the feelings. I can’t stand them.’ I didn’t even offer him a reply. It’s now clear his son Henry is gay. What was he thinking about?'”

UPDATE: Missed the tale of Anthony Steen first time round. It seems that he is a generous employer when it comes to salaries:

Anthony Steen, a Tory backbencher, has disclosed that he pays his daughter Xanthe £5,000 a year for “half a day a week” assisting her father with press releases and articles.

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10 Comments

  • The Tin Man 3rd Feb '08 - 12:14pm

    Is it the sleaze in the Conservative Party or the elction and character of Nick Clegg, or a bit of both, that has boosted the latest poll to 21%? Anway it is good news for the Liberal Democrat MPs in Cornwall. With the dramatic reverse in popularity of the Conservatives nationally, the rise in the Liberal Democrats fortunes, continuing friction amongst the local Conservatives, weak Conservative candidates, the return to the County of one of the most effective campaigners for UKIP and the continuing rumours of three centre right independent candidates standing at the next election, it looks as if the only vulnerable Liberal Democrat seat if there was an election tomorrow would be South East Cornwall.

  • Sir Nicholas Winterton’s defence is fascinating. He says that other MPs have similar arrangements. I trust that the media will be asking which. The BBC’s victory over freedom of information seems to mean that the Commons officials have to say if asked.

    Then he says that he would have been entitled to rent on another flat if he did not live in this one. Is he implying that other MPs who own but do not live in, or have given away to their families or to family trusts, residences in London or in their constituencies are claiming rent for alternative accomodation in the same areas?

    In either case, such MPs (if any exist outside Sir Nicholas’ imagination) would seem to be claiming for expenses not necessarily incurred in doing their duty as MPs. The Mail on Sunday’s people who search the Land Registry data have plenty of work ahead of them?

  • Only £24 an hour? Talk about exploitation – our Italian-killing Tory MP Julian Brazier pays his wife £33,840 for two days a week…

  • Come to think of it, Julian Brazier was also one of the Tories who was censured last year for misusing parliament to raise party funds:

    http://politics.guardian.co.uk/funding/story/0,,2102231,00.html#article_
    continue

    these Tories also got away without having to pay back the thousands they trousered. We should be demanding this money gets repaid now.

  • sidcumberland 3rd Feb '08 - 7:42pm

    Talking of repaying money – is there a reason why Conway has only been asked to pay back £13,000??

    Sid

  • Anthony and Xanthe Steen have been in the news before. May 2001:Tories faced claims of a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign last night after an MP’s daughter posed as a journalist to question his opponents. Xanthe Steen, daughter of Anthony Steen, sparked anger with her appearance at a Totnes factory during Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy’s visit. She had already interviewed Labour candidate Tom Wildy when Mr Kennedy arrived. But any plans to ambush the Lib Dem leader were thwarted by his youthful Press secretary Daisy Sampson – a former schoolmate of Xanthe. Miss Steen had told reporters she was covering the visit for a satellite channel called Now

  • I don’t know whether any information will emerge about our MPs employing members of their family which might dilute public outrage about what Tory MPs have been up to: I sincerely hope not (and I am sure that even ‘innocent’ relationships will be spun by the opposition ), but what really makes me angry is the arrant hypocrisy of the Tories who fulminate against benefit ‘cheats’ – who in most cases are people who either cannot cope with the intricacies of the system or who are trying to marginally improve the standard of living of their family – while at the same time seeing nothing wrong in bending the rules in order to pocket sums which are beyond the dreams of avarice of most people on benefits.

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