Tag Archives: thomas legg

Lembit wins MPs’ expenses appeal, is now owed £40

Last week it was Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne has won his appeal against repaying £18,000 of expenses. Now fellow Lib Dem Lembit Opik has also had his appeal against repaying hundreds of pounds in parliamentary expenses allowed by Sir Paul Kennedy, the judge brought in to arbitrate on disputed claims. The BBC reports:

Montgomeryshire MP Lembit Opik was ordered to pay back £900 he claimed for a mobile phone bill. Sir Thomas Legg, the retired civil servant auditing MPs’ expenses, said the Liberal Democrat MP should not have been able to claim for the phone bill. But Mr Opik won an appeal against the ruling.

Intriguingly, this leaves the taxpayer in debt to Lembit:

The MP, one of almost 80 MPs to challenge Sir Thomas, has actually repaid £195 in total, so is now technically owed £40 by the Commons authorities.

Now there’s an ethical dilemma for an MP just months away from seeking re-election.

Menawhile, here’s a brief clip of Lib Dem MP Norman Baker talking about the publication of Sir Thomas’s report.

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Daily View 2×2: 4 February 2010

Good morning, on this misty day which in history saw three awful earthquakes – in Haicheng, Guatemala and Afghanistan.

This day is a birthday to American civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks (pictured) as well as to the American vice-president famously unable to spell “potato”, Dan Quayle.

Deaths on the 4th February include Liberace and American novelist novellist writer Patricia Highsmith, who wrote Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr Ripley, and – according to Wikipedia at least – the first lesbian novel with a happy ending.

Today is also Facebook’s 6th birthday. How many other 6 year-olds earned $300m last year, had new words entered into dictionaries, and caused moral panic?

2 Big Stories

Legg Report published

Later today, Sir Thomas Legg’s report will be published on Parliament’s website. The Guardian – MPs ordered to pay back more than £1m reports:

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Three Lib Dem MPs fighting Legg’s expenses judgement

Three Lib Dems are among the 70 MPs who lodged appeals after being told to pay back some of their taxpayer-funded Commons expenses by Sir Thomas Legg, reports today’s Telegraph:

At least 35 Labour MPs and former Labour MPs have appealed against Sir Thomas’s findings, as well as 30 Conservatives, three Liberal Democrats and two independents. Among them are MPs who made some of the highest-profile claims exposed by the Telegraph investigation, including £1,645 for a duck house.

Sir Thomas’s 30-page report is thought to identify more than 300 MPs — nearly half of those in Parliament — whom he found

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Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne appeals against decision which would have stopped him buying Taunton home

Here’s the statement on Jeremy’s website:

Taunton constituency MP Jeremy Browne is appealing against a decision by the House of Commons ACA Review Team that would have prevented him from buying a home in Taunton with his own money. Instead Sir Thomas Legg’s House of Commons ACA Review Team has requested a repayment of £17,894 in mortgage interest payments, dating from the initial arrangements Jeremy Browne made when he was elected in 2005. The appeal, conducted by Sir Paul Kennedy, will be considered and published, along with the full ACA Review Team report, in January 2010.

Jeremy Browne said:

“When I was

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Speaker Bercow tells Nick: no inquiry into MPs’ ‘flipping’ or CGT evasion

Two weeks ago, Nick Clegg wrote to Sir Thomas Legg – in the wake of Sir Thomas’s decision to recommend MPs repay public money if they had been found to have overclaimed expenses for cleaning and gardening – asking that he examine the most serious allegations levelled against MPs:

… when your inquiry was first announced, I think most people expected the worst offences such as flipping to come under the toughest scrutiny. The letters sent this week, however, appear not to focus on these offences. If your review is to be seen as credible it must expose every single one of those MPs who claimed for a non-existent mortgage or ‘flipped’ their second homes purely for personal gain, some of whom then went on to avoid Capital Gains Tax. Some of these MPs appear to have made tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds in profits with the help of taxpayer subsidies. They must be exposed and these illegitimate profits returned.

Today Nick got his answer, but not the one he – or the public – would have hoped for. Sir Thomas passed Nick’s letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, to reply. Here’s what he said (with a big hat-tip to The Times’s Sam Coates):

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Rennard’s expenses clearance: Party needs to learn some lessons in transparency

What’s the correct response to the news that Lord (Chris) Rennard has been cleared by the Clerk of the Parliaments of any wrong-doing over his allowances claims? I ask because I think there are some important issues at play here for how we, the Lib Dems, as a party can help restore trust in democracy.

First, we need to separate the personal from the political (and, incidentally, this applies just as much to Chris’s critics). Most of us who have met, or in some way know, Chris will be pleased for him on a personal level. The allegations that he’d somehow fiddled the system has dogged him since April, and brought about a more-hasty-than-planned exit to his time as the party’s chief executive.

Above all, though, Chris’s friends and the wider party will be relieved. The allegations against him have hung like a dark cloud over the Lib Dems’ pronouncements on expenses for several months now.

To be blunt, it’s been an embarrassment, and one which the party has handled poorly – precisely because we’ve failed to separate the personal from the political.

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The Legg letters: the 24 21 Lib Dem MPs staying silent

All this week, LDV has been compiling a full list of the findings of Sir Thomas Legg’s inquiries into MPs’ expenses as they related to the Lib Dems’ 63 MPs. We are adding to this list as information is received by us or published elsewhere.

We now have information on around two-thirds of the Parliamentary party, 39 MPs – but this still leaves 24 Lib Dem MPs whose Legg letters we don’t know about. The party’s whips office has recommended all the party’s MPs publish a statement on their websites in order to ensure the party’s representatives are as open and accountable as possible. However, after spot-checking half a dozen of the 24 ‘missing’ MPs I can see no references on any of their sites: this is a pretty unimpressive record.

LDV readers – or MPs or their staff – can contact us direct to help us establish a full, accurate and transparent record: please leave a comment in the thread to update us, or alternatively email us at [email protected]

As of Saturday, here’s the scores on the doors (which we’ll update as we get more info):

Clean bill of health letter received from Sir Thomas Legg:

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Members of the public who believe Lib Dem MPs behaved worst over expenses? ZERO PER CENT

PoliticsHome (yes, I’m still reading it, despite everything) published an interesting poll today, taking the temperature of public opinion on MPs’ expenses, post-Legg:

… suggests that more than half the population believes the recommendations were ‘not tough enough’, 57% have ‘no sympathy whatsoever’ and 60% are as interested in the story as they ever were. The LIberal Democrat MPs are perceived to have behaved the best.

The survey is split down into categories of voter identification – Lib Dem, Labour, Tory, none – and generally there is little marked difference in the attitudes of party supporters:

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The Lib Dem Legg letters – the missing 30

On Tuesday, LDV began compiling a full list of the findings of Sir Thomas Legg’s inquiries into MPs’ expenses as they related to the Lib Dems’ 63 MPs. We are adding to this list as information is received by us or published elsewhere.

We understand the party’s whips office has recommended all Lib Dem MPs publish a statement on their website. As of Thursday, we have information on just over one-half of the Parliamentary party, 33 MPs – but this leaves 30 MPs whose Legg letters we don’t know about. Can LDV readers help crowd-source this information on ‘the missing 30’, by letting us know about those who have published statements we’ve missed, or if local papers have published articles?

Naturally MPs or their staff can contact us direct to help us establish an accurate and transparent record: please leave a comment in the thread to update us, or alternatively email us at [email protected]

As of Thursday, here’s the scores on the doors:

Clean bill of health letter received from Sir Thomas Legg:

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[email protected] … Nick Clegg: Sir Thomas Legg must re-open MPs’ expenses files

Over at the Daily Telegraph, Nick Clegg urges Sir Thomas Legg – heading the Parliamentary inquiry into MPs’ expenses – to go further than he has to date, and “take on the biggest abusers of the expenses regime”. Here’s an excerpt:

’ve instructed Liberal Democrat MPs to cooperate fully with Sir Thomas’ investigations, and abide by any reasonable requests for repayments. But when the Legg process was first announced, I think most people expected the worst offences to come under the toughest scrutiny – MPs who avoided Capital Gains Tax, claimed cash for mortgages that didn’t exist or ‘flipped’ their second home so they could claim for renovations on house after house. Legg’s review, which is still ongoing, will simply not be credible if it doesn’t do all it can to investigate these offences.

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Lib Dem MPs: what the Legg letters said

On this page, which LDV will update as we receive information, we will publish the details of Sir Thomas Legg’s findings as they relate to the Lib Dems’ 63 MPs. Please email [email protected] to let us know anything we’ve missed:

* Danny Alexander, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, 2005 – present … Repaid £125 claimed for financial advice on his mortgage and has also been asked to submit further copies of domestic utility bills. Paid back in full.
* Norman Baker, Lewes, 1997 – present … Clean bill of health.

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Are MPs being treated fairly?

It seems only fair to ask. I’ve been struck today by the cross-party consensus – noted here on Left Foot Forward – that the Blogosphere is united in disgust at MPs:

Bloggers of left, right and centre were united today in disgust over reports in today’s papers that some MPs will refuse to pay back expenses that they claimed erroneously.

The argument put forward is logical enough, and best summed up by Lib Dem blogger Mark Thompson’s exasperated question, “Do they honestly think that the public are going to stand for them rejecting the report, whatever the grounds?”

True …

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Nick to pay back £910 #mpsexpenses

The party has just released the text of the letter from Nick Clegg to Sir Thomas Legg confirming that the Lib Dem leader will – as recommended by Sir Thomas – re-pay £910 of taxpayers’ money claimed as expenses for gardening costs associated with Nick’s second home. Here’s the text of the letter:

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Daily View 2×2: 12 October 2009

2 Big Stories

MPs’ expenses row re-ignites as MPs question findings of independent inquiry

In case you thought the row had blown itself out, here comes the sequel:

Gordon Brown has urged MPs to repay expenses claimed up to five years ago if asked to do so following an audit ordered after the furore. There are reports that some MPs plan to defy calls to repay money and may challenge the request in the courts.

The PM is among hundreds of MPs expected to be asked to repay sums following a review of all claims by former civil servant Sir Thomas Legg. …

The BBC understands he has set retrospective limits for some items and annual limits on what he believes they should have claimed. These are £1,000 a year for gardening, and £2,000 a year for cleaning. It is believed to have angered some MPs who say they will not repay the money.

Saturday’s Telegraph reported the following snippet:

Last night, the Lib Dems, who are confident that they avoided the worst excesses, stepped up pressure on the Conservatives

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