Tessa Munt denies council tax claims from Mail on Sunday

The BBC reports:

Wells MP Tessa Munt has denied any wrongdoing after a national newspaper reported allegations that she falsely claimed a council tax discount.

It is alleged that the Liberal Democrat MP was sharing her home with broadcaster Andy Kershaw and a GP while claiming the discount for living alone.

Ms Munt said: “Neither of these two people were living with me.” …

Ms Munt said that the Mail on Sunday newspaper had “muddled the difference between council tax and electoral registration”.

She said both Mr Kershaw and the GP, John Laband, were registered to vote at her address as they did not have homes in the UK, but they were not physically living there.

Ms Munt said she had not seen either of them since 2008 and that Mr Kershaw lived on the Isle of Man and Mr Laband lived on a boat.

“If you leave the UK you’re entitled to vote in the UK for another 15 years, so your vote has to be registered somewhere,” she said. “If you don’t have a fixed home you can also register to vote somewhere.”

Ms Munt said Mr Kershaw had visited her in 2008 and left his dog with her for eight weeks while he went to see other friends in the South West.

She said Mr Laband stayed with her for “a few months” and that she had informed the council of that.

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25 Comments

  • Anthony Aloysius St 19th Jul '10 - 11:18pm

    “If you leave the UK you’re entitled to vote in the UK for another 15 years, so your vote has to be registered somewhere,” she said. “If you don’t have a fixed home you can also register to vote somewhere.”

    Is that really how registration of overseas voters works? I thought there was a separate registration process for them.

  • I have a friend who went abroad. He is registered to vote in Balham, by dint of his last address in Britain. And then I postal proxy vote on his behalf!

  • Anthony Aloysius St 19th Jul '10 - 11:58pm

    “I have a friend who went abroad. He is registered to vote in Balham, by dint of his last address in Britain. And then I postal proxy vote on his behalf!”

    But is he registered as an ordinary voter at a specific address that he doesn’t in fact live at? Or is he listed among “Other electors” for the relevant ward?

  • new clean politics

  • Foregone Conclusion 20th Jul '10 - 12:16am

    Yes Mike, it is. The Daily Mail tried to imitate the Daily Telegraph with a journalistic scoop about those dirty, filthy cheating MPs and didn’t bother to check its facts. Sometimes, dirt doesn’t stick

  • “If you leave the UK you’re entitled to vote in the UK for another 15 years, so your vote has to be registered somewhere,” she said. “If you don’t have a fixed home you can also register to vote somewhere.”

    Yet another item on Nick Clegg’s to-do list…

  • Anthony Aloysius St 20th Jul '10 - 12:37am

    Talking of the Telegraph:
    A Liberal Democrat MP has denied breaking council tax rules by sharing a house with former BBC radio presenter Andy Kershaw, insisting that she had only been looking after his dog.

    She described Mr Kershaw as “a good friend for over 10 years”.
    She said: “In the autumn of 2008 he visited me from the Isle of Man, bringing his backpack and dog with him.
    “He went off to visit friends in Liverpool and Derbyshire while I looked after his dog during that period.”
    The dog, however, had stayed in Somerset for around eight weeks, she said.
    In December 2008, Mr Kershaw was given a six-month suspended sentence after he admitted breaching a restraining order involving his ex-partner.
    Dr Laband, Mrs Munt said, had stayed in her house “briefly” during a divorce, also during 2008.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/7898766/The-Lib-Dem-MP-the-Radio-3-DJ-and-his-dog.html

    I think it’s safe to say she didn’t have Caesar’s wife as a role model.

  • Allegedly according to the Herald Express (part of the Mail group), ex Tory MP Anthony Steen encouraged people with holiday homes in his constituency (there are a lot) to register to vote at their holiday home address (which get a council tax discount and in some cases are treated as small businesses). So it is quite legal to be on the electoral register for a place and not be liable for council tax or get a council tax discount.

  • Looks like she’s stacking extra votes in her constituency. The overseas voting is a red herring – you don’t need an address. And it sounds like the GP did live with her for months – did she claim the discount during those months?

    It’s hardly crime of the century, but it’s not all above board either. And if she was claiming housing benefit, this revelation would get her into a lot of trouble..

  • Anthony Aloysius St 20th Jul '10 - 8:25am

    “Jane – there are two different categories of overseas voters. For one of them you do have to give the address you last lived in the UK. Sounds like you’re in the other.”

    Are you sure? I can’t find any mention of there being two categories. Evidently you have to give the address you were last registered at when applying, but you’re not then registered at that address.

  • “No-one has even vaguely suggested anything about housing benefit, so why bring it up unless you’re trying to throw mud and hope some sticks.”

    To show that, once again, a politician is trying to live by different standards than they impose on their constituents.

    Anyone who had someone living with them for months whilst they were claiming to be living alone to get a council tax discount (or claim housing benefit, one I refer to as it is one where people really can be hammered if they break the rules even with the best intentions) would be subject to investigation, and would get in trouble.

    Yet when a Lib Dem MP does it, some people here are defending it to the hilt.

    By the way, your analogy “nothing wrong with her walking down the street, but if she’d beaten someone up that would be really dodgy” is utterly misleading. She has done something wrong. Those two people do not live in the UK – they should not be registered at her address, and should not be voting as a citizen still living here. They should register as an overseas voter in the constituency where they last lived. It could actually lead to them continuing to vote in local elections (which they should not) and for more than 15 years after the leave the UK (which they should not). This is wrong. They are not properly registered. And if they last lived in a different constituency – I accept we don’t know this yet, but as Andy Kershaw never lived at her address I’m suspicious – then they should not be registering and voting in hers.

    And one of them, she admits, did live with her for months. Was she claiming the single person discount for council tax for those months? If so, this is wrong.

    Try looking at this objectively. It is not a terrible crime, but it is wrong.

  • Andrew Suffield 20th Jul '10 - 9:36am

    Yet when a Lib Dem MP does it, some people here are defending it to the hilt.

    Because she didn’t do what you claim!

    And one of them, she admits, did live with her for months. Was she claiming the single person discount for council tax for those months?

    Did you even read the article? It says she did not do this.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 20th Jul '10 - 10:00am

    As for the stuff about Dr Laband living on a boat, admittedly that’s a bit more abstruse, but Google finds the correct procedure in 0.27s:
    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2010-03-29e.324159.h

    “If the boat or other residence does not have a permanent mooring, then it is open to the resident(s) to make a ‘Declaration of Local Connection’ for the purposes of registering to vote. The residents should register at a place where they spend the most time or where they have some connection, such as the area where they were last permanently registered or any boatyard they may use for maintenance.”

  • Paul McKeown 20th Jul '10 - 10:08am

    What a non-story! It just goes to show what prejudices people some people have to give any credence to this crap. The Heil auf Sonntag is, naturally, shameless, but some of the posters here are either stupid, deranged, paranoid or downright nasty. The MP has nothing to explain. End of.

  • This is the fourth Lib Dem MP since May to be targeted by national newspapers. Yet we are told these are mere random occurrences, and those who suggest otherwise are psychiatric patients.

    BTW, just before the election, Zac Goldsmith’s wife left him. The story rated a single paragraph in the “Grauniad”. When Chris Huhne left his wife, all hell broke loose. I wonder why?

  • “Did you even read the article? It says she did not do this.”

    Really? So when it says: “She said Mr Laband stayed with her for “a few months” and that she had informed the council of that” how am I wrong when I say “And one of them, she admits, did live with her for months”??

    Neither of these people should be registered to vote at her address as they live abroad, and if someone was living with her for a few months she should would not be entitled to get the single person discount for that period. This is simple.

    All she has to do to clear this up is point out that she didn’t get the single person discount whilst two of them lived there, apologise for the ‘mistake’ in registering these ex-pats and take them off the register.

    If she did get the single person discount whilst more than one person lived there then that does show some wrongdoing. However, it is not crime of the century.

  • Garfield Kennedy 20th Jul '10 - 7:53pm

    This is Tory dirty tricks – desperate and highly miffed that their own man, David Heathcote-Amory was ridiculously caught and properly kicked out for claiming for manure from the taxpayer. Ms Munt won her seat after nearly 155 years of having a Tory in the Wells Constituency. The Tories are spitting and fuming and they’ll come up with any old crap (as they did during the election campaign when they tried to blacken Tessa’s name with lies and innuendo without success).

  • Conservative 20th Jul '10 - 9:16pm

    clearly another attempt to dispose of a LD MP by the right wing press (although pretty poor this time I think)…It embarrasses me that some of them so want the coalition to fail they come after you lot with such a vengeace. Nothing in this story I think.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 20th Jul '10 - 10:02pm

    “The MP has nothing to explain. End of.”

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this kind of comment by now, but even so …

    It seems that people who live on boats do have the right to choose a fixed address to register themselves at, so there’s not really anything improper about that registration (though it’s not clear from Tessa Munt’s statement that the proper procedure was followed).

    But as far as I can see it wasn’t proper for her to register Andy Kershaw at her address (apparently on the basis that his dog had lived there for a couple of months!). In fact it’s not clear he was entitled to vote in that constituency at all.

    As Mike80 says, it appears that she was trying to obtain a couple of extra votes by registering these people at her address. Doing it on such a small scale was pointless and ridiculous, but she obviously acted improperly and people shouldn’t be defending her – particularly in a forum like this where it may lead to activists getting the idea that this is an acceptable practice.

  • Andrew Suffield 20th Jul '10 - 10:47pm

    All she has to do to clear this up is point out that she didn’t get the single person discount whilst two of them lived there

    Which is exactly what she did! Why are you still here?

  • Paul McKeown 21st Jul '10 - 1:09am

    @Anthony Aloysius St

    it appears that she was trying to obtain a couple of extra votes by registering these people at her address

    I sit staring at the screen, trying to comprehend the though process that might come up with such a bizarre accusation. You seriously propose that the MP attempted to subvert the electoral process in her favour by the sum of two votes? In an electoral process that parliament after parliament is suspected of large scale and systematic fraud by abuse of the postal vote?

    Shakes head in disbelief.

    Some posters on this blog have, it is apparent, lost all sense of perspective, or, indeed, reality.

  • “Which is exactly what she did! Why are you still here?”

    No she hasn’t, she hasn’t said definitively what periods she was claiming the relief.

    “You seriously propose that the MP attempted to subvert the electoral process in her favour by the sum of two votes?”

    What other explanation is there for why Andy Kershaw – who had never lived at that address – to register to vote as a resident at her house, rather than take the perfectly legal route of registering as an overseas voter in whatever his last constituency was? No one involved in politics even in a minor way can think it legitimate to register someone to vote at your house if they have never lived there!

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