Tribunal hearing coverage

I am expecting the final decision in my case for a detailed breakdown of MPs’ Additional Costs Allowance to be published this week, so here as background, is the media coverage from the hearing. Sam Coates, political correspondent for The Times, also very generously published his transcript of the hearing. It’s a shame the taxpayer-funded Tribunal couldn’t provide the same public service.

8 February 2008

Why there’s something fishy about MPs’ food allowance

The Times

MPs can claim for fishtanks and iPods on their expenses, the head of Parliament’s finance department has admitted.
Andrew Walker, director general of resources since 1997, told a tribunal yesterday that until 2003 MPs may have been able to “write their own cheques” from their taxpayer-funded allowances. In an unprecedented glimpse into the backroom workings of the House of Commons, he said the system was overhauled in 2003 after Michael Trend, then the Conservative MP for Windsor, claimed £90,000 for a second home he did not have.

Expenses details ‘intrude’ on MPs lives

BBC News

In which my lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC is quoted very nicely!

The Daily Mail covered the Tribunal hearings and the resulting fall-out:

MPs’ expenses should remain secret “for democracy”, says Commons Fees Office chief

Press Gazette

Give a man enough rope and he can hang himself – Andrew Walker, director of the House of Commons Fees Office testifies that public accountability is bad for democracy. Honestly, you couldn’t make this up.

9 February

MPs remortgaged their homes for cash in hand at taxpayers’ expense

The Times

The man in charge of administering expenses in the House of Commons has admitted that he thinks MPs are willing to exploit the system.
Andrew Walker, the director of finance and administration, also conceded that until 2006 MPs had been able to remortgage their house if they wanted cash in hand — even though the taxpayer meets the cost of the mortgage. He said that now MPs could only remortgage if the move was sanctioned by the finance department. Valid reasons include wanting to carry out building works on the property, he said.
A former MP alleged yesterday that his colleagues had routinely put in for the maximum allowances by claiming for “food”, a category that does not need receipts.

‘John Lewis’ list kept from MPs

BBC News

A list of guide prices for items commonly claimed by MPs on expenses is to remain secret, a tribunal has ruled. The “John Lewis” list is used by Commons clerks to check maximum prices deemed reasonable for items like TVs.

Come clean on family salaries or prepare to be investigated

The Times

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