HUNTINGDON MP Jonathan Djanogly has already paid back more cash to the House of Commons than the total expenses queried by Sir Thomas Legg in his House of Commons expenses review. The MP s letter from the retired civil servant arrived yesterday (Tuesday)
HUNTINGDON MP Jonathan Djanogly has already paid back more cash to the House of Commons than the total expenses queried by Sir Thomas Legg in his House of Commons expenses review.
The MP's letter from the retired civil servant arrived yesterday (Tuesday) morning and, as expected, put an annual cap of £2,000 on cleaning bills for MPs' second homes and £1,000 for gardening.
Sir Thomas also demanded further information on a bill of around £5,000 for repairs to and maintenance of security gates at Mr Djanogly's Alconbury home and on a bill for a laptop computer that the MP admits he claimed for on the wrong form.
A relieved Mr Djanogly, who immediately wrote a cheque for £25,000 when he was fingered by The Daily Telegraph in the spring, told The Hunts Post: "I basically paid back about a third of what I had claimed over the five years, not because I had claimed anything wrongly but because I felt part of the collective responsibility and I understood the moral issue.
"The money I paid back was to show I 'got it'."
The MP will be contesting Sir Thomas's view that the security gates maintenance should not be allowable unless he can show 'exceptional circumstances' - "and, of course, I shall be doing exactly that".
The gates were installed on advice from the police to protect the MP's family against threats of violence from animal rights protesters after Mr Djanogly stood up strongly for his constituents at Huntingdon Life Sciences.
"I shall be putting my case. Even if I win on nothing, I have already paid back far more than the letter identifies," he said. "Legg has redefined what is reasonable. The rate for my gardening was agreed in writing by the Fees Office.
"But, of course, I shall comply with whatever the outcome is."
Mr Djanogly, who is Shadow Solicitor General, has also resigned from his job with top City law firm S J Berwin after 21 years, 11 of them as a partner, in the hope of becoming a Minister after the General Election, which must take place before June next year.
Ministers have to sever business links that could represent conflicts of interest.
Mr Djanogly said: "I think we are going to win the election, and I'm hoping to be a minister, so I thought it was the right time to go."
Meanwhile, North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara is looking at a bill of just £174 as a result of the cap on cleaning expenditure for the Vara family's second home near Parliament.
"Of course I shall pay it back," he said. "But, had there been a limit at the time, I would not have exceeded it.
"I have never claimed for food, furniture or household items, and I have never 'flipped' my home. I have always acted in good faith. I'm pleased the matter is now resolved so that I can continue doing what I was elected for - looking after my constituents."
Mr Vara, who is also a lawyer and a shadow Minister, may also be in line for Ministerial office after the election. Although he has no other employment, he would have to give up his 'small amount of consultancy' work.