Telegraph scraping the barrel’ over expenses, Hunts MP Vara retorts
NORTH West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara yesterday refuted claims in a national newspaper that he had claimed expenses on a second home before he was elected to Parliament. The Daily Telegraph said Mr Vara lodged invoices for mortgage interest payments,
NORTH West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara today refuted claims in a national newspaper that he had claimed expenses on a second home before he was elected to Parliament.
The Daily Telegraph said Mr Vara lodged invoices for mortgage interest payments, Council Tax and cleaning services that covered part of 2005 when he was not yet an MP. He was elected in May of that year, a month after the start of the fiscal year to which the claims related.
But the MP told The Hunts Post that, while the bills related to the whole period, both he and the House of Commons Fees Office had been quite clear that the amounts would be pro-rated before payment was made.
"I submitted all the bills in good faith. I understood clearly that the Fees Office would pay them pro rata and that is what happened. I was paid the correct amount and not a penny more."
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The Daily Telegraph also questioned the fact that the Lewisham second home, which has now been sold, was in the sole name of Mr Vara's wife, Beverley.
"It was our matrimonial home. That it was in my wife's name does not alter the reality that the ownership responsibility and payments were joint," he said.
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Mr Vara's first home, which he shares with his wife and two small sons, is in Huntingdonshire. His constituency includes much of north Hunts and part of Peterborough.
"The simple truth is that the allegations made by the Daily Telegraph are false. The newspaper is putting two and two together and making five, if not six," the MP said.
"I fully recognise that the revelations of the past month have caused enormous anger to the public and those whom I represent. Where claims made are proved to be fraudulent, the law should be fully applied. MPs, like anyone else, are subject to the law and not above it. In other cases, while the letter of the law was adhered to, the spirit most certainly was not and that too is wrong.
"The Daily Telegraph has rightly exposed many wrongdoings, some of which are very serious. They have done a public service in that respect," he added.
"However, it is now day 26 of their revelations and it appears that they are starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel and using selective information taken out of context to suit their headlines rather than carefully looking at all the facts.