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Journal of nicholas (3034)

Sunday May 10, 2009
07:47 AM

Troughligate

[ #38948 ]

So the fun continues. "all claims were entirely legitimate and within the rules". Yes, but who made the rules - you did. Who enforced the rules - you did. And the rule book that you wrote

states clearly that the fundamental principles underpinning the allowance regime to which MPs must adhere are based on the concepts of honesty, integrity, selflessness, accountability, openness and leadership. Claims should be above reproach, must only be for expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of parliamentary duties and must not give rise or appear to give rise to improper personal financial benefit.

The criminal charges out there, carrying a maximum ten-year prison term, are to be found in the Fraud Act 2006 which covers fraud by false representation, by failing to disclose information and by abuse of position. At the heart of each fraud is the concept of making a gain for oneself or another, with the critical element of dishonesty, usually determined by a jury which must first of all decide whether according to the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest people what was done was dishonest, and if it was, whether the defendant must have realised that what he was doing by those standards was dishonest.

And the final advice from the QC - your best answer on the topic of something that could end in court - "no comment".

And more good news - the tax man is now interested in whether all these second and third homes have been evading capital gains tax. If you told parliament that home B was your second home, you had better also have told her* the same story. Oh, and all those trumped up expenses, they don't look good...

Peter Bottomley is right - MPs should only claim for things they wouldn’t mind being reported in their local newspaper. I wonder how many are going to come up looking good after this? Kelvin Hopkins MP (Luton North) is much better value than Margaret Moran MP (Luton South, and Luton exceedingly South). Is anyone ranking MPs by honesty and parsimony?

Amusingly, someone, in a blog comment I think, joked that Sinn Féin ripping the UK government off for half a million was arguably consistent with its principals of not recognising the UK as the legitimate government. The fault lay with the UK government for not stopping them :-)

* It might be considered sexist to refer always to the tax man with the term man. But really, is it preferable to refer to the beast as male/female? After all, it's not like normal humans of any gender want to claim to be from the same species :-) And "tax thing" doesn't convey the organic horror. "Tax☣" maybe?

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  • What I find particularly delightful about this scandal is how the Labour party seems so upset -- without a trace of irony -- that people are scrutinizing their affairs. I think a law needs to be passed to post the details of every financial transaction they make to Facebook. Maybe they'll actually have a chance to monitor their own behaviour.

  • While "tax thing" might not convey sufficient, horror, "tax Thing" (note the capitalisation) manages to have something Lovecraftian about it.
  • It's utterly depressing that nobody seems to care. It's entertaining to see Hislop on "Have I Got News For You" get excited and a few newspaper headlines but in reality nobody in the country seems to bat an eye-lid over the whole affair...

    My local MP - who is Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee - was on C4's Dispatches last year saying that Parliament was Sovereign and that MPs were untouchable. I never liked the man but that made me realise what a bunch of slime most MPs are.

    --
    -- "It's not magic, it's work..."