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back to article Tory who claimed brother's tech gear on expenses quits

Julie Kirkbride, the Conservative MP who claimed almost £1,000 from taxpayers for computer equipment bought by her IT consultant brother, will not stand as a candidate at the next election, she has announced. Kirkbride has been placed under mounting pressure to give up her Bromsgrove seat by a series of damaging revelations …

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It's a start...

But when does their DNA go onto the criminal database? Remember, it's guilty until proven innocent, and still guilty for a further 6-12 years depending on crime.

When do they pay us back? That's in full, with interest.

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Not enough

Stepping down is not enough. These people ought to be charged with fraud and brought before the courts to account for their actions.

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phone the police?

What she has done is nothing short of defrauding each and every one of us, it sickens me.

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Happy

Hah ha!

Another Nelson Muntz moment

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Not good enough

Standing down is not good enough. They should pay back the fraudulant expenses, be fired immediately (not whenever the next election is) and be arrested and prosecuted for fraud, theft, non payment of tax and any other relevant charges which the rest of us would have to face if we did what they have done.

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Pirate

Line 'em up agin the wall

1. Expose them

2. Charge them

3. Sack them

4. Prosecute them

5. Make them pay it all back..

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4 Routers???

What sort of constituency office is she running there?

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IT Angle

@ Dave Murray

None of that will happen due to member’s privilege, look up the derivation of "privilege" sometime it makes it all more than clear. One law for us and another private law for them.

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Anonymous Coward

Now that she and her husband are out of a job...

...can we expect them to start claiming benefits? :-\

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Linux

56 Million counts of fraud

They should be chraged with 56 Million counts of fraud for defrauding each citizen of this country.

They should also be forced to pay back the amount defrauded including interest, not just the base amount.

If we had done this then HM Inland Revenue would be chasing us for the full payment including interest, why not them.

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Stop

How is it fraud?

If your expenses system allowed this, wouldn't you do it as well??

It's not fraud in the slightest if the expenses are signed off, which they were.

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Pirate

@Winkypop, others

Agreed. Their "apologies" are getting worse and worse. At least the first few quit or repaid what they'd spent (even Jacqu-off Smitth's husband).

And £22,500 for their home repairs? Looks like we were right when we said "the rot has set in"...

Some sort of minor revolution is required round about now...

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Second home

What I don't understand is why there's such a thing as a second home allowance in the first place. The PM has a temporary residence at 10 Downing Street. Why aren't there government owned residences near Westminster for all MPs? Why should an MP be paid an allowance large enough to own a second property, when the vast majority of their constituents are struggling to maintain mortgages on one property? I'd like to see those allowance funded second homes reclaimed for the tax payer and used as MP residences.

If I were able to select my own salary, I would probably choose to pay myself three times the average wage too.

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No Stepping Down

Just not standing at the next election, meaning that whatever MP is doing this gets their nice "winding down" payoff worth around £100K come election time, plus whatever final salary pension they've accrued during their time at Westminister.

Nice little earner.

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@ Paul H

actuley I think the PM pays rent of the flat in no 10

but the idar is a good one

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Pirate

@How is it fraud?

There was some coverage on this point. Using the defense of "I was within the rules" is not always a legitimate defence. If it can be shown that there was malicious intent to deceive and defraud then there is potentially a case to be answered rulebook or not.

As an Englishman once said,

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." - Baron Acton, 1887

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Second home

> What I don't understand is why there's such a thing as a second home allowance in the first place

There should be a second-home allowance. MPs are required to work in two places - at Westminster, and in their constituency. If you or I had to work somewhere other than the main office, we'd expect to get a cheap hotel on expenses.

But it should be an allowance - it should pay a reasonable amount for a reasonable pad. It should *not* be an excuse to get the taxpayer to fund the biggest mortgage an MP can get...

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filling the empty spaces in the quangos

I see comfortable settlements of all these sleazy MPs in quangos (my favorite 'why is it there? What does it do? is NESTA), acting as consultants to all the new MPs, serving as lobbyists, and so on.

The fact that the cozy fees office colluded comfortably with these MPs, nodding off everything but private Lear jets (although I am braced...) does not make it morally right. My own MP is one of the few honest ones. She could have stacked up the schwag, but instead did a decent job with standard expenses for travelling, stationery, etc. Just because a crooked system allows you to claim up the wazoo doesn't mean you need to.

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@Now that she and her husband are out of a job...

Interesting question, what do they do now that they are unemployed, go back to what they were doing before? teaching perhaps? or perhaps trolleypushing at tescos?

could be a good deterrant: fuck with us and you'll be back at tescos by lunchtime.

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Go

@Paul H

Better idea: where's the nearest neglected council sink estate to Westminster? Foreclose on all the "second homes" and ship off the poor bastard council tenants to live in them, and re-purpose the condemned tower blocks as "Halls of Residence" for the MPs. Let them see some of what their expenses could have been paying for instead.

"Oooooh you got to go now, go now, a-go now..."

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Unhappy

@AC 14:38

You miss the point in it's entirerity.

The whole point is that these are signed off because some of the MPs are so coniving as to question and bully the department signing this off and because no-one audits said department the one-off becomes known to others and a domino effect is what happens. It should be noted that a lot of MPs did not back independant auditing of thier expenses because it would have caused the same backlash if it ever got out.

If I were able to get this signed off on my company expenses and the HMRC got wind, which they would, I'd be spanked with a hefty fine and maybe even an all expenses trip to prisneyland.

The difference is that all roads lead to the government and money travels to it in tax and is promptly gobbled up by the troughing swine that reside there.

One rule for the masses, quite another rule for those who would believe themselves our masters.

Things in this country are rarely done for the good of the public. They just tell us that to justify doing the best for themselves.

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dek

Fraud?

"It's not fraud in the slightest if the expenses are signed off, which they were."

...unless those doing the sign-off are also part of the swindle, which they clearly are.

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Paying back

Incidentally, to calm all the cries of "make them pay it back!", Cameron has already instructed the Tories to do this. I assume the rest are doing the same.

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RE:no stepping down

it is aprently a little known fact that short of being convicted or killed mp can not resine there seats the only way is for them to be apointed to a crown job and only 2 of them are keeped so mp's can leave is terminally ill or blare I think one of them is the office of the Chilton hundreds or somthing so standing down at the next election is prob the best they can do with causing masive disrupotion by-elections are very expensive

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@ Paul H

I was listening to some MP or other on Radio 4 the other day telling the world that the ACA (Additional costs allowance) was sort of in Lieu of the pay rises the MP's should get but couldn't award themselves because of the uproar it would cause amongst the electorate so MP's were more or less told to claim every penny they could. That's what these MP's have (mostly) been doing for YEARS. Pretty much every claim was within the "letter" of the law (doesn't make it right does it?)

If any of you commenting and moaning could claim some expense legally and get it signed off and approved by your manager and accounts department even if it was slightly "dodgy" (like claiming the full £50.00 accommodation allowance every night I was away but staying in a B&B for £15.00 and pocketing the extra because I didn’t require receipts) then YOU WOULD.

Like that Tory Tosser who bought a second home for his ducks and then had to issue the apology (cant remember his name but was a true Tory caricature) "I'll tell you what it's about, it's about Jealousy"

It always amuses me the argument about paying high salaries and bonuses to recruit the very best people. That worked out well for the banking industry and ask how well it worked out for BT (http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2009/05/27/bt_barrault/)

It is quite simple, build a new housing estate of say good quality, well appointed 4 bedroom family type homes within easy commuting reach of Westminster. Allocate a house to each MP whose constituency is outside London and hey presto problem solved.

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Burn them...

and burn their faces first. Hanging's too good for them, only medieval types of punishment would be suitable for what they've been up to.

Actually, no.

Sorry to go slightly against the mob mentality that seems to be growing here, but as far as I can see they've done nothing for which criminal charges can be brought against them. What they've done is taken full advantage of a system that was largely unmonitored. It's probably immoral, definitely cheeky, but I don't think it's illegal and I don't think that they're doing anything that a lot of people won't be doing come September when they're filing their tax returns. It's just on a slightly different scale.

How many people out there are claiming tax relief for assigning part of their house for business use? How many people have bought hardware through their business for friends and relatives?

Your vote is your weapon. Maybe this will inspire a few more people to go out and use it next time.

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"How is it fraud?"

If I submit an expenses , housing benefit, income support or tax refund claim in which I claim I am living somwhere other than where I really live, then it is fraud. The government's own adverts show how people claiming benefits when they cohabit with someone who is working should be shopped by their neighbours and then go to prison. Why not an MP who has fraudulently claimed so much more and avoided so much tax?

If I take a job at 60K with some expenses for travel and staying away from home, you can bet the taxman will do their utmost to charge tax on the expenses. I will have to keep receipts and justify everything. If my empoyer finds I have been lying to increase my expenses, I can expect to get sacked - if it runs into thousands, I can also expect a visit from the Police.

Also, since when has it been OK to give jobs paid from public funds to family members? It isn't allowed in the Civil Service - why is it somehow OK for MPs to "employ" a member of their family, who doesn't even posses the relevant qualifications and experience for job in question?

While we're at it, lets have a look at the make up of parliamentary committees - some of these seem to employ MPs mates, wifes and other relatives, most of whom have no expertise in the topic concerned. Where is the oversight?

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@ AC 14:38

hello mr/mrs/ms government employee.

for the record, actually, NO. i would not because i have personal ethics that do not permit stealing. just because there are some vague words written somewhere saying it's ok to do something that is unethical, does not vindicate these dishonest actions. these 'rules' that have 'not been broken' are clearly dishonest ones.

i say that fraud is fraud, and simply stepping down will not suffice.

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Anonymous Coward

If they stand down...

+ how much will their MPs pensions be

+ when will they be able to draw down their MP pension

+ will there be a lump sum component of the MP pension

Why wait until the next election can't they stand down immediately and appoint a temporary stand-in or perhaps the Speaker (hrrmph-hurrumph) might request that they leave the Commons immediately and appoint a willing member to act in their place until the next election.

Why should they avoid prosecution and maintain income at the same time?

Parliamentary privilege?

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Pirate

Here's the plan

Coz' prison's too good for this lot, and I don't wanna spend anymore of these lying, cheating, incompetent, corrupt scum...

Expose, charge, sack and exile, preferably to Iraq or Afghanistan :D

And to those of you lacking the lightbulb wattage, it's fraud because even if they were signed they're still ill gotten gains, it just means the MPs didn't defraud us THEIR BOSS DID!!

We, the people, have been defrauded by the collective Gov, what's not to understand?

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Alert

Snouts still in the trough

What hasn't been reported anywhere is that the reason non of these MPs are standing down immediately, but waiting to the next election, is the massive payout they will be then due.

Between them MacKay and Kirkbride could clear upto a further £200,000, much of it tax free, in resettlement and office winding-up allowances. That's before they start claiming their tax payer funded pensions.

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Re: How's it fraud

"It's not fraud in the slightest if the expenses are signed off, which they were."

The Green Book states that the ACA is for "those additional costs wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred to enable you to stay overnight away from your only or main UK residence, either in London or in the constituency" so I'd love to hear how spending £1,600 on a house for your ducks meets this test.

I'd also like to hear why my MP needs a second house so large that his claims for mortgage interest came to £5,000 more than I earned last year. In what way can that be considered "necessary"?

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Anonymous Coward

Working 9 'til 5

Since I "enjoy" having one of the now departing MPs as my representative I have been taking a keen interest.

That would be the McKay of Bracknell.

He doesn't actually have a home in the constituency at all. He has a home in London and his wife has one in Bromsgrove ( or is it the other way round, it's so hard to keep track ). Hence the double claiming where each named the a different house as the second home.

I have yet to see a decent ( or any ) answer to a question.

In the case of McKay how exactly was it ever within the letter of the rules to have one house handy for Westminster and one house not at all handy for the constituency?

He did his constituency work by visiting the constituency office once or twice a week. If he can do the work from the office then why could he not just commute from London to Bracknell ( that's an hour on a train ) and therefore not need a second home. It works for every commuter so it should work for every MP.

McKays local party say he has done a good job locally so it clearly only needs a couple of days stay in the constituency a week. So, here's my cunning and completely reasonable plan:

Every constituency should be equipped with an office, centrally run and funded. This will only be needed a couple of days a week so it is available for other functions much of the time. Job seekers ( ex-MPs ) interviews for instance. MPs should be able to claim reasonable hotel expenses against receipts to stay in the constituency.

Similarly expenses would cover hotel accommodation close(ish) to Westminster, perhaps in Slough or Milton Keynes.

MPs can choose where to live, could be anywhere in the UK, near their families, office or London. They just have to go away to work either for a day or a week. Just like millions of other people.

Oh yes, just one other reform that is required to make this work. The Commons must work 09:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday so that MPs are able to commute like everyone else and have to devote themselves to just the one job.

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Fraud?

It might be be dodgy, but I can easily imagine a situation where 4 routers were purchased to be used as wireless access points.

3 external disks and two cameras, I can see that too.

Maybe they have gamed the system, but its such an inconsequential issue compared to bombing people in Iraq, eroding liberty within the UK and other atrocities.

Its ok to be annoyed, but I'd rather they claimed a few thousand in dubious expenses and stopped killing people. For some reason, padding expense claims seems to outrage people more than killing rather a lot of people in the middle-east. One prompts calls to change our constitution, the other is rewarded by voting them back in again.

Time to re-assess our priorities I think.

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Happy

External hard drives?

She could have said she "left 'em on a train"

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Pirate

Here's an idea..

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/PublicPurseAbuse/

Petition for a law making it illegal to waste public money. I know it's a No10 petition, and they are likely to pay it no attention whatsoever, but wouldn't it be nice to know that there could actually be a penalty for wasting our money?

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@ Andy O'Rourke

"If any of you commenting and moaning could claim some expense legally and get it signed off and approved by your manager and accounts department even if it was slightly "dodgy" (like claiming the full £50.00 accommodation allowance every night I was away but staying in a B&B for £15.00 and pocketing the extra because I didn’t require receipts) then YOU WOULD."

I suggest you keep your offensive projections to yourself.

While, undoubtedly, some people would do that, a majority of people 1) have a shred of fucking decency within them; 2) recognise that if everyone did that then your company would be fucked and you may lose your job. Nobody benefits in the long run.

I had to borrow 2p from a woman in the queue behind me yesterday and I felt guilty all the way home because she gave me 5p and the queue had been too busy to give the 3p back.

Most people don't want what isn't theirs rightfully. And those that do are theiving scum generally.

Paying expenses back isn't enough, the MPs proved they are bad people, taking public funds (we pay taxes so that we might help those in temporary trouble, provide medical care, keep our lands protected and so forth, by taking that for their own luxurious purposes they are even more despicable than the turds that mug you in the street [at least they face you when they rob you])

I rarely get the pay raise I want (never) but you don't see me taking a fucking computer home with me each Christmas to make up for it.

Round them all up and fist them to death, I say. Do the gene pool and politics a big favour.

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Anonymous Coward

So - what's new - or even different?

I don't know what the fuss is about. As far as I can reckon it, the sums are pocket money compared to the millions (and millions) creamed off the public purse all the time by local government, the NHS and a horde of assorted quangos with hardly a murmur from the public or so-called supervisory authorities. As often as not, the problem isn't even expenses, but why the people concerned are even being paid in the first place.

Taxes, especially Council Taxes, burgeoning under the weight of coordinators, advisors, special committees and assorted busybodies telling us all how to live and behave - all at our own expense. Real professionals like nurses and teachers almost unable to operate under an army of university-educated hangers-on with no real stake in the problems - but impressive salaries and perks. Jobs for the boys (more often jobs for the Brethren) by the cartload. It's beggaring the country, and MPs have merely climbed onto a gravy train that's hugely bigger than the immediate problem of their expenses.

Damn them by all means, but there's a bigger problem in that this entire country is now as bent as a 9-bob note - at street level, not just Parliament. A proud country now reduced to just one more pathetic banana republic. Scandals like this are merely a sideshow.

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MPs in the dark ages

I don't believe all this cock about having to be in Westminster. Yes, in the 18th century there was little choice - but there is increasingly little need for a physical presence in a place like the houses of parliament nowadays.

One of the businesses I'm involved in no longer has any office at all - all staff work from home and with a mixture of VoIP, Skype, instant messenger, email, phone and shared online documents we communicate much more effectively than some companies where everyone commutes into central offices. A member of staff moved to Dubai and the only difference was that he got his salary tax free rather than taxed and the company stopped having to pay National Insurance for him. Apart from that there was zero noticeable change on the work he did or the way he worked.

If the MPs got their act together a similar thing could replace a large amount of the 'we have to be there' cobblers they seem to believe. It's time for them to change working practices rather than sticking to their outmoded antiquated working methods.

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@Dafydd Lawrence (4 Routers)

"What sort of constituency office is she running there?"

Playing devils advocate. One router providing connectivity for her constituency office, and one for her sister in Dorset, to enable her to do her job as remote secretary. The other two purchased as backups.

I'm not saying that's what happened (I doubt it, in fact), but I don't think that would be unreasonable. Certainly, I have a spare router in my home office, as the expense is far less that the cost of a router blowing and leaving me unconnected.

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Pirate

Well..

Theres a good way to help get this sorted...

Elect a party that has government transparancy and accountability as one it's 3 core principles.

The UK Pirate Party.

Needs supporters right now, and should be registered with the Electoral commission in the next month or two. http://www.pirateparty.org.uk

Andrew Norton

Proud Brit, and head of Pirate Party International

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Anonymous Coward

Four routers sounds about right...

...to keep the office online for a few months, assuming she was buying the usual cheap shit disposable PCWoe things.

I've got a stack of the hateful objects somewhere - all have deteriorated to the "reboot once a day or more frequently" stage.

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Pirate

@ Winkypop

you missed a couple of extra points there.

1. Expose them

2. Charge them

3. Sack them

4. Prosecute them

5. Make them pay it all back..

6. ???????

7. Profit!

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Joke

What?

MP's have been claiming excessive expenses? I wish this was mentioned in the media somewhere, talk about cover-up!

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Joke

Good for the Economy

These expenses are helping the economy. We've explained this before to you -- Remember "Trickle Down Economics", "Economic Multipliers". Government waste is a good thing. WIthout it huge sections of the economy would collapse and joblessness would rise to incredible levels.................

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Re: Line 'em up agin the wall

You forgot.

6. Shoot them

REe: How is it fraud?

These claims may have been signed off but they not been within the rules, they have been purely and simply fraudulent. All claims should be for expenses incurred as part of their parliamentary work. So to see them all writhing and wriggling like the snakes in the grass they are is rather amusing. As one person said, they would like to know how a 600+ GBP china tea service helped their MP in the execution of their parliamentary duties.

As for Kirkbride wanting an extra room for her son, WTF does that have to do with her being an MP? In addition she got planning permission for this folly even though it was in a Grade II listed building on green belt land due to special circumstances. It would appear thet even amongst MPs some are more special than others. Maybe she should go straight to step 6.

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Paris Hilton

In Britain

Its the rich that get the pleasure, and the poor that get the blame.

I remember that being said (or sung) some time ago.

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Anonymous Coward

Cameron doesn't get it

Seems Chameleon Dave is expecting a return to business as usual in the not too distant future, only with him in charge of the trough. Suggesting that he couldn't "rule out a return to politics" for Kirkbride suggest the penny hasn't dropped.

There are plenty of repentant villains past in this one, but I fervently hope Cameron is fingered for the "squeaky clean reformer" act he is currently trying to pull.

Anyone need their Wisteria trimming?

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none of them get it

It's the systematic use of public money i.e. our money for private gain that rankles the most.

Sir John Butterfill made hundreds of thousands of pounds in capital gains tax using money he got from the taxpayer. He also claimed for refurbishing the servants' (oops, I mean staff) wing of his house. Dear old Michael Connarty bought some furniture with taxpayers money and then sold it to Jim Devine who paid for it with taxpayers money. Now all of that might be strictly within the rules but here's what one Harriet Harman said regarding the almost forgotten Fred Goodwin's pension deal

"...it might be enforceable in a court of law, this contract, but it is not enforceable in the court of public opinion and that is where the government steps in."

We need thes people sacked now. Standing down at the next election and pocketing 100k for the privilege along with whatever money can be milked from the sale of whatever assets have been bought from the public purse in the interim is not acceptable in this particular court of public opinion.

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"I haven't broken the rules"

Oh yes you have.

I would remind those MPs (and defenders of MPs) who say no rules have been broken that the 'Green Book' criteria for legitimate claims are "additional costs wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred".

"Wholly": that means no little extras like dog food that you 'forgot' to exclude from the claim - unless HMRC are accepting, "sorry but I'm a bit careless" as an excuse this week.

"Exclusively": The expense was incurred only to allow you to fulfil your duties, which seems to exclude using the money to do a 'Sarah Beeny Property Ladder' on the taxpayer as a lucrative little sideline.

"Necessarily": Meaning that if you hadn't spent this money you wouldn't have been able to function as an MP. Not sure I understand how not having mock-tudor beams on your house would stop you doing your job. Equally, if you already own a flat in Westminster I would need to be convinced that it was "necessary" for you to rent another one from your daughter at the taxpayers expense.

Most MPs claiming they haven't broken the rules actually have infringed at least one of the 'Green Book' conditions. Some have gone for the full set. Now, I'm not a lawyer, but I thought that telling deliberate lies for monetary gain was fraud. If it isn't, it bloody well should be!

As to the Stephen Fry tendency, who say this is all a storm in a teacup, and trivial when compared to the 'real' issues such as illegal wars, I would respond that the 2 things are not separate. It's a question of integrity. MPs whose primary motivation is personal gain and advancement are unlikely to rock the gravy boat when doing so would exclude them from the patronage they seek. "Who cares if a load of Iraqi civilians and British soldiers die - I'm going to be a junior minister, with a car, a driver and everything!". It boils down to a question of whether these people are in it for us or for themselves. Corruption and illegal wars are 2 sides of the same coin IMHO. Stephen's a very clever bloke but I think he's wrong about this one.

Here endeth the rant.

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