David Ruffley: Rubber gloves and moth killer

A CAMCORDER, moth repellent, rubber gloves, a hand-free car phone and professional photographs all feature in the parliamentary expenses claims of Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley.

Graham Dines

A CAMCORDER, moth repellent, rubber gloves, a hand-free car phone and professional photographs all feature in the parliamentary expenses claims of Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley.

The shadow minister for police reform, who has been Bury MP since 1997, has a mortgage on a flat in Pimlico near the House of Commons and rents a property at Bradfield St George in his constituency.

In 2007-08, Mr Ruffley charged taxpayers nearly �4,000 for cleaning and laundry. Among the household items he purchased under this heading were anti moth sachets costing �150, under bed sets costing �6, fabric whitener at �8.45, and some rubber gloves at �1.94.

Repairs to a lamp at his home were charged at �90 and he claimed accountancy fees of �400, newspapers costing �980, and car parking in his constituency of �180.

In April 2004, Mr Ruffley claimed �240 for a hands free phone in his new car and the next month he was reimbursed his leaseholder obligation of �11,523.03 for external decoration, repairs and lift repairs at the block of flats where he lives in central London.

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Two months before the 2005 general election, Mr Ruffley claimed �230 for a professional photographic session, with an extra �16 for parking at the studio and the London congestion charge of �5.

In October 2006, Mr Ruffley bought at public expense a Sony DVD camcorder costing �477.50. In March 2007 he claimed for a �1,674 sofa and a television at �2,175 from Harrod's - for which he subsequently apologised to retailers in his constituency -although the Fees Office capped the television claim at �750.

The Commons authorities also reduced a �6,765 claim for furniture - including �3,350 for a 5ft bed, �1,000 for a bedstead, �219 for a duvet and �1,598 for bedside units - to �2,017.

One point stands out from many of the claims submitted by other MPs - Mr Ruffley has not charged for any subsistence during the past four years when under the rules he could have claimed up to �400 a month without the production of any receipts.

Mr Ruffley defended his claims: “The photographs were necessary for my Internet site, while the camcorder is used for my Ruffley TV web pages and for videos on YouTube. These are in connection with my constituency work and are not used to promote party politics.

“The hands free car phone is vital for me to keep in touch with my Westminster and constituency offices. Otherwise, driving up the M11 between London and Bury St Edmunds would be dead time when I could not get any work done.”

Mr Ruffley said the cleaning materials were for his Suffolk cottage, which had suffered an infestation of moths which had to be sorted out speedily.

“I have been as transparent as I can in what I have claimed. I believe the process of publication was necessary and the stories in The Daily Telegraph and the media about the claims will lead to the overhaul of a system which was unacceptable with the British public.

“It is in the national interest for the current rules to be scrapped,” said Mr Ruffley. “Aggressive outside scrutiny was needed, but any changes must be such that the public can have faith in the reforms.”

EXPENSES CLAIMS FROM 2004-5 to 2007-8

Additional costs allowance (second home costs): �67,786

Incidental expenses provision/staff allowance: �80,805

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