Haselhurst may face Heffer challenge

THE deputy speaker of the Commons could be challenged in his Essex constituency at the next election by one of the UK's leading journalists in the on-going row over expenses at Westminster.

Graham Dines

THE deputy speaker of the Commons could be challenged in his Essex constituency at the next election by one of the UK's leading journalists in the on-going row over expenses at Westminster.

Simon Heffer has confirmed that unless Sir Alan Haselhurst offers a full apology for claiming �12,000 for a gardener to undertake eight hours a week work in his constituency home, then he'll stand against him.

Sir Alan, who has been Conservative MP for Saffron Walden since 1977 and is chairman of Ways and Means - deputy Speaker - issued a statement today saying he would repay the money “out of respect to my constituents.”


You may also want to watch:


Sir Alan said: “In terms of total expense claims, I currently rank 582nd out of 646 MPs. However, the claim for gardening help has caused concern. The expense claims have been strictly in accordance with parliamentary rules.”

Sir Alan went on: “I deeply regret the public anger which the expenses revelations have understandably generated. The rules governing them are no longer acceptable.”

Most Read

Mr Heffer, who lives near Great Leighs which will become part of Sir Alan's constituency under major boundary changes being implemented at the next election, wrote in The Daily Telegraph - the paper which has unearthed all the expenses claims - that “if Sir Alan couldn't maintain a socking great garden without public help, then he should have bought a house with a smaller one.

“Most of his constituents have homes where an hour a week, never mind eight hours, deals with the garden. The �12,000 he has spent of their money is half the average annual wage.”

Mr Heffer said this afternoon: “I will read Sir Alan's statement carefully, but there is no hint of apology in it. If between now and the opening of nominations for the general election he does not admit error, then I shall stand against him as an independent.

“I am not so arrogant as to claim I would win, but I am so arrogant to believe that my intervention as a local man untainted by financial irregularity and uninterested in milking the taxpayer could enable someone else to.”

If elected, Mr Heffer said he would continue as a journalist with the Telegraph. “We need to get away from full-time MPs, for that is the cancer had has caused this ugly culture of financial rapacity.”

Sir Alan could not be contacted.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus