MP slammed for Colchester home deceit

A LABOUR MP in London who claimed that his home in Colchester was his main residence for parliamentary expenses purposes has been ordered to forfeit his �65,000 resettlement grant for was described as a “particularly serious breach” of parliamentary rules.

Graham Dines

A LABOUR MP in London who claimed that his home in Colchester was his main residence for parliamentary expenses purposes has been ordered to forfeit his �65,000 resettlement grant for was described as a “particularly serious breach” of parliamentary rules.

An investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, John Lyon, found that Mr Cohen had consistently designated the house in Colchester as his main home since he bought it in 1998.

It enabled him to claim the second homes allowance on a succession of properties in his Leyton and Wanstead constituency in east London.


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However, from 2004 to 2008, Mr Cohen and his wife spent most of their time living in the constituency, while periodically letting out the Colchester house to tenants on six-month leases.

During that period he claimed and received more than �70,000 in second homes allowances.

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As an outer London MP with just one home, he would have been entitled to claim just �9,000 in the London supplement over the same period.

“Mr Cohen's breach was particularly serious and it involved a large sum of public money,” the committee said.

“Withholding of the resettlement grant is a severe sanction, which will effectively recover from Mr Cohen a similarly large sum of public money.”

Mr Cohen has also been ordered to make a public apology for his conduct on the floor of the Commons.

The committee acknowledged that Mr Cohen faced particular difficulties as his wife suffered a stroke in 2004 and required regularly treatment at a north London hospital, which made it impossible for them to carry on living in Colchester.

But although the couple had always intended to return to Colchester house, where they plan to retire, it said it should have been clear by April 2004 that was not going to happen in the short term.

Mr Cohen, who is retiring at the General Election, would have been entitled to a �65,000 resettlement grant as a golden goodbye

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