MP Spring: Even top cops have teased me

A SUFFOLK MP who has claimed �4,000 a year in food bills has told how he has been mocked “mercilessly” by “everybody” - including senior police officers.

Laurence Cawley

A SUFFOLK MP who has claimed �4,000 a year in food bills last night told how he has been mocked “mercilessly” by “everybody” - including senior police officers.

Richard Spring, who has been MP for West Suffolk since 1997, has claimed �79,608 from the taxpayer during the past four years.

His claims include more than �4,000 on average a year for food, more than �1,000 a year for cleaning and a single claim for a new security alarm for his cottage.

But the Tory MP yesterday told how he had been repeatedly ribbed since the expenses scandal, which some claim has shattered public confidence in parliamentary democracy, broke.

He said “people are seething” about the issue of MPs expenses and revealed how he had been “mercilessly and remorselessly teased by everybody”.

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This, he said, included some of the county's most senior police officers.

Suffolk police yesterday said it was unable to comment on the matter because the officers involved were unavailable.

But Mr Spring told how, when he picked up a cup of tea at a recent event, he was asked by a senior officer whether he was going to claim for it on expenses. The officer and another senior officer, said Mr Spring, were then “rolling with laughter”.

And when Mr Spring went to the market in Mildenhall he was asked by a fruit and vegetable stall holder whether he would be claiming back the cost of an apple he bought on his expenses.

Jokingly, Mr Spring replied: “Would you like a kick in the goolies?”

Mr Spring said nobody had been rude to him and the public had every right to be “outraged” at the expenses revelations.

“There is a serious point to all this and I think the public has every right to be completely outraged with this business of flipping homes and claiming mortgage interest on mortgages already paid off - it is outrageous.

“The most important thing is to have complete transparency and a new system that is uncomplicated.”

Joanna Spicer, a member of Suffolk Police Authority, said she was unable to comment on Mr Spring's encounter with the senior police officers but did say she was surprised members of the public - including police officers - were teasing an MP.

“I've been on the doorsteps and I've spoken to hundreds if not thousands of people these past eight days and not one person I've met has been laughing. I don't think it is disloyal to Richard to say I don't think it is a laughing matter.”

Mrs Spicer is standing for re-election to Suffolk County Council for the Blackbourne division. The other candidates are David Bradbury (Lib Dem), Pervez Khan (Lab) and Amber Newman (Suffolk Together).