MP 'vindicated' by expenses ruling

NORTH Essex MP Bernard Jenkin said last night he had been “vindicated” after he won an appeal against repaying �63,250 in parliamentary expenses.

Annie Davidson

NORTH Essex MP Bernard Jenkin said last night he had been “vindicated” after he won an appeal against repaying �63,250 in parliamentary expenses.

Former Appeal Court judge Sir Paul Kennedy has slashed the amount Mr Jenkin was told to pay back from rent claimed for a second home by �25,000.

The Conservative MP said he would reimburse the remaining �36,250 within a matter of days.

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He had appealed against a decision made by Sir Thomas Legg about how much he should pay back for a farmhouse rented from his sister-in-law as a second home in Hatfield Peverel.

Sir Thomas was appointed to trawl through all MPs' claims in the wake of the expenses scandal last summer and ordered Mr Jenkin to repay �63,250.

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This was despite the fact at least �40,000 had been approved by the House of Commons fees office.

Mr Jenkin was one of 80 MPs who appealed in the light of the ruling and was informed of Sir Paul's decision on Friday.

He told the EADT: “Sir Paul's ruling has vindicated the substance of my appeal and I am relieved that any implication of impropriety on my part has been entirely removed.

“He has cut the repayment demand by �25,000, to �36,250. I have always said that I would repay whatever was finally recommended.

“Having prepared for this eventuality, I will make payment within the next few days.

“Sir Thomas Legg asserted that all the claims for renting our second home were 'tainted' and should all be repaid.

“The appeal judge, Sir Paul Kennedy, has overturned this ruling, saying 'there can be no criticism whatsoever' of the arrangement.

“However, I always accepted that I had overlooked a change in the rules in July 2006, relying instead on advice from the fees office which turned out to be wrong.

“Sir Paul has ruled I should repay the money claimed following the rule change, though he points out, 'there is no hint of bad faith'.

“This is a much more harsh decision than handed down by the Standards and Privileges Committee in previous cases, or was originally recommended by the fees office in my case, but such poor advice and decision-making underlines why we had to reform our flawed expenses system.

“This is a large sum to repay, but I feel it is right that it should be repaid.

“I have always tried to do the right thing, and I hope people will respect that.”

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