Today's news in the Telegraph has fingered four ministers over dodgy expenses claims. The allegations are that,
- Barbera Follet, the Tourisarm Minister and wife of millionaire Ken Follett spent £25,000 on a private security patrol at her flat in Soho after she was mugged and felt unsafe. Makes Jacqui Smith's comments about not walking at night, and Harriet Harman's stab jacket look minor huh? Follet has said "I claimed it, it's within the rules and I have no comment to make."
- Phil Woolas, the Home Office Minister, is alleged to have claimed for womens clothing, nappies and tampons, suggesting he was claiming for someone else and thus breaking the rules - unless he's a transvestite hermaphrodite with weird tastes and we don't know of course? Apparently he has said the allegation is "absolutely disgusting", is seeking legal advice, and is denying he did any such thing. My guess is that if the allegation is true it's a receipt with lots of items on it and nothing was crossed out, i.e. a "clerical error".
- Ben Bradshaw, the Health Minister is accused of doing the second home switch trick but also now claiming for full interest payments on a house he shares with his partner but is only obliged to pay half the interest payments on. I imagine someone will point out that straight MPs in relationships with joint mortgages wouldn't get the same attention - expect claims of homophobia from some quarters on this one.
- Phil Hope, the Care Services Minister, is alleged to have spent £37K furnishing his flat.
Now, for me, the most incredulous of these expenses claims is the one by Barbera Follet. This is a woman that this is the wife of millionaire who's own husband, according to him, subsidises her already to the tune of at least £100K a year. Put aside the absurdity of hiring a private security detail at the taxpayer expense - I thought they were called the Police - she's filthy rich already.
I'm thinking that 3,139 majority in Stevenage is looking dicey this morning.