Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Diana Johnson MP and the Mysterious Invoice

Back when the expenses scandal kicked off last May, one of the MPs that found herself under the spotlight was Government whip and now Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, Diana Johnson (Hull North).

When Thomas Legg reported, he said that Diana Johnson "has no issues" in relation to her Additional Cost Allowances, but what Legg didn't look at, and the Telegraph didn't spot, were the details listed in her Communications Allowance - the allowance given for distributing and promoting the work of an MP at a constituency level.

At the end of the detailed, albeit censored claims, provided on the Parliamentary website, is an invoice (below) to the tune of £1,654 for "delivery of a leaflet in Hull North Constituency during September and October 2007".

Looks legit doesn't it? However there's is an oddity about it. You see, there appears to be no such company as J W Shipley Distribution, either solvent or dissolved, listed on Companies House. An advanced search for all companies with "Shipley" also throws up nothing. Curious!

There is, however, an "independent" member of Humberside Police Authority called John Shipley who happens to be a local Labour Party activist in Hull, who also stood for the Labour Party in Hull during the 2002 elections.

I tried to contact Mr Shipley yesterday for confirmation that the invoice was from him but as yet have had no response.

Could it be that an allowance meant for non-party political activity is being used to pay Labour Party activists to deliver leaflets? Who knows, it's a bit of mystery!

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