After nine months of hell for my wife and me I have been not required to pay back a single penny.
So, Sir Thomas Legg's final report has been published with all fanfare the press can muster.
To say the least it has in my experience been an unprofessional, sloppy and inaccurate exercise for which Sir Thomas and his team have been very well paid from the public purse and have cost more than they have saved.
In my own case he initially asked for the repayment of over £13,000. He made no response to the evidence I then submitted to him showing where his figures were wrong, his analysis was wrong and his assumptions as to motivations were wrong. He also refused to meet with me to discuss his findings and my case against them. He then produced his final report repeating the same incorrect sums and providing no explanation as to how they were arrived at and no reply to the points I had put to him. Curiously however he reduced the sum he said I owed for mortgage interest payments by the £300 I had 'voluntarily' repaid last year for a rug I claimed for? What this had to do with the mortgage interest claims was and remains unexplained except to serve as further indication as to how sloppy the exercise has been.
I therefore appealed to Sir Paul Kennedy, a former High Court Judge, who took the trouble to read my submission and based his decisions on the facts - rather than the newspaper headlines that Sir Thomas seems to have relied on.
He found, and I quote from his letter,
"...your explanation does not indicate that there was anything improper about what you did in the summer of 2004....the arrangement was made for a proper purpose .... It was fully disclosed at the time. It did not cast any additional burden on the public purse, and it simply left you with modest accommodation in London, in your own name which you needed for your parliamentary duties.
I would therefore allow your appeal."
Local news media, who have alleged that I 'had to' repay £300 are wrong. I 'had to' repay nothing - but, like a lot of other MPs, I did volunteer to make a repayment and repaid the £300 for the rug last year which I have now removed from my London flat and brought home to Gateshead.
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|Promoted by Ken Childs on behalf of David Clelland, both of 19 Ravensworth Road, Dunston, Gateshead. NE11 9AB|