When will they jail an MP for fraud?

Yet another expenses fiddle has come to light, but it seems whenever they do the MP concerned gets a slap on the wrist or stands down at the next election. Yet if you or I had fiddled tens of thousands of pounds we would be facing a judge and a diet of porridge.

Liberal Democrat Paul Marsden, the MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, is to stand down at the next election. He is a bit of an odd-ball, putting love poems on his website, publicly apologising to his wife for an affair and jumping from Labour to the Lib-Dems in 2001. He clearly has loyalty issues.

He has rewarded his wife though, she received up to £30,000 a year for four years, from the public purse. The House of Commons department of finance and administration did turn down a £5,000 bonus applied for by Marsden for his wife. He was already facing an inquiry over payments from public funds to his wife, Shelly, for secretarial work.

It gets worse. It has come out that apparently the nanny to his two sons was also paid out of public funds. Maureen Machin, who worked for Paul Marsden in the constituency office from 1997 to 1999, is quoted as saying: “Sophie Richards started working as a nanny shortly after I started after the election and was still there when I left. She didn’t do any work in the constituency office [that Machin was aware of].”

Oddly other researchers for Mr Marsden worked as interns for nothing because he claimed there were insufficient funds to pay them. Well of course – the money was being paid to his wife and nanny. Marsden was the highest claiming MP in the West Midlands. He collected allowances totalling £136,869 last year, on top of his MP’s salary.

The official line is “Mr Marsden has said he is getting in touch with the parliamentary commissioner for standards so he can discuss fully where there are any concerns. He is obviously very keen to respond to them.” I bet he isn’t.




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