Spelman Ruling Establishes Important Principle

Guido argued strongly ahead of the decision that whatever the Standards and Privileges Committee ruled exactly, Spelman should have to pay back the cash she fiddled from her parliamentary expenses to pay the nanny. Given that the Committee of MPs invariably gives MPs under investigation the benefit of the doubt it seemed likely that she would get away with some claim ignorance of the rules, cite some ambiguity, claim it was a technical or administrative over-sight or whatever. These people are politicians after all, spin and blame avoidance are their way of life.

Nevertheless, even though it was ruled that she had “inadvertently” fiddled the money, she has been ordered to pay some of the money back on the basis that the taxpayer was paying the higher rate for a nanny not the rate for a parliamentary assistant and she therefore has to repay the difference.

They gave her the benefit of the doubt. Spelman ironically contradicted herself in her own evidence and shot herself in the foot. [Full report here.]

Mrs Spelman told us that Mrs Haynes “would have been most interested in the take-home pay received for her employment as a whole.” In our view, this does not help Mrs Spelman’s case. Rather, it tends to support the Commissioner’s view that Mrs Haynes would have been unlikely to have worked as Mrs Spelman’s nanny without some separate financial remuneration. The fact that Mrs Haynes was paid nothing as Mrs Spelman’s nanny while she was also working and being paid as Mrs Spelman’s administration assistant, but after giving up the latter role was paid a salary as nanny of £13,000, is in our view telling.

Many would say that just demonstrates what a poor advocate she is, others would say she was just being honest. Nevertheless she hired her own nanny subsequently at the rate she was previously paying Tina Haynes out of our taxes.

Guido regards this as a victory over the piggies, it established the principle that wrongfully claimed expenses – even if “inadvertently” claimed – must be repaid. Take note Jacqui. So now what do we do about the Wintertons?




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