James Gray is the Tory MP for North Wiltshire. Readers may remember his crowning career achievement of cheating on his cancer-stricken wife with a married woman.
Now a Guido investigation can reveal that Gray double claims on the rent for his constituency office and constituency accommodation, separately charging the taxpayer thousands of pounds for each despite them being at the same address.
Gray claims £4,800-a-year in expenses for his constituency office rent. His constituency office address listed on the official parliament website, shown above, is that of his local Conservative association. Guido phoned the number given, and indeed the person who answered was sitting in the Tory association office. Yet IPSA records show Gray is claiming constituency office rent expenses for a separate address.
Guido’s investigation has discovered that Gray separately claims both constituency office and accommodation rent expenses for the same Wiltshire address: Ganbrook Farm. He claims a further £13,474-a-year for his accommodation, also charging the taxpayer up to £35,000-a-year to employ his new wife Philippa as his diary secretary on the farm they live in together. Yet if you call his listed constituency office number to book an appointment, the phone rings in a building miles away. Gray therefore appears to be doubling up on his rent expenses for his home and office, a ruse last tried by Denis MacShane.
IPSA rental arrangement files show that the landlord of the property is the “Andrews Settlement”. Guido has learned that the Andrews Settlement is the trust for the Neston Park estate, a large local estate controlled by Sir James Henry Fleetwood Fuller, 4th Baronet. Gray has confirmed that Fuller is the recipient of both his office and accommodation expenses, for the same farm. Electoral Commission data reveals that Fuller and his family have donated £1,250 to Gray through his association, and over £20,000 more to the Conservative Party.
Despite the photo evidence, Gray says that his constituency office and accommodation are “entirely separate” properties with separate leases, merely “adjacent” to each other on the same farm. He insists the arrangement is “open, declared… wholly above board [and] absolutely legitimate and honest”. Despite the publicly-listed address and telephone number for his constituency office being the local Tory association, Gray claims they merely “field very occasional calls and forward the tiny amount of post which arrives there”. However you cannot write to him at his real constituency office – for which we pay – because IPSA told us, it is kept private for the “protection of the MP’s security”.
Gray rather amusingly warned Guido: “you might want to be very cautious how you phrase your story.”