Conservative MEP probed over £500,000 payment to family firm

Impressively large sums, even by the standards of Members of Parliament at the moment:

The leader of the Conservative MEPs, Giles Chichester, has channelled almost £500,000 in parliamentary allowances through a family firm founded by his father, the yachtsman Sir Francis Chichester.

Company documents reveal that since 1996 Chichester has paid the company £445,000 for services “in connection with secretarial and assistant services for the European parliament, constituency and committee work”.

Chichester has been in discussions with the parliament over whether the payments represent a conflict of interest.

Some of it – from an annual MEP staff allowance of about £160,000 – was previously made through the firm to staff, including his wife, to carry out secretarial services. But in recent years he has stopped paying staff through the company – because he says it attracted too much Vat – while continuing to make the parliamentary payments to the firm. [Sunday Times]

Ironically, Giles Chichester is in charge of ensuring the probity of expense claims.

UPDATE: His expense scandals eventually did for Giles Chichester.

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