Shock, horror, surprise: I bet you weren’t expecting this

Well, who’d have thought it? Yet another story involving Conservative Parliamentarians and misuse of expenses:

Two Tory MPs, Sir Nicholas Winterton and his wife Ann, were in “unequivocal” breach of Parliamentary rules by claiming over £165,000 in rent on a property which they had bought outright, MPs have concluded.

The Wintertons’ family “benefited directly from the payment of rent”, which is “explicitly prohibited” under the rules, according to the Standards and Privileges Committee. They were alerted to this in February 2007 and “this should have been addressed.”

A report by MPs upheld the complaint against the long serving members for Macclesfield and Congleton, but said they should not face any punishment or pay back the rent because the breach was “unwitting” and they did not try and hide the arrangement.

The arrangement, whereby they purchased their flat outright in 2002, put it in a trust and then claimed rent for it on expenses, was within the rules when it came into force in February 2002. But John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards who investigated the affair said it was “arguable” it might have breached rules introduced in 2003 and was an “unequivocal” breach of changes introduced in July 2006. [The Times]

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