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Standards Commissioner finds against ex-MP Andrew Mackay, but clears fellow Expensesgate victim Julie Kirkbride, over use of parliamentary allowances

By Jonathan Isaby

Julie Kirkbride We have already carried a report on the Standards Commissioner clearing Nadine Dorries of wrongoing, and also today comes news about two of the MPs who stood down during the Expensesgate saga - Julie Kirkbride and her husband, Andrew Mackay, formerly MPs for Bromsgrove and Bracknell respectively.

The question about Ms Kirkbride regarded whether she was "within the rules of the House in claiming interest on the increased mortgage she took out in order to build an additional bedroom in her home in Bromsgrove when it was used by her brother principally to assist her with childcare and when no allowance was made by her for the cost of his use of the property."

John Lyon, the Standards Commissioner, did not uphold the complaint against her.

Andrew MackayMr Mackay, meanwhile, faced questions over whether he was acting within the rules of the House "in identifying as his main home the Bromsgrove property he shared with his wife and fellow Member of Parliament, Ms Julie Kirkbride, when he knew that she had identified that home as her second home and would claim parliamentary allowances on it".

The Commissioner did uphold the complaint against him and the he Standards and Privileges Committee's conclusions about his case are as follows: 

"We conclude that Mr Andrew Mackay breached the rules relating to second home allowances by wrongly designating his home in Bromsgrove as his main home for ACA purposes and because his claims against ACA for his London home were not beyond reproach. In our view, it should have been obvious to Mr Mackay that the arrangement whereby he and Ms Kirkbride each designated the other's second home as their main home, allowing both to be funded from Parliamentary allowances, was fundamentally wrong. It went beyond the purpose of the rules, which was to reimburse Members for the additional cost of maintaining a second home for Parliamentary purposes. The flaws in the arrangement should have been no less obvious to the Department of Resources and its predecessors, who should not have allowed it. But although this failure on the part of the House authorities may help to explain why Mr Mackay made and never corrected a serious misjudgement, the responsibility remains with him.

"We are very disappointed that, even after seeing the Commissioner's full report, Mr Mackay maintains that he did not break the rules, when it is quite clear that he did. Mr Mackay has already paid a high price for making such a serious misjudgment. The very fact that Mr Mackay is no longer a Member of Parliament shows what a heavy political price he has paid. He has also repaid a considerable sum of money. Nonetheless, we expect Mr Mackay, having read our Report, to apologise for the breach in writing. Had Mr Mackay still been a Member of this House, we would have recommended that he apologise on the floor of the House by means of a personal statement and we would have recommended a period of suspension from the service of the House."

Full report here.


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