Telegraph MP Expenses Spotlight Turns On Andrew Turner: Full Details

Andrew Turner received _the_ letter from the Telegraph asking detailed questions about his expenses. Here’s the full details.

Andrew TurnerThe details of Andrew Turner’s MPs expenses have come to the attention of the Daily Telegraph as they gradually work their way through claimed expenses by all MPs.

VB has previously asked for the details of the expenses, but Andrew Turner’s office told us that they preferred to wait for them to be published by the Conservative Party House of Commons Authorities.

Below are the Telegraph questions and answers given by Andrew Turner’s office.

Dear Andrew Turner,

The Daily Telegraph is investigating the expense claims made by MPs under the Parliamentary additional costs allowance system since the 2004/05 financial year.

We are considering publishing an article in tomorrow’s newspaper (2nd June 2009) which will contain details of your expense claims.

We are aware of the provisions of the statutory instrument passed by Parliament last July and will therefore not be publishing members’ addresses or any other details which could compromise security.

However, as a matter of legitimate public interest and concern, we intend to publish the following details about your expense claims under the Additional Costs Allowance and Incidental Expenses Provision. We would invite you to respond to the following points.

1. In 2004 you claimed £579 for occupational health treatment for Colin Hedgley, who later won an unfair dismissal claim against you. Please could you explain in what way you felt this was an appropriate use of public money.

The welfare and efficiency of my staff is important to me and I was advised to pay for occupational health treatment as the member of staff concerned was suffering from stress, which he said was caused at work. This course of action was agreed in advance by the Personnel Advice Service at the House of Commons who also advised that this represented good employment practice.

2. The following year you claimed £2,327 for solicitors’ fees following the employment tribunal that found against you. Although the file is unclear, it also appears you claimed back the cost of the £10,250 compensation you were ordered to pay. Please could you explain in what way you felt this was an appropriate use of public money.

The tribunal case was in relation to the employment of a member of staff who was employed on Parliamentary and constituency business. It was widely reported at the time.

All costs relating to Industrial Tribunals can be legitimately claimed against Parliamentary expenses. All costs were fully agreed with the Fees Office.

In January 2006 the fees office paid me £6,471 in relation to the compensatory award of £10,250 which was the balance left in the allowances budget for the year 2004/5.

3. In April 2005 your partner and parliamentary assistant Carole Dennett wrote, in an email to the fees office concerning your bank account details: “Look forward to receiving the money – I shall then be able to spend it on lots of booze so that the forthcoming election goes in an alcoholic blur.” Please could you explain whether you feel this is appropriate.

In the cold light of day this could be judged as inappropriate but it was a private joke between two people who were in regular contact.

4. In the same year you claimed £3.48 for “Vax for pets” carpet cleaner. Please can you explain in what way this was necessary for your work as an MP.

To clean the carpets in my office which is used by staff and constituents and had become grubby over time.

5. In 2006-7 you attempted to claim £424 for a Hitachi camcorder and accessories but it was turned down by the fees office. Please could you explain in what way you felt this was an appropriate use of public money.

I was planning to put video clips on my website of the work I do in my constituency. I understand that the rules have subsequently changed and expenditure for this purpose is now claimable against Parliamentary allowances.

6. The same year you successfully claimed £16 for “robin and wreath” wrapping paper purchased on Christmas Eve. Please can you explain in what way this was necessary for your work as an MP, and why you felt this was an appropriate use of public money.

I suffered a stroke in December 2006 and a number of people kindly sent flowers. Some came to my home – others to the office and £10 was spent in Matalan on a vase for the office. The wrapping paper (3 x £2) should clearly have been crossed off the claim.

7. You also claimed £240 for a member of your staff to study GCSE maths. Please could you explain in what way you felt this was an appropriate use of public money.

In accordance with good employment practice I believe in developing the skills and confidence of my employees. Two are currently studying for an NVQ3 in Customer Service.

8. In July 2007 you submitted a £160 claim for “life coaching (4 sessions)” for Miss Dennett. Please could you explain in what way you felt this was an appropriate use of public money. Please could you also explain whether these classes were related to her treatment of employees being described by the chairman of the employment tribunal as “far below an acceptable form of behaviour”.

The treatment was not for Miss Dennett but for another member of staff who was suffering from emotional problems related to family illness which were affecting her work. This was agreed in advance with the House of Commons Personnel Advice service. Relationships between staff in my office are good.

9. In the same year you claimed £20 for House of Commons cufflinks. Please could you explain in what way you felt this was an appropriate use of public money.

It was a leaving gift for an intern who had worked as a volunteer for several months in my Commons office. He made a valuable contribution towards the running of my office.

10. In 2006-7 you claimed £199 for a radio, and then £139 for another one the following year. Please could you explain in what way you felt this was an appropriate use of public money.

I listen to the local and national news in my office. When the original radio broke down it was replaced. It was not realized until too late that the original one was still under guarantee.

11. You claim the Additional Costs Allowance for the house in Newport that you jointly own with Miss Dennett. This is the house on which you both appear on the electoral roll. Neither of you appear to have any links to homes elsewhere. Please could you explain what you consider your main home to be, and what proportion of your time you spend there.

We have a flat in London on which I also have a mortgage. The House of Commons Authorities are fully aware of both addresses. At the time I made the nomination I spent more nights at my London address than the Island one so it was nominated as my ‘main’ home in accordance with the rules.

We do not presently see the justification for all of these claims under the rules or spirit of the rules set out in the Parliamentary Green Book.

We would also be interesting in establishing what steps you have taken to ensure there are “no grounds for a suggestion of a misuse of public money” and that “value for money” has been obtained.

I have submitted my claims to the Conservative scrutiny panel and will abide by any decision they make. All of the claims you have highlighted relate directly to my work as a Member of Parliament and to the employment and development of staff, save the £6 claimed in error whilst I was ill.

Please could we receive your comments by 5pm today so that they can be given due weight in our inquiries and properly reflected in any article we decide to publish. Please could you also inform us if you do not wish to comment.

Tuesday, 2nd June, 2009 7:53am

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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25 Comments on "Telegraph MP Expenses Spotlight Turns On Andrew Turner: Full Details"

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Margie

So he made a mistake claiming £6 for wrapping paper and the radios are quite expensive, but the rest of it, don’t have a problem with it. Wish the Telegraph would just get over it.

Margie

As for the comments about drunken blur – clearly a joke, but with the nonsense that rears it’s head during election process I wouldn’t blame her anyway.

romeantique

Her comment was an utter disgrace, whether a joke or not.
Someone in her position should be showing respect to those with alcohol dependency problems.

She was acting as a representative of the Islands MP. Belittling people with an debilitating illness is bad enough, but not paying due regard to that potentially being put in the public domain should have prompted her resignation.

Alan

HAHAHAHA

Great stuff. It’s great to see politicians squirm, especially when it’s not about their sordid sexual activities.

None of those expenses claims seem massively inappropriate, it’s just good that all this information is finally public and MPs are feeling compelled to respond.

Wendy V

Thanks for publishing the full Q&A so we can see for ourselves rather than waiting for the Telegraph’s take on it.

Pete

I still question the Telegraphs, and especially its owners, motivation in this.

Don Smith

Money – Plain and simple. Their circulation nearly doubled.

Jamie Brown
I’ve enjoyed this expenses scandal so far – its been good to see politicians forced to think about how they’ve spent our hard earned money. And I think its great that they’re now more accountable for what they do with it going forward. However this seems unnecessary – clearly everything was spent fairly and in good faith. Or is this an example of a good guy?
Phil Meboots
A good guy! don’t make me laugh, Whilst an employee may be eligible for sick pay, £600 for health care is not a legitimate expense, how much would our Council Tax would be if all teachers and other council staff suffering stress could claim nearly £600 for treatment? A well wisher sends him flowers and suddenly it costs me money for him to accept them! £20 for… Read more »
No.5

I’m beginning to agree

Don Smith

And we must not forget the holidays the MPs and Peers have at public expense. One MP had eight holidays in one year. Visiting Australia, the West Indies and South America and Fiji. Going green! And me using light bulbs that remind me of gas lights in the 1930s.
It’s a blatant case of jollies on tap and no one to turn off the tap.

JJ

Just noticed this, so posted here for those interested – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8080705.stm

chris
The media and some of you are scraping the bottom of the barrel now. He miss spent £6.00 … shock and horror, hang him now OR why not take a moment and think how many times you have seen or know of somoneone, even yourself, who has asked for a reciept to be made out not for the article in question. Evere person in the hospitality trade… Read more »
Davel Jones
Contrary to how I thought this would grab me, I now feel that people are genuinely disappointed that the island MP was not discovered to be on board the personal gain train that a lot of the others have been riding on. This was quite evident in some papers where, having nothing with which to tar and feather him they resorted to their usual grubby type and… Read more »
Don Smith
OK! But let’s just have just a few prosecutions, in fairness to the benefit cheats who get prosecuted. Not a single MP has been prosecuted. And some are guilty of very serious fraud and deception. Just look at the case of the disgraced Speaker, Martin – Given the boot – made a Peer a pension for life of at least £32,000 a year and all the daily… Read more »
Don Smith

Most people do not have hospitality perks, there are far too many; it must be nice to have your bar bill paid for. Then asking for your food to be added to the bill could suggest that you work at Westminster or the House of Lords; even at the Council, perhaps!

romeantique
lol you have got to hand it to the Telegraph they got answers from Turner on every single one of their questions due to their one days notice of publication. I cant recall ever actually getting a single satisfactory answer from him despite months of prompting him and his hopeless office. Role on two MP’s for the Wight as I will consider moving to another part of… Read more »
Temperate geezer

It seems the top two Island Tories partners like a drink.

nominative determinism
Turners expense claims all seem perfectly legitimate apart from a £6 mistake, which is fair enough. However, surely that is the problem. They ARE legitimate. Even £20 for a leaving present. On the few occasions a boss has given me a leaving present, it has been paid for out of his own money, not by company money. I know this because it happened to be a cheque… Read more »
Haulage Bob
How would you have the son of the Monarch travel to a major fund-raising show, by bus? Andrew Turner does what he should, he claims for business expenses. I claim for the cost of parking, travel, gifts, lunches and my driver’s annual Christmas party. The tax man allows all these things, because they arise from my business, as do Turner’s. His business is representing the IW. To… Read more »
nominative determinism
the son of the monarch? what the hell does he have to do with expense claims from MPs? As for turner, your right, he does seem to be honest within the rules. My contention is that the rules need changing to reflect the reality of life in britain. The reality is that people have to pay their mortgage out of their own salary, not the taxpayers purse.… Read more »
romeantique
“His business is representing the IW” Well he certainly didn’t represent the vast majority who didn’t sign the OneWight petition, or the Island students, or those who urged him not to back the Digital Economy Bill, in fact he didn’t even bother attending the debate. In fact he unsuccessfully strived to ensure we remain under-represented, I think his main interest lies in serving himself by playing a… Read more »
sailor sam

I seem to remember our ‘honest’ MP loosing a case of ‘un-fair dismissal’ at an industrial tribunal recently and paying the compensation from his expences… surely that wasn’t right!

Shobba

Well Mr Smith, you could become an Mp, just stand for parliament like Turner did. Of course, you could also then campaign in the house for a change in allowances.

Only Labour Mp’s were prosecuted, because only they seriously broke the law. False accounting is a very serious charge, more so for those in positions of trust and responsibility.