It’s clear that the political class think that the dust is settling from the MP’s expenses scandal. That’s why they – the people who falsely claimed our money – are so keen to start telling us – the people whose money it was – what they are going to do to stop it ever happening again.
Except it’s not quite over yet.
In a Harry’s Place exclusive, last night I had an interesting chat with the mole that broke the Derek Conway story (who is still protecting their identity). They said that only half the story to date has been exposed.
We know that The Daily Telegraph, in a fantastic scoop on a par with Woodward and Bernstein’s work on Watergate, managed to illegally source the entire House of Commons’ database on MP’s expenses, compiled after Freedom of Information requests by Heather Brooke.
Except, as the mole has pointed out, the Telegraph had no information whatsoever on payments MPs made to their “staff”. These payments have still not been made public.
The mole alleges that Senior Liberal Democrat MPs made payments to third-parties (who were employed as staff), who then illegally recycled the money by making large donations to constituency Liberal Democrat associations. The MP’s researchers were then paid as little as possible to allow such dodgy donations.
The mole also alleges that Derek Conway’s dodgy employment of his son and wife was the tip of the iceberg and in fact commonplace.
Firstly, there was no enforced upper limit for how much an MP could pay their staff. Derek Conway paid his wife £36,000 per annum. The mole only saw printed documents for MPs with surnames beginning A – D.
Moreover, the mole alleges that this practice was widespread and many sons, daughters and ex-partners of MPs were on the payroll – but doing no work whatsoever for the MP’s constituents.
Whilst duck houses and moats may stick in the public imagination at the end of this rotten parliament – the truth of the extent of the venality of our elected MPs may never be known.