So Baroness Uddin will not be facing criminal charges over her designation of a flat she hardly ever visited as her 'main residence', in order to claim between £25k and £30k a year in attendance allowances for the House of Lords. The property was not, according to neighbours, occupied or even furnished. Constantly Furious points out that her claim for 2007/8, even at the maximum rate allowable, represents more days than the Lords actually sat. But no charges are to be brought.
Well, well, well.
The rules surrounding the claiming of Lords' allowances were even more vague than the Green Book used by the Commons, and basically, a noble Lord or Lady's 'main residence' was wherever they said it was. There was a vague rule about visiting at least once a month, but that was too imprecise to make a prosecution viable. Evidence from neighbours and utility companies suggested she hardly ever went there, but Kier Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions, didn't think the evidence would stand up in court:
Director of Public Prosecutions Mr Starmer said the definition of a peer's "main home" in the Lords expenses scheme would always have been "critical to any possible criminal proceedings against Baroness Uddin".
He said it was his job to decide whether there was a "realistic prospect of conviction" resulting from the police evidence, not to make "findings of fact".
He added there was "insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against the peer adding: "Baroness Uddin is entitled to be presumed innocent and that is the basis upon which I have approached the case."
Hardly a ringing endorsement of her innocence to my eyes.
However, it's not all over yet:
An inquiry by the House of Lords authorities into her case was opened last July but put on hold pending the police investigation.
Let's hope their Lordships have a sense of decency and an understanding of the public outrage over this, and take some positive and rigorous action against Noble Troughers who bring the entire edifice into utter disrepute. What is the most shameful aspect of this for me is the fact that the flat she called her main residence is part of a social housing complex, subsidised by the taxpayer, and by keeping it as her 'main residence' (to qualify for the attendance allowance) she was presumably preventing someone in genuine need from having a roof over their head.
What an utter, utter disgrace.
Uddin was made a life peer by Tony Blair in 1998.