I wrote in March, (and updated here) when the CPS decided there was 'insufficient evidence' to prosecute Baroness Uddin:
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, the good ol' House of Lords have shown themselves made of sterner stuff. According to the BBC, the House has demanded that she repay £125,349 in expenses unfairly claimed, and has suspended her until Easter 2012. She has also been suspended from the Labour Party.
In other news, Lord Paul (Labour) has offered his resignation from the Party after being suspended from the Lords for four months and being ordered to repay his overclaim. Interestingly, he has tried to play the race card on this one:
The Labour peer and donor Lord Paul "freely admitted" he never spent a night at the one-bedroom flat in Oxfordshire he designated as his "main residence" between late 2005 and end end of July 2006, the report said.The House of Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee report said:
The report on his claims states: "Lord Paul explained his interpretation of the term 'main residence' by reference to his cultural background. He insisted that 'anyone coming out of India would not understand what main residence means'. He accepted that he had 'not once' looked at the guidance on the back of the claim forms."
... they could not claim, on the balance of probabilities, that he acted dishonestly or in bad faith but added: "However, his actions were utterly unreasonable and demonstrated gross irresponsibility and negligence."In other words, bang to rights. I wrote at the time
Reminder: Lord Paul is a billionaire who gave £400,000 to Labour, and £45,000 to Gordon Brown's leadership campaign. Totally unconnected to this, he was made a peer in 2006 and a Privy Councillor in 2009, despite the allegation that he was spectacularly unqualified for either role.Lord Bhatia (cross-bench peer, but a big Labour donor), meanwhile, has been suspended for eight months and has already repaid the £27,446 he overclaimed.
The committee found he did "not act in good faith" in the way he designated his "main home" - for the purposes of claiming an overnight allowance - nor in mileage claimed for journeys to that property, in Reigate.All I can say is that I am delighted. I never thought we would see justice for the taxpayer in all the greasy corruption of the expenses scandal. Most of the others have got off lightly - and you could say that suspension and paying back what you stole is still a fairly lenient 'punishment' - or got away with it completely, but at least some form of justice has been done here.
Meanwhile, David Chayter (Labour), Elliott Morley (Labour) and Jim Devine (Labour) want their cases to be heard by Parliament and not a criminal court. They say:
... this is not an attempt to ''take them above the law'', but to ensure they are adjudicated by the ''correct law and the correct body''.That's a bit like a gang of armed robbers saying it would only be fair if they were tried by a jury of other robbers, and judged against the laws of the criminal underworld. I hope and trust that the Supreme Court will see through this impertinent and self-serving stunt.
Can anyone see the common thread in all of the above - one factor that binds all of these thieving scoundrels together? Thank God we threw the whole nasty, corrupt lot out in May.