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Sunday, January 18, 2009

More Tory grief on expenses

Are the Tories accident prone when it comes to their expense returns? I only ask because following on the heals of the great Bourne/Cairn's ipod controversy we now have the Mayor of London being accused of misusing public funds to pay for his stay at Tory Party Conference.

The Independent on Sunday reports that Boris Johnson spent £1,955.25 on accommodation for himself and a small group of advisers at the luxury Hyatt Regency hotel in Birmingham last September.

His office insist that using public funds was justified because he was attending the conference in his capacity as Mayor, giving a speech to delegates. However, Boris did not attend the Labour or Liberal Democrat conferences. By contrast, cabinet ministers did not use public funds to attend the Labour Party conference and were, instead, asked to pay out of their own pockets:

Mr Johnson is believed to have arrived in Birmingham on Saturday 27 September, staying for three nights. A suite at the Hyatt Regency, the main conference hotel for senior Tories, would have cost around £1,000 for three nights. The spacious room has a separate office and dining area, a giant bathroom with whirlpool bath and huge windows overlooking the city's canal district. The remaining £955 would have covered the cost of the advisers' bedrooms.

Downstairs in the hotel, Tory activists drank champagne at Bar Pravda – despite a message from the party leadership that they should not be seen to be enjoying themselves at a time of intense difficulty for the economy.

Stephen Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, said: "If Ken Livingstone had done that he would have been hung, drawn and quartered. Boris has always had a reputation for playing fast and loose with the rules."

No doubt there will be a definitive ruling on this expenditure in due course.
(No doubt there will be a definitive ruling on this expenditure in due course.)

Doubt it! We're talking about the Tories here!
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