News is just coming through from various people on Twitter that Paul White, Lord Hanningfield – former leader of Essex County Council and Conservative frontbench spokesman in the Lords – has been found guilty of six counts of false accounting. Sentencing will take place in three weeks, apparently.
UPDATE: There’s now a report on BBC News.
It’s not hard to find the Taxpayers Alliance denouncing governmental waste and criticising elected officials who have wasted public money. So, it’s quite easy to guess what they’re going to say when an MP is ordered to repay £60,000 of his expenses, isn’t it?
Come on, have a guess – will it be to demand that he should pay back even more? Perhaps they’ll even call for him to resign immediately and face the music from his constituents? Whatever, I’m sure it will be the usual mix of righteous indignation and moral/financial superiority that characterises most emissions from the TPA. I’m sure I wouldn’t want to be that MP when the chief executive of the TPA has his say about me. After all, they’re a group not known for their equivocation in condemning waste, or accepting any sort of excuse in their quest to stand up for the ordinary taxpayer:
Taxpayers’ Alliance chief executive Matthew Elliot, whose group has been furiously campaigning for Westminster expenses reform, said he believed Mr Jenkin was “hard-done-by”.
He said: “It seems unfair to pick out people such as Bernard Jenkin, because when he set up the agreement with the fees office and his wife’s sister’s property, they were fully aware of it.
“In fact my understanding is the rent was below the market value, so it wasn’t a bad deal for taxpayers.
“I do think that he’s been slightly hard-done-by when other MPs have done far worse and, frankly, got away with it.”
Oh well, maybe this leopard has changed its spots. Maybe the journalist was hoodwinked by an impostor claiming to Matthew Elliott. Maybe TPA HQ was playing opposite day, and Tom Parkes was the only journalist to call them for a quote while they were doing it. Or maybe all Tory MPs are given a ‘get out of TPA criticism free’ card.