Page last updated at 13:28 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 14:28 UK

MP paid his company with expenses

David Wilshire MP faces BBC reporters on Thursday

An MP accused of using expenses to pay his own company has said he is "deeply hurt" by the reports and has referred his case to the standards commissioner.

Tory MP for Spelthorne David Wilshire said the company never made a profit and it was approved by the Fees Office.

The Daily Telegraph reports he paid £105,000 in three years to Moorlands Research Services (MRS).

A Conservative spokeswoman said: "This will be resolved either way long before the general election."

She added: "The standards commissioner's in-tray cannot be used as an excuse to drag this out."

'Never made profit'

Mr Wilshire is understood to be meeting Conservative chief whip Patrick McLoughlin at the Commons on Thursday afternoon.

Mr Wilshire said the company, which was owned by him and his partner, provided administrative, secretarial and research support for him and had been formally approved by Commons authorities.

It is not unusual for MPs to claim about £30,000-a-year on such work.

I am deeply hurt by the way in which the Daily Telegraph has reported on my expenses and disappointed that it has not published all of my response to their enquiries
David Wilshire

However Parliamentary rules say MPs "must ensure that claims do not give rise to, or give the appearance of giving rise to, an improper personal financial benefit to themselves or anyone else".

Mr Wilshire said that neither he nor his partner Ann Palmer had ever received any payment from MRS, which he said had never made a profit.

The Telegraph reported that the company appeared not to have been registered in the UK.

BBC chief political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg said MRS did not appear to be on Companies House records but Ms Palmer had insisted to the BBC that it was "entirely false" to claim it was not registered.

Mr Wilshire said it was a properly constituted business which had submitted annual accounts to the Inland Revenue.

Standards inquiry

The MP said: "I am deeply hurt by the way in which the Daily Telegraph has reported on my expenses and disappointed that it has not published all of my response to their enquiries.

"My constituents are rightly entitled to the truth about these allegations. I have therefore written to the commissioner for standards asking him to conduct an inquiry.

"Until I have had an opportunity to take his advice, I think it best if I say nothing further."

Sir Thomas Legg
Sir Thomas's review has been making waves at Westminster

Standards Commissioner John Lyon's office received the request on Thursday and said it would decide whether to launch an official inquiry after consulting MPs on the committee on standards and privileges.

Several MPs have referred themselves to Mr Lyon after questions were raised about their expenses claims, which were leaked to the Daily Telegraph and published in May.

This week he ruled former home secretary Jacqui Smith had breached the rules and should apologise to the Commons for claiming her main home was her sister's house in London, where she paid rent.

And a separate independent audit of all MPs' claims under the second homes allowance, ordered by Downing Street after the scandal broke, has resulted in many MPs being asked to repay money claimed up to five years ago - even though they were within the rules at the time.

Harman warning

Auditor Sir Thomas Legg has retrospectively applied his own limits to gardening and cleaning claims of £1,000 and £2,000 and asked MPs who claimed more to pay back the difference.

On Thursday it emerged London Mayor Boris Johnson had repaid £1,266 claimed when he was an MP relating to a council tax "administrative error".

His office said he believed the figure to be closer to £700 but decided to "pay up and move on" rather than go through a "long drawn-out" process of questioning it.

Obviously we have to judge things by the rules and standards that obtained at the time, to do anything else would be arbitrary
Harriet Harman
Commons leader

Mr Wilshire's payments to MRS were made through his office expenses which were not part of that inquiry. The Conservatives also carried out their own internal scrutiny of their MPs' expenses after the furore.

MPs usually have two homes - one in their constituency and one in London near Parliament - and can choose which to designate as their "second home" on which they are entitled to claim expenses.

But Mr Wilshire confirmed that his designated "main home" is in Somerset, more than 100 miles from his constituency - which is on the outskirts of London.

He claimed the maximum allowed for his second home in 2007-8, £23,083, and a total of £160,542 in all allowances that year.



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