Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Saturday, 23 May 2009 16:03 UK

Goggins defends property expenses

Paul Goggins hPaul Goggins
Paul Goggins said he would be happy for the payments to be examined

Northern Ireland Office Minister Paul Goggins has defended himself against newspaper claims about his expenses.

The Daily Telegraph claimed Mr Goggins allowed a friend to live rent-free in a home paid for by the taxpayer.

The paper claimed Mr Goggins shares the London house with Chris Bain, the director of Catholic aid charity Cafod.

But Mr Goggins said the arrangements were based on a 30-year friendship and due to the fact Mr Bain had been joint owner of the property for six years.

The paper said for the past three years, Mr Goggins had designated the property as his second home and claimed almost £45,000 in expenses for it.

The paper claimed he did not tell the Commons fees office that he shared the house.

However, in a statement, Mr Goggins denied he had a lavish lifestyle and said he had tried to "keep reasonable standards".

Houses of Parliament
The expenses of MPs have come under scrutiny in recent weeks

"I have already given my local newspaper all the details of my claims for additional costs and explained that I only claimed for the replacement of items that were broken or worn out," he said.

"The arrangements at my London home - including the details of Chris Bain's stay there - are based on a 30-year friendship and his having been the joint owner for six years between 1997 and 2003.

"I have committed to make an assessment of what appropriate payments may be due for the period 2006 - 2008 and will be happy for this to be examined under the new procedures announced in Parliament in the past week."

Meanwhile, the man who gave details of MPs' expenses to the Daily Telegraph has insisted that Parliament will benefit from their publication.

Ex-SAS officer John Wick, who passed the data on from an anonymous source, said he had "no regrets" about exposing the expenses system's "rotten core".

He added: "Parliament will be a better place, society will be a better place."

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams warned that the "continuing systematic humiliation" of MPs threatened to do irreversible damage to public confidence in Britain's democracy.



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