Page last updated at 17:57 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 18:57 UK

Challenge to Tory peer's expenses

House of Lords chamber
Expenses allegations against Lord Taylor appeared in the Sunday Times

The Liberal Democrats will lodge a complaint over allegations relating to the expenses of a Conservative peer.

The Sunday Times alleged Lord Taylor of Warwick claimed more than £70,000 based on a "non-existent" main home.

The Lib Dem's Treasury spokesman Lord Oakeshott said he would be asking Lords authorities what address Lord Taylor claimed for between 2001 and 2007.

Lord Taylor told the newspaper he regarded the property in the West Midlands as his main home.

The BBC has so far not been able to contact Lord Taylor.

Mother's death

The Sunday Times alleged Lord Taylor claimed more than £70,000 in overnight allowances between 2001 and 2007 on the basis that his mother's home in the West Midlands was his main home.

The paper claimed the house was in fact sold in 2001 after his mother's death - but Lord Taylor said he regarded it as his home base even after she passed away.

The paper said he declined to give addresses for any of his homes after the House of Lords advised him not to make his domestic circumstances public because of previous racist abuse.

Lord Oakeshott told the BBC that Lord Taylor should pay the money back if the address was not made known.

Police letter

The Scottish National Party's leader at Westminster, Angus Robertson, has asked the Metropolitan Police to investigate the allegations.

In a letter to Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson, Mr Robertson said: "I would ask you to investigate these allegations with a view to establishing whether an offence has been committed."

A Met spokeswoman said: "Allegations of misuse of expenses are considered and where appropriate are investigated, but we don't comment on individual cases."

The Lord Taylor row comes after Parliamentary Standards Bill - aimed at cleaning up Parliament following the MPs' expenses scandal - became law last month.

However, the government dropped plans in the face of stiff opposition for a legally-binding code of conduct and two new criminal offences for MPs.

Parliamentary authorities said in June that MPs had paid back nearly £500,000 in expenses money claimed since 2003.

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