"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

More on the Shahid Malik Expenses Scandal

Yesterday I wrote about how, despite being the first minister to resign and one of the highest claimants, despite claiming for a fine for late payment of council tax, Shahid Malik MP is back on the frontbench - and Gordon Brown refused to publish the report which supposedly exonerates him of wrongdoing.

Well, the Telegraph has now revealed that Malik claimed £6,500 for a mysterious second office.

Here is the report:

This newspaper has already reported how Mr Malik, the new Communities Minister, billed the taxpayer for the £6,000-a-year cost of renting his main constituency office in Dewsbury, West Yorks, from a local landlord, Tahir "Terry" Zaman.

However, according to documents seen by this newspaper, he has also been claiming an additional £200 a month for approximately three years - a total of at least £6,500 - to pay for a second, unspecified office he calls "Office 2". He has claimed this money back on his office expenses.

Mr Malik last night said the "Office 2" claims were for "additional office space".

He declined to say where that office space was. He also refused to answer questions about who he rents it from.

According to Mr Malik's website, he holds occasional surgeries in the Asda supermarket in Dewsbury and in a library in Mirfield, near Dewsbury.

However, Asda made clear it did not charge MPs for using its stores, saying: "We would not charge MPs to use our stores. We're part of the community and want to help people contact their representatives." A source at the library, meanwhile, said that renting a room there would cost less than £20 a month.

Office expenses are intended to reimburse MPs for the cost of running an office in their constituency, however it is unclear why Mr Malik would need a second office in a town the size of Dewsbury.

Mr Malik came under scrutiny after The Daily Telegraph reported that, according to Mr Zaman, he paid less than £100 a week to rent a house in Dewsbury from him. Mr Zaman is his neighbour and the owner of 100 properties in the region.

Mr Malik was investigated by Sir Philip Mawer, Gordon Brown's independent adviser on expenses, after Mr Zaman claimed the MP was paying less than the market rate for the house while claiming tens of thousands of pounds in taxpayer-funded expenses on his designated second home in London.

Mr Malik also rents his main constituency office from Mr Zaman, claiming back the cost on his office expenses.

The £200-a-month claims for another office, "Office 2", have apparently been submitted with no other paperwork - and there is no reference to a second office on Mr Malik's official website.

In a statement last night, Mr Malik said: "This is a claim for additional office space that I used for constituency business the details of which were properly logged with the House authorities. The amount claimed covers the rent of the property. It was necessary for me to have an additional office space to carry out my duties effectively."

Mr Malik regularly claims a further £250 a month for "petty cash", which is allowed under parliamentary rules. In total, Mr Malik has claimed £82,603 on office expenses and £66,827 on the second home allowance.

The election results didn't quite seem to get the message across, so I would encourage you to send an email to the greedy, grasping little worm at maliks@parliament.uk, and tell him exactly what you think about his 'teflon man' status.

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