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

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Shahid Malik Summed Up

Shahid Malik's expenses claims scandal just will not die.

Whilst those of senior Tories have mysteriously vanished into the night soon after being acknowledged, the media want Malik's blood - and quite right, too.

The fact that he is once again on the frontbench so soon after resigning as Justice Minister is particularly galling.

Yesterday Malik was branded a 'crafty bastard' by an elderly council tenant whose home Malik wished to buy. It is a label stunning in its simplicity - and accuracy.

That's exactly what I thought when he posed for photos soon before his resignation, explaining why he refused to pay back taxpayers' money which, among other things, he had spent on a fine for late payment of his council tax. Surreptitiously in the front of the photograph was an England mug.

Must be what he sips his builder's tea from whilst his bacon and eggs are frying.

It was revealed two days ago that Malik had twice tried to claim taxpayers' cash for remembrance wreaths, despite being told it was not allowed under Commons' rules.

The Mail on Sunday has a new raft of revelations about him:

Scandal-hit Minister Shahid Malik was branded a ‘crafty b*****’ after new allegations concerning his use of Commons expenses were disclosed last night.

He was reappointed to the Government last week, as Communities Minister, after an inquiry cleared him of any wrong-doing over the discounted rent he pays on his constituency home.

But Gordon Brown’s judgment in restoring the former Justice Minister so swiftly is set to be questioned after a Mail on Sunday investigation uncovered allegations that Mr Malik:

  • Allowed three of his brothers to use his taxpayer-funded second home in London as student digs.
  • Tried to buy his flat at a knockdown price from the elderly council tenant who lived there.
  • Is refusing to release papers to allow a heavily pregnant neighbour to move to her new home

Also, Mr Malik paid his father Rafique £7,000-a-year from his Commons expenses to work as an assistant in his constituency in Dewsbury, Yorkshire.

Mr Malik came under further pressure as some constituents launched a petition to try to have him deselected.

Since becoming an MP in 2005, Mr Malik has claimed the maximum £66,827 expenses on his flat in Peckham, South London. It includes £2,600 for a home cinema system, £65 for a court summons for not paying council tax, £730 on a massage chair, £671 for a fireplace and £510 for a fitted wardrobe.

The two-bedroom flat – the bottom two floors of a four-storey building – was bought by Mr Malik from Southwark Council for £85,000 in 2001. His elder brother Zahid was living in the privately owned flat on the top two floors. He sold it for £234,000 in 2003.

The previous occupant of Shahid Malik’s flat said Zahid tried to persuade her to exercise her right to buy the flat at a reduced rate from the council and then sell it to the Maliks.

Ivy Luchford, 71, who moved to Welling, Kent, said: ‘As I had lived in the flat for a long time, and my mother had lived there before me, I could have bought it for £9,000 and sold it on. It was a nice flat with a lovely garden, but I didn’t want to do that. I just left without telling them.’

When told that Mr Malik had bought her old flat from the council for £85,000, an astonished Ms Luchford said: ‘What a crafty b*****. He got that flat for next to nothing. How did he persuade the council to sell him it for that?’

One of Mr Malik’s neighbours, who did not want to be identified, said that when Ms Luchford moved out, Zahid Malik lobbied Southwark Council to buy it. Land Registry records confirm that soon afterwards, Shahid Malik bought the flat, including the freehold covering the whole building.

‘I was very angry,’ said the neighbour.

‘There was a long list of locals desperate for affordable accommodation, but the council was happy to sell it to the Maliks. It needed a bit of damp treatment and they were persuaded it would be easier to off-load it to the Maliks rather than carry out the repairs.’

When Mr Malik, 41, bought the flat, now said to be worth up to £300,000, he had just been elected to Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee.

A Southwark Council spokeswoman refused to comment directly on the
sale of the flat. ‘Councils can dispose of any surplus or void properties,’ she said.

‘When sales take place a valuation is compiled and there are strict rules
in place which ensure nobody is offered a “bargain”.’

Mr Malik is the only MP who has employed his father in his office. Rafique Malik was paid about £7,000 a year as a two-day-a-week case worker in 2005. A former Mayor of Burnley, he is thought to have worked for his son as recently as last November.

No comments: