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Monday, 27 July 2009

Millionaire Peer Stole £20,000 in Expenses

Another Blair-appointed Peer scamming the British taxpayer whilst literally rolling in cash:

A millionaire peer could face a police probe following allegations that he claimed £20,000 in expenses by pretending to live in a small flat occupied by his brother.

Businessman and philanthropist Lord Bhatia nominated the two-bedroom apartment in Reigate, Surrey, as his 'main' home in 2007.

But he has lived in a £1.5million home in Hampton, south-west London, 15 miles from the House of Lords, for 20 years.

By claiming he lived outside the capital - the flat is 23 miles from Westminster - he was entitled to up to £174 a day for overnight accommodation in London.

The perk allows peers to be reimbursed for the cost of a hotel when the Lords is sitting or maintaining a second home.

Concerns that Lord Bhatia was milking the allowance system were strengthened after he failed to remember the address of the Reigate flat when questioned last week.

He was forced to look up the road and even then spelled the name of the block wrongly.

The flat - just a mile outside the boundary of what is considered London for the purpose of Lords expenses - has been his brother's home for three years.

Last night Angus Robertson, Scottish National Party leader at Westminster, said he would ask the police and Lords authorities for urgent investigations.

He said: 'This seems to be a misuse of parliamentary money to fund private or family arrangements.'

Lord Bhatia, 77, was made a peer by Tony Blair in 2001 but sits on the neutral crossbenches.

He 'flipped' his main address from London to Surrey in October 2007. This allowed him to claim £12,247 in allowances over the next six months.

In theory he could have claimed at least as much again - figures have not yet been published - before changing his main address back to London in January.

Lord Bhatia's company Casley Finance began renting the flat In March 2006. Sultan Bhatia, its company secretary, moved in at around the same time after a marriage break-up.

Lord Bhatia said he rented the Reigate flat because his home in Hampton was too big and he and his wife wanted to downsize to a smaller property.

Asked why he did not use the flat during Parliamentary holidays, he said: 'It's entirely up to me to decide to stay in either of the two houses.'

Lord Bhatia, who insists he acted within the rules, said he switched his main address back to Hampton because he became too ill to travel to Reigate.

Sultan Bhatia said he 'looked after' the flat and his brother stayed there 'from time to time'. But a neighbour could not recall Lord Bhatia living there.


DP111 said...

There is something queer about giving peerages to people not of this island. Cant put my finger on it, but names like Lord Bhatia, Lord Ali or Mohammed, just do not ring right and true.

If these people have really made a contribution to Britain, and I mean a real contribution, and not just getting the vote out, or giving money to a party, then there must be other ways to recognise their contribution.

But then Blair tarnished and debased everything he touched. Brown is worse, but thankfully wont be here much longer.

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