Labour MPs Elliott Morley and David Chaytor – who are being investigated by police over Daily Telegraph allegations they spent taxpayers’ money on non-existent mortgages – and a third MP, Jim Devine, alleged to have submitted a claim for more than £2,000 for rewiring his flat using a bogus VAT number, are reported to have invoked the 1689 Bill of Rights.
These guardians of freedom are arguing that they should not be prosecuted because their expenses claims are covered by parliamentary privilege.
Whatever the outcome this manoeuvre should kick the MPs’ expenses scandal into touch until well after the up- coming general election and suggests that while a few honourable members might have fallen by the wayside the politicians are still in control.
Looking back at the revelations of May and June of last year courtesy of the book No Expenses Spared, which tells the inside story by the journalists involved, it’s why some MPs did what they did that puzzles – how they did it is self-explanatory.
For example, take John Butterfill, the Tory MP who, in addition to being wealthy, has a record of public service and introduced the Financial Mutuals Arrangements Bill to parliament.
This became the Building Societies (Funding) and Mutual Societies (Transfers) Act 2007 that made the merger between Britannia Building Society and the Co-operative Financial Services possible.
Butterfill, for the record, designated a small flat in his Bournemouth constituency as his main home while claiming expenses on his second home, a £1.2m country retreat in Surrey which became his primary home for tax purposes when he came to sell it.