Former Bromsgrove MP Julie Kirkbride cleared in expenses inquiry
Oct 22 2010 By Jonathan Walker
Former Bromsgrove MP Julie Kirkbride said she was “delighted” after a Commons inquiry found she was not guilty of fiddling her expenses.
Ms Kirkbride stood down from the House of Commons after it emerged she and her husband Andrew MacKay, who was also an MP, had claimed expenses on two separate homes.
She claimed £900 a month towards the loan on a property in Bromsgrove, which she said was her second home, while he said his second home was a London flat - and received £1,000 a month for the mortgage on that.
Both Conservative MPs were widely criticised when the details became known, and Ms Kirkbride was targeted by local campaigners trying to force her to stand down.
But the Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges has backed the finding of an inquiry which found she had done nothing wrong.
The investigation, by Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon, concluded that Mr MacKay was wrong to designate the Bromsgrove property as his main home.
However, Mr Lyon said it was therefore “unreasonable” to criticise Ms Kirkbride for naming it as her second home.
He also said she had done nothing wrong in claiming expenses of £2,584 for an extension on her mortgage to build a spare bedroom used by her brother.
Mr Lyon said he accepted Ms Kirkbride’s claim that her brother had stayed in the house to look after her young son, allowing her to carry out her work as an MP.
She said “I am delighted that the parliamentary standards commissioner has cleared my name and found me not guilty of abusing my expenses.”
But the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee said Mr MacKay, who stepped down from his Bracknell seat at the election, had made a “serious misjudgment” and should apologise in writing.
“In our view, it should have been obvious to Mr MacKay that the arrangement whereby he and Ms Kirkbride each designated the other’s second home as their main home, allowing both to be funded from parliamentary allowances, was fundamentally wrong,” the watchdog said.
* Three peers have been given lengthy suspensions from the House of Lords after wrongly claiming thousands of pounds in expenses.
Labour peers Lord Paul, Chairman of Caparo Group which has its major regional office in Oldbury, Baroness Uddin and and crossbencher Lord Bhatia, were suspended after the upper chamber approved the damning judgments of the Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee, which ruled the peers had all misused their accommodation allowances.