Shahid Malik - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents


Evidence received by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


1.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mr Jonathan Scott, 14 December 2009

Further to newspaper allegations and the examination of Mr Malik's ACA expenses for 2008-09 I would like to make the following complaint and ask that you consider this matter with a view to bringing an investigation into my complaint.

The Green Book Rules clearly state that:

"Claims must only be made for expenditure that it was necessary for a Member to incur to ensure that he or she could properly perform their parliamentary duties."

You will note from Mr Malik's ACA expenses forms that Mr Malik claimed £549.68 for buildings and contents insurance on his designated tax payer funded second home.

£136.87 of the overall claim of £549.68 was a premium to cover the diamond engagement ring that Mr Malik had purchased for his wife. This part of the claim is clearly in breach of the rules and is in no way whatsoever an expense that Mr Malik incurred to ensure he could properly perform his parliamentary duties. It is a bogus claim that should have never been allowed to be processed.

I have attached the evidence of the newspaper article[58] and the unredacted insurance policy details[59] which clearly shows the claim.

I would be grateful if you would investigate this matter and agree with me that the that the £136.87 claimed by Mr Malik to insure his wife's engagement ring was in no way wholly and exclusively an expense incurred whilst performing his parliamentary duties and as such the monies claimed should be returned.

I look forward to hearing from you.

14 December 2009

2.  Buildings and Contents Insurance for Mr Shahid Malik MP's Additional Home 2009-10: Policy Summary



3.  Extract from article in the Dewsbury Press, 11 December 2009

"Diamond geezer" Malik claims insurance for £8,000 ring on expenses

DEWSBURY and Mirfield MP Shahid Malik gave his bride-to-be an £8,000 diamond engagement ring, the latest Commons expenses reveal.

And documents published by Parliament yesterday (Thurs) show that taxpayers are footing the bill for insuring the ring.

A new raft of expenses claims, receipts and correspondence were published on the internet and include Mr Malik's claim for house insurance on his second home in [London].

The lavish ring is itemised on Mr Malik's home contents policy with the Halifax.[60]

Last year the policy, paid for by taxpayers, cost £382.46, but his renewal for this year rose to £549.68.

The cost of insuring the ring is listed at £136.87.

Mr Malik, 42, married trainee solicitor [name], 26, in February 2008.

...

The Press asked Mr Malik whether he thought it was "reasonable" to claim for the ring insurance, his decking cleaning and a wall bracket for his TV.

He did not answer the question but his office issued the following statement: "Mr Malik is pleased that these latest figures have been released.

"He has consistently spoken (and voted) in favour of transparency and disclosure.

"Mr Malik is also pleased that Sir Thomas Legg has had the chance to audit these claims thoroughly.

"As you will remember Sir Thomas found that Mr Malik has acted fully within the ACA rules at all times, both in this year and in previous years. He concluded that Mr Malik has nothing to pay back, and nothing further to explain."

11 December 2009

4.  Letter to Mr Shahid Malik MP from the Commissioner, 14 January 2010

I would welcome your response to a complaint I have received from Mr Scott about your claim against your Additional Costs Allowance for insurance costs.

I attach copies of the complainant's letter of 14 December (dated 14 November), of the Dewsbury Press article of 11 December, and of your invoice for home insurance for 2009-10. I attach also a copy of the relevant claim form taken from the parliamentary website. In essence, the complaint is that in March 2009 you claimed for costs which were not wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred for the purpose of performing your parliamentary duties, namely the insurance premium for a diamond ring, contrary to the rules of the House.

The Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament provides in paragraph 14 as follows:

"Members shall at all times ensure that their use of expenses, allowances, facilities and services provided from the public purse is strictly in accordance with the rules laid down on these matters, and that they observe any limits placed by the House on the use of such expenses, allowances, facilities and services."

The Green Book on Parliamentary Salaries, Allowances and Pensions set out the rules for the Additional Costs Allowance. The relevant edition is that of July 2006. In his introduction, Mr Speaker Martin wrote:

"Members themselves are responsible for ensuring that their use of allowances is above reproach. They should seek advice in cases of doubt and read the Green Book with care. In cases of doubt or difficulty about any aspect of the allowances or how they can be used, please contact the Department of Finance and Administration. The Members Estimate Committee, which I chair, has recently restated the Department's authority to interpret and enforce these rules."

Section 3.1.1 sets out the scope of the allowance as follows:

"The Additional Costs Allowance (ACA) reimburses Members of Parliament for expenses wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred when staying overnight away from their main UK residence (referred to below as their main home) for the purpose of performing Parliamentary duties. This excludes expenses that have been incurred for purely personal or political purposes."

Paragraph Section 3.2.1 sets out the eligibility requirements as follows:

"You can claim ACA if:

a) You have stayed overnight in the UK away from your only or main home, and

b)  This was for the purpose of performing your Parliamentary duties, and

c)  You have necessarily incurred additional costs in so doing, and

d) You represent a constituency in outer London or outside London."

The principles of the allowance are set out in paragraphs 3.3.1. to 3.3.3. as follows:

"You must ensure that arrangements for your ACA claims are above reproach and that there can be no grounds for a suggestion of misuse of public money. Members should bear in mind the need to obtain value for money from accommodation, goods or services funded from the allowances.

You must avoid any arrangement which may give rise to an accusation that you are, or someone close to you is, obtaining an immediate benefit or subsidy from public funds or that public money is being diverted for the benefit of a political organisation."

Section 3.10.2 provides:

"Subject to paragraphs 3.1.1 to 3.10.1. you can claim reimbursement for the expenses listed provided that they are wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the course of your parliamentary duties."

Paragraph 3.13.1 lists examples of allowable expenditure, including:

  • "Insurance
  • Buildings and contents."

I would welcome your response to the complaint, taking account of the rules which I have summarized above. In particular, it would be helpful if you would explain:

1. the reasons for the purchase of this extra cover from your contents insurance; why you put the extra cover on the insurance policy for your second home; and who owned the ring in question;

2. whether and if so why you consider that your claim against the Additional Costs Allowance in respect of the extra cover for this jewellery was for a cost wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the performance of your parliamentary duties;

3. whether you have previously claimed for optional extra insurance cover for such jewellery and if so for how much. (I have seen the redacted claim which you submitted on 19 December 2008,[61] which shows that you also claimed for a premium for extra cover for your 2008-09 home contents insurance.)

4. whether you have had any discussions with the House authorities about claims for your contents insurance, together with copies of any related documentation.

Any other points you may wish to make would, of course, be very welcome.

I attach a note which sets out the procedures I follow. I am letting the complainant know that I have accepted this complaint and am writing to you about it. It would be most helpful to have a response to this letter within the next three weeks. If there is any difficulty about that or you would like a word about any matter, do please get in touch with me at the House.

I would be very grateful for your help on this matter.

14 January 2010

5.  E-mail to the Commissioner from Mr Shahid Malik MP, 19 January 2010

Thank you for your letter regarding my insurance bill and ACA claim 2008/09. I wrote to the Fees Office last week and have repaid the amount of £136.87 but I was unaware of the second amount until I received your letter (last page of your letter point 3.).

I am checking with Finance and Admin this morning to establish what the second insurance item might be and if it is linked with the repayment I have already made then I will voluntarily repay a further £97.97. I note however that Mr Scott's letter of complaint relates to the £136.87 which has been repaid and as such that matter is resolved. With respect to the element (£97.97) that you have highlighted in your letter I will deal with that today, although it is not the subject of the complaint.

Mr Scott is part of a gang, including [names] ... who are obsessed with ousting me at the next general election and are desperate for another front page headline of yet more inquiries. They will obviously be using your office to attempt to get as many inquiries as possible running leading into the general election.

[Material not relevant to this inquiry]

With respect to the amount I have repaid voluntarily, although it had been accepted, processed, and paid as legitimate and also externally audited and accepted as being within the rules, I do not feel comfortable. Rather than putting forward a powerful argument and explanation I felt that the best course of action was to voluntarily repay money and avoid any doubt whatsoever in relation to my ACA.

I hope you can try to ensure that you convey my action to Mr Scott et al - this may (or may not) be adequate to get a balanced front page on Friday.

19 January 2010

6.  Letter to the Department of Resources from Mr Shahid Malik MP, 14 January 2010

A sum of £136.87 was approved and paid by the House authorities as part of an insurance bill in 2008-09 and was subsequently successfully audited against the rules by Sir Thomas Legg's audit. However, I intend to repay the amount to the House.

As stated, although it was accepted, paid and audited as legitimate, I feel slightly uncomfortable and would rather repay the amount to avoid any doubt whatsoever. I know that this is probably quite a unique case in that the bill has been approved at all levels of the House, including external audit, but I hope you will nonetheless respect my decision.

If you require any further clarification, please do not hesitate to contact me.

14 January 2010

7.  Letter to Mr Shahid Malik MP from the Commissioner, 22 January 2010

Thank you for your email of 19 January responding to my letter to you of 14 January about this complaint in respect of your claims against Additional Costs Allowance for insurance costs and for forwarding a copy of your letter of 14 January to the House authorities.

I was grateful for this prompt response. I would be grateful if you could tell me as soon as possible about the second insurance item in respect of the claim you submitted on 19 December 2008. It would be helpful if, in responding to this point, you could also let me know why you put the extra cover on the insurance policy for your second home and who owned the ring in question; and whether you have had any discussions with the House authorities about the claim for your contents insurance. I would also welcome any comment you may have about the application of the rules to this particular part of your claim. These were the matters which I asked you about in my letter of 14 January.

Once I have your response, I will need to seek information and advice from the Department of Resources. I will then need to come to my own view on whether you were in breach of the rules in making these claims, while noting that you have already paid them (or at least one of them) back. I will try to conclude this as soon as possible, but I know you will understand that it will not be possible for me to have concluded this by the end of this week, even if you are able to give me a fuller response to my initial letter straightaway.

[Material not relevant to this inquiry]

22 January 2010

8.  E-mail to the Commissioner from Mr Shahid Malik MP, 7 April 2010

I apologise for the delay but I am now responding to your letter on 22nd January 2010.

The second insurance item, as with the first, relates to my wife's engagement ring. As I recollect the insurance was initiated over the phone where I was asked if I had any items in the home worth £1500 plus. The only item worth that much that needed to be in my second home was the ring, as obviously it came with my wife. I do not recollect any discussion about extra cover but I would have been anxious to simply answer the questions asked honestly and to give full disclosure.

I received the insurance bill, paid it and sent it to the Dept of Resources for processing. They duly processed it and it was later cleared by Sir Thomas Legg's audit.

When I became aware of the extra cover, in December I think, I felt the best course of action was to pay back the extra cover amount to avoid any doubt whatsoever.

I did not have any discussions with the House Authorities nor did they ever question the payment and as stated it was also cleared by Sir Thomas Legg.

Irrespective of the outcome of your deliberations I have no intention of claiming the money back.

7 April 2010

9.  Letter to Mr Shahid Malik MP from the Commissioner, 7 April 2010

Thank you for your email of 7 April responding to my letter of 22 January.

I was grateful for this response, although, as you appreciate, it has taken much longer than I would have wished. I have now written to the Department of Resources to invite their comments and advice on this matter. I am also asking them to confirm that you have repaid the relevant premium for 2008-09 of £97.97, as well as £136.87, which was the premium for the following year.

It would be helpful if you could also just confirm that for me, and confirm that 2008-09 was the first year in which you took out (and subsequently claimed for) that particular item of insurance.

I look forward to hearing from you. I will be back in touch when I hear from the Department of Resources. If, as must be likely, it is not possible for me to resolve this matter before the Dissolution of Parliament, I will contact you once the new Parliament has assembled.

7 April 2010

10.  E-mail to the Office of the Commissioner from Mr Shahid Malik, 17 April 2010

The Commissioner asked: "It would be helpful if you could also just confirm that for me, and confirm that 2008-09 was the first year in which you took out (and subsequently claimed for) that particular item of insurance?"—The answer is YES.

The repayments were made to [name of official in Department]

I would appreciate sight of any correspondence that you receive from the Dept of Resources.

[Material not relevant to this inquiry]

17 April 2010

11.  Letter to the Director of Strategic Projects, Department of Resources, from the Commissioner, 7 April 2010

I would welcome your advice and comments on a complaint I have received against Mr Shahid Malik MP in respect of an ACA claim he made in March 2009 for the insurance of his wife's engagement ring.

I attach a copy of the complainant's letter of 14 December (dated 14 November), together with copies of the ACA claim and invoice in question, and a newspaper article of 11 December 2009. I enclose also my letter of 14 January to Mr Malik, together with a redacted insurance policy statement for the previous year; Mr Malik's email response of 19 January; my response to him of 22 January; and Mr Malik's e-mail response of 7 April.

In essence, the complaint is that in March 2009 Mr Malik claimed for costs which were not wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred for the purpose of performing his parliamentary duties, namely the insurance premium for a diamond ring, contrary to the rules of the House.

I would welcome your comments and advice on this matter. It would be helpful if, in doing so, you could confirm whether Mr Malik had repaid the insurance premium for this optional extra cover of £97.97 for the year 2008-09, as well as the sum of £136.87 for the subsequent year. It would be helpful to have any information available to you about whether this matter was considered in the course of Sir Thomas Legg's audit; whether there is any record in the Department of this particular part of Mr Malik's invoice being considered before the payment was made; and your views on whether, in the light of the information now available, you consider that the claim was eligible under the Additional Costs Allowance, taking account that it appears that the cover was to insure valuables while the holder was away from their home, as well as against accidental loss or damage.

Mr Malik has asked whether it would be possible for me to have resolved this complaint before the dissolution of Parliament. I have told him that it must be likely that it will not be possible for me to do so.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your help.

7 April 2010

12.  Letter to the Director of Strategic Projects, Department of Resources, from the Commissioner, 26 April 2010

I last wrote to you on 7 April about this complaint about Mr Malik's claim for the insurance premium for a diamond ring.

When I wrote to Mr Malik on 7 April I asked him to confirm that 2008-09 was the first year in which he had claimed for such an insurance premium, and that he had repaid the sum claimed for the year beginning February 2008, which was £97.97, as well as the £136.87 which he had claimed for the following year. I have now received his e-mailed response, of which I enclose a copy.[62] I would be grateful if you would take Mr Malik's response into account in the advice which you are preparing on this complaint.

26 April 2010

13.  Letter to the Commissioner from the Director of Strategic Projects, Department of Resources, 26 April 2010

Thank you for your letter of 7th April. I saw this first on 9th April. Mr Malik contacted the Department that day and I spoke to him. I explained that I would not be able to respond before the Dissolution of Parliament and he understood this.

Mr Malik has repaid the extra insurance premium of £136.87 for 2009-10. He has also repaid the premium of £97.97 for 2008-09.

I am afraid that the Department has no knowledge of the issues considered during Sir Thomas Legg's inquiry, other than those referred to in the published report.

You ask whether the claim for insurance cover for a diamond engagement ring was eligible under ACA/PAAE.[63] The purpose of ACA/PAAE was to reimburse Members for the additional expenses necessarily incurred in staying overnight away from their main home. Insurance was an eligible cost. It was also always understood that spouses were entitled to stay at a Member's additional home and that the marginal extra costs of doing so would be an acceptable charge on ACA/PAAE.

It would be possible therefore to argue that, if Mr Malik's wife had an engagement ring of which the value was not covered against perils arising in the additional home without an additional premium, the cost of that premium ought to be an eligible expense. Engagement and wedding rings are symbolic of marriage and regarded differently from other jewellery, and it might be thought to be unreasonable to expect Mrs Malik not to wear the ring when she stayed with Mr Malik at the home, or for the ring to be uninsured when she wore it there. Otherwise, if Mr and Mrs Malik had paid for the insurance themselves, they would thus personally have incurred a cost in respect of additional expenses necessarily incurred in staying overnight away from their main home when Mr Malik performed his parliamentary duties.

However, I would have expected the Department to have spotted that an extra premium was being charged in respect of the ring, and to have asked Mr Malik why it was not possible for the risk to be borne on the insurance for his main home and thus paid for from his private funds. They should also have noticed that the cover extended to perils away from the home and to accidental loss or damage. Since this element would not have been eligible for re-imbursement under ACA/PAAE, they should have questioned whether Mr Malik could not have opted out of the elements of cover which extended beyond perils in the additional home and paid a lower premium. If Mr Malik had demonstrated that his main home insurer would not insure the ring against perils such as theft while it was in the additional home, then insurance for this particular risk might have been regarded as allowable.

However, there is no record that the part of Mr Malik's invoice relating to insurance cover for the engagement ring was specially considered by the Department, and we agree with Mr Malik's statement in his e-mail to you of 7th April that the matter was not discussed with the Department and the payment was not questioned. Therefore there is no evidence that the process of reasoning and due diligence which the Department should have shown did, in fact, occur.

In essence, while it is conceivable that a case may have been made that the additional insurance for the ring was allowable, there should have been careful and documented consideration of the issues involved. Even then, I suspect that it is unlikely that the full cost of insurance for the ring would have been regarded as eligible for reimbursement under ACA/PAAE. I therefore believe that it was right for Mr Malik to reimburse the Department.

Please let me know if I can help further.

26 April 2010

14.  Letter to the Commissioner from the Director of Strategic Projects, Department of Resources, 27 April 2010

Thank you for your letter of 26th April which crossed with mine to you of the same date.

I can confirm that nothing in your letter, or in the e-mail from Mr Malik which you sent with it, would cause me to change the advice I gave you in my letter yesterday.

Please let me know if I can help further.

27 April 2010

15.  Letter to Mr Shahid Malik from the Commissioner, 18 May 2010

Now that the new Parliament has assembled, I have resumed my inquiry into this complaint about the insurance premium for the extra cover for your wife's engagement ring. I do still need to resolve this complaint even though I recognise that you were not successful in the recent General Election.

I last wrote to you about this matter on 7 April. I was grateful for the response you sent to my office with your e-mail of 17 April. As you will know from my letter of 7 April, I consulted the Department of Resources about this matter. I enclose a copy of my letters of 7 and 26 April to the Department, and a copy of their responses of 26 and 27 April. As you will see, the Director of Strategic Projects has confirmed the information you provided in your e-mail of 17 April. But he considers that it is unlikely that the full cost of the insurance of the ring would have been regarded as eligible for reimbursement against parliamentary allowances. He therefore concludes that it was right for you to reimburse the Department, as you have done.

I need now to consider how best to resolve this complaint. Having carefully considered the matter, including the Department's advice, I am minded to conclude that you should not have claimed the full amount for the optional extra cover for your wife's engagement ring against the parliamentary allowances and that you were, therefore, in breach of the rules for having done so. I am minded also to conclude that you took the necessary and appropriate action to rectify the matter by reimbursing the Department for the two sums involved, at a total cost of £234.84. If you agree, it would be open to me to rectify the complaint on this basis. I would write to the complainant, setting out the facts of the case and my conclusions on it. The Committee would also expect in such circumstances that you would have apologised. On that basis, I would close the complaint and, in due course, report the outcome to the Committee on Standards and Privileges. If you were not to agree to the conclusion, then, subject to any further points you may wish to put to me, I would need to consider, despite the nature of the breach, preparing a full memorandum to the Committee on Standards and Privileges so that it could consider the matter and make any appropriate recommendations to the House.

I enclose an extract from a draft letter[64] which, if you were to agree to rectification, I would propose to send to the complainant. While the content of the letter is matter for me, I would welcome any points you may wish to make on its factual accuracy if you agree to rectifying this matter. If the House agrees to a recommendation made in the last Parliament, this letter, and the evidence collected in the course of my inquiry, would then in due course be made available on my parliamentary webpages.

It would be very helpful if I could hear from you within the next two weeks so that I can bring this to as early a conclusion as possible. If you would like a word about any of this, please contact me at the House of Commons.

[Material not relevant to this inquiry]

16.  E-mail to the Commissioner's office from Mr Shahid Malik, 21 May 2010

I have just spoken to [name of insurance company employee]. She has said that there would be an extra premium for anything named in the household above £2,000. But if it was for home cover only and not cover outside the home, then the extra premium would be less.

This clearly demonstrates that it is possible to disaggregate the premium and indeed it is the everyday business of [name of insurer] to do so.

I hope this is helpful.

21 May 2010

17.  E-mail to the Commissioner from Mr Shahid Malik, 7 June 2010

Thank you for sending me a copy of the response from the Department of Resources dated 26th April 2010, which I have now read. As stated by the Department I had attempted to bring the matter to a conclusion in April but they felt there was insufficient time, a view I respected. Prior to this I was unable to give the matter the time I would have liked between my Ministerial and MP roles and while giving consideration to your substantive inquiry, which I was pleased completely exonerated me in April. For the record the originator of this complaint was the election agent of a non-mainstream party opponent at the General Election.

In essence the Department's response states firstly, that the extra insurance premia of £97.97 (2008-09) and £136.87 (2009-10) [were] fully or at least partially eligible. Secondly, the Department concedes that had it dealt with the matter in an appropriate manner with due diligence and provided the necessary advice on two separate occasions then the current situation would not have arisen.

If the premia [are] only partially eligible, as the letter from the Department of Resources suggests, then this matter should have been picked up not only by the Department but also by Sir Thomas Legg's audit team. Had his team raised the matter while conducting their audit, then like some 400 other MPs, I would simply have repaid the amount in question.

For my part, I am pleased that there is a consensus that I did at all times act honestly, openly and in good faith. In addition, even though at least part of the insurance premia [have] been deemed as eligible, and insurers have confirmed that they could disaggregate the premia, I have no intention of asking for any money back. I unilaterally took the decision to pay the money to Parliament to show leadership and for the avoidance of any doubt. The Department's retrospective judgement, although obviously very welcome, will not alter that decision.

In light of the Department's letter, there has undoubtedly been a failure to provide a duty of care when processing my two claims. In addition, it stands to reason that Sir Thomas Legg's audit team didn't raise the issue either because they felt it was eligible or because they were part of a collective failure in terms of a duty of care.

The result is a wholly unnecessary and completely avoidable situation which diverts you from much more important work and causes me unwarranted anxiety and anguish.

This type of situation can do nothing to help restore public confidence in Parliament's ability to understand and follow its own procedures, nor the confidence of MPs in getting fair and competent advice and audit services.

I deeply regret the current scenario and can only hope relevant lessons have been learnt that help to rebuild confidence—I am only sorry I won't be there to experience the changes at first hand.

Indeed, in narrowly losing my seat in the recent General Election, many in my campaign team understandably pointed to the negativity emanating from the high profile media coverage surrounding my two substantive investigations—this was particularly galling considering that I was repeatedly cleared of any wrongdoing.

To be so unfairly singled out and to become the focus of a witch-hunt in certain parts of the media was I am sure you can imagine a daunting experience. Unfortunately political opponents and their allies making baseless malicious complaints rely on the fact that if they throw enough mud—some of it will stick. I cannot pretend that I will miss this aspect of public office.

In conclusion, having unilaterally and swiftly repaid the premia to show leadership and avoid any doubt in December, on payments which were twice approved by Parliament and then successfully audited by Parliament, will I hope now bring this matter to a close.

I stand ready to offer any further assistance you may require and I thank you for your endeavours.

7 June 2010

18.  Letter to Mr Shahid Malik from the Commissioner, 8 June 2010

Thank you for your email which you sent to me on 7 June in response to my letter to you of 18 May about the resolution of this complaint in respect of the insurance premiums for the optional cover for your wife's engagement ring.

My letter of 18 May set out the circumstances in which I was ready to resolve this complaint through the use of the rectification procedure. It invited you to accept that the additional premium you paid for insuring your wife's engagement ring while away from your second home, and for accidental loss or damage, should on balance not have been claimed and that you were therefore in breach of the rules for having done so. It invited you to apologise. And it noted that you had anyway decided immediately to pay back the extra insurance premium, the total sum of £235.

I have carefully considered the points you have set out in your e-mailed letter of 7 June. But I have concluded that your arguments are not such as to enable me to come to a different view on this matter. While, like you, I do not consider, on the merits, resolution of this matter should require submission to the Committee on Standards and Privileges, on the assumption that you are not prepared to accept rectification on the basis I have proposed, I will now need to submit the matter formally to the Committee when it is appointed. As well as commenting on the need for this course of action, I will clearly need also to draw attention to the length of time it took you initially to respond to this complaint (a point you address in your letter and which I shall clearly note).

I would be grateful, therefore, if you could confirm my understanding that you do not accept rectification on the lines set out in my letter of 18 May, for the reasons set out in your email of 7 June; and that I will, therefore, need to submit this matter to the Committee when it is appointed. I will let you have a copy of the factual sections of the draft memorandum I will now prepare so that you can comment on its factual accuracy. I will then add my conclusions to the memorandum and submit the full memorandum to the Committee. The Clerk of the Committee will let you have a copy of the full memorandum for any comments you may wish to make before the Committee come to consider the matter. As you know, my memorandum, and the evidence on which it is based, together with the Committee's report, will all be published.

Could you confirm my understanding that you have not accepted rectification? I would be grateful if you could do that by close on 10 June. I will then be back in touch.

8 June 2010

19.  E-mail to the Commissioner from Mr Shahid Malik, 2 July 2010

"I have just spoken to [name of insurance company employee]. She has said that there would be an extra premium for anything named in the household above £2,000. But if it was for home cover only and not cover outside the home, then the extra premium would be less.

This clearly demonstrates that it is possible to disaggregate the premium and indeed it is the everyday business of [the insurer] to do so.

I hope this is helpful."[65]

The above clearly demonstrates that an extra premium was required for items over £1,500 at the time - although the extra premium would be less if cover outside the home were not included. Using the logic of the Department of Resources in their letter of 26th April it shows that the claim was at least partially eligible.[66]

[Various comments on drafting of memorandum]

... If I had thought there was a problem then I would have discussed the matter or if there had been a problem then I would correctly have expected the Department to make me aware on either of the two occasions they potentially could. I did not hide any facts nor attempt to mislead in any way, I simply gave full information in an open and completely transparent format to the Department.

It was quite obviously the role of the Department to scrutinise my claims and if they felt they were inappropriate in any way I would have expected them to make me aware - I would then of course have acted in accordance with their guidance.

The undeniable fact is that they have failed me not the other way around yet it is I who appear to be in the dock. They were the experts paid to scrutinise and if in this case there is a potential partial breach it is fair and proper to put it down to their negligence. I have no doubt whatsoever that there will be many other MPs who would fall foul of this breach if their claims were scrutinised. Your actions potentially will set a precedent and it may lead to requests for the disclosure of any extra premia paid by other MPs. Of course I am not making any comment on whether this is a good thing or not but I do believe that all MPs must be dealt with by the same rules.

It is important to re-state that the alleged partial unwitting breach took place after twice transparently and fully submitting my insurance bills and it subsequently also being cleared by external auditors brought in precisely to look into compliance. These were not any old auditors but Legg was charged with helping restore public confidence in our democracy and as such was to take a tooth and comb approach looking at every minutiae of each and every claim knowing full well that the country's media is watching them and expecting them to get it right.

[Further comments on drafting of memorandum]

SUMMARY

If this were a problem for Sir Thomas Legg he would have asked me to pay it back - nothing more, and I would have done so. I believe that fairness dictates that should equally apply now. I have of course already repaid the money.

My overarching concern is that there is insufficient balance from a reasonable person's perspective in the report. The onus at all times must rightly be on the Department of Resources and the Legg audit team - if I had attempted to hoodwink any of them or not given anything less than full and transparent details then I think the weight of responsibility for the current situation would rightly fall to me. However, it is clear that it is they who must collectively shoulder the weight of responsibility in this case and what is more the letter from the Department fully accepts responsibility. In addition there is no criticism of my role whatsoever.

There is a belief in parts of this country that nothing is too bad for MPs, but your job must surely be to stand up against this lynch mob pressure and to deliver fairness in your findings and to uphold and promote decent honest standards.

...

2 July 2010


58   WE 3 Back

59   WE 2 Back

60   The policy was actually with AA Insurance: see WE 2. Back

61   Not included in the written evidence Back

62   WE 10. Back

63   As Mr Malik's claim for insurance for 2009-10 was made against his 2008-09 Additional Costs Allowance, the rules on PAAE (which was effective from 1 April 2009) did not apply. Back

64   Not included in the written evidence Back

65   WE 16 Back

66   WE 13 Back


 
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