63. Letter to the Commissioner from
Ms Julie Kirkbride, 11 February 2010|
I write in response to your letter of 26th January
and would offer the following response to your further questions.
1. I never kept notes in my diary as to who looked
after my son whilst I was in Bromsgrove. As I said before, I would
have someone resident in [the Bromsgrove property] to provide
care for my son at the weekends and during House of Commons recesses
so that I was free to carry out my parliamentary duties. This
person was normally my brother, but I have no record of the nights
he spent there, nor records of when another person fulfilled his
child caring role.
2. My brother's main residence is [address].
My brother jointly owns this property and since 2000 has been
elected, by the residents, onto the board of management for the
3. I do not have records for this and refer you
to my answer to point one. As a normal rule, I would spend every
weekend in [the Bromsgrove property] whilst the House is sitting
and would spend parliamentary recesses there except for the time
when we would be away on holiday.
4. My brother is registered to vote in Bromsgrove.
I am sure that you will be well aware that any member of the public
is eligible to register to vote anywhere in the country with the
obvious restriction that they would need a postal address in that
area to receive their polling cards. My brother registered to
vote in Bromsgrove because he provided considerable voluntary
support for me as the Member of Parliament (in the form of maintaining
my website and other computer related services) and therefore
wished to enjoy voting for his sister in parliamentary elections.
Mr Goggins is wrong to suggest that voter registration denotes
someone's main address (although it may do so). In the case of
my brother there are obvious reasons why he might wish to register
in a place that was not his main home, but where he did spend
some of his time.
Let me also address the issue you raise about the
registration at Companies House. My brother returned to the UK
after living many years in the USA shortly before my son was born.
He started working as a lecturer for a high tech computer company
which offered residential courses across the country. He offered
to cover childcare for me at the weekends. In 2001 his accountant
suggested that he set up a company in the UK and without consulting
me he put [the Bromsgrove property] as the address of this company
so that he would see any urgent paperwork at the weekend. I accept
this should not have happened, but the reason is entirely innocent.
No money whatsoever was traded through the company, it was never
used, it never had any employees and never had a liability for
tax. It remained completely dormant and was closed in 2005.
5. My brother will have spent occasional time,
including nights, in [the Bromsgrove property] without the presence
of myself or my son. This is because he offered computer services
to me and my staff in Bromsgrove on a voluntary basis. He maintained
my website and he offered training and support to my office staff
on an ad hoc
basis. There will have been occasions when it was convenient for
him to use [the Bromsgrove property] as a baseas I maintain
an office in my home there. It seems to me that in providing computer
support services as a volunteer my brother was saving the taxpayer
a considerable amount of money. However, as I noted in my previous
correspondence, my brother has other responsibilities to take
care of during the week and I would therefore stress that this
would be an occasional occurrence.
6. As I have explained above, my husband and
I spent the parliamentary recesses in [the Bromsgrove property]
and due to the unpredictable nature of our jobs we liked to have
someone to cover childcare whilst we were there.
7. I claimed the full mortgage interest from
I hope that the above answers satisfactorily resolve
the complaint. I recognise that you have conducted previous inquiries
where a non dependent person stayed at the second home of an MP.
However, I would hope that you will accept that my case involves
a completely different principle, insofar as the person was staying
at the property entirely for the purposes of enabling me to carry
out my parliamentary duties. Moreover, to raise an official inquiry
on the issue of childcare arrangements would have profound and
unfortunate implications for the next generation of women MPs
who we all hope will be entering parliament at the next election.
On a further note, I recognise that you have been
given a job to do by Parliament, but you will also have seen the
verdict of Sir Thomas Legg's Inquiry and the appeal conducted
by Sir Paul Kennedy into my expenses. As such, I hope you will
accept that I have spent the last nine months being investigated
on precisely this issuewhich finally concluded in my favourand
that to face yet another inquiry would result in my being exposed
to triple jeopardy. I was delighted when Sir Paul accepted my
explanation and I hope that for my own peace of mind I can now
look forward to your doing the same.
11 February 2010