Once again, a trip to a senior relative allowed me to read the Telegraph today, without the indignity of having to pay good money for it.
Having read the inside page article about Phil Woolas (who incidentally is confirmed as using hair dye because he had it on one of his receipts) I suspect that the Telegraph need not worry about a legal action from the "wog-bashing" minister. Their article seems relatively watertight to me as they have obviously checked what Woolas claimed in each instance, as well as the contents of each receipt (unless they have made a terrible mix-up with their evidence, which, of course, is possible). In fairness to Woolas (did you ever expect that phrase from a LibDem who helped in the Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election?!) he seems to have been a victim of his own openess in that he didn't actually have to submit receipts for the £400 a month food allowance, but he did.
So Woolas is a bit of a side note in all this. The chocolate mouse for the most blatant alleged exploitation of the second homes allowance goes to......(nervous smiles as the camera shakes over Geoff Hoon and Hazel Blears).... (rips golden tax-payer funded envelope open)....
THE ALLEGED MARGARET MORAN, THE LABOUR MP FOR LUTON SOUTH FOR ALLEGEDLY CLAIMING FOR DRY ROT RECTIFICATION ON AN ALLEGED HOLIDAY HOUSE IN SOUTHAMPTON
It's known, allegedly, as "flipping". The phrase "daylight flipping robbery" may allegedly not be far from the lips of many taxpayers in regard to Ms Moran based on the Telegraph alleged allegations - but, of course, we await her side of the story.
Even if she doesn't get forced to resign - which, on the face of the alleged evidence so far presented and noting that she allegedly failed to comment to the Telegraph, she should - by all normal standards she would allegedly appear to perhaps owe the taxman £9,000 because she appears to have allegedly been given £22,500 worth of alleged benefits in kind. If you represent Luton South and work at Westminster, the reasons as to why you allegedly need to have a house in Southampton to carry out your work appear obscure, at best. And even if the Commons Fees Office unbelievably and allegedly allowed this alleged and highly questionable activity, the taxman should probably still be able to claim back the tax on the amount given to Ms Moran.
Ms Moran is saying that it was all within the rules. Yes, the letter of the rules. (That fig-leaf is so threadbare it is almost non-existent.) However, the Commons authorities made clear they thought the activity was outside the spirit of the rules. So yes, I absolutely accept that Ms Moran has done nothing illegal or against the Commons' rules. Fine. But, my goodness, I wouldn't like to be her when she next faces the voters.