My long succession of political campaigns, often waged with the support of your newspaper, include fighting militants and unilateral disarmers, reforming trade union elections and developing anti-terrorist doctrines and measures. This is hardly a career devoted to the pursuit of personal financial gain.
Now I find myself listed in your booklet on MPs’ expenses (p.43) as one of "102 MPs who tried to stretch the rules", and on your website in the following terms: "Julian Lewis attempted to claim £6,000 in expenses for a wooden floor at his second home" – an accusation gleefully repeated in my regional press and on local television.
When my Westminster flat was refurbished in 2006, I faxed the list of works – including the installation of the floor – to the Fees Office for advice on what would and would not be claimable. Their response that only the flooring would not be appropriate was accepted at once, without question or challenge, and no claim for it was ever submitted.
Seeking and accepting preliminary guidance in this way does not constitute trying "to stretch the rules", let alone attempting "to claim £6,000 for a wooden floor". Yet, I suspect, this will not be the last letter I have to write in a probably futile attempt to set the record straight.
(Dr) JULIAN LEWIS MP