PRESS INFORMATION – 2 July 2009
New Forest East MP Julian Lewis has been exonerated of any wrongdoing in relation to his Parliamentary allowance claims, known as the Additional Costs Allowance (ACA). As previously reported, all Conservative MPs were required to have their claims for this allowance – designed to meet expenditure on a second home – checked and cleared by a Scrutiny Panel, headed by Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin and Opposition Assistant Chief Whip John Randall. Nearly half of them have been instructed to pay money back.
Mr Randall has now written to Dr Lewis confirming that his detailed ACA claims have been examined, and that
"we do not require you to answer any queries about them and there is no requirement for any repayments to be made".
In a separate letter from the House of Commons Resources Department, the New Forest East MP’s conduct over the refurbishment of his London flat has also been vindicated. A number of newspapers had repeatedly alleged that he attempted to claim from the ACA for a wooden floor in 2006, and that this had been rejected. However, the Commons Authorities have now categorically stated that at no time did Dr Lewis indicate any intention to claim for particular items, when asking for advice in January 2006 as to which parts of the refurbishment were allowable.
He had merely sought advice and accepted it.
Mr Chris Sear, Assistant Director of Operations/Head of Policy, wrote to the MP:
"I can therefore confirm that you did not at any time submit a claim for flooring, and indeed your claim specifically excluded the item in question".
Mr Sear added that by seeking advice as to which items were appropriate to claim, in this way, Dr Lewis had acted
"in accordance with best practice as recommended by this department. Therefore, I can also confirm that it is not true that you attempted to claim £6,000 in expenses for a wooden floor at your second home".
The MP commented:
"These two letters fully endorse what I told the media, right at the outset, when this horrific expenses row exploded. One newspaper even invented a headline which had me declaring 'I Won’t Pay Back a Penny', when in reality I had never made such a statement. I always said that I was sure no repayment would be required – and this prediction has now been confirmed."
Dr Lewis added:
"As for the flooring, the House Authorities have stated in the clearest possible terms that no claim was ever made or suggested by me, and that I followed best practice as recommended by the Department of Resources.
"I trust that some of the people who were so quick to make political capital against me will now examine their consciences."