Row breaks out over Clappison’s expenses

HERTSMERE Lib Dem candidate Anthony Rowlands has called upon his Tory rival James Clappison to provide more information about his parliamentary expenses.

When the expenses scandal broke last year, Mr Clappison, who is bidding for a fifth term as Hertsmere MP, was revealed to have claimed �97,000 in taxpayers’ money over a period of seven years for his second home in London Colney.

It also emerged the former barrister owned 24 rented houses and 27 acres of farmland in his native Yorkshire.

Along with those of every other MP in the country, Mr Clappison’s expenses were subsequently investigated by former civil servant Sir Thomas Legg.

After completing his review, Sir Thomas concluded the MP had NOT broken any parliamentary rules with his claims.

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Indeed, the only sum Mr Clappison had to repay was the �38.50 which he inadvertently claimed for bedding plants – an amount he returned before the expenses scandal broke.

However, Mr Rowlands remains unimpressed and said many residents had contacted him to say they felt Mr Clappison still had some questions to answer.

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“My wife and I own one house in St Albans,” Mr Rowlands said. “If elected, I do not intend to seek a second home for which to claim an allowance.

“Like everyone else who works in London and lives within commuting distance, I do not expect anyone to pay my living expenses. That would be immoral, whatever the rules may have allowed.”

Mr Rowlands continued by urging his rival to confirm where his main residence is and enquiring if he regretted any of his expenses claims.

He also chided Mr Clappison over his property portfolio, asking him if he felt it helped him relate to the lives of residents in Potters Bar.

Responding, Mr Clappison said: “My expenses, which have been among the lowest of all MPs, have been fully audited by Sir Thomas Legg, who chaired the independent process and I was found to have no questions to answer at all.”

Mr Clappison also turned the fire onto his opponent. He said: “In view of the revelations about the much higher claims of Nick Clegg and other Liberal Democrat MPs, I am suprised that the Liberal Democrats would seek to raise this issue.”

He added: “I am sure electors will notice that they have nothing to say about local issues in Potters Bar.”

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