Saturday, 5 February 2011

Daily Mail Caught Distorting MPs' Expenses

If you dipped into the pages of The Daily Mail yesterday, you might have caught this story about MPs' expenses. As you might expect they've all got their noses in the trough again, according to the anonymous reporter who threw the piece together. Despite being on a hefty salary, we're told Stoke North MP Joan Walley claimed £4.95 for a map of the constituency she's been representing for 24 years. Sheryll Murray had the nerve to claim for 20p parking costs outside a surgery. And, most relevant to my interests, my local MP - Tristram Hunt - claimed 4p for 'travel within the constituency'.

Read that again. 4p. Four pence. 4% of one pound. Claimed by someone on £65,738/year.

It's an outrage!

Now, I wouldn't believe
The Mail if it told me I was on fire, so I checked the story out for myself. And what a surprise. At best you could describe the 4p claim a deliberate distortion. At worst, it's an outright lie.

The 4p was part of a *breakdown* of mileage claimed by a member of staff from the Stoke Central constituency office. It works like this. If a meeting has been arranged with someone around the corner before a surgery at the other end of the constituency, instead of claiming for the total mileage of the trip the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority rules state this should be treated as two separate journeys.
This is exactly what happened here. In fact, I believe the total claim was something in the region of 20-odd quid.

So there you have it.
The Daily Mail have massively distorted a non-story in a rather desperate attempt to cash in on anti-politics cynicism. Seeing the 4p bit of their feature is complete bollocks, what's the betting the rest of it is little more than a colourful interpretation of the facts?


asquith said...

I cycled past Walley's house the other day. (When travelling from A to B, not because I went out of my way to get there). It looked like it could do with some TLC to be honest. Don't know whether I'd give her expenses just for that though.

Anonymous said...

But what is pathetic is Hunt putting in a claim for 4p. If you trawl through the IPSA stuff you will see some pretty pathetic claims for individual newspapers and trips around the constituency . In the case of my MP he claimed 36 p for one trip and £2 for a car journey which lasted 2 miles. A Tory MP claimed £1.20 for a 3 mile journey to the local railway station. If you look at the the IPSA claims of the Tory who stated on the media that she had £22 left for Xmas she has already been paid out over £20,000. If they are held in contempt by the electorate then they have only themselves to blame.

Phil said...

You didn't read this piece, did you?

Phil said...

I believe you, Asquith ;)

Andrea Tinsley said...


Just to repeat Hunt didn't claim 4p his staff member did.

Therefore it wasn't Hunt's claim, it was his constituency assistants, and he never receive the 4p.

Big difference been Constituency staff's expenses and the MPs expenses. Also a big difference in the wage they get paid.

Gary Elsby said...

I'm trying to wade through the psycho-babble here on this one and I'd like to join you in condemmning a Tory newspaper, but first I need an answer to the obvious question.

Did Tristram Hunt put in a claim, to the claims dept that had on it a claim for a 4p car journey?
If paid out, would that 4p be paid to the car user?

I know Tory newspapers lie (and Labour one's tell the truth-Iraq/cash for honours) but I'm not always convinced they compulively lie.

Phil said...

Gary, paragraph five has all the information you need. Tristram Hunt didn't put in a 4p claim. Nor did his constituency assistant. It was part of a break down of a petrol claim by her for over £20. And that's all there is to it.

Gary Elsby said...

Well not according to a journalist working on it.
How many journeys made up the £20 claim?
Did one of them come to 4p and did Tristram Hunt submit the claim?

Once I see what actually happened, I can then say that the Daily Mail were wrong (or right).

Phil said...

I prefer to take the word of the person who actually put the claim in - especially when the facts back up their version of events.

If you want to believe a lying Daily Mail journo because it's politically convenient, that's your perogative.

Gary Elsby said...

You've had five attempts at answering a simple question and on each of those five attempts you have not answered that simple question, with a yes or no.

I now know the answer to whether a claim went in for 4p.

Thank you.

Phil said...

Gary, you're being facetious or stupid.

Did Tristram Hunt put in a claim for 4p? No.

Did a £20+ claim for petrol put in by a constituency office member of staff include a break down that put one leg of a journey at 4p. Yes.