Reevesey's recommended reading

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Lord Rennard cleared in expenses row

Earlier this evening the Clerk of the Parliaments, the senior official who was investigating the complaint made against the former Liberal Democrats Chief Executive and Peer, Lord Rennard.

I liked the line in the ruling "...Lord Rennard’s record over the period in question shows that he was far from inactive in the House ..." given the hours Chris Rennard worked over the road in our Cowley Street HQ, I bumped into Chris Rennard many of the weekends I was working there.

The ruling by the Clerk of the Parliaments rejects the allegations made that Chris Rennard claimed overnight subsistence for days that he was not present in the House and also rejects allegations that he made claims related to having a home outside London that he wasn’t entitled to make:

"Your allegation that Lord Rennard did not attend on all the days for which he claimed overnight subsistence is not, therefore, well-founded; and I accordingly do not uphold this aspect of the complaint."

You can read the full report and response to the allegation here. Given how quick the knives came out for Chris Rennard, let us see if people are as quick to apologise?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's interesting on a number of points. First he's been cleared of something very specific, breaking Parliament's rules, according to the way Parliament choose to interpret them. And that clearance has been given by an Officer of Parliament, not an objective third party.

That then is no more significant legally or ethically in regards to whether a fraud has been committed than the MPs fees office turning a blind eye to tax-dodging, flipping, or claims for capital repayment on mortgages.

Rather the Clerk has now given licence to every peer to buy a second home for the purpose of maximising their income.

How definitive that is may cause further confusion. Has he for example licensed Taylor of Warwick to claim for a phantom home, or Uddin for a real one she didn't use... not clear at all...

On giving licence to 'clocking-in', that is not a surprise. Short of someone following a peer around all day it could never be proved whether or not someone was doing any work for the House or signing on like a benefit cheat. You may choose to believe Rennard was working as hard for the House as the Party, I can only salute your uncritical loyalty.

I agree further this matter is probably be over for Rennard, but is not certain. Sunlight could take this ruling to the Parliamentary ombudsman, or the Police, or private prosecution. Any of these could assess whether 'main residence' has a legal meaning not examined by the Clerk, such as for example living in one place more than another, and whether Rennard has provided sufficient evidence to qualify.

From the full report it is only clear he can prove he owns a second property and uses it on occasion, something never in contention. That may be good enough for Clerk and Liberal Democrats, I question whether it would stand up to much scrutiny externally.

Sunlight might also issue another complaint based on his claims in 2002/03 where he was using his old home in Wokingham as the basis for £22k of allowances. Odd they chose not to put that in the first complaint.

So in regards to your demands for an apology from the few people brave enough to stand up to this odious man and his questionable personal conduct, whilst you and your party did nothing...

All that is clear so far is that Rennard has successfully gamed the system for personal gain a way most other Lords chose not to do. His only defence for that behaviour was that it was "within the rules", something Parliament has now confirmed.

Not that it was right, necessary, proper, or ethical, but that he could get away with it.

That doesn't make him a saint or innocent, it makes him a successful chancer, an analysis that could be applied to most of his career with the Party.

Your hero still makes many of us sick, and knowing he's just another oily cog in a slippery system does not improve matters much.

What does though is that he felt he had to resign. He must be spitting teeth about that, particularly now he's apparently made a miraculous recovery from his previous career-ending ill-health in under 4 months.

Maybe he should get an apology from his doctor...

Related Posts with Thumbnails