Beith and Swinson latest Lib Dems named in expenses row

by Stephen Tall on May 22, 2009

Jo Swinson and Sir Alan Beith have both found themselves dragged into the latest set of allegations to be circulating – for the record, and avoidance of doubt, looking at the newspaper reports it doesn’t seem either of them have any reason not to be able to look their constituents in the eyes.

Sir Alan Beith

The Telegraph’s story about Sir Alan relates to a rented flat in London he shares with his wife, former fellow Lib Dem MP (now a Lib Dem peer) Baroness (Diana) Maddock. You can read the story here. I assume the Telegraph is publishing now because Sir Alan is one of the early favourites to occupy the soon-to-be-vacant Speaker’s Chair.

The couple point out that they have tried to stick to the spirit and letter of the expenses rules by Sir Alan claiming only half the rent, and Baroness Maddock claiming only half her Lords allowance. She notes: “We have tried to claim half and half. I have always claimed half of what I could claim for and Alan only claims for half the rent. It isn’t an exact science. We tried to solve the rent issue by claiming for half in a system that isn’t perfect. We could have sat down and we could have worked out the half much more accurately perhaps, but we did our best. We have always been in favour of everything being out in the open.”

More to the point, at least as far as I’m concerned, this is a rented flat – so any improvements made will not benefit them financially, a stark contrast with some of the Telegraph’s genuinely serious allegations.

Jo Swinson

There seems (at least to my eyes) to be even less of a story here, as featured in the Express. Apparently some cosmetic items – for which Jo did not claim – appear on receipts alongside other items for which Jo has made expenses claims. This is all the excuse the Express needs to make the usual casually sexist swipes about Jo being “known at Westminster for the attention she pays to her appearance”. As Jo has long published her expenses in full on her website, I think we can safely file this story in the file marked ‘Desperate’.