July 31 2014 Latest news:
HUNTINGDON MP Jonathan Djanogly is one of the latest politicians to fall under the national spotlight in the ongoing row over expenses. Saturday s edition of The Daily Telegraph claims Mr Djanogly made a series of expense claims, including money for au
HUNTINGDON MP Jonathan Djanogly is one of the latest politicians to fall under the national spotlight in the ongoing row over expenses.
Saturday's edition of The Daily Telegraph claims Mr Djanogly made a series of expense claims, including money for automatic gates at his Alconbury home, gardening and cleaners.
It also states that Mr Djanogly has agreed to pay back £25,000.
However, the MP has told The Hunts Post the Telegraph's allegations were flawed. In particular, the claim for security gates was for maintenance of them, not the capital cost of installing them.
"I paid for the gates out of my own pocket, because they would have constituted 'an improvement'. They were installed on direct advice from the police," he said.
That advice followed the MP's decision to take on the animal rights campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences, who attacked workers and vandalised their property. His home was also the target of the activists when a brick was thrown through a window. The MP was in London at the time, but his wife and children were at home.
He also explained why he claimed the Alconbury property as his second home.
"When I first stood for Parliament I already lived in and owned a family home in London. This is where I still live during the week when the House is sitting and I have claimed nothing in relation to that property.
"My second home became the house I purchased and furnished in the constituency in 2000 (without public funds) for the purposes of my constituency duties and it has remained thus ever since.
"I have not indulged in what is now called "flipping" and I have never changed the property allocated as my second home. Typically, I will stay in the constituency, Friday to Sunday and also during recess."
Mr Djanogly also stressed that he had sent off a cheque for £25,000 before the Daily Telegraph's allegations emerged, principally because he felt partly responsible for the system's not having been reformed already.
"Taken corporately, MPs have failed to reform this system over a long period of time. I am sorry about that, and I take partial responsibility," he said.
"This year I have not claimed a penny and shall not do so until Sir Christopher Kelly [who is carrying out an urgent review of the Parliamentary expenses regime] has reported," he added.
Mr Djanogly believes the claim for maintenance of the half-acre garden in Alconbury was reasonable under the rules, but accepts that gardening is unlikely to be admissible in future - another reason for the payback cheque.
"I appreciate people's concern, and I support the need to reform the expenses system. I only ever intended to act reasonably and in good faith, within the rules and within the law. But, notwithstanding that I did everything right, I can understand that people think the system has failed and that they have been let down. I'm want to make it clear that I want to put that right.
"I hope that we can now move on and that I can play my part in reforming the system, because Parliament has become detached from the people. The expenses situation has moved into a wider constitutional crisis.