Gorman failed to declare property rentals

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THE TORY MP Teresa Gorman failed to declare that a bedsit property she owned was let out as flats when she tried to bring in legislation repealing the Rent Acts, The Independent has learnt. The revelation will deal a further blow to the MP for Billericay, in Essex, who is already under investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Elizabeth Filkin, over registration of her property interests.

Four former tenants of Mrs Gorman's property in Hopton Road, Streatham, south London, plan to give statements to Ms Filkin, confirming that they were renting flats there when she introduced the measure.

Mrs Gorman told the House of Commons in January 1990 that the Rent Acts, which ensured tenants' rights, had made landlords reluctant to let their properties. She did not mention her own property during debate on her Bill, nor did she list it in the Register of Members' Interests.

"People would rather leave their properties empty than risk losing control over them, which is what currently happens. We have turned the landlord into a bogeyman and we have made it shameful to rent property," she said. Her Bill was defeated by 167 votes to 56.

A letter sent to The Independent last month by Mrs Gorman's solicitor on her behalf denied that she had been in receipt of rent from private tenants when she sponsored the Bill. Yesterday, a further letter sent by the firm said she would have had no reason not to declare the interest. It added: "Her understanding was that she was not in receipt of rent from private tenants of any property."

Mrs Gorman told Ms Filkin the house was for her personal residential use, then later told The Independent that it was also used by her business. Parliamentary rules say MPs should register all property of substantial value owned by themselves or their spouse.

Angus Crystal lived in the Streatham house for about three years until the end of 1990. He paid pounds 200 per month by cheque to Mrs Gorman's husband, Jim. In 1988 Allan Collins moved in to share with Mr Crystal and also paid rent to Mr Gorman. "We had a rent book and paid Mr Gorman, either by cheque or by cash," he said.

A couple who lived there at the time, but who do not want to be named, also plan to confirm to Ms Filkin that they lived at the house and paid rent.