Inquiry into Gorman house deals

TERESA GORMAN, the controversial Conservative MP for Billericay, is under investigation by the parliamentary watchdog for failing to register her ownership of two bed-sit properties.

The houses at the centre of the investigation are in south London and were owned by Mrs Gorman until 1994 when they were sold to offshore companies. The MP has told the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Elizabeth Filkin, that one of the houses was for her personal use.

But when confronted by The Independent Mrs Gorman said both the houses, one in Norwood, the other in Streatham, were used by her business. Employees who lived in them occasionally did not pay rent.

Ms Filkin will also look into whether Mrs Gorman should have declared an interest in 1990 when she sponsored a Ten Minute Rule Bill in the House of Commons which attempted to repeal the Rent Acts giving protection to tenants. Mrs Gorman says she did not receive rent from tenants at that time.

Electoral records show that between 1987, when Mrs Gorman became an MP, and 1994 five people registered to vote at the Norwood property apart from Mrs Gorman and her husband Jim. Ten people, including Mr Gorman, registered at the Streatham house.

Both houses were sold in 1994 to offshore companies, which had the same firm of London solicitors and shared the same address in Guernsey. Mrs Gorman said she had no beneficial interest in the offshore companies.

Asked why she had told Ms Filkin that the Streatham property was for her personal use but later said it was for her business, Mrs Gorman said she had been running a business there which had outgrown the space, and had moved to Norwood.