Andy McSmith's Diary: Profligate peers keep returning to their trough for life


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Indy Politics

The troughers in ermine have been at it again.

The House of Lords is the only workplace where someone can be caught fiddling expenses, go to prison, and then go back, all brass-necked, to carry on claiming – provided they take care, the second time round, not to break the law.

Lord Hanningfield, the former Tory leader of Essex Council, has not made a speech or asked a question in the House of Lords since he was sentenced to nine months in 2011 for making fraudulent claims, but he has been turning up regularly since last April, signing in, and claiming the £300 daily allowance he is entitled to, just for being there.

The latest list of Lords expenses, published yesterday, shows that he claimed £4,800 in October 2012 alone, plus £383 of travel costs. That brings his total claims in the first five working months since he was allowed back to £15,900 worth of allowances, plus £1,329 in travel costs.

Lord Taylor of Warwick, another former Tory peer who has been to prison for fiddling expenses, is also claiming his daily allowance again. The new figures show that he claimed £9,900 in three months.

Labour's Baroness Uddin was never prosecuted, but was told by the Lords authorities to hand back more than £125,000 in expenses she should never have claimed. The figures published yesterday show that she has claimed £10,200 since her return.

Their fellow peers frankly wish all of these three would stay away, but unlike MPs, they cannot be removed.

They will be entitled to carry on claiming for the rest of their lives – or until the House of Lords is reformed. How Chris Huhne must envy them.

Times story built on Sheikhy information

The back three pages of yesterday's Times were taken by a sensational exclusive by the paper's chief football correspondent, Oliver Kay, revealing that the world's leading football clubs are to be offered an eye-watering £175m each to take part in a 24-team tournament held every two years in Qatar.

Curiously, further down, Kay reported that “leading figures” from England's major clubs knew nothing about the plan.

They would have known something had they followed French-language website Les Cahiers de Football, which posted an article on Sunday containing the same information. The piece was decorated with what purported to be the tournament's logo, which also appeared in The Times. But here, the story seems to run into the sand. The Qatari Football Association issued a flat denial. Then the author of the original article, Jerome Latta, was quoted by a French website as saying it was a spoof. “I swear it's come entirely out of my imagination. I don't have a source,” he said.

Oliver Kay insists that he has not been taken in. “@cahiersdufoot was 100% NOT the source of my story, as I suspect Cahiers know,” he tweeted.

So will the Sheikhs shake up the world game or not? We await developments.

Huhne and co. should stay away from cars

Misfortune piles upon misfortune in the Chris Huhne/Vicky Pryce saga. Huhne's lover, Carina Trimingham, went to visit her lover in Wandsworth Prison yesterday, and picked up a parking ticket. These people do not have much luck when they go driving.