I have done nothing wrong, says expenses claim MP

A Conservative MP who claimed more than £50,000 in taxpayer-funded expenses to rent a flat from his own company insisted today he had done nothing wrong.

Brian Binley, MP for Northampton South, claimed £1,500 a month to rent the flat in Pimlico, central London, for more than three years, reported the Daily Telegraph.

According to the newspaper, the Conservative made the claims whilst he appealed against a change in House of Commons rules banning MPs from renting properties from themselves or their companies.

Mr Binley has since moved to a different flat after the Speaker rejected his appeal in April.

But the 67-year-old has not had to repay the £57,000 he claimed in the three years it took to consider his appeal, the paper said.

Today the MP insisted he had done nothing wrong.

In a statement, Mr Binley said: "I am an MP from a working-class background who knows that most of his constituents don't earn much above the average wage and therefore treats taxpayers' money with the care it deserves.

"I did rent a flat for the reasons that I have stated from a company that I founded and am proud of.

"The rent charged included council tax, water rates, electricity, gas, and all the furnishings, white goods etc in the flat.

"In addition, I paid the cleaner, rightly and properly, from my own pocket.

"When the mortgage was taken out, it was totally cleared by the Fees Office and when the rules were changed which stated that I could not rent from a company that I had an interest in, I appealed that decision.

"I sadly lost that appeal, accepted the decision of the Speaker and found another flat which unfortunately costs the taxpayer more money because that is the going rate.

"Finally, I am proud of my record of controlling my expenses in the interest of the taxpayer as proved by the fact that I am ranked 378th in the expenses list and I will continue to act openly in that way."

According to the Telegraph, Mr Binley, who was elected to the House of Commons in May 2005, began claiming £1,500 a month for the flat in February 2006.

He is chairman of BCC Marketing Services, which bought the property just two months earlier for £345,000, the newspaper said.

Shortly after he started renting the flat, he was told the claims were not allowed but decided to appeal to the Speaker against the decision.

In the meantime, he was allowed to continue making the claims.

Mr Binley's insistence that he has done nothing wrong comes as an inquiry into how to clean up MPs' expenses prepares to starting hearing evidence tomorrow.

Yesterday, the scandal claimed yet another victim after a Labour MP accused of submitting an improper bill for the wiring of his flat was deselected by the party's "star chamber" endorsements panel.

Jim Devine, the MP for Livingston, was told that he had been barred from standing as a Labour candidate at the next general election.

Mr Devine - who denies any wrongdoing - was alleged to have submitted a claim for £2,157 for rewiring his London flat based on a receipt bearing a bogus VAT number and the name of a non-existent firm.

He also faced questions over a £2,326 claim for shelving work said to have been carried out by the landlord of his local pub.

Meanwhile, Communities minister Shahid Malik's expenses were back in the spotlight as it emerged he faces another probe into his use of Commons allowances.

Parliamentary standards commissioner John Lyon accepted a complaint about the Dewsbury MP's accommodation and office costs.

Mr Malik was cleared of breaching the ministerial code last week, after allegations that he was paying below market rates.

Earlier, Conservative Ian Taylor announced his intention not to stand at the next general election.

The Esher and Walton MP became embroiled in the expenses controversy when the Daily Telegraph revealed he had a second home in London even though his main home is in the capital's commuter belt.

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