A Conservative MP has told the host of a VIP party in Malta that “we are totally corrupt” while there on a trip which was paid for by the taxpayer, reports say.
Brian Binley, the member for Northampton South, was enjoying an evening of hospitality at the expense of the Maltese Bank of Valletta before heading to a complimentary open-air concert, according to an undercover investigation by the Daily Telegraph.
The newspaper said Mr Binley was accompanied by Mark Pritchard, the Tory MP for Wrekin, on a visit to the country funded by the taxpayer.
Both politicians are members of the all-party Parliamentary group for Malta, and at the star-studded evening of entertainment boasted to the Maltese prime minister and his wife that they were a “two-man Parliamentary delegation”.
She responded that it was “better” being just the two of them, because “you get more treatment”.
While the comments were clearly meant to be tongue-in-cheek, they are evidence of the MPs' acute awareness of the way their appearance at the party could be construed.
In another incident at the exclusive event, when discussing who had invited the MPs along Mr Binley joked: “Well, we’ve got to be very careful, because we might, you know what politicians are like, they’ll scrounge you all the time.”
He also reportedly told his hosts they “will say what a wonderful organisation [Bank of Valetta] is” on their return to the UK, and added a promise to “repay” the hospitality in London.
When a Telegraph reporter asked Mr Binley who funded the trip, he said: “It’s mostly taxpayers’ money.”
One of the authors of the newspaper’s report tweeted that Mr Binley was “unaware he is being recorded” at the time, while the Labour party in Sutton Coldfield asked: “Tory MP Brian Binley enjoying his taxpayer funded five day jolly to Malta a little too much?”
The news comes as Mr Pritchard called in the Parliamentary watchdog over allegations he tried to exploit his foreign contracts to set up lucrative business deals for his own profit.
Stephen Twigg, Labour’s spokesman on constitutional affairs, told The Independent: “We need MPs focused on securing the economic recovery for hard-working families not securing profits for financial firms.”
It is also not the first time that Mr Binley has come under fire for accepting gifts from private companies – last year he was found to have received hospitality from a leading tobacco company while making calls for the Government to drop cigarette packaging plans.
Mr Binley refused to comment on the latest reports.