Tory 'paid his own company £100,000 from expenses'

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A senior Tory MP is to be investigated by the Commons anti-sleaze watchdog after being accused of paying more than £100,000 of his parliamentary expenses to his own company.

David Wilshire claimed taxpayers' money for three years for office assistance provided by Moorlands Research Services, a firm owned by himself and his partner, Ann Palmer. The rules on expenses ban MPs from entering agreements that could give rise to accusations they are profiting from public funds.

Last night Mr Wilshire referred his own case to John Lyon, the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, who will now conduct a formal inquiry. His move came as today's Daily Telegraph reported that Mr Wilshire paid up to £3,250 a month to the company between 2005 and 2008. In total the business was paid £105,500 yet there is no official record of the firm's existence and it has never filed public accounts.

The MP for Spelthorne in Surrey, who also employs Miss Palmer as his office manager, has said that the company he had founded had paid "suppliers" to provide office services such as printing. Although it was run by his partner, Mr Wilshire insisted that they had not profited from the arrangement. He admitted it had never been registered as a company but the Telegraph said he was unable to explain why taxpayers' money was funnelled through the firm in this way – or why such an arrangement was permitted with virtually no scrutiny.

Mr Wilshire, who said the company was closed down last year, added: "The arrangement... was formally approved by the [Commons] Fees Office and, as required by the rules, a formal written agreement was drawn up and lodged with them. The payments were made strictly in accordance with the rules and payments were made directly to the business's bank account."

The MP said last night that he had emailed Mr Lyon and expected to speak to him about launching an inquiry today. Mr Wilshire's claims were made through office allowances and so have not been examined as part of Sir Thomas Legg's review into the MPs' "second homes" payments. Sir Thomas has told them that they may have to repay expenses channelled to companies in which they have a financial interest.

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