Watchdog investigates Labour peer's expenses

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Indy Politics

A House of Lords standards watchdog is to look into a complaint over the expenses of former Labour chairman Lord Clarke of Hampstead, it was announced today.

Clerk of the Parliaments Michael Pownall said he had referred Lord Clarke's case to the House of Lords Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests.

Lord Clarke was told on Friday by the Crown Prosecution Service that he will not face criminal charges over allegations relating to his claims for overnight allowances. Three Labour MPs and one Conservative peer are facing prosecution for false accounting.

But today's announcement raises the possibility that the Labour peer may face some form of parliamentary discipline, if allegations that he claimed expenses to stay in London while returning to his home in St Albans are upheld.

Mr Pownall also announced that he had rejected complaints about the expenses of nine other peers.

Mr Pownall released a letter he sent today to a member of the public who raised complaints about peers expenses last November.

In it, he wrote that he had suspended his examination of Lord Clarke's case because of the police investigation which ended with Friday's announcement.

He added: "As I regard this case as complex and serious, I have today referred the complaint relating to Lord Clarke to the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests for examination."

Mr Pownall said he did not uphold complaints against Lord Speaker Baroness Hayman, Labour peers Lord Haworth, Baroness Morgan of Drefelin, Lord Morris of Manchester, Baroness Thornton and Baroness Whitaker, Liberal Democrats Baroness Barker and Baroness Northover and Conservative Lord Colwyn.

And he said he had not considered a complaint about Attorney General Baroness Scotland, as she was not entitled to claim under the peers' reimbursement scheme because she was a minister during the period concerned.