MP who paid son £44,000 apologises

Ben Russell,Political Correspondent
Tuesday 29 January 2008 01:00 GMT
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A senior Tory MP could be banned from the Commons after paying his son nearly £44,000 of taxpayers' money while he was a full-time university student.

Derek Conway, a former government whip, was forced to apologise to MPs and his constituents yesterday after the parliamentary standards watchdog said he had committed a "serious breach of the rules" for misusing staffing allowances.

Last night it was also alleged that he paid a second, elder son, Henry, £32,000 while he was studying at Newcastle university. Although he is not currently under investigation for the new claims, Mr Conway could face further questions.

Members of the all-party Committee on Standards and Privileges recommended that the MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup be suspended from the Commons for 10 days and repay nearly £10,000 after concluding that the salary Mr Conway paid to his son Freddie for research work was "excessive". The committee said it was "astonished" that there was no evidence of Freddie's work. It said: "This was, at the least, an improper use of allowances; at worst, it was a serious diversion of public funds ... The reality may well be somewhere between the two."

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