Here’s an interesting wee story. Stormont MP Jim Shannon has been ordered to pay back £14,000 in falsely claimed travel expenses he paid out to his office staff. The BBC reports…
The Strangford MP’s claims were five times greater than the second highest claiming MP and 37 times greater than the average claim by all MPs.
He accounted for 26.1% of all staff constituency mileage claimed by the entire House of Commons.
So what’s Jim been up to?
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) found that Mr Shannon was the highest claimant for staff constituency mileage last year. But it said there had been no fraud.
It said “a number of errors” had been made by Mr Shannon “leading to claims for constituency office mileage that would not be allowable”.
Here’s where the interesting bit comes.
IPSA found that Mr Shannon’s staff had made mistakes in what they claimed for, which included delivering food to constituents from food banks.
Ah… And it seems the IPSA found it appropriate to lecture the Strangford MP on the proper role of as a Member of Parliament.
The report found that Mr Shannon had taken on too much work and said he “still regards himself as a local councillor” and “needs to let go”.
Probably very sound advice, but also probably none of the business of the IPSA.
Last word to Jim…
Mr Shannon said that because the work MPs do is publicly funded there “must be no question of any abuse or dishonesty” in how those funds are used.
“I am particularly glad that nothing of this sort has happened in my case and that my integrity and that of my office has been upheld,” Mr Shannon said.
“But… I know that the work done to support me must be undertaken as economically and efficiently as possible.”
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty