Donaldson claimed for movies on parlimentary expenses – Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph are reporting today that Jeffrey Donaldson claimed for watching movies in a hotel room “nearly every time” he was in the capital during a period between 2004 and 2005 when he began sharing a flat with Sammy Wilson.

Mr Donaldson, 46, a married father of two, used his Commons second home allowances to pay for films in his hotel room nearly every time he travelled from Northern Ireland to the capital on parliamentary business.

In total, Mr Donaldson submitted second home claim forms, including receipts, relating to 68 pay-to-view movies.

All of the expenses claims were paid in full by the House of Commons fees office.

Most of the films appeared on the hotel bills as “Room Service 2”, meaning that their nature was not obvious to officials. On one occasion, the item “Room Service 2” was circled on the receipt by Mr Donaldson or staff working for him, and the word “food” written next to it, before the claim was submitted.

  • Mick Fealty

    Lads,

    Just to clarify, I’ve taken all the comments off this thread, pending a review (to be undertaken in the morning).

    For the record, I don’t believe any of the remarks made are a breach of law, but they may be a breach of Slugger’s in/famous play the ball, and not the man rule.

    I don’t wish to play a spoiler to legitimate debate, but please, make your comments as measured and circumspect as Michael’s original post.

  • Pete Baker

    As the Daily Telegraph report points out

    Hotel sources confirmed that films he put on his expenses during 2004 and 2005 were in the highest price category offered to guests, covering the latest blockbusters and adult movies.

    And since Jeffrey denies any adult material was viewed “on the date alleged, or at all”, that just leaves “the latest blockbusters”.

    It should also be noted that

    After being approached by The Daily Telegraph, Mr Donaldson and DUP sources confirmed that he would repay costs relating to room service, mini-bars and “entertainment” from his hotel stays, totalling £678.90.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Mick

    As one of those who commented,

    I think it is fair to point out that anyone in public life who openly sets themselves up as having high moral values, by wearing the ichthys for example, is open to criticism when they do not match up to those values.

    In this case the failure was not in relation to the actual content of the expenses but to the fact they were claimed as expenses in the first place, regardless of content. The confirmation that they are now being repaid underlines the failure in judgment.

    I would consider this is not playing the man but commenting on the actions of a man not being in accordance with the public persona projected by someone who is an elected public representative.

    I am interested in your views on where this fits with the man/ball protocol.

  • eranu

    i missed why the comments were removed. i saw up until driftwoods intersting DVD find 🙂 , it all looked like banter to me.

    but to be honest i didnt see what the problem is with claiming a movie or even a few pints after a meal or small things like that. any reasonable employer would allow an employee to claim for things like that since they are having to spend a night or two away from home. its just a bit of give and take.
    the previous movie claim article was by the husband of an MP, so that is fair enough to claim as an abuse of expenses. but its not an abuse when an MP claims something small like a movie to keep themselves occupied while away from home.
    its all a bit childish from the telegraph.

  • eranu,

    I didn’t see anything untoward with the comments either but since Mick is the one who risks getting the solicitor’s letter it’s his call.

    “any reasonable employer would allow an employee to claim for things like that since they are having to spend a night or two away from home.”

    I do a fair bit of travelling on business and I most definitely am not allowed to put the *ahem* “highest price category” movies on expenses (technically as taxpayers we are Jeffrey’s employers and don’t forget we’re talking about over 500 pounds worth here).

    As already pointed out the nature of Jeffrey’s hotel room viewing is less important than the fact that he has paid the expenses- by doing so is he admitting that they were wrongly claimed in the first place?

    Secondly, anybody remember this little (attempted) pre-emptive gem from Mr Donaldson when the whole expenses scandal broke?

    (http://tinyurl.com/kqur2l)

    “LAGAN Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has given a full breakdown of the costs he has incurred for the last four years”

    Not quite full enough obviously.

    Finally, Robinson’s less than whole-hearted backing for his MP is worth noting.

    “Peter Robinson, its leader, said: “Mr Donaldson has been asked to pay back any expenses which have not been properly incurred and I understand that he intends to do so.”

  • Eddie

    I think the point, which the D Telegraph mentioned, was that Mr Donaldson asserts Christian values, and that the highest-charge category of movies includes some adult titles.

    Mr Donaldson denies that he watched adult movies. Peter Robinson says he is entitled to a presumption of innocence but that if any evidence is forthcoming they’ll look into it.

    I think it is better to read the entire D Telegraph story by clicking on “The Daily Telegraph are reporting…” introduction on Michael Shilliday’s posting at the top of this page.

  • Eddie

    I should have re-read the Daily Telegraph story myself. It does not say that Mr Donaldson is committed to Christian values. It says that the DUP is commited to Christian values, and adds:

    !In a statement issued on Friday night, the MP denied watching any content of an adult or pornographic nature, saying: “Such material was not viewed on the date alleged, or at all.”

    The DUP is committed to Christian values. Peter Robinson, its leader, said: “Mr Donaldson has been asked to pay back any expenses which have not been properly incurred and I understand that he intends to do so.

    “In the light of his categorical denials, Mr Donaldson is clearly entitled to a presumption of innocence. If any evidence to substantiate the allegations can be provided we would of course wish to consider it.””

  • John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard

    The Inland Revenue if this was a company director or even certain employees would want these benefits in kind on the individual’s P11D or a similar form and the recipient would be taxed. There has been far too much abuse of taxpayer’s money and furthermore triple jobbing sometimes coupled with Ministerial salaries does not encourage our trust in these people. The solution lies in their hands and I am against having the highest court in the land’s members hands tied too much in the future. This would neuter them and it would stop free spirits from freedom of speech. However these people have to be seen as sweeky clean in the future and total openess and transparency are nescessary. Mr Donaldson here has a very good opportunity to help his collegues in the DUP here by publishing all these questionable bills in full and totally unexpurgated detail. This would clear him totally and he should now, without any further delay, embark upon this course of action.This would show great powers of leadership and would thus become a beacon of good practice to all our other NI politicians at all levels in all parties. He would therefore start the cleansing of The Augean Stables.

  • “It does not say that Mr Donaldson is committed to Christian values”

    Christians and Politics? by Jeffrey Donaldson, Chairman of Prayer for Parliament

    Finally, please pray for more Daniels to come forward whilst Jeffrey humbles himself – and upgrades his website.

  • Comrade Stalin

    John K Lund,

    Exactly right. At work my employers have to jump through all sorts of loops to get P11D dispensation for the most minor of expenses concerns. Often it is not granted and the expenses have to be counted as income, and thus taxed. I can’t even claim for a morning newspaper if I’m travelling for work purposes.

  • Rory Carr

    Most of the films appeared on the hotel bills as “Room Service 2”, meaning that their nature was not obvious to officials. On one occasion, the item “Room Service 2” was circled on the receipt by Mr Donaldson or staff working for him, and the word “food” written next to it, before the claim was submitted.

    While this assertion might raise eyebrows in some quarters as indicating an attempt to mislead I can come up with at least one reasonable explaination:

    Those films viewed and charged as “Room Service 2” which were circled with the word “food” written next to them were in fact films which dealt with the subject of food.

    Two rather excellent films spring to mind – Chocolat (2000) directed by Lasse Hallström and Babette’s Feast a 1987 Danish film directed by Gabriel Axel. The latter film in particular which celebrates the triumph of Catholic joy in sensuality over the meanness of Protestant parsimony must have particularly excited Mr Donaldson. If, of course, that indeed was one the fims he choose to allow us to purchase for him.

  • Eddie

    The BBC have, at last, this afternoon, started to run the Jeffrey Donaldson hotel-pay-video story, including Peter Robinson’s comment, though not any reference to the D Telegaph’s reference to adult movies being in the higher-charge category.

    Cautious or what??

  • Dewi

    It isn’t the nature of the movies that’s the issue. Claiming for stuff that is nor essential to an MP’s duties has always been against the rules. This is not a grey area at all. I’m astonished that there has not been more fuss about it.

  • Rory Carr

    The nature of the movies may not be the issue among a certain sophisticated modern adult mindset, Dewi, but I think it would become rather a big issue if it were to be shown that the nature of any films viewed by Donaldson (and paid for by you and I and Barney from Cullybackey) were of the classification that is described as “adult viewing” (but which is actually more suited to a stunted, juvenile mindset).

    Babette’s Feast may (just about) pass muster but Babette’s Big Bouncy Ones would not play well to a stern Presbyterian audience.

  • eranu

    well i guess i must have had a nicer employer in the past than the slave drivers people here seem to have! do we the public expect MPs who are away from home to just go back to their room and stare at the wall for the evening? isnt that a bit stingy? i wouldnt begrudge them a nice meal, a couple of pints and a movie in their room if they wanted it. those sort of expenses are nothing compared to vast budgets wasted on stupid projects and so on. whats next? ask MPs to bring their own bogroll? !!

  • Eddie

    There are lots of movies on terrestrial TV, and also on Sky, which most hotels provide free of charge. So why pay-for-video tv that I have to pay for through taxes. No employer ever treated me so well.

  • Driftwood

    We’ll probably never know what movies Jeffrey watched as they tend to be billed ‘discreetly’, and the titles may be open to interpretation.
    Some DUP members might be aghast at ‘Babe-Pig in the City’, until they see

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120595/

    that it’s not about 1 of their MP’s with their snout in the trough.

    At least Ronnie Biggs was never a hypocrite.

  • Dave

    “whats next? ask MPs to bring their own bogroll? !!”

    To wipe their mouths after they’ve finishing talking sh…?

  • wouldnt begrudge them a nice meal, a couple of pints and a movie in their room if they wanted it.

    I would

  • Driftwood

    To wipe their mouths after they’ve finishing talking sh…?

    Maybe they need wipes for other reasons Dave.

  • Observer

    I wonder how many people would be allowed to keep their jobs if they paid back money they had been caught taking from they’re employers?

  • Eddie

    A texter to Frank Mitchell’s show on U105 suggests that one of the films Jeffrey would have been watching would have been The Long Good Friday.

  • Seceder

    Robbo is quite correct, Wee Jeffrey is entitled to the presumption of innocence. “Nobody ever suggested anything else” – but as the DUP have a history and a mentality of judging first and sorting out the facts later the shouldn’t be surprised if everyone else jumps to conclusions.

    As for the real issue, while for many in our sex obsessed Northern Ireland the contents of Wee Jeffries view will be of interest surely claiming for what may amount to entertainment is the real issue .

    If it were entertainment then he should never have claimed for it in the first place – cert U or cert 18

  • SM

    I have worked for a large corporation who display prominently in their staff areas the latest “former colleagues” who have been fired and served civil recovery notices – many of these are for sums considerably LESS than Jeffery’s £500 odd

  • ZoonPol

    But yet he did invoice it to the public purse therefore if its not directly related to his job he must explain fully. I am amazed that with a workload like his he can afford the time to watch such films (sic).
    By preaching their brand of dogma to others they sow the wind so that they them reap the whirlwind.

  • John East Belfast

    I think the whole issue about MP expenses is what are they incurring in connection with their job that they would not have occurred if they stayed at home.

    If you watched a Pay for View movie at home you would pay for it yourself. However if you have to stay in a hotel then it is reasonable that work gives you a meal allowance or picks up the tab for it. However the non paying TV element is likley exactly the same (if not better) than what you have at home therefore you should make do.

    This is also why I think the Robinson food bill is a much greater issue.
    ie if the tax payer is funding their apartment, cooker and fridge then why are we funding their food ?
    You can only eat in one place at a time and if we have given them the means to cook then that is all they should need.

    ie there is a big difference in providing somebody with furnished accommodation and putting them up in a hotel.
    However in both cases you would pay for your own Pay for TV.

    This whole MP expense issue has been about meanness and greed which together is an ugly combination

  • John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard

    Regfretfully the media with the exception of The Daily Telegraph are in this together covering up the professional politicians many and multiple nefarious financial and behavioral shortcomings.This applies in my opinion particularly to the BBC and some of the local newspapers, which also it would seem cannot see further than the end of their noses, that a political tsunami of change is in the process of taking place; as they the media are frightened of closing down their sources; what they seem to have forgotten is that the political classes need them more than the hacks need them.The wind of political change is now clearly visible the Conservatives and Unionists are campaigning on UK wide policies on the real national and international issues and have electoral success here now to show this is the case. The TUV are mopping up from a wide spectrum of people not just the Bible Belters which leaves the DUP in a vice being squeezed from both sides whilst they are being assailed from all sides; standing accused of excessive political sleaze of their own manufacture along with their fellow coalitionists in Sein Fein.It is also significant that the people who are dumb enough to continue opposing the GFA are in the area which was least affected by terrorism.Eventually the politics here will polarise into sociological economic normal politics and it is with interest that I hopefully will see Lady Hermon and Chris McGimpsey and their Labour supporting friends organise and stand as candidates here instead of winding up using the tribal divide for electoral support. The way is open for them.

  • Zoon Politikon

    I noticed that the former mayor of Lisburn City mentioned Chris McGimpsey too in the Belfast Telegraph I thought at first it was a mistake and he meant Michael McGimpsey MLA but i’m not to sure now. What is so special about Chris?

  • Jeffrey says ‘sorry’

    “The room service charges were all on the hotel bills. I submitted the hotel bills in block to the fees office,” he said.

    “What I should have done was separate out the cost of the room service charges. I recognise that and that was wrong and that’s why I repaid the room service charges for all of the items

    “The items for rooms service charge should have been separated out from the hotel bills and I should have paid for those myself.

    “It was wrong that I didn’t pay for these items myself. I recognise that and that was why I repaid these items.”

  • joeCanuck

    With regard to Nevin’s post, if Donaldson is being truthful, do we really want someone that stupid to represent us?

  • John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard

    Nevin,
    So did Asil Nadir, John Stonehouse, Peter Mandleson, David Blunkett, John Profumo, The list is endless.If Donaldson is on such firm ground why does he not emulate David Davis and resign and face a by election. Then we would see if he has the cohones.I have in all my 68 years never yet met any person who has played on this ploy and got away with this line with the Inland Revenue What about the interest and the penalties. These people should be arraigned in court and face trial by jury. The rest of us 5/8’s would have to; why are these elevated people allowed to get away with this. Donaldson is sworn of Her Majesty’s Privy Council not some minor Orange Lodge’s committee;not just simply someone who has muddled up the tea fund and the bun’s money with the bus fares. This is our money I am sick and tired of listening to febrile excuses of their own inadequate scrutiny of their expenses; it is reminiscent of a cracked record one after another; are there any members of either Parliament or the Assembly who can get this right?

  • JKL, there’s a great stench rising from the political and bureaucratic system. The sledgehammer tends to fall on the small nut 🙁

  • Eddie

    Jeffrey said in a statement he’s done nothing wrong, but said on tv he was wrong not to pay for the pay-tv stuff himself.

    I am so confused now. Can somebody please explain.

  • Driftwood

    None of this will matter in the slightest for Jeffrey. No matter what he watched, and his choice of films are not going to be revealed. Whether it was ‘Debbie does Donacloney’ or ‘Triumph of the Will’ His core voters in Lagan Valley see him in the same light as Daniel O Donnell; beyond reproach.
    Some tea and battenburg at Hillsborough lake next month for the ‘faithful’and he’s home in a basket, even if he stood for the Conservative and Unionist Party, or as now – Sinn Fein/DUP. That’s the way it goes, Everybody Knows..

  • Different Drummer

    Ah Mick Your no fun – all I said was that the man was an excellent record in exposing indecency now it is his XXXXXXXX that has been exposed (redacted to protect the fees office).

    He did do a tour of a famous gay pick up place in Lisburn with the area Police commander and the president of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association – our very own PA who reported that Jeffery is a very understanding man indeed!!

  • eranu

    am i the only one who thinks that a few movies on a hotel bill is no big deal? remember its only one per night in a hotel. less than 10 quid im sure, the hotel costing 100-200 quid a night at a guess. considering someone is away from home for a few days for their job i think making a fuss over this like its some kind of watergate is daft. if 10 quid is a serious matter then i presume people will be equally outraged over any 10 quid am MP or MLA etc has mispent?

  • frustrated democrat

    eranu

    There are 2 issues:-

    1. Claiming money on expenses that should not have been claimed, it is plain they did not meet the rules and this has been admitted. That is therefore theft and in many companies would lead to instant dismissal.

    2. The person in question has set himself up as having high moral values by wearing religious symbols and writing books on religion in politics. This compounds the actions at 1.

    The issue of what films he watched is completely irrelevant, it is the cost of the films that is relevant. What he did was wrong and he has admitted that it was and it is also in direct conflict with his publically expressed moral values.

  • willis

    “Unfortunately, because of my security situation at the time, my family and I can’t go to the cinema, so I took the opportunity to watch some of the films at the hotel.”

    “The room service charges were all on the hotel bills. I submitted the hotel bills in block to the fees office,”

    It does look like the fees office should be out-sourced, or maybe crowd-sourced.

  • John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard

    Has the man not heard of DVD’s or other modern technologies; then he and all his family could have watched them all at home together at his own expense.Was he not paid as a councillor,assemblyman,assembly minister, member of parliament with all the trimmings at the time of these claims?

  • eranu

    so basically we’re saying an MP can claim for a second home mortgage/rent, full furniture for the home, and reasonably large LCD/Plasma TV. but if said MP tries to claim for an NTL or Sky subscription they are breaking the rules and should be hanged??

  • Ms Wiz

    A storm in a teacup, after all he only did something we all probably would have done. he paid it back, it’s no biggie.

    And so what if he watched films of an adult nature? If anything that revelation would have given me a new-found respect for old Jeff, shows he is at least still somepart human.

  • Cushy Glenn

    Driftwood
    Where can I get a copy of “Debbie Does Donacloney”?
    Er… purely for research purposes of course
    I presume it was given a grant by the Ulster Scots Agency.
    Once again your erudition does you credit sir

  • SM

    so basically we’re saying an MP can claim for a second home mortgage/rent, full furniture for the home, and reasonably large LCD/Plasma TV. but if said MP tries to claim for an NTL or Sky subscription they are breaking the rules and should be hanged??
    Posted by eranu on Jul 07, 2009 @ 10:07 AM

    The rules need to change – they shouldn’t be allowed to claim for mortgage/furniture/TV/Sky. Let them claim for renting a fully-furnished flat and its council tax and nothing more.

    But as for young Jeffrey – he broke the existing rules anyway, thus committing theft, even though those rules are totally corrupt to begin with! It remains to be seen if his mea culpa and repayment will cut any ice with his constituents. In most companies he would have faced instant dismissal, and a civil recovery action – theft of company money always is a zero-tolerance issue.

  • willis

    I’m just regretting this didn’t happen to wee Jeffrey’s current flatmate. The boul’ Sammy would surely have relished explaining this one away!

  • frustrated democrat

    Just a thought where does Mr Donaldson watch his films since 2005 and who pays for them now?

  • Driftwood
  • Breaking News – BBC sack Jonathan Ross again from Film 2009 and replace him with the knowledgeable Jeffrey Donaldson with the programme naturally moving to a pre 9pm watershed slot of 3pm.

  • John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard

    The only problem is he would need a soap box like wee Willie Carson now he did ride a few good horses in his time. He was a real champ.

  • John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard

    The only problem is he would need a soap box like wee Willie Carson now he did ride a few good horses in his time. He was a real champ.