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Efforts to find out exactly why George Osborne was allowed to make up to £1 million by using taxpayers’ money to pay mortgage interest on three properties in Cheshire, while fraudulently claiming he needed it to pay expenses for his use of just one of them for Parliamentary duties, appear to have run into difficulty.
I received this letter from the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards:
“Thank you for your letter… to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. I have been asked to reply.
“I hope it will be helpful if I explain the role of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. The Commissioner is able to inquire into complaints of a breach of both the Code of Conduct and the rules of the House only if they are supported by sufficient evidence to justify an inquiry.
“Your letter suggests that criminal conduct may have occurred. Any allegations of criminal behaviour would be a matter for the police, not for the Commissioner, and I note that you have reported this matter to them. Any police investigation would take precedence over the Commissioner’s inquiries.”
That’s not good enough, is it?
It makes no mention of what the commissioner is doing about the complaint and merely runs over ground that has been covered already, via email.
I decided to try again, as follows:
“Thank you for your letter… regarding my complaint.
“I notice that you do not mention anywhere in your reply whether the commissioner is going to investigate this matter or not. However you do, helpfully, state that the commissioner is able to inquire into complaints of a breach “if they are supported by sufficient evidence to justify an inquiry”.
“You will know that a previous inquiry was made into the status of Mr Osborne’s former property in Cheshire after concern was raised about his claim for expenses regarding Parliamentary duties he allegedly carried out at a house there.
“This is a separate complaint.
“As you will know from my previous letter, Mr Osborne claimed expenses, not only for the house but for two other land titles which were also part of his mortgage. These pieces of land could not have anything to do with his Parliamentary business and yet his claim included them. Therefore, his claim was fraudulent – he was stating that it was for one thing – Parliamentary duties – when in fact it was for another – to pay off, at the taxpayers’ expense, a mortgage he had taken out for a considerable amount of money. We have subsequently discovered that Mr Osborne has sold all three properties for an amount that could be more than double the price he originally paid for them – up to £1 million – and kept the entire amount. I have provided ample evidence to support the above statements.
“This is a scandalous matter. A member of the Cabinet – the Chancellor of the Exchequer, no less! – diverting taxpayers’ money under false pretences in order to gain a pecuniary advantage of up to £1 million. And at a time when millions of people are having to make the choice between staying warm and eating!
“It may interest you to know that many right-thinking citizens of the UK are also scandalised by this matter and wish to see it resolved and justice done. Articles I have written have attracted the support of around 5,000 readers and they all want to know what will be done about this. I appreciate that, in the context of a nation of 60 million people, 5,000 is not a great number. However you should bear in mind that I occupy only a very small corner of the UK’s media. If my platform had been more high-profile, you can be assured that many more people would be calling for justice in this matter.
“You also refer to the fact that I have reported this matter to the police. This is true. But I must inform you that I received a strange telephone call from the Metropolitan Police, stating that they could not investigate the matter directly as an investigation was already in progress, being handled by others. They declined to explain what they meant. Can you tell me what they meant? I wrote to my MP, seeking clarification, but he has not yet responded.
“Taken as a whole, and writing as a right-thinking person myself, I have to wonder whether attempts are being made to obscure this matter – cover it up, hide it away. Your letter is a case in point. Why do you not tell me outright what the commissioner has decided?
“It all seems very suspicious to me.”
Does anyone feel like supporting this complaint? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and say you are aware a complaint has been made about George Osborne’s expenses claims for the property in Cheshire he recently sold, and that you wish to know when the inquiry will be set up and how matters are progressing. If enough people shout about it, maybe they’ll shift.