… by me.
What follows is the text of my complaint to the Metropolitan Police (via their website) about George Osborne’s paddock scam. I have received a large volume of responses to my article about this yesterday, all but one of which agreed with my belief that what he did was a criminal offence and should be investigated with a view to prosecution and imprisonment.
I would strongly urge others to contact the Met regarding this case. I’ve done it; you can do it too. The more of us stand up and demand action, the more seriously they are likely to view this matter.
Here’s what I wrote:
It has emerged that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, has been misusing taxpayers’ money for his own enrichment and for that reason I have been urged to request a criminal investigation concerning fraud. From the evidence that is publicly available, it seems clear that this is an offence according to s.16 of the Theft Act, 1968.
We know that Mr Osborne bought a farmhouse in Cheshire, along with the neighbouring land, for £455,000 in 2000, before he became an MP in 2001. Between 2003 and 2009, he claimed up to £100,000 in expenses to cover mortgage interest payments on both the land and the building. The mortgage was interest-only. After 2003, he never paid a penny himself.
He re-mortgaged in 2005, increasing the amount to £480,000 – again on an interest-only basis – to cover the initial purchase costs and £10,000 for repairs. He was using public money to claw back his outlay on the property so, from then on, we can say that none of the money paid on that building or land was ever paid by Mr Osborne. It all came from the taxpayer.
During the MPs’ expenses scandal of 2009 we learned that he had “flipped” his second home allowance onto the farmhouse building and increased the mortgage. What we didn’t know was that the expenses payments were not just for the house, but for the paddock as well; it is registered separately with the Land Registry.
Mr Osborne sold the house and the land – both of which are now firmly established as having been funded with taxpayers’ money, not his own – last year, for £1 million. That’s more than double the original price. He has pocketed that money; the taxpayer won’t get any of it back.
So he has exploited taxpayers like you and me to make £1 million for himself. This was not a necessary expense to help him discharge his Parliamentary duties; it seems clear that it was a property scam.
I wish also to invite you to take action against this person for any other offences which may apply, such as false accounting (s.17, Theft Act 1968).
Obviously, since the crime relates to expenses claims, the location is wherever MPs’ expenses claims are considered. I would suggest this is the Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament) but I am prepared to be corrected on this.
The victims of this crime are the taxpayers of the UK. Mr Osborne took money that was available to Parliament through taxation, therefore no single person can claim they are the victim but all taxpayers have been affected. Please be reminded that we are discussing a considerable sum of money – up to £100,000.
I refer you to the following press reports of the issue, in which it is made clear that Mr Osborne did not need this building or the adjoining land to discharge his Parliamentary duties, nor did he pay back anything like the amount he claimed, when he was found to have overclaimed for mortgage interest on the farmhouse (and only the farmhouse):
I realise this is an unusual complaint but the situation is the subject of considerable public unrest and I believe it is right to bring it to the attention of the police. There is a widespread feeling that Mr Osborne has committed a crime, that this should be investigated to the fullest extent, and that a criminal action should be brought against him. It is understood that this person holds one of the highest offices in the land but this should not place him above the criminal law.