Thursday, February 04, 2010

Fiddling MPs Dodge Expenses Crackdown

Greedy MPs have swindled taxpayers out of over £1 million with half the House forced to pay back their ill-gotten gains. But crooks, cheats and chancers have wriggled out of the farce of a crackdown, disappearing in a fog of appeals and audits.

Brown's expenses-buster-in-chief is set to deliver a 'devastating' damning verdict on the troughers. Guido is setting up a splendid running blog of the sinners.

Taxpayers will find out today the names of more than 350 fiddling MPs who haven't got a leg to stand on, after been ordered to repay over £1 million following Legg's audit of their shoddy expenses claims.

But Legg's 'crackdown' has been dogged with doubt after it emerged dozens of MPs have been allowed to dodge repayment demands.

Legg is expected to pull no punches, making it clear he thought the whole system was corrupt. MPs have no one to blame but themselves for milking a system rotten to the core, establishing a “culture of deference” which allowed flourishing abuses.

The sordid saga of MPs' expenses has disappeared in a muddle of watchdogs, audits and inquiries after the Telegraph first blew the whistle many moons ago. Some MPs will leg it, some cried foul and appealed and others have still to face the courtroom music.

Legg came under fire from some MPs by retrospectively changing the expenses rules on cleaning and gardening after the scandal broke, leaving dozens of MPs, including Brown, forced to cough up repayments.

So step forward former judge Kennedy, hearing a whopping 73 appeals against repayments, sometimes cutting the amounts to be repaid by five-figure sums, according to the Telegraph, which reckons at least 30 of the 73 appeals had their repayments scrapped or reduced.

Redacted receipts, party star chambers, visits by Yates of the Yard and more knights than around Arthur's round table. At the last count the Orange Party reckons there's one Legg and a couple of Kennedys wandering around. And has anyone here seen Kelly? The commons sleazebuster accused MPs today of going along with a flawed system.

With so many confusing 'watchdogs' wagging their tails, often at odds with each other, no wonder voters are left bothered and bewildered.

MPs, hiding behind the smokescreen of blaming the commons fees office, have been flushed out by Legg, who blames them, rather than the office, for allowing abuses to develop.

Meanwhile the 'independent' parliamentary standards authority, IPSA, shows little sign of living up to its name. And a separate audit of MPs' expenses by the national audit office will not be published until after the election.

The long overdue Kelly review is set to give the House of Shame a much needed cleansing of the rotten stench of corruption, with a 'root and branch' reform to sweep away the gravy train. But too late for the current bunch of troughing MPs faced with Legg's £1 million payback.

The rotten ball has been kicked into touch in the wiggle room. Now the expenses racket is set be buried in a muddle of deceit and self-serving self-interest, dodgy appeals, a watered down Kelly and a cosy unelected, unaccountable quango to take away the heat.

The Legg report makes depressing reading for voters already thoroughly angry and disillusioned with the corrupt state of politics.

Wannabe MPs ready to do battle in the election will be hoping Legg's public punishment, naming and shaming fiddling MPs, will draw a line under the sordid saga. But the scandal has left a sorry stain on the House of Shame and a bitter taste for voters.

Trust in parliament and MPs is at an all-time low. Legg will do little to assuage the anger, highlighting a House full of fudge, riddled with expenses cheats hopping on the appeals bandwagon.

Until an election, the rotten carcass of MPs' expenses will continue to fester away, leaving angry taxpayers, who footed the bill for their life of Riley, still baying for blood.

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