Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Update on Steven's figures: £212,000 pocketed

Former MEP John Stevens, who is fighting the Buckingham seat against John Bercow as an anti-sleaze candidate, made over £212,000 in expenses for a non-existent constituency office.

Stevens, who received a total of over £252,000 for his 10 years as an MEP, only maintained a constituency office for 19 months after his first election, according to the official contact details published by the European Parliament. For the rest of his term - February 1989 until June 1999 - he listed his home address in Westminster, and his employers, Rothschild Asset Management, in St James's, London.

At the time, the general expenditure allowance, meant to cover the operating costs of a constituency office, were £2100 per month.

Stevens says on his anti-sleaze campaign website that "I pledge to only claim the essential travel and office expenses necessary for me to represent Buckingham at Westminster" and, of Bercow, "How can he preside over reform when he’s one of the guilty parties?".

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

John Stevens in expenses scandal - you read it here first

Former Conservative MEP John Stevens is standing for election as an anti-sleeze candidate: he says on his website that "Reforming the MPs Expenses System – It is shameful how MPs have abused their own expenses system. We need to clean-up Parliament and end the expenses abuse. " Of course, he is standing against Speaker of the House and property flipper John Bercow and UKIP MEP Nigel Farage in the Buckingham constituency.

All very laudable stuff. And yet, when Stevens was an MEP, he received a set payment, currently worth around £40,000 per year, to run a constituency office. As MEP for the old Euro constituency of Thames Valley, when he first was elected in 1989, he listed in the 'grey list' - the European Parliament's official list of MEP contact details, an office at 70, High Street, Sunninghill, Ascot. However, by the official list published on the 18th February 1991, that address had disappeared, and his official contact addresses were listed as 40 Smith Square, London SW1, and 15 St James's Place, London SW1.

40 Smith Square is a house (in the most expensive area in London), while 15 St James's Place were the offices of his employers, Rothschild Asset Management.

Of course, not having a constituency office does not mean that he didn't automatically receive tens of thousands of pounds per year office expenses, which means of course that for almost 8 1/2 years, he drew (in today's money) the equivalent of £340,000 to run a constituency office that he didn't actually have.

One can only assume that it had slipped his mind. Clearly, this is just the type of sleazebuster Westminster needs: one who really knows how to milk the system.