Richard Ottaway MP could be next expenses revelation

By Jonathan Bartley
May 18, 2009

I have just been researching my local MPs regarding expenses claims and have come across Richard Ottaway, the Conservative MP for Croydon South.

So far he isn’t listed on the Daily Telegraph expenses list.

Last year Richard Ottaway claimed £21,481 as his Additional Costs Allowance. This is, according to the Department of Finance and Administration of the House of Commons “to reimburse Members for costs incurred when staying overnight away from their main home whilst performing Parliamentary duties”. He has been claiming a similar amount every year for the last seven years, giving a total in the region of £140,000 claimed since 2001, with regard to this type of expense.

A number of MPs near central London have already been attacked for claiming on additional properties when it might have been unnecessary. Alan and Ann Keen for example were criticised after claiming almost £40,000 a year on a central London flat although their family home was less than 10 miles away.

Croydon to Westminster is 12 miles. Croydon train station is just 16 mins by train from Victoria (and then a 3 minute bus ride from Westminster). But Ottaway chooses to live outside his constituency, in Bletchingley, Surrey.

He has now told me he does indeed have another property nearer Parliament which incurrs the £21,000 odd pounds a year expenses claim. It seems to me outrageous that this is costing taxpayers (including his constituents) £21,000 a year, albeit within the 'rules'.

He also claimed £2,651 for travel last year.

Richard Ottaway lists in his members interests that he has a “flat in London owned jointly with my wife from which rental income is received”. Mr Ottaway has asked me to make it clear that this is not the property on which he has claimed £140,000, but a third property he owns.

I note he also has a "second job" as a consultant to the gas industry which earns him another £50,000 a year. He is also one of the MPs listed as employing a family member from his expenses.

A deeper look at his voting record reveals that of the 10 votes in Parliament since 2007 about MPs expenses, he abstained or was absent on 7. He told me that his abstentions were because he doesn't vote on things 'in which he has a financial interest'. Of the remaining three votes, he voted twice against greater transarency. The only positive vote was for getting rid of the £25 minimum for declaration of expenses.

I am glad though that he has talked to us. His local paper reports that he has previously refused to comment on his expenses.

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