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Fri, 4 December 2020

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Commons watchdog orders Conservative Lord Goldsmith to repay almost £9,000 after breaking expenses rules

Commons watchdog orders Conservative Lord Goldsmith to repay almost £9,000 after breaking expenses rules

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond has been ordered to repay the cash

2 min read

The Commons standards watchdog has ordered former Tory MP Lord Goldmsith to repay almost £9,000 after he was found to have breached expenses rules.

The Commissioner on Standards said ex-Tory MP Zac Goldsmith had misused Commons stationery to send over 13,000 "party-political" letters to constituents ahead of the 2019 general election.

The probe said Lord Goldsmith, who went on to lose his Richmond Park seat, had used Commons notepaper and pre-paid envelopes to send messages about school funding, during a period of "heightened sensitivity" ahead of polling day.

The Commissioner said while they did not believe the letters conferred a "significant boost" to his profile among voters, the correspondence could be viewed as "promoting local and national Conservative Party policy and highlighting your own work on an issue of local interest shortly before an election."

Responding to the letter, Lord Goldsmith said he was "disappointed" by the ruling but accepted he had "fallen foul" of the rules and agreed to pay back the £8,954 to the Commons.

The decision came alongside two further fines against MPs for breaching the expenses rules, with Tory MP George Freeman agreeing to pay back £759 for misusing stationary after he sent letter to voters providing a "constituency report" just days before Parliament was suspended for the election.

Meanwhile, Labour MP Daniel Zeicher was ordered to pay back £343 for using Commons resources to send a "party-political" message about Brexit ahead of the December poll.

Both MPs agreed to repay the funds and apologised for breaching the rules.

On Tuesday, ex-Labour MP Laura Pidcock was also forced to pay back almost £4,000 after the Commissioner ruled she had altered a letter to her constituents about over-75s TV licenses to make it "party-political in tone and content".

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