Lurid headlines over MP’s taxpayer funded accommodation

editorial image

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil issued a statement this week in answer to allegations that he had claimed expenses for a four-star hotel room to meet a woman.

The sensational national press headlines claimed the Island MP, whose marriage broke up last year, charged taxpayers thousands of pounds for the accommodation.

Concerning the national stories, he said: “My accommodation in London is claimed under normal expenses, as is the case for all MPs, and the cost of this is compliant with the rules of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).

“I don’t like to comment on my personal life or related tabloid stories, but my marriage sadly ended for very different reasons to what has been suggested in lurid newspaper stories this week.

“A journalist from a broadsheet told me to weather the tabloid storm best I can, frankly it feels like an awful personal invasion, where tabloids treat you like a commodity disregarding effects on children especially.

“However, there are many people in worse situations than me and I have many things to be grateful for. On the plus side at times like this you see the decency of normal, sensible people.

“I am very thankful for the support I have received in the constituency, wider Scotland and at Westminster including MPs from across the political spectrum.

“It has been a challenging week in which I am continuing to do my job and keep appointments as planned.”

Also on the record is a comment by an SNP spokesperson stating: “Angus MacNeil’s accommodation has nothing to do with it. To suggest any financial impropriety is totally wrong.”

Expense claims seem to be a thorny issue for Westminster politicians.

In February it was revealed that Mr MacNeil had ran foul of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) rules governing accommodation expenses.

He had used his official credit card to book rooms in May and June 2015, but under the rules the maximum cost that can be covered is £150 per night in London.

He ended up having to repay the authority almost £900.

At the time he said of the matter: “The accommodation was booked by the Parliamentary travel office as the lowest priced accommodation they could find.

“This is legitimate cost hotel accommodation booked at short notice owing to parliamentary business.

“The upshot is I have now paid £900 from my own pocket subsidising IPSA to do my job as an MP in London.”