Letter from Sir Paul Kennedy to Mr Ivor Caplin,
5 March 2011
You were a Member of Parliament for Hove from
1997 to 2005, and for the period from 1 April 2004 to 30
April 2005 you submitted, as part of your ACA claims, monthly
claims for mortgage interest in respect of your second home which
in total amounted to £17,865.33, but you failed to submit
the documentation normally required to support such claims, namely
mortgage interest statements from your mortgage lender. In 2005
the Department of Finance and Administration wrote to you on two
occasions, asking you to provide mortgage interest statements,
but the necessary statements were not provided.
In late 2009 and early 2010, when Sir Thomas Legg
was conducting his review of ACA claims, he wrote to you on four
occasions, repeating in effect the requests which had been made
to you in 2005. It seems that the addresses to which his letters
were sent were no longer your current address, so his letters
were not received by you. Having received no reply his report
in relation to you reads:
"No reply has been received from Mr Caplin
to a number of letters sent to the address held by the House authorities.
In default of evidence to support payments for mortgage interest
of £17,865.33 for 2004-05 and April 2005, I must regard these
payments as having been invalid. Accordingly my recommendation
is that Mr Caplin should repay the whole of this sum."
The recommendation was accepted by the Members
Estimate Committee, and you tell me that you first became aware
of it when the report of the ACA Review was published. You say
that you then wrote to Sir Thomas Legg on 5 February 2010, but
received no reply. In due course the Committee gave you leave
to appeal to me, out of time, against the recommendation made
in the ACA Review.
You have now produced mortgage interest statements
from Barclays, your mortgage lender, which show that in the relevant
period you paid to Barclays interest totalling £16,686.90,
which is £1,178.43 less than you claimed. I accept that evidence,
and I also accept that the discrepancy may well have been due,
at least in part, to fluctuations in the rate of interest being
charged by Barclays which may not have been known to you in detail
at the time when you were making your monthly claims.
I would therefore allow your appeal by setting
aside the recommendation that you repay £17,865.33, and substituting
for it a recommendation that you repay £1,178.43.
This letter constitutes my decision in relation
to your appeal. It goes to the Members Estimate Committee and
is likely to be published. For obvious reasons I can do nothing
about the press coverage which you received in the past.
As to the two issues which you identify in your
Grounds of Appeal to me, I am satisfied that, on the information
available to him, the conclusion of Sir Thomas Legg cannot be
impugned. It is the fresh information now provided by you which
has enabled me to allow your appeal. You raise, as a second issue,
your right to claim second home allowance in respect of your property
in Hove during the relevant period. That was not doubted by the
ACA Review, only the amount of the claim was in issue, and therefore
that is all I need to consider.