Shahid Malik - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents

Appendix 2: Shahid Malik's response to the Memorandum of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, 13 September 2010

I would like to commence by thanking the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for compiling the memorandum and to state that I accept the general thrust of his memorandum. There are however one or two areas of the report which require a response for the sake of context, perspective and completeness.


Naturally I am pleased that the main area of any criticism within the memorandum to the select committee does not focus on the substance of the complaint itself i.e. my integrity and honesty in the context of the submission of my ACA claim.

Indeed, on page 11, para 28, lines 7-10 the Commissioner states:

"I also told Mr Malik that I was minded also to conclude that he had taken the necessary and appropriate action to rectify the matter by reimbursing the Department for the two sums involved, at a total cost of £235."

In his conclusion (page 18, para 49) the Commissioner reinforces this point by stating that it is to my (Mr Malik) credit that I swiftly repaid the amount in question and that he (the Commissioner) supports my judgement in feeling uncomfortable and making the decision to repay. He also points out that I was open and honest in making my submissions to the department of resources (its claim processing functions have now I believe been shifted to IPSA).

In terms of the substance of the complaint, the department makes clear its judgement both in the memorandum, and in particular, via the emails from the department to the Commissioner and myself. Helpfully the Commissioner underlines the vital role played by the department in 'interpreting and enforcing the rules'. In his memorandum on page 4, para 5, line 6, he picks out a key quote from the then Speaker which was used in the introduction section of the Green Book in 2006:

"Members themselves are responsible for ensuring that their use of allowances is above reproach. They should seek advice in cases of doubt and read the Green Book with care. In cases of doubt or difficulty about any aspect of the allowances or how they can be used, please contact the Department of Finance and Administration. The Members Estimate Committee, which I chair, has recently restated the Department's authority to interpret and enforce these rules."

The facts from the memorandum and the additional emails that I have attached from the department are central to fully understanding the issue at hand. Put simply the facts are as follows:

1.  Buildings & contents insurance are explicitly allowable costs. (Memorandum: page 5, para12).

2.  The department is not opposed 'in principle' to extra cover for the ring being an allowable cost. (Memorandum: page 9, para 23, line 11-14 & my emails of 13th September 2010 in Annex A, Emails 1 & 2).

3.  However, the case for this optional extra cover for the ring could only be made for accidental loss or damage in the second home - it is explicit from the various communications that cover 'away from home' was ineligible. (Memorandum: page 9-10, para 25, line 27-2 & page 11, para 28, line 5).

In order to verify the above, I wrote to the Director of Strategic Projects at the department of resources on Monday 13th September 2010. I asked for confirmation that the department had no 'in principle' objection to the claim for the ring in question as long as that cover was confined to the second home and did not extend to the 'away from home' category. The Director responded by stating that this was indeed the view of the department of resources. (See Annex A, Emails 1 & 2).

4.  Due to 1 and 2 above I did not think that there was any 'doubt or difficulty' in the context of the claim. The claim was completely transparent with all costs and the breakdown and detail of the various elements of cover clearly visible.

If I thought there was a problem I would have discussed it with the   department as I normally did. If they thought there was a problem then   they would correctly have discussed the matter with me on two   occasions. Failing this, if the Legg team thought there was a problem they   would have highlighted the matter and asked me to repay in the same   way as hundreds of other MPs did and I would have happily obliged.

5.  The department of resources accepts in the memorandum (page 10, para   9) that they did not fulfil their duty of care, due to their failure on two   occasions to carry out the necessary diligence expected:

"Therefore there is no evidence that the process of reasoning and due diligence which the department should have shown did, in fact, occur."

6.  Sir Thomas Legg's team were commissioned to deploy a 'fine toothcomb' approach to auditing all MP's allowances. This was a uniquely thorough auditing process with extremely high stakes given the problems that existed and the need to rebuild confidence and trust in our democracy.

It is certainly worth noting in relation to Sir Thomas Legg's audit firstly, that his team did identify insurance cover, which it felt was inappropriate, and asked the relevant MPs to repay sums of money relating to such cover claims. Secondly, that Sir Thomas Legg's team looked at both my claims for extra cover insurance but did not identify any problem with them.

On this second point I wrote to the Strategic Director at the department of resources on the 4th August 2010 to confirm that Sir Thomas Legg's audit team had not raised any such insurance queries in relation to my affairs. He confirms that the Legg team did not raise the issue of insurance premium with me nor did they ask me to repay any claimed insurance premia. (See Annex A, Emails 3 & 4)

7.  When I became aware that my claim had the potential to cause controversy and to damage the reputation of Parliament, not because it was ineligible, but simply because it had the potential to become a story at the mercy of media interpretation I decided to take responsibility, take action, remove doubt and show leadership. I did so in the full knowledge   that my repaying would leave me open to attack from political and media enemies in the run up to the general election - indeed, it was hurled at me quite viciously by these enemies during the general election campaign itself.

My actions had, as far as I was concerned, remedied the matter although left me exposed to unjustified criticism, which duly followed. I believed it was important to be seen to do the right thing even if I had not proven to have done anything wrong in the first place, in order to close the issue, protect parliament and take responsibility.

8.  The department in its initial email to the Commissioner left the matter a   little ambiguous, hence I emailed the department (13/09/10) and specifically asked:

"From our various bits of communication would I be correct in summarising the Department's view as being one where it would have no 'in principle' objection to claims for cover for the ring as long as that cover was confined to the second home and did not extend to the 'away from home' category." (See Annex A, Email 1)

The response of the strategic director was straight forward:

"Yes I can confirm this is in principle (the department's view)."

(See Annex A, Email 2)

It is clear that the accidental loss and damage in the home is not potentially problematic and as such the claim is at least partially eligible. Hence, logic would dictate that at worst this is a partial breach but one where I have happily paid back the full amount and am content at having done so.


I would like to register my disappointment at the weight and emphasis on timeliness given by the Commissioner in his memorandum. Though this issue does not relate in anyway to the complaint itself, I feel it nonetheless has the potential to distort and undermine. This is due to the fact that it fails to provide adequate context or perspective to the many interactions between the Commissioner and myself during the period he highlights, January 22nd to April 7th 2010.

There is an impression that Honourable and Right Honourable Members on the select committee may wrongly be led to draw from the memorandum in its current format - namely, that I gave insufficient attention and importance to the commissioner and his office. I will develop this point and also below provide just a couple of emails by way of evidence that have either been inadvertently omitted or not considered important.

On page 12, para 31, line 16 in the memorandum the Commissioner makes mention of a 'substantive inquiry' that I cite as a key factor in my difficulty in responding to various other requests he was making of me at the time. There is no further mention of this matter.

The substantive inquiry had the power to become 'life altering' and needed to be resolved prior to the general election. In comparison, this inquiry was relatively trivial and had been to all intense and purposes remedied - I had repaid the complained of amount (£137) prior to the inquiry and also repaid the non-complained of amount (£97.97) at the beginning of the inquiry.

There is a real danger that readers of the Commissioner's memorandum may wrongly draw the impression that I somehow decided not to cooperate with him or perhaps the impression is left that I had all this free time but could not be bothered with him or perhaps I did not pay him due respect.

The Commissioner mentions timeliness on a number of occasions, on page 18 alone he states:

Line 8: "……..he failed to respond to the questions in my letter of 22 January until 7 April."

Line 10: "……this comparatively straightforward matter has taken much longer to conclude than it need have done had Mr Malik responded more promptly."

Line 21: "It is, in my view, therefore, unfortunate that Mr Malik did not recognise this and demonstrate the same dispatch in responding to the complaint as he did in making the repayment."

Line 26: "……his lack of timeliness................ he made more serious what would otherwise have been an unfortunate but not serious error.

I am somewhat concerned by the logic in the line 26 quote - how has 'timeliness' made more serious something that would otherwise be unfortunate but not serious? These are two almost mutually exclusive issues and I don't accept that one can impact on the other in the way described. Either it is a serious matter or it is not. If it were serious the Commissioner would not have offered rectification. He acknowledged that I repaid the cover claimed before the inquiry ever began for reasons previously highlighted and did so despite not knowing whether the cover would be deemed ineligible.

Of course the Commissioner is entitled to complain about timeliness but that is very separate to the specific complaint and its substance. This is especially true since all monies had voluntarily been repaid, there was no question of dishonesty, and at worst, the Commissioner accepts it was an "inadvertent error" made collectively by myself, the department of resources and the Legg team.

The truth is that this is more of a mundane administrative matter. Most people will find it extraordinary that a completely disproportionate amount of time energy and effort has been spent on something of this nature when it could better have been spent on other more serious matters - such as the substantive inquiry that the Commissioner was simultaneously investigating into my office expenses.

There are as stated a couple of emails, which are not in the memorandum bundle, which I believe, are useful in at least setting the scene:

On 6th February 2009 I wrote the following email to the Commissioner's office:


I am very keen indeed to fully cooperate and to do so in a timely fashion but as per my last email I humanly have simply been unable to find the time to put together an adequate response.

 I work a near 90-hour week and travel 400 miles a week. As well numerous other significant ministerial and non-ministerial work, as a Minister I have had to commit considerable time and effort into the following areas of Parliamentary business that I have led in the Chamber or in Westminster Hall:

5 January 2010 - Main Chamber 'Regeneration' Adjournment Debate

18 January 2010 - CLG Select Committee 'Preventing Extremism' Hearing

20 January 2010 - Westminster Hall Adjournment Debate (Rossington Inland Port Development)

26 January 2010 - Main Chamber Departmental Oral Questions (New Build, Interfaith Projects, Green Belt, Topical Questions)

28 January 2010 - Main Chamber Topical Debate (Holocaust Memorial Day)

29 January 2010 - Main Chamber Private Member's Bill (Mortgage Repossessions (Protection of Tenants Etc.) Bill)

29 January 2010 - Main Chamber Private Member's Bill (Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (Amendment) Bill)

8 February 2010 - CLG Select Committee Hearing (Fire Control)

In addition I am preparing for a Select Committee hearing on the Olympics in my role as the Olympic Legacy Minister.

I merely set out the above to explain that I have the deepest respect for the Commissioner and his important work and I apologise for responding later than I had hoped. I will however be in a position within a week to have responded to all outstanding matters relating to the complaint from Mr Cole.

I hope you find this email helpful.

 Best Wishes


On 11th March 2009 I wrote the following email to the Commissioner's office:


I am currently ill at home and on anti-biotics. I know that the long standing inquiry is almost concluded and I will focus on this and hopefully be able to respond over the weekend.



In both emails I am referring to the substantive inquiry and prioritising that as it had received considerable national media attention and it challenged significantly my integrity and honesty. I had decided to turn my attention to the insurance complaint only after the infinitely more serious substantive complaint had been resolved.

NB - I have looked through my correspondence with the Commissioner and it shows weighty exchanges between the 22nd January and the 7th April.

I sent all the below emails to the Commissioner during the period he has identified as being problematic in terms of timeliness. I also wanted to highlight one incredibly time consuming email sent to me from the Commissioner's office:

  • 24th January;
  • 6th February;
  • 11th February;
  • 15th February - I wrote a 4 page and 1,200 word response to substantive inquiry;
  • 16th February; I received an email from Commissioner 17th February - this email came in three batches and contained a total of 18 documents/files of evidence, which the Commissioner expected me to go through and respond to in relation to the substantive inquiry. This was incredibly time consuming and energy sapping.
  • 21st February - my time consuming rebuttal and comment in relation to the 17th February email received. My attached response was 12 pages and 6,000 words long.
  • 24th February;
  • 11th March;
  • 18th March;
  • 25th March - 5 page and 1800 word response to the substantive inquiry. Time consuming, energy sapping and demoralising… but necessary.
  • 6th April - substantive inquiry resolved after 10 months and much anxiety and pain. Following receipt of the evidence compiled by the Commissioner in February 2010, the Department of Resources concluded that:

'Mr Malik's office arrangements were both within the rules and within   the spirit of the rules'.

In his letter to the complainant the Commissioner concludes:

"Mr Malik's arrangements for his second constituency office from 2005-08 were reasonable and were within rules of the House. The second constituency office was established and used for Parliamentary purposes and Mr Malik was charged, and claimed for, a fair market rent, from which there is no evidence that he received a personal benefit. I do not therefore uphold this complaint."

  • 7th April - having been cleared by the substantive inquiry before the general election I now attempted to conclude this matter before the general election. As per page 8, line 24 of the memorandum I was unable to do so despite my best efforts - I fully understood and respected the reasons given by the department.

During this 'timeliness' period I sent at least 12 emails to the Commissioner, wrote at least three substantive responses totalling 21 pages and 9,000 words, and received 18 documents/files of crucial evidence, which I had to go through myself with a fine toothcomb and pull out key elements to formulate responses.

Hence, if I appear touchy or sensitive about the issue of ignoring the Commissioner, not responding to the Commissioner or not respecting the Commissioner then that is perhaps understandable. I think it is too often forgotten that MPs are at the end of the day just human beings with limitations and of course there are only so many hours in the day.

I understand not being an MP or a Minister the Commissioner focuses narrowly on his perspective but we really are not robots and our perspective, our context and our humanity is equally valid.


Again, I think the suggestion that I was not taking responsibility is one that I find quite curious. It feels like molehills have been turned into mountains in the memorandum. This is a case where the Commissioner himself in an email has stated that it was at worst an "inadvertent error".

In addition, the assertion around responsibility appears completely at odds with the evidence contained in the memorandum itself. On page 11, para 28, lines 7-10 it is worth re-stating what the Commissioner states:

"I also told Mr Malik that I was minded also to conclude that he had taken the necessary and appropriate action to rectify the matter by reimbursing the Department for the two sums involved, at a total cost of £235."

Above he concludes that I had taken the necessary and appropriate action to rectify the matter - in short, I had taken responsibility!

For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, I like all MPs take primary responsibility for submitting my claims to the department of resources (now IPSA). Equally, however, the Department of Resources (IPSA) must take primary responsibility for scrutinising and correctly processing claims. The department has a very clear duty of care to MPs and MPs must rightly take care when submitting their claims.

Additionally in my case the Legg audit team had a duty of care and primary responsibility for auditing claims that had been scrutinised and processed by the department - especially as they were brought in and charged with adopting a 'fine tooth comb' approach in order to reassure MPs and the public.

As the Commissioner points out, I took responsibility by voluntarily and unilaterally taking the decision to repay the extra premium cover that had been incurred and I did so prior to his decision to initiate any inquiry and prior to any ruling on the eligibility of the claim.

On this point, the 'facts and findings' element of the memorandum states:

"Nonetheless, when he became aware of the extra cover he had felt that the best course of action was voluntarily to repay the premiums both to show leadership and to avoid any doubt whatsoever." (page 16)

Importantly, this is despite the fact that there was no evidence that the payment was incorrect - if anything the actions of the Department of Resources, twice accepting the claims as legitimate and processing them as such; and then Sir Thomas Legg's in-depth auditing of the claims as proper and legitimate pointed squarely to the claim being perfectly correct.

However, as previously stated, given the need to increase the public's confidence following the allowances saga I believed it was important to protect the reputation of Parliament and our democracy by taking responsibility and simply repaying the amount - irrespective of whether it was legitimate.

I judged that not repaying swiftly would have left 'doubt' which would have damaged democracy. By taking responsibility in this way was obviously going to cause me difficulties in the local media and be dredged up during the general election campaign.

In the climate that existed however, I felt uncomfortable and was prepared to take the media hit knowing that the argument would be deployed that I was repaying due to some dodgy claim. Indeed in a vicious local independent newspaper that has targeted me for years ran this story three times (including front pagers) in December, January and two weeks before the general election.

Having carefully read the memorandum I do not feel on balance that the 'facts and findings' section logically leads to some elements of the 'conclusions' section - the 'facts' section obviously being less subjective than the 'conclusions' section.

Drawing towards the end of my response, I would for the sake of clearing any confusion like to comment on a few further salient parts of the memorandum.

NB - The most important fact in the whole report is that there is no criticism of my actions in relation to the insurance premium, which the Commissioner describes in his conclusions as "unfortunate but not serious" and "comparatively straight forward". Indeed, the Commissioner accepts that I was open in submitting my claim and that it is to my credit that I repaid the amount of £235 voluntarily and promptly.

Hence, it appears that the Commissioner's concern is not about the act of the claim i.e. about the complaint, but about my engagement with him during his inquiry.

I believe the above clearly demonstrates me taking responsibility not avoiding it. The fact is that any politician in that climate just before the general election knows full well that repaying allowances, in the way that I did, would lead to elements of the media and political foes using it to malign my reputation.

My decision to repay was a heavy political price and in practical terms that should have ended the matter without unnecessary headlines about further inquiries.

There was no question of dishonesty, hoodwinking, not being transparent, not taking responsibility and not at the earliest opportunity remedying the matter voluntarily. The resources that have gone into a bog standard and basic administrative issue will beggar belief for many. I believe there is a great need to modernise this element of Parliament's work so the Commissioner can focus on the kind of complaints, which truly test the public's confidence in their democracy.


It is worth noting that the insurance policy standard cover is inadequate for the majority of households - it is similar to 3rd party fire and theft for cars i.e. a very basic and minimum cover. It does not cover accidental loss or damage for example. Please see my email exchange in Annex A, Emails 5 & 6 with my insurers, AA insurance, where they confirm that valuables in excess of £1,500 can only be covered for accidental loss or damage by taking cover in 3a.

On page 17, line 25 the Commissioner asserts that:

"a major element of the package was cover for the ring while it was away from Mr Malik's second home."

Unfortunately, this is somewhat misleading. I have attached a page from the policy booklet, which deals specifically with this matter. I have over a month ago emailed the entire insurance policy document to the Commissioner for his perusal. On Page 22 of the insurance document (a copy has been scanned and attached to the end of the response) it states:

"Section 3a extends the cover provided by Section 1 (standard cover) for valuables and belongings of high value to include accidental loss or damage and also extends where they are covered to anywhere in the world"

I think it would be incorrect to deduce from the above that the major element relates to 'away from home'.

I am also somewhat surprised that in his conclusion, the Commissioner on page 17, para 44, line 4 states:

"Mr Malik's evidence is that he did not remember any discussion with the insurers about the extra cover. He simply received the insurance bill, paid it, and sent it to the Department for reimbursement. While anybody would be wise to check an insurance policy before accepting it, I consider that Mr Malik had a particular responsibility to check carefully the cover he was offered before seeking to have it funded from parliamentary allowances."

NB - the above paragraph is a dangerous, offensive and illogical assumption. Just because I don't remember the full details of a conversation two years earlier does not lead to a conclusion that there was no diligence whatsoever. Indeed evidence in the memorandum itself conflicts with this assumption.

My email on 7th April at page 25, line 31, (which the Commissioner says he had been waiting for since 22nd January) states I did for example recollect a discussion about extra cover for accidental damage and loss for any item in excess of £1,500. Hence, I am well aware why the cover was being taken, if not fully aware of the 'away from home' element.

In addition, although I was not specifically asked, I was also aware for example that I took out extra cover (Section 2 of the policy document) for accidental damage to household goods, which was not part of the standard cover but which excluded valuables. This is clearly visible on the two policy summary key facts sheets in the memorandum (although I think only one may be in the bundle). The cost of this was £24.92 and £29.38 in 2008-09 and 2009-10 respectively.

The proposition being put forward that standard cover is adequate is incorrect - most people take cover for accidental loss or damage in the home and this is precisely what I opted for taking extra cover under section 2 & 3.

Despite the focus on the 'away from home' element of my insurance premia I find it difficult to grasp that despite the Commissioner having for 8 months had access to the two page insurance summary key facts sheets (one for each year) has failed to spot an obvious issue. The two pages show that extra cover was taken out in section 2 also, yet, the Commissioner has neither questioned nor commented upon, the fact that it also clearly incorporates cover for household goods 'temporarily away from the home'. The Commissioner's role is expected to be thorough, where he carefully checks key pieces of evidence before coming to any conclusions and I am surprised that he appears to have been less attentive than one might have expected from someone in such an important role.

As a result of the above I have made arrangements with Parliament to repay the £24.92 and £29.38 under section 2 in order to avoid doubt and remain consistent.

Of course the real challenge is that insurance policy comes in packages, and if this is precedent setting, it will become very difficult to find insurance cover, which specifically caters for MPs and the rules covering tow homes. You are not it seems able to disaggregate the various elements of cover. This will invariably have implications for every MP claiming for insurance in the future and indeed all those who have ever claimed will potentially be required to repay the whole of any extra premium taken out if it incorporates any 'away from home' element.


It seems to me that the select committee could conclude, if it wished, that there was this partial unintended breach but it cannot uphold the specific complaint made by Mr Scott who is a serial protagonist and was the election agent of one of the independent candidates in Dewsbury at the 2010 general election.

Mr Scott's complaint itself specifically states that insurance premium of £136.87 is 'a clear breach of the rules' and is a 'bogus claim' according to Scott.

It is unambiguously clear from the memorandum and emails that rings of this nature are not in principle ineligible and it is the principle that the complainant is challenging. Mr Scott does not focus at all on the accidental loss or damage or the away from home element of the premium - his argument is very narrow in that he simply asserts that the principle of insuring such an item is a breach irrespective of anything else. He goes on to use typical defamatory language concluding that any such claim is 'bogus'.

This is a very serious defamatory accusation, claiming that I have made a 'bogus claim' and as such am involved in criminality and not a fit and proper person to be involved public life. I have taken Mr Scott and the local independent newspaper to the High court in 2007 for defamation at which point Mr Scott did a u-turn and the independent local newspaper, which printed his lies, was forced to print the truth.

To give you a flavour of the work of this publication I have below a recent extract from the paper written by its founder for your perusal:

"I thought twice about drawing this next analogy, because it could smack of insensitive opportunism. But in the end I kept being brought back to the thought that if Derrick Bird had been carrying a Koran, he would have been celebrated as a hero by tens of thousands - possibly more - of so-called 'British' Muslims.

Those are the numbers of our supposed fellow-Britons who believe the indiscriminate murder of 'non-believers' is an act of heroic Islamic martyrdom…."

Getting back to the matter in hand, it seems to me to be prudent, fair and proper to be able to conclude if one wished, that there was a partial unintended breach but that the complaint about the 'principle' of the cover and the accusation of it hence being 'bogus' is not founded.

If it were upheld without appropriate wording then it would set a precedent and every MP that may have insured in this way will be accused of making bogus claims and of course there may be potential legal implications.


Email 1: My email to the Strategic Director at the Department of Resources on 13th September 2010

Dear Paul

From our various bits of communication would I be correct in summarising the Department's view as being one where it would have no 'in-principle' objection to claims for cover for the ring as long as that cover was confined to the second home and did not extend to the 'away from home' category.

Many thank in anticipation of your response.



Email 2: Response from the Strategic Director at the Department of Resources on 13th September 2010

Dear Mr Malik

Yes, I can confirm this in principle.

Yours sincerely

Paul Silk


Director of  Strategic Projects

Email 3: My email to the Strategic Director at the Department of Resources on 4th August 2010

Dear Paul

I write further to your letter to John Lyon in April.

Sir Thomas Legg

The very narrow area where I would appreciate your assistance is with regards to Sir Thomas Legg's findings in relation to my expenses (which you have access to and which are also in the public domain) and please confirm that:

In my case, Sir Thomas Legg DID NOT highlight the insurance premia as problematic and DID NOT state that any of the premia should be paid back.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Best wishes


Email 4: The response from Strategic Director at the Department of Resources on 5th August 2010

Dear Mr Mailk

Thank you for your e-mail and letter.

I can confirm that Sir Thomas Legg made no mention of insurance premia in relation to you in his report.

Yours sincerely


Director of  Strategic Projects

House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA

Email 5: Email sent from me to AA insurance who covered my second home on 9th August 2010

Dear Kath

Can you please confirm that section 1 (standard cover) would not cover accidental loss or damage in the home and the only way to get this accidental loss or damage covered for an item valued above £1,500 in the home would be to take out extra cover under section 3a. 

Thank you.

Yours sincerely 

Shahid Malik

Email 6: The response from the AA to my email dated 10th August 2010.

Hi ,Mr Malik

I can confirm that no cover for accidental damage or loss to items of £1,500 & over would be covered under section 1



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