Mr Andrew Mackay and Ms Julie Kirkbride - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents

5.  Extract from article in the Daily Telegraph, 28 May 2009

MPs' expenses: Julie Kirkbride "considering stepping down" over taxpayers' cash scandal

Julie Kirkbride, the Conservative MP, is considering standing down after it was disclosed that she had used her MP's expenses to fund a £50,000 extension to her constituency flat for her brother.


It came days after she admitted her brother lived in constituency home rent free and she employed her sister to do constituency work from a house 125 miles from her Bromsgrove seat.


Mr Mackay, 59, and Ms Kirkbride, 48, have claimed a total of £170,000 in expenses for second homes—covering both their properties—over the past four years.


Miss Kirkbride was granted permission by the parliamentary Fees Office to increase her taxpayer-funded mortgage to build an extra bedroom.

Despite her insisting that the taxpayer faced no extra costs over her brother staying rent-free in her constituency home, the arrangement added an extra £250 a month to her expenses.


In a radio interview, she said it never crossed her mind that she was doing anything wrong by claiming taxpayers' money to part-fund the extension.


Writing in the Times, she said: "I'm not looking for sympathy." But she added: "Because of the size of our home in Bromsgrove, [her son] had been sharing a bedroom with his uncle. We felt that, as a growing boy, he'd soon want his own space—so we needed to remortgage to build another bedroom.

"I've laid out these details to show my constituents and everyone else why I have involved my family in my professional arrangements. It's not about profit."

According to copies of documents seen by the Daily Telegraph, Ms Kirkbride told the parliamentary authorities last year that she needed an extra bedroom to house her "growing family".

She was therefore given permission to increase her mortgage by £50,000, leaving the taxpayer to pay the higher interest costs on the loan. However, it emerged that her brother, Ian, lived at the flat and did not pay rent. Her family had not increased in size since 2000.

Ms Kirkbride said the "arrangement" had "no cost to the taxpayer" but that claim was undermined when she admitted that she claimed for the costs of building the extra bedroom so that her brother and son did not have to share a room.


28 May 2009

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