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Tory MP being investigated over expenses says claims are ‘perfectly legitimate’

Bob Blackman tells The Telegraph mileage claims are nub of investigation and involve ‘relatively small amounts of money’.

A Tory backbencher being investigated over his expenses has said he believes the claims are “perfectly legitimate”and promised “full” cooperation to clear his name.

Bob Blackman, Conservative MP for Harrow East, told The Telegraph the concerns relate to mileage claims for constituency work and involve “relatively small amounts of money”.

He said he would have a “frank discussion” with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), the investigating body, but pledged to do “whatever” is needed to resolve the situation.

The response came as Ipsa announced it had “reason to believe” an amount paid to Mr Blackman over his travel and subsistence claims “should not have been allowed” and an investigation was being launched.

Mr Blackman said he was informed of the investigation by letter last week and believes the concerns surround constituency mileage claims.

“It is all related to items within the constituency. [Ipsa] have had a complaint which they are investigating. I think all of the claims I’ve made are perfectly legitimate,” Mr Blackman told this newspaper.

“I will have a frank discussion with them and then we will decide on a way forward.”

Mr Blackman said the claims were for “round-robin journeys of between 7 and 14 miles” around his constituency which entail “relatively small amounts of money”.

The Harrow East MP added that he always detailed the mileage, start point and end point of journeys – in line with Ipsa rules – and does not know who submitted the complaint.

“I am seeing [Ipsa] tomorrow. We will scope what the extent of the details are and then I’ll be providing full cooperation with them to provide any information that they need,” Mr Blackman said.

He added: “If there any holes in the documentation that I have and so on I’ll agree to do whatever they need me to do, frankly, because I’m quite open and transparent about these things.

“I make the claims in accordance with the guidelines and clearly if there’s anything wrong with that then we will reach a conclusion.”

An Ipsa notice announcing the investigation said: “The Compliance Officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has today opened an investigation into claims made under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses by Mr Bob Blackman MP.

It went on: “In accordance with the legislation and the procedures for investigation made thereunder, no further information shall be published until the investigation has been concluded.

“Upon conclusion of the investigation, a report including details of the case made against the MP, evidence, findings and any sanctions will be published.”

Mr Blackman also released a written statement, saying: ““To the best of my knowledge, all expenses claimed in relation to my duties as an MP have been fully in accordance with IPSA’s rules. If IPSA believes otherwise, I will be more than happy to work with them to rectify any errors made as soon as possible. I have been cooperating fully with the investigation and will continue to do so.”

Source:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/11174520/Tory-MP-being-investigated-over-expenses-says-claims-are-perfectly-legitimate.html

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