UK Politics

Liam Fox ordered to repay £3,000 in expenses

Liam Fox (l) and Adam Werritty
Image caption Adam Werritty was Liam Fox's best man

Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox has been told to repay £3,000 of parliamentary expenses claimed for a second home where he allowed his friend Adam Werritty to stay rent-free.

Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon made the order after an inquiry into the Conservative MP.

Mr Fox, who resigned last year, was also criticised for allowing Mr Werritty to run a think-tank from his parliamentary offices.

Mr Lyon called this a "serious matter".

Mr Fox resigned from the government in October after another report found he had breached the ministerial code.

He admitted he had allowed his public responsibilities and private loyalties to become "blurred" over his links to Mr Werritty, his former flatmate and best man.

'No secret'

Mr Werritty, who came to prominence last year after promoting himself as an adviser to Mr Fox, stayed at the MP's London flat for a year from October 2002.

He was there "most weekdays", although he was away for eight weeks of the year, according to the commissioner's report.

Mr Werritty gave the flat's address as his own when he registered a directorship with Companies House in October 2002.

Mr Lyon said Mr Fox was "clearly, in my view, giving his friend a considerable financial benefit... made possible because of the claims which Dr Fox made against his parliamentary allowances to support him in his parliamentary duties".

The Green Book rules on the now-abolished additional costs allowance (ACA) for second homes stated that it should not be claimed for the living costs "of anyone other than yourself".

The commissioner said Mr Fox had been in breach of the rules from October 2002 to October 2003 because his claims for ACA did not "take account of the living costs of his friend who was living there".

He also said it had been a "serious" matter that Mr Fox had allowed the Atlantic Bridge, a charity he founded and which was run by Mr Werritty, to be based in his parliamentary offices from September 2003 to June 2009.

The report said: "It continued for some six years. It is a matter of some concern that a Member should think it is acceptable to use parliamentary resources for non-parliamentary purposes."

But the breach was "substantially mitigated" by the fact Mr Fox had raised it with the House authorities in May 2006.

The report added: "Dr Fox made no secret of the fact that the organisation was run from his parliamentary office and the House authorities should have given him clear advice about the propriety of this when he first approached them in April 2006."

It recommended that the MP apologise in writing for breaching the rules.

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