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Spanish link to UK expenses saga MP
May 16, 2009 at
8:01 am • LAST EDITED:
May 19, 2009 at
Granada • 9 Comments
Three second homes and a luxury escape in Spain – the Labour MP who ‘acts like an English imperialist from the days of the Raj’
AN MP in hot water after claiming expenses to renovate various second homes in the UK, has a fourth property in Andalucia that has been rented out on a commercial basis, the Olive Press can reveal.
Margaret Moran reportedly ‘flipped’ her second home between Westminster, Luton and Southampton, claiming thousands on each in turn.
At the same time, she has rented out the four-bedroom villa in Granada at various times since buying it in 1984.
The Labour MP, who charged taxpayers £22,000 for dry rot treatment at a home her husband owns in England, used a local agent to organise the rentals.
Holiday lettings agency Rustic Blue confirmed to the Olive Press that it had rented out the luxury property in Padre Eterno, near Orgiva on a number of occasions.
“Moran is supposed to be a Labour MP but she is behaving like an English imperialist from the days of the Raj. She should buy herself a villa in Marbella and be done with it”
While the agency, based in Bubion, is no longer renting out the property, which is joint owned by her brother John, a spokesman said: “I remember the house. We used to rent it, but it is no longer on our books.
“I can’t remember what it was on for, but we used to rent it through a local friend, who was in charge of the property and garden.
“It was a popular place and in a charming spot.”
While there is no suggestion of impropriety over the rentals, her true socialist values were called into question after she bulldozed an access path to dozens of neighbours’ homes.
The Olive Press reported how she had been forced to call police after becoming embroiled in a vicious neighbour’s dispute over the path.
Her neighbours called a protest, insisting that the path had been used for more than 20 years by verbal agreement.
Eventually the MP for Luton South was ordered by a judge in 2007 to reopen the path. She later lost an appeal.
At the same time Miss Moran was accused of breaching parliamentary rules by pinning a notice to her gatepost using official House of Commons paper.
The notice, which she denied to the Olive Press, had warned neighbours not to come on her land.
When the story appeared in the British Press, Miss Moran contacted solicitors then claimed their £881.25 bill through her Incidental Office Expenses account, which is meant to cover the running of her constituency office.
The claim was waived through by the fees office. However in 2007-08, she bought a fridge and blinds that were delivered to her Luton property. The House of Commons said: “you wouldn’t be able to use the IEP to furnish homes”.
The fees office did reject some of Miss Moran’s claims, however. It refused to pay a £47 bill from a printer for Christmas cards and £164.50 for birthday cards.
As The Daily Telegraph disclosed, Miss Moran ‘flipped’ her second homes over four years, spending thousands of pounds on decorating each one in turn.
First, she installed a new £4,756.40 kitchen, fitted a £2,678 carpet and bought a bed worth £527.20 for a flat near the House of Commons.
Miss Moran then switched her second-home designation to Luton and spent £2,350 on the garden, £1,823.09 on bathroom repairs, £212.50 on bedding and £4,200 on decorating.
Finally, she changed her second home to the semi-detached property in Southampton, which her husband has owned since 1988, and soon after claimed £22,500 for the dry rot treatment, a fraction less than the maximum allowance available for the whole year.
The fees office said she had broken the “spirit” of the rules, but admitted it was powerless to reject her claims.
Miss Moran said: “It is all within the claims policy and that’s why I’m angry about this because it gives the incredibly misleading impression that somehow we’ve been dodgy, that we’ve been fraudulent or we’ve been corrupt.
“Nothing is further from the truth.”
After losing her battle to block access paths in 2007, neighbours described her behaviour as “mean, bloody-minded and tawdry.”
“It was completely unsocialist behaviour,” said neighbour Nick Nicholson, who works in the oil industry.
Another neighbour Nuri went further. “Moran is supposed to be a Labour MP but she is behaving like an English imperialist from the days of the Raj. She should buy herself a villa in Marbella and be done with it.”
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