From the Sunday Herald columnist Tom Shields and we have to agree much of what he wrote
A TORY MP is caught paying £82,000 from public funds in wages to his Hooray Henry sons; money for which they had done little or no work. The MP is suspended for 10 days on full pay. He is ordered to repay £13,000, leaving a nice little profit of £69,000 from this creative accountancy.
But he did say sorry to the House of Commons. He said: "The committee the committee on standards and privileges; that's as in many privileges and few standards was entitled to reach the conclusions that it did and I have accepted its criticisms in full. I unreservedly apologise to the House for my administrative shortcomings and the misjudgements I made."
The MP will be allowed to sit out the remaining time (potentially until May 2010) of this parliament, receiving £120,000 in wages and God knows how much extra in expenses.
Meanwhile, not so long ago, a Glasgow single mother appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court after claiming £18,000 in housing benefits to which she was not entitled. She admitted making the false applications after her husband left her. She used the money to pay her mortgage so that she would not have to leave the area and move her autistic son from his special-needs school.
She was jailed for a year. Sheriff Charles McFarlane QC opined: "This is a serious matter which resulted in collecting a significant amount of money for a considerable time. A custodial sentence is the only one for what was a blatant crime on your part."
The woman collapsed as she was led down to the cells.
Derek Conway MP did so to fund a champagne lifestyle for his sons Freddie and Henry. The woman took the money to make life a little more bearable for her son.
Another typical case: a woman was hauled before Chester crown court accused of making fraudulent claims. She had received £74,000 in benefits over 11 years. This is almost as much as the Conway family coined in, but the circumstances were somewhat different. The woman had brought up seven children, five of her own plus two of her late sister's. Her crime was that she did not declare that for one of those 11 years she had a job as a cleaner.
The judge, obviously a perspicacious kind of fellow, said in handing out a nine-month suspended jail sentence: "I take into account the fact your life wasn't easy and you were trying to care for your family. This was not a lavish lifestyle funded by fraud."
He also said: "This is a very serious offence." Obviously, society cannot tolerate a woman taking a wee cleaning job on the side to feed her seven weans.
The honourable gentleman should face criminal charges for misuse of public funds. Henry and Freddie should be in the dock for knowingly accepting money under false pretences. Mrs Colette Conway is also in the frame. As her husband's secretary (on £40,000 a year) she must have been aware of what was going on.
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