LEDBURY’S MP Bill Wiggin could be facing another investigation by the government sleaze watchdog after a complaint that he claimed £5,000 of taxpayers’ cash for his local Tory club.
Mr Wiggin is facing questions over an invoice that claimed he paid the money to the North Herefordshire Conservative Association for “room hire” between April 2006 - March 2007.
Constituent Jim Miller, from Leominster, is demanding an inquiry and has referred the case to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon.
The Conservative Association says the sum paid covered other parliamentary services, as its secretary was acting as Mr Wiggin’s constituency secretary during that time.
“This meant that she dealt with parliamentary business as well as surgeries,” it said in a statement. “Thus the invoice of £5,000 authorised and paid by the Parliamentary Fees Office in May 2007 covered the whole cost to the Association of parliamentary business as well as organising surgeries for Mr Wiggin during that 12 months. This covered the secretary's time, telephone, postage, printing and related costs not just room hire for the various venues.
“Surgeries took place approximately every fortnight in various venues around the constituency which included Tenbury Wells, Ledbury, Bromyard, Kington and villages as well as Leominster itself.”
However Mr Miller said: “As far as I am concerned that statement only makes things worse. To me it is an admission of fraud. He said the £5,000 was for room hire and now he is saying it was for something else altogether.”
Mr Miller says that he will be reporting the matter to the police at 3pm today if Mr Wiggin remains MP.
It is not the first time Mr Wiggins’ expense claims have been called into question. He was forced to repay more than £4,000 last October after the watchdog found he claimed expenses he had not incurred.
That inquiry found Mr Wiggin had overclaimed £285 for council tax during the financial year 2005-6 and claimed £4,009 from Parliamentary costs which he did not actually incur between 2004 and 2006.
The Standards and Privileges Committee branded Mr Wiggin’s approach to claiming expenses as “chaotic”.
The MP was also ordered to apologise to the House of Commons for his “muddled failure” to designate his main home correctly for 23 consecutive months.
Mr Wiggin failed to respond to emails and phone calls from the Ledbury Reporter.