Thursday, 15 October 2009

Levitt: 'I'd rather quit than repay expenses'

The Buxton Advertiser has today picked up a nugget from a story in yesterday's Independent. At a meeting of Labour MPs in Parliament on Monday in which Gordon Brown told MPs to comply with the Legg audit findings, Tom Levitt stated that we would sooner quit than repay any expenses:
Another MP, Tom Levitt, told Mr Brown that he would "consider his position at the next election" rather than return expenses he believes he claimed fully in accordance with the rules.
However, talking to the Buxton Advertiser, Levitt appeared to be backtracking somewhat:
"I was describing emotions, not intentions. And I was speaking before anyone had received the letters – a classic example of Chinese whispers, as no journalist heard what I said at a private meeting."
But then the Buxton Advertiser is keen to point out that they have spoken to the political editor of the Independent, Andrew Grice, who said the Indie had spoken directly to Levitt. Someone is telling lies.

Another newspaper, the Derby Telegraph, is keen to point out that, along with Margaret Beckett, Levitt is the only other Derbyshire MP to have refused to reveal the details of their Legg letter.

Tom Levitt now finds himself well and truly in a hole. If some reports that many MPs simply can't financially afford to repay what have been asked are true, then Levitt must be amongst them. After all, if this was a matter of a few hundred pounds (perhaps even a couple of thousand), surely Levitt would bite the bullet and pay it back, and tell everyone he'd done so, just to keep the matter further away from people's minds come the election?

But despite this news, it's still no clearer what Levitt's Legg letter has said. At first glance, his comments to Gordon Brown seem to indicate he's had a bill, and doesn't want to pay it. But remember that Levitt's second home doesn't have a Garden and his cleaning bills are below the limits set retrospectively by Legg. So what else is it?

Perhaps it's Levitt's mortgage that has attracted attention? Legg has apparently requested mortgage statements rather than bank statements as evidence to look into mortgage claims. Remember that the Telegraph revealed he had over-claimed by £6,000, with Levitt saying he had paid it back when he realised a 'mistake' had been made.

There are perhaps many more questions that can be asked, and we hope that the Buxton Advertiser continues to "go the extra mile", rather than be content to simply regurgitate Levitt's press releases, like the Glossop Advertiser et al (a print article so small that it doesn't even make it onto their website).

We're sure we're not alone in our thoughts about Levitt's latest comments - if repaying money you have ripped off from us is such a big deal, why wait until the next election - for god's sake GO NOW.

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