Thursday, 4 February 2010

Levitt the debtor still owes £777.95

As everyone will know by now, today saw the publication of Sir Thomas Legg's report into MPs expenses. The report (which can be read here - this is a PDF file) mentions Tom Levitt on page 97, and tells us the following:
Mr Levitt was overpaid by a net total of £800.95 for mortgage interest between April 2004 and March 2006.
He was also paid £1,599 for a sofa bed in October 2004. This exceeded the nearest relevant guideline price of £1,210 by £389.
Total repayment recommended: £1,189.95
Total repayments received since 1 April 2009: £412.00
Balance recommended to be repaid: £777.95

Yes, you read that right - Levitt still has not repaid £777.95.

Now let's pay a little more attention to the implications of this news. Our initial post on this blog in May last year dealt with Levitt's first confession-like column, where he admitted to over-claiming for mortgage payments. At the time, following the intervention of the Telegraph a few days later, this figure was shown to be £6,000 and Levitt said he had paid it all back. But now we find out that 4 to 6 years later, £800.95 is still outstanding. May we also remind readers that the issue of overclaiming for mortgage payments is an ongoing issue for Levitt: buried in the files released last October is correspondence between the House of Commons Fees Office and Levitt where they point out he has over-claimed for his mortgage (and broken a previous agreement) to the tune of £1,428.98, which they then deducted from his future claims to ensure that it was repaid (page 66 of this PDF).

The sofa bed issue meanwhile, is one that we are familiar from October last year. Levitt loudly commented that he had repaid it in full, and he indeed seems to have paid £412, i.e. £23 more than requested. But then he still owes £777.95.

When he announced that he was standing down from Parliament in November, Levitt said with regard to expenses reform that "we need to demonstrate that a line has been drawn". But after all that has occurred, his sincerity is still an issue, hence the outstanding £777.95. Levitt this week gave the kiss of death to his successor as the Labour candidate at the next election, Caitlin Bisknell, by loudly trumpeting her success* and having his photo taken with her, shaking her hand. One starts to wonder who benefits from this - is there anyone left in the High Peak who would shake the hand of an out-and-out liar and fraudster like Levitt?

*when this link no longer works, try this screen grab

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