The news that a judge stopped a serious fraud case trial because no barrister could be found to take on the case for the defence is directly down to the Tories campaign to cut legal aid and costs. Nigel Evans, the allegedly predatory former Deputy Speaker had a Damascene moment when in the dock. Despite winning his case he was still expected to pay over £140,000 towards his legal costs. He then had the chutzpah to write a ‘gee whizz - if I knew then what I know now column’ in a major paper. Legal Aid exists to make people equal under the law. A concept alien to the greedy, grabbing, venal tories and their fat cat chums.
One person who should be looking over his shoulder following the Maria Miller fiasco is our book-banning, musical instrument embargoing, ‘Honourable’ Justice Secretary. Like so many of his colleagues who got away with ripping off the public to improve their property portfolio, Grayling, despite being a man with more than adequate worldly possessions, used the lax arrangements to enhance his income.
“After his election in 2001, he claimed mortgage payments on two properties – a house in Surrey near his commuter-belt Esher constituency, less than 17 miles from Parliament, and a flat in London, where he already owned two other flats that were let out. Claiming for two mortgages was against the Commons rules, but he told the fees officer it was necessary because he couldn’t get a 100 percent mortgage on the new London flat. No one seems to have asked why he couldn’t just live in one of his other flats once the tenancy had expired. Indeed the double standards committee asked no questions at all, possibly because by the time his expenses were revealed in 2009 he was already shadow home secretary, and soon to be a minister.
So nothing was done about the Telegraph’s disclosure of how Grayling tarted up his flat – increasing its resale value – and got the taxpayer to foot the bills. In May 2005 he claimed £4,250 for redecorating and £1,561 for a new bathroom. In June he claimed £1,341 for new kitchen units, and in July a further £1,527 for plumbing and £1,950 for rewiring the flat. This meant that in the 2005-06 financial year he had almost the maximum allowance.
In the next year, however, he continued to submit receipts for work carried out in the previous year. In July 2006, for example, he submitted a decorator’s bill of £2,250 for work done in July 2005, claiming that the decorator had only just submitted his invoice, a year late. Another reimbursement in the 2006-07 financial year – of £3,534 for service and maintenance - was paid by the fees office even though the invoice was marked ‘tax point: 22 Feb 2006’ and referred to costs incurred in 2005-06. Thus he was able to spread the costs of improving the flat over two years, whereas if he had submitted all the receipts in the 2005-06 financial year he would have exceeded his allowance by £4,700.
As justice secretary, Grayling is making a name by banning prisoners from being sent books. If his expenses claims are ever properly investigated, might he discover for himself what life is like inside? Perish the thought!” Private Eye 1364
So we paid for him to improve his homes when he already had several. Clearly a man of 'probity' suitable to become Justice Secretary. Now that is taking the mick.
Give these chancers masquerading as Honourable Gentlemen an inch and they will walk off with the whole nine yards.