Expenses-row MP dismisses ‘house ban’ claim

Author: By Ella Pickover, Press Association

Tory MP David Curry admitted having an affair but defended his record on
expenses after being forced to stand down pending an inquiry.

Mr Curry is facing allegations that he claimed almost £30,000 towards the cost
of a property that it was claimed his wife does not allow him to use.

But he said today he has been spending more time with his wife of 38 years to
patch up their relationship.

Speaking from his family home in Saffron Waldon in Essex, he said: “My
wife has not banned me from anything. I had an affair, there is no denying
that. We got over it.

“If you were repairing your relationship with someone, you would want to
spend as much time with them as possible.”

On his expenses, he added: “My expenses are very modest. They are
completely above board. I am the second cheapest MP in Yorkshire.”

According to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Curry’s wife demanded he did not use the
cottage in his Yorkshire constituency after she discovered five years ago
that he was having an affair.

But challenged over the allegation today, he said: “That’s akin to Harry
Potter. I have stayed in it hundreds, if not thousands, of times.

“I have had the house since 1987, I have not bought it on a speculative
whim.”

After the claims emerged, the MP for Skipton and Ripon referred his case to
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards John Lyon, who investigates alleged
expenses misuse.

Mr Lyon’s reports are passed to the Standards and Privileges Committee – of
which Mr Curry was elected chairman last month – to recommend punishment,
where necessary.

Mr Curry said he was willing to share any information with the Parliamentary
Commissioner, adding: “I am not expecting to end up in the Tower of
London.”

Mr Curry also denied claims that he rarely stayed in his house while he is in
Yorkshire.

“I have a very large constituency of more than 700 square miles. Sometimes
when I am far away late at night I will stay in a hotel rather than travel a
great distance back.”

He said the claims, which totalled £28,078, would have been approximately
£20,000 but he had to hire a local consultancy firm to oversee some
redecoration after damp-proofing work to the cottage.

Mr Curry, who was travelling to Yorkshire to attend a surgery in his
constituency, is due to stay at the property this evening.

In an earlier statement, Mr Curry said: “I used the cottage to carry out my
duties as a constituency MP and am content with my arrangements.

“However, given the particular responsibilities of the chairman of the
Committee of Standards and Privileges, I shall refer my case to the
Commissioner on Parliamentary Standards John Lyon and will stand down from
the chairmanship during the course of his inquiries.”

Mr Curry, a former minister, designated the cottage as his second base in 2005.

He had moved back into his family home in Saffron Walden, Essex, after making
up with his wife following the alleged affair with a headmistress in his
constituency.

Mr Curry claimed about £250 a month towards the mortgage until it was paid off
in 2007.

The Daily Telegraph reported that he rarely stayed in his constituency and,
when he did, usually stayed at the local £40-a-night Travelodge.

He told the newspaper he had used the cottage less than he would have liked in
previous years, but put the reasons down to maintenance work and his
father’s illness.

Mr Curry has already announced he is stepping down from Parliament at the next
general election.

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