Sleaze watchdog probes MP couple’s expenses

Author: By James Tapsfield, Press Association

Parliament’s Standards Commissioner, John Lyon, is to investigate after it
emerged that the “main” home of Health Minister Mrs Keen and her
husband has not been lived in for up to a year.

The couple are currently taking legal action to evict squatters from the
property in her Brentford & Isleworth constituency.

They insist they were only staying full-time at their taxpayer-funded “second”
home – which is just nine miles away in Westminster – while renovations took
place.

But under Commons rules, an MP’s main home should be the one where they spend
the most nights.

A spokeswoman for Mr Lyon said; “The commissioner has received a
complaint, and agreed to investigate it.”

The Keens have been dubbed “Mr and Mrs Expenses” amid questions over
why they need to run a flat in Westminster when their constituencies are
within easy commuting distance. Mr Keen’s Feltham & Heston seat
neighbours his wife’s.

The couple have claimed more than £130,000 between them for second home
expenses.

Around 10 squatters at the Brentford property have said they moved in as a
protest against the MPs’ abuse of allowances. They have been holding comedy
nights and redecorated in a “Christmas theme”.

A legal bid by the Keens to evict the unwanted tenants is reportedly being
heard in court today.

However, the couple themselves have faced threats of repossession from
Hounslow Council because the house has been vacant for so long.

Mrs Keen also faced criticism recently for claiming £150 for private medical
treatment for a member of her staff.

The minister has insisted that the Brentford property has been their main home
for 22 years.

“Like many others who have had alterations and builders in their home, we
too have experienced the nightmare side of it,” she said in a
statement.

“We had no choice but to halt work on our home because we became very
concerned about the quality and standard.”

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