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Westminster Expenses : Ex Scottish Borders Libdem MP Lord Kirkwood claimed furnishings & more on taxpayer – should be stripped of title

04 Jun

archiekirkwoodArchy Kirkwood as a member of Parliament offered little help to victims of crooked Scottish Borders lawyers. Former Scottish Borders MP, now Lord’ Archy Kirkwood features in today’s Telegraph newspaper revelations on the Westminster expenses scandals, and deservingly so, as the paper reports he “claimed £5,000 in expenses to refurbish his London flat before retiring as an MP and selling it to his daughter for less than half its value.”

Scotsman coverage of some of the stories relating to Andrew PenmanArchy Kirkwood offered little help against crooked lawyer Andrew Penamn & crooked accountant Norman Howitt. I always wondered what Archy Kirkwood did for the Scottish Borders, because all I was ever able to secure from him was a letter writing contest to the former Scottish Office then Scottish Executive on the corruption of crooked Borders lawyer Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling solicitors, Kelso – right in the heart of Archy Kirkwood’s constituency. It seemed to me, backed up by information provided by others in the region, Mr Kirkwood was a touch soft on the likes of crooked lawyers, and particularly didn’t want to do much regarding corrupt Borders accountants such as Norman Howitt, who you can read more about here : A picture is worth a thousand words – Images of fraud reveal corruption & deceit by lawyers & accountants in the Scottish Borders

Norman Howitt Accountant JRW Group Hawick Scottish BordersBorders accountant Norman Howitt of JRW Group, Hawick took pensioner’s pension & bank book. even made false statements to Police to cover his tracks, but Kirkwood did nothing. Now, you’d think ‘Lord’ Kirkwood would have done something about a crooked accountant confiscating a pensioner’s pension book and wanting to take control of a pensioner’s entire savings for himself .. but, strangely, no. It seems there was too much to gain from supporting the same crooked accountancy and legal firms as one of the region’s leading solicitors informed me …

However, it wasn’t just me who felt the lack of support from Mr Kirkwood during his time as an MP, after several people in the Borders began to contact me over similar problems in getting Mr Kirkwood to do anything for them at all other than the standard fair of writing letters, while refusing to raise issues or early day motions at the Westminster Parliament, during the time where that’s all we had as a legislature.

Taking a look around the Scottish Borders as I did before I left it years ago (and apparently it has changed little to-date) backs up the idea the region needs younger, harder working idealistic politicians who have the region’s people and Scotland’s interests at heart, rather than preferring the Westminster cabal to give them long term jobs and the facility to milk the taxpayer for expenses while their constituency lies in ruins.

I note Lord Kirkwood still remains in the LibDems armoury, his name cropping up on the GovNet website here, alongside other such luminaries as Lord Foulkes of Cummock, also an MSP : Govnet Advisory Board, which lists his following details as :

Lord Archy Kirkwood of Kirkhope

Archy Kirkwood was MP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire for 22 years, standing down at the May 2005 General Election. First elected in June 1983, he became the Liberal Party’s spokesman on Health, Social Services and Social Security. In 1992, he became the Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party. In 1997 Archy became Chair of the Social Security Select Committee (now Work & Pension Committee).

He served on the House of Commons Audit Committee and on the House of Commons Commission and was knighted in 2003 for services to Parliament. Archy was made a life peer in 2005. He is currently head of external relations at the office of the Liberal Democrat Leader.

However, despite all of his positions, ‘Lord’ Kirkwood is now revealed as just another British politician who has milked the taxpayer, for, as the Telegraph reports, everything down to £3,000 for carpets and flooring for his kitchen and bathroom from John Lewis and £94 for a lavatory paper holder and tiles from Fired Earth.

Not satisfied with that, as the Telegraph continues to report, he returned to John Lewis to buy a £207 bathroom cupboard and mirror, curtains for £90 and lighting worth £72. Whatever relationship carpets, flooring, and other furnishings has to politics, evades me. Pay the money back. In fact, give up your title – as sure as all titles should be stripped from any politician caught milking the system.

Congratulations to the Telegraph for their excellent reporting, and I hope someone makes ‘Lord’ Kirkwood pay all the money back he has claimed from the taxpayer, along with all the other Westminster, and Scottish politicians who have done the same. Politicians are paid plenty for their job, and should bear in mind its all about representing the community, not ripping us off.

Pay the money back ‘Lord’ Kirkwood. In fact, since everyone was recently shouting to take Sir Fred Goodwin’s title away, give up your title too, ‘Lord’ Kirkwood, as sure as all titles & privileges should be stripped from any politician caught milking the system.

The Telegraph reports :

MPs’ expenses: Lord Kirkwood did up flat on expenses, then sold it cheaply to daughter

Lord Kirkwood, a Liberal Democrat peer, claimed £5,000 in expenses to refurbish his London flat before retiring as an MP and selling it to his daughter for less than half its value.

By Jon Swaine
Published: 10:30AM BST 03 Jun 2009

The peer, a work and pensions spokesman, used public funds to buy carpets, curtains and bathroom furniture for his Westminster flat from stores including John Lewis and Fired Earth.

He made the purchases after announcing in April 2004 that he would retire as MP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire at the general election in May 2005. During his final year in the Commons, he claimed a total of £18,806 in allowances for the flat, which he bought for £182,500 in 2001.

These included about £670 a month to pay the interest on its mortgage. He then sold it in May 2007 to his daughter Holly, 31, a journalist for Country Life magazine, for £100,000. On Tuesday he said the flat had been valued at £225,000.

Three weeks before the sale, a flat in the same building sold for £358,000.

When he made the claims, Lord Kirkwood, then Sir Archy Kirkwood, sat on the House of Commons commission which was overseeing the first publication of basic details of MPs’ expenses. As the details were published in October 2004, he said that he welcomed the fact that “taxpayers can really see how their money is being spent”.

However, he dismissed suggestions that voters would be shocked by the amount of money involved. “I’m not saying it’s an insignificant sum, but it’s pretty small beer,” he said.

Between November and December 2004, Lord Kirkwood claimed more than £3,000 for carpets and flooring for his kitchen and bathroom from John Lewis. He also claimed £94 for a lavatory paper holder and tiles from Fired Earth.

In April 2004, the month he announced his intention to step down as an MP, he claimed £200 for repairs to the flat’s electrics. In June 2004, he claimed £50 for fans. In July he claimed £660 for unspecified work by a contractor.

Over the following months, he returned to John Lewis to buy a £207 bathroom cupboard and mirror, curtains for £90 and lighting worth £72.

In February 2005, he claimed £145 for a clothes rail and storage devices, £78 for kitchen stools and £56 for roller blinds. He also claimed £115 for computer equipment through his office expenses two months before he retired.

Lord Kirkwood, 63, had designated as his main home a house in Selkirk where he still lives with his wife Rosemary.

He claimed more than £63,000 in House of Lords allowances last year, including £20,019 on overnight subsistence: the Lords’ equivalent of second home allowances.

He claimed £11,419 in “day subsistence” allowances, £11,419 in office running costs and £9,741 in travel costs.

Lord Kirkwood, who was knighted for services to Parliament in 2003, was one of five Lib Dem MPs put forward for peerages by Charles Kennedy, the then party leader, after the 2005 election. He announced his retirement after it was decided that his seat should merge with that of Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale, which was held by Michael Moore, a fellow Lib Dem.

Lord Kirkwood said yesterday: “When I sold the flat to my daughter a professional valuation was secured on the property. It was valued at £225,000. This was declared for capital gains.

“The fuse box and wiring system was unsafe and needed to be replaced. There were some costs of relaying flooring in parts of the property.”

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