North Down’s Independent MP, Lady Hermon, has described as “wholly untrue” reports in today’s press that she submitted a claim for a 1 penny telephone call in her Parliamentary expenses.
Speaking from her North Down Constituency Office, Lady Hermon said: “At no stage have I ever submitted a claim for a 1p phonecall, and reports that I have done so are wholly untrue.
This was an administrative error, and I have now received a fulsome apology and explanation from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), which administers the MPs’ expenses system.”
Its Operations Director, Mr Scott Woolveridge, has confirmed that Lady Hermon … “did not submit an expense claim to IPSA for 1p.” He also went on to express IPSA’s “apologies for the way (it had) dealt with this,” and accepted that IPSA … “would have been better to have taken a different course of action so as to avoid the distress” caused to Lady Hermon, her office and family.”
Copy of e-mail from IPSA below:
From: Scott Woolveridge
Sent: 08 July 2011 16:18
Cc: Nick Lee
Subject: Claim publication - an apology
Dear Lady Hermon,
Thank you for your time on the telephone this afternoon.
Let me begin by confirming that you did not submit an expense claim to IPSA for 1p.
This impression has been caused following a claim you submitted for £89.09, when the receipt you provided as evidence was for £89.08. As your claim was for more than the actual cost incurred, albeit only by 1p, we had to match the claim with the receipt.
In making this reconciliation it meant there was a penny left over. At the point of dealing with that claim, rather than go into further administrative activities over this 1p, which would have cost us and your office more time, we created a second claim line for 1p. This claim line was paid in error.
Our intent was to minimise any inconvenience to you for such an insignificant amount of money. That said, I can see that we would have been better to have taken a different course of action so as to avoid the distress you, your office and family have been caused by what has transpired since the information was published. I am sorry that we did not do so.
I recognise all the points you have made to us about the difficulties this has caused you and, of course, regret the distress you have suffered. I accept, entirely, your position that there were other ways to handle this matter which would have been more effective and, of course, offer you my apologies for the way we have dealt with this.
Director of Operations
July 13th, 2011