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Minister broke expenses rules by using taxpayer cash to promote Tories

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Published Time: 16.05.2024 - 19:40:35 Modified Time: 16.05.2024 - 19:40:35

Paul Maynard pays back more than £1,300 after expenses authority finds he used money to produce ‘overtly political’ content Richard Gray/Alamy Stock Photo The pensions minister broke expenses rules by using taxpayer cash to promote the Conservatives and campaign for his re-election, a watchdog has ruled

Paul Maynard pays back more than £1,300 after expenses authority finds he used money to produce ‘overtly political’ content

: Richard Gray/Alamy Stock Photo

The pensions minister broke expenses rules by using taxpayer cash to promote the Conservatives and campaign for his re-election, a watchdog has ruled.

Paul Maynard has paid back more than £1,300 after Ipsa, the parliamentary expenses authority, found he used public money to produce “overtly political” content.

Mr Maynard admitted using taxpayer-funded office equipment over the course of seven years to print party political materials, including leaflets urging his constituents in Blackpool North and Cleveleys to back the Conservatives.

He also failed to report the full scale of campaigning activity for which his constituency office was used between December 2022 and January last year.

All MPs could now face a ban on using their offices for party political reasons after the report identified the confusion that led to the minister’s breach of the rules.

‘Could be construed as campaign expenditure’

Mr Maynard, who was appointed as pensions minister in Rishi Sunak’s November reshuffle, was found to have breached an agreement that allowed him to use his office for non-parliamentary activities.

The Ipsa rules state that it will not reimburse “activities that could be construed as campaign expenditure within the scope of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, or election expenses within the scope of the Representation of the People Act 1983”.

The watchdog also refuses to pay out for “any other activities whose purpose is to give MPs a campaigning advantage in general elections and referendums”.

Mr Maynard has a majority of just over 8,500, and a constituency-level YouGov poll projected that he was on track to lose his seat, which will become Blackpool North and Fleetwood following the boundary review.

The report said: “The compliance officer considers the frequent use of Ipsa-funded office equipment such as the ‘Riso’ printer went beyond the bounds of this agreement, even if some of the costs of use were covered by the local Conservative association.

“In addition, it is reasonable to assume the constituency office was used for storage and preparation of party political material at various times which are not accurately reflected in the log of use maintained by the MP’s office.”

‘I accept the findings’

The watchdog ordered Mr Maynard to pay back £1,257 – 10 per cent of the total sum he had claimed for his taxpayer-funded printer – as well as a further £110 in recognition of his failure to accurately record the use of his office for campaigning.

It also recommended that the Ipsa chief executive should consider a complete ban on the dual use of MPs’ constituency offices for parliamentary and party political purposes.

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