Indian industrialist and Labour peer Swraj Paul on Tuesday denied that he acted in bad faith while claiming parliamentary expenses and said all claims were made “honestly'' and were consistent with the rules at the time.
He was reacting to the report of the House of Lords Committee for Privileges and Conduct recommending his suspension from the House for four months over allegations of wrongly claiming expenses.
Two other Labour peers, Lady Uddin and Lord Bhatia, are also to be suspended — former for at least a year and the latter for eight months. Both have been told to repay the excess amounts they had claimed.
Lord Paul, who voluntarily returned about £40,000 after the allegations surfaced, said : “There is no question about the propriety of any other claim made by me during the 14-year period that I have been a member of the House of Lords. It should also be remembered that, back in March, the Metropolitan Police decided there was no case for me to answer.”
The committee acknowledged that Lord Paul had not acted “dishonestly'' or in “bad faith''. “We do not feel justified in finding, on the balance of probabilities, that Lord Paul acted dishonestly or in bad faith. However, his actions were utterly unreasonable and demonstrated gross irresponsibility and negligence,'' it said.
Lord Paul said he was “pleased'' that the committee had found that “my actions throughout the investigation have been transparent and consistent and that the claims were honestly made and not in bad faith''.
He said while he accepted the committee's decision “in the best traditions of parliamentary democracy'', he believed he had been treated “more harshly than some others''.
“Given the lack of clarity in the rules which applied at that point, I do not believe that my own conduct in any way merits the decisions which the sub-committee and now the full Committee have reached,'' he said in a statement .
The case relates to expenses he claimed for a property in Oxfordshire that he designated as his main home while living in London.
The House is due to vote to ratify the committee's recommendations this week.