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Lord Paul cleared in House of Lords expenses row

March 09, 2010 18:04 IST

Leading NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul has been cleared by the police in the MPs expenses row involving scores of British parliamentarians across the political spectrum.

The 78-year-old Labour Peer said in a statement in London on Tuesday that following media allegations the Metropolitan Police had been carrying out an investigation into his parliamentary expenses as part of "its wider inquiries into this issue."

Paul, Chairman of the Caparo Group of industries, said he was delighted to announce that the police "has informed me that after due consideration, it will no longer be proceeding with any investigation or inquiry in relation to my House of Lords expenses."

"I very much welcome the police's decision," said Paul, who is regarded as a close friend of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Paul had vehemently denied media allegations that he was among those MPs who wrongly claimed parliamentary allowances.

The MPs expenses row had rocked both houses of the British Parliament since last year as a result of which Brown, Conservative leader David Cameron and some other lawmakers have repaid some of the expenses claimed by them. Four parliamentarians have been charged by the police for false accounting.

The British media had alleged that Paul had wrongly claimed 38,000 pounds between 2004 and 2006 for staying in a flat at Oxfordshire in a hotel owned by him. He maintained that he did not sleep in the flat but was entitled to 174 pounds per night allowance because that was his residence during this period. Following the allegations, Paul had requested the House of Lords for a probe pending which he had decided not to function as the Deputy Speaker of the House at his own request.

The outcome of this probe to be conducted by the Clerk of the House has not yet been announced but the decision of the police not to proceed with any investigation in his case is a major victory for Paul, who had been under attack from sections of the media.

Another controversy surrounding British parliamentarians is the issue of taxation with some of them paying lesser taxes by claiming non-domicile status. Paul is among these MPs.The government is bringing forward a legislation under which such MPs cannot sit in houses of Parliament.

On the issue of taxation of peers, Lord Paul said in his statement that he would "fully comply" with the change in the law which the government is bringing forward."I strongly support the government's proposals in relation to the taxation status of peers and MPs and the membership of the House of Lords, and the House of Commons."

H S Rao in London
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