TAKE HER AWAY'
PUBLISHED: 18:19 03 June 2009 | UPDATED: 11:19 12 August 2010
MP for Beckenham Jacqui Lait should be investigated for potential fraud according to furious residents. On Monday it was revealed Conservative member Mrs Lait was forced to repay £7,000 after over-claiming interest for the mortgage of her second home i
MP for Beckenham Jacqui Lait should be investigated for potential fraud according to furious residents.
On Monday it was revealed Conservative member Mrs Lait was forced to repay £7,000 after over-claiming interest for the mortgage of her second home in Beckenham between October 2003 and December 2006.
Constituents said she shouldn't be an MP if she can't do accounting and have written to the police to complain about what they see as excessive claims for petrol and second home allowances.
June Winfield, of Foxgrove Avenue, Beckenham, said: "I have asked the Public Prosecution Service to investigate.
"I don't see how all these politicians have made all these mistakes. If they can't manage their own mortgages, how can they legislate? They shouldn't be in Parliament. It is just naked greed.
"She has claimed over £504,000 over four years. It seems like a tremendous amount of money and I don't see how it can be justified."
Mrs Lait claims she "didn't notice" that the interest on the fixed rate mortgage should decrease as more capital was repaid. The error was flagged up by the House of Commons fees office in 2007 when they asked her to submit her statements.
She said: "For the years quoted, as my monthly mortgage payments never varied, I made the mistake of claiming the same interest cost, not noticing that these costs were reducing as the repaid capital increased.
"Luckily, the Fees Office spotted it and alerted me. I asked them to work out how much I needed to repay and was happy to do so quickly once they had worked it out."
Mrs Lait once served as a Parliamentary Personal Secretary to William Hague at the Department of Social Security which sought to eliminate benefit fraud within the system.
Asked to define the difference between fraud and a mistake, she told reporters: "No comment. I'm not a lawyer." She also declined to comment on whether she thought she was good with numbers.
Conservative leader David Cameron told reporters last Sunday that MPs who had made claims on phantom mortgages should be subject to police investigation.
He said: "If people have broken the law in claiming expenses, like mortgage payments for mortgages that don't exist, should they be subject to the full force of the law? Yes of course they should."
Several MPs have announced they will stand down after claiming for mortgages they had already paid off.
Former Labour minister Elliot Morley pocketed more than £16,000 for interest which didn't exist while MPs David Chaytor, Ben Chapman and Bill Wiggin also made unjustified claims.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: "Officers from the the Economic and Specialist Crime Command met on May 18 with senior Crown Prosecution lawyers on the first panel to assess the allegations of misuse of parliamentary expenses.
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"They discussed the range of complaints, established what the assessment process will be and the nature of information that would be considered by the panel. There will be further regular meetings of the panel to take these matters forward. At this time no decision has been made to start any investigation."
MP for Beckenham Jacqui Lait and her council leader husband pocketed over £282,000 of public money between them in just one year.
The couple, who share a £1.4million farmhouse in Rye, East Sussex, received the amount in expenses, allowances and salaries.
Last week, Mrs Lait's husband, Peter Jones leader of East Sussex County Council, defended claiming nearly £91,000 from 2006 to 2007 for various positions of authority.
As well as his £36,000 council post, former stock broker Mr Jones claimed £22,000 as chairman of the Sussex Police Authority, £19,000 for his work at the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) and £14,000 as a representative on the Audit Commission's pension board.
The figures were revealed in a Freedom of Information request but he has yet to reveal expenses for the Audit Commission and SEEDA posts.
Meanwhile, in the same year Mrs Lait claimed £129,442 for her second home, travel, stationery and staffing costs on top of her £62,000 salary.