Forget Byers, Hoon and Hewitt...
Margaret Moran remains the grubbiest MP of all
THOUGH most of the attention, understandably, has been on Stephen Byers and fellow ex-ministers Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon in the wake of the Sunday Times/Dispatches investigation into lobbying, dubbed “Labour’s cash for influence scandal”, very little scrutiny has been placed on the other politician caught up in the affair - Luton South MP Margaret Moran.
Moran, unlike the other three, actually suggested she might start work immediately for the ficticious company, which is bad enough, considering she has another seven weeks’ MPs’ salary to collect before she cashes in on the parachute payments and pension, but made even worse by the fact that, since her propensity to put her hand in the expenses jar was exposed, she’s spent the past ten months off sick, unable to work.
She seems more than willing to work for this private company, however, and looked right as roses when “interviewed” by them. A picture of health, Moran claimed she had access to a “girls gang” of current and former ministers, among them Jacqui Smith and Hazel Blears - also caught up in the expenses scandal - and Caroline Flint and Harriet Harman. The ST takes up the story:
“Moran had appeared quite feisty during the 90-minute meeting. She offered to arrange meetings with ministers and civil servants, adding that it was important ‘never to underestimate a glass of wine, a few nibbles, a photo opportunity’.
“She suggested she was well connected with a ‘girls’ gang’ of ‘mates’ whom she could ring on behalf of clients.”
The report adds:
“However, back in her Luton South constituency, the MP who had the second-highest expenses of any MP and had to pay back £22,500 she claimed for treating dry rot, was not so readily available.
“After she had left the meeting, a second reporter phoned her constituency office, saying his mother wanted to see Moran about a housing problem. ‘She’s not doing any appointments,’ came the reply. ‘She’s not very well at the moment.’”
As regular readers will know, it’s not just the dry rot, the flipping and the over-claiming that did for her, but a steady stream of other, equally serious allegations she has failed to deny, including a few I myself investigated and put to her last May, again to no avail.
This is what I discovered:
“It is alleged by one former intern of Miss Moran that she ordered members of staff to work for a ‘charity’ called “eQuality Networks Ltd” (EQN), a clear breach of official guidelines which state that staff should be used solely for the purpose of assisting an MP in ‘performing parliamentary duties’.
“Yesterday’s Financial Times contains more details about her links to EQN - which is run by her fiancé, Michael Booker - and the misappropriation of staff thereof, including her use of House of Commons headed notepaper when working for EQN.
“The former intern, whose complaints to the authorities fell on deaf ears, was one of nine unpaid interns working for Miss Moran at the time, many of whom were also asked to work for EQN.”
I further revealed that:
“Another ex-employee of Miss Moran has described how she would routinely attempt to pressure staff into signing off questionable expense claims which were then passed to the fees office for approval.
“Examples include ‘ghost’ journeys, in which her staff were asked to fill in blank taxi receipts, and expenses incurred while Miss Moran was working for EQN; it is not known how many of these were submitted to the fees office and subsequently paid out.
“What has also emerged is her ‘complete and utter’ hatred of Kelvin Hopkins, fellow Luton Labour MP and beacon of thrift who spent a staggering 90 per cent less on second home allowances over the past five years, a mere £8,894 compared to Miss Moran's whopping £87,206.”
I’ll leave the final word to a former employee of Moran, one of the sources of the above allegations, who texted me on Saturday afternoon - and I kid you not, this came, by chance, before the latest news broke, to inform me his former boss’s unwanted place in the dustbin of history was already assured:
“Page 62 & 63 of book titled ‘Crap MPs - 40 worst members of parliament in history’, & aparently [sic] it goes bak [sic] som [sic] way.
“Number 10 of 40 (litl [sic] harsh) - guess who it is?”
• Left Foot Forward: Campaigners turn up heat on Byers
• Tonight, 8:00, Channel 4: Dispatches: Politicians for Hire