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Blog 10: Simon Danczuk & That £11,000 19/03/2016

19/03/2016: If I stole £11,000 from you what would you say? You'd call the police and I would most likely be heading to prison.

 

In January 2016 the LibDems asked the Parliamentary expenses people and the police to investigate[1].  On 18 March 2016 (a day of political explosions anyway) the expenses watchdog issued a statement to the press[2], but not a press release[3].  Simon Danczuk was ordered to repay £11,583.20.

 

This is what the Theft Act 1968 says:

 

1 Basic definition of theft.

 

(1) A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and “thief” and “steal” shall be construed accordingly.

 

(2) It is immaterial whether the appropriation is made with a view to gain, or is made for the thief’s own benefit.

 

This is what the Fraud Act 2006 says:

 

2 Fraud by false representation

 

  1. A person is in breach of this section if he—
  1. dishonestly makes a false representation, and
  2. intends, by making the representation—

(i) to make a gain for himself or another, or

(ii) to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

2.  A representation is false if—

(a) it is untrue or misleading, and

(b) the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading.

3. “Representation” means any representation as to fact or law, including a representation as to the state of mind of—

(a) the person making the representation, or

(b) any other person.

4. A representation may be express or implied.

5. For the purposes of this section a representation may be regarded as made if it (or anything implying it) is submitted in any form to any system or device designed to receive, convey or respond to communications (with or without human intervention).

 

 

The Expenses "Wrongly" Expensed

 

What, I hear you ask, did he take? Simon Danczuk had claimed for his children residing with him in London.  Where an MP is an MP of a town out of London (and often in London) the MP is allowed to claim for the additional costs of having to live in London as well as living in their constituency.  It is only fair, because they must live in London as that is where Parliament is and they must live in their constituencies, as that is where the central part of their job is.  So, if you have children you can claim an extra part to allow children to stay with you in London (and for taxis and some other stuff).

 

The rules governing this are on the IPSA website, along with the guidance[4].  On Page 4 of the Guide at 1.1.1 it says this:

 

"A supplement of up to £2,425 a year for each dependant you care for. You will need to certify that the dependant routinely lives with you. Please refer to paragraphs 4.22-4.24 of the Scheme for further information and eligibility." [My emphasis]

 

Simon Danczuk claimed for his two adult children and his two minor children.  He said:

 

"My accommodation claims were made according to what I believed at the time to be an accurate interpretation of IPSA's guidelines. Regrettably, due to the vague wording of the rules, I inadvertently claimed 10% more than my annual living allowance, money which was paid directly to my landlord in London and not to me. I hold my hands up and admit that this was an error on my part. I am relieved that this issue has finally been cleared up and I will of course repay the full amount at the earliest opportunity." [My emphasis]

 

So, Simon Danczuk accepts that he claimed it, but he did so because of the "vague wording of the rules".  Now, the guide itself says that it is dated "Updated 6 August 2015 (v.2)" [page 1, bottom of page].  As such, this is the guide that relates to his claims.  He was claiming £2,142.40  a month for accommodation costs.  Twitter user @ormy27 has pointred out that even though this is more than £16,000 a year this is in-fact on the lowest end of the rental costs in this area of London.  Rents start at this rate and climb steadily for two bedroom flats.  I am glad to include that important point - despite it being a lot of money it is comparatively low for this area of London showing that Simon Danczuk has attained a flat that is cheap for what and where it is.

 

So, taking the word to be the vaguest it could, assuming someone reading it is borderline learning disability and has difficulties catching the nuances of official document wording, as there are people who do not always understand, plus Mr Danczuk has said that he thought the wording was vague.

 

"You will need to certify".  I would assume that I would have to produce a document that evidences or proves what is claimed.

 

"that the dependant routinely lives with you".  I would assume this relates to someone who is dependent upon me.  If I did not understand the word dependent I would look it up in a dictionary.  Cambridge Dictionary[5] says:

 

"dependent adjective (NEEDING HELP)

needing the ​support of something or someone in ​order to ​continue ​existing or ​operating:

He has three dependent ​children.

It's very ​easy to ​become dependent on ​sleeping ​pills."

 

So, I would need to provide a certificate that proves that someone is in need of my "support to continue existing or operating".  OK, so we have the meaning.  This vague wording is seemingly not that vague to me.  Page 40 of the IPSA guide then sets out how to claim and asks people to contact them if they have trouble.  He signed off his accounts including a statement of truth to say that he had four dependent children, two of which "routinely" lived with him.  He got an extra £11,583.20 because of it.

 

The Vague Wording Is What Did It Guv

 

So, why has everyone gone bonkers over this?  Essentially, it is because Mr Danczuk's dirty laundry got splashed all over the press in the most awful knifing in the back a party could ever do.  He got suspended.  It is one article in particularly that did for Danczuk and which directly led to this demand for repayment.

 

An on-line prostite and dominatrix who was 17 years old sold her story to The Mirror that she had had various interactions with Danczuk[6]. It essentially sounded like he gave her cash to whip him and dominate him sexually.  It was a pretty gross and torrid article that made her look bad (despite her claims on Facebook to be a 'personality').

 

His ex wife then jumped in and the knife just went down to the hilt with the article[7].  It really was a distressing article to read.  Whatever possessed her to "tell all" really is beyond me, but it had the disgusting whiff of back-room deals done with brown envelopes stuffed with cash.  She claimed that Simon Danczuk has nothing to do with his two teenage children and did not/does not pay for them at University.  I was most distressed about his children being named, and cannot imagine how awful it must have been for them. An article on 26 January 2016 showed that his children had only stayed with him once, with the article on 1 January 2016 saying he never spoke to them[8].

 

So, he has signed a certificate (his expenses claim) to say his children "routinely" reside with him in London when in fact he never sees them and they have apparently only stayed once at his house (yes, they both contradict but the difference between 0, 1 and routinely is a big one).

 

Can it be said that he signed a document knowing it not to be true?  I struggle to see how he could not have known that his children did not "routinely" live with him.  It is hard to see how it could not be fraud.  He must know if his children routinely live with him, even in the vaguest sense based upon what his wife AND children have told the press.

 

Did he take the £11,583.20 with the intention of permanently depriving the Parliamentary body of it?  Many would argue Yes.  That is theft within the definition - and many on twitter have argued this.  He is under investigation by the Met police for this I understand.

 

So tell me.  How can he not be arrested for what he has done?  His suggestion that the wording was vague is rubbish, as you can see above.  It is clear in the use of the word "routinely".  If his children have stayed no times or just once since his election in 2010 how can that be classed as routine?

 

And what would happen if he had been a benefit claimant that sought to permanently deprive the tax payer of £11,583.20?  They would go to prison, that is what.  Why is it because he us a [suspended] MP suddenly the theft of £11,583.20 is not a punishable offence just so long as you pay it back?  This disgusts me.  This really disgusts me.

 

Simon Danczuk should be arrested and tried for Fraud and Theft and he should get what every benefit claimant gets when they they take this amount of money.  He is currently being investigated by the police.

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

[1] BBC 25 january 2016 "Simon Danczuk 'should face fraud probe', Lib Dems say"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-35402583

 

[2] BBC 18 March 2016 "MP Simon Danczuk admits wrongly claiming £11,000 expenses"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-35813208

 

[3] Following the Telegraph "Duck House" expenses scandal in 2009 a new expenses "watchdog" [in reality the same people, same team, nothing changed] to crack down on abuse [read theft] of expenses.  This is called "The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) is the body created by Parliament to independently oversee and regulate MPs’ business costs and expenses."

http://parliamentarystandards.org.uk/About%20Us/Pages/default.aspx

 

[4] IPSA Guide for MPs:

http://parliamentarystandards.org.uk/IPSAMPs/Guidance/SiteAssets/Pages/home/Guidance-for-MPs-Business-Costs-and-Expenses.pdf

 

[5] Cambridge Dictionary

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/dependent

 

[6] Daily Mirror 1 January 2016 "Sex text teen tells Simon Danczuk: 'You don't make the same mistake multiple times - especially not in your career'"

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/sex-text-teen-tells-simon-7101370

 

[7] Daily Mirror 1 January 2016  "Simon Danczuk's first wife says he is a "dirty old man" and a "disgusting pervert""

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/simon-danczuks-first-wife-says-7103469

 

[8] Daily Mirror 26 January 2016 "Simon Danczuk's son says 'we only stayed with him once' - despite MP claiming expenses for him"

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/simon-danczuks-son-says-we-7251160

 

 

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