Standards watchdog investigates Tory MP accused of misusing taxpayers’ money

Paul Maynard (Richard Townshend/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)
Paul Maynard (Richard Townshend/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)

A watchdog investigation has been launched after minister Paul Maynard allegedly used his constituency office as a Tory campaign headquarters.

Following an initial six-week assessment of the allegations, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority’s compliance officer has now announced a full-scale probe into whether he broke expenses rules.

The Sunday Times, which broke the story in January, reported that the Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP claimed rent expenses for an office that doubles up as his local taxpayer-funded Conservative Party association’s headquarters.

It is also claimed that he charged taxpayers when producing political materials. Equipment claimed on public expenses by MPs is meant for constituency work rather than political purposes.

A statement on the watchdog’s website read: “The Compliance Officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has opened an investigation to determine whether Mr Paul Maynard MP has been paid an amount under the MPs’ Scheme of Staffing and Business Costs (“the Scheme”) that should not have been allowed.”

It added that an investigation will now be conducted into claims submitted into his office costs.

Rishi Sunak with Paul Maynard (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Archive)
Rishi Sunak with Paul Maynard (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Archive)

The announcement of a full investigation follows a six-week initial assessment into Mr Maynard that was launched on 6 January.

At the time, the Liberal Democrats urged Rishi Sunak to suspend the Tory whip from Mr Maynard and remove him as a minister while “these extremely serious allegations are investigated”.

Labour said “any suggestion that taxpayer money has been misused must be thoroughly investigated”.

Mr Maynard had told an activist in his local Tory constituency party that it “made no sense” to create a separate office for political activity and would not be a “good use” of party funds, according to The Sunday Times.

Since his election in 2010, Mr Maynard – who was made a minister in the Department for Work and Pensions by Mr Sunak in November – has spent £106,000 on printing and related costs, a bill that is higher than any Tory MP on record, according to analysis by the newspaper.

The local party officer told the newspaper she became concerned when discovering that the constituency association did not have a return address, before later being invited to a local party meeting held at Mr Maynard’s office.

According to the report, the owners of the office charge rent of £8,220 annually, granting Mr Maynard use of an office and boardroom.

IPSA states that all claims submitted by lawmakers must follow four principles, with one of them being that they can “only claim for expenditure for parliamentary purposes”.

They must also adhere to the MPs’ Code of Conduct, including the seven principles of public life – which include openness and honesty.