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MP refers himself for probe over £10,000

PUBLISHED: 19:42 25 March 2010 | UPDATED: 17:11 30 June 2010

GREAT Yarmouth MP Tony Wright referred himself for an investigation this week over a £10,000 payout from the owners of his former London flat.

Mr Wright has asked the House of Commons standards and privileges committee to look at the compensation payment received for a rent increase at the apartment block.

GREAT Yarmouth MP Tony Wright referred himself for an investigation this week over a £10,000 payout from the owners of his former London flat.

Mr Wright has asked the House of Commons standards and privileges committee to look at the compensation payment received for a rent increase at the apartment block.

It follows a judgment by a parliamentary inquiry that a group of Liberal Democrat MPs had breached Commons rules by accepting the cash.

Mr Wright had previously justified keeping the cash as it was not taxpayers' money and was given by the American property company that owns the flats.

Rent for Mr Wright's apartment at Dolphin Square in London was paid for by the taxpayer as part of the MPs' second-home allowance. He has since left the flat and now stays in a hotel while in the capital.

Mr Wright told the Mercury this week: “I have always stated that I never knowingly have done anything wrong, and I stand by that statement. Therefore, I have decided it is in the best interests of all that I commit to abiding by whatever decision is made by the committee when they have been made aware of the facts before them.”

At the time of the sale of the flats to a new owner in 2006, residents were offered lump sums if they moved out or stayed in the building and agreed to pay more rent.

Occupants, who had been paying below market rates, were offered different sums depending on how long they had lived there.

In 2007-08, Mr Wright claimed a total of £23,131 from running his second home and says that, overall, he is

good value for money as each of his constituents only pays 5p a week to fund all his activities.

In a letter to committee chairman Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Mr Wright said his decision to leave Dolphin Square had resulted in a £16,000 saving to the taxpayer. He has asked to give evidence to the committee about the circum-stances surrounding his surrender of the lease.

The issue was referred directly to Sir Malcolm rather than to standards commissioner John Lyons to speed up a judgment, according to Mr Wright.

The decision to refer the payment for investigation was welcomed by Conservative candidate for Yarmouth Brandon Lewis, who wrote to him this week about the issue.

He said: “I was pleased to hear that Mr Wright has referred himself to the committee. I believe he should have done this 10 months ago. This £10,000 was a windfall courtesy of the taxpayers of Yarmouth and the taxpayers deserve answers and the money to be paid back.”

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