Accusations by controversial blogger Guido Fawkes dismissed by Wiltshire politician
5:01pm Thursday 16th January 2014 in By Anne Moore
North Wiltshire MP James Gray has dismissed accusations by a controversial blogger that he has been doubling up on his expenses and claiming for two offices.
The article by blogger Paul Staines, who writes under the non de plume Guido Fawkes, says the Conservative MP is claiming rent twice for his constituency office.
Mr Staines began his blog in 2004 and is well-known for his right-wing views. He prides himself on spreading “tittle-tattle, gossip and rumours” about Parliamentary life.
He says Mr Gray claims £4,800 a year for his constituency office and £13,474 for constituency accommodation for the same Wiltshire address on the Neston Park Estate.
But Mr Gray says he has an office and a home on the estate next door to each other, which are separate properties on separate leases and have been approved as such.
Although he gives an address for the North Wiltshire Conservative Association on his official Parliamentary website, he said he moved offices in 2006 or 2007.
Mr Gray said: “It’s a complete load of nonsense, he seems to be making two allegations, one is that my office is in the local Conservative party headquarters which is not true and has not been for many years.
“It’s perfectly true that I am a local MP and I am part of the local Conservative Party, but in terms of my office it’s not there at all. That’s something I did many years ago.
“I gave up using the Conservative Party offices and thought it would be better to hire a local office which was totally approved by the authorities.
“He seems to think I have two offices, which I don’t.”
The Neston Park Estate is owned by Sir James Henry Fleetwood Fuller, and the online article claims that his family supports the Conservative Party and has made donations to the party.
It also suggests that these donations would make Mr Gray’s living arrangements inappropriate.
But Mr Gray said: “It’s a snide instigation that I have a special relationship with the Fuller family.
“First of all they haven’t made any donations. The only thing I can track down is 13 or 14 years ago when the current landlord’s grandmother donated to my party.
“There is a suggestion there’s something fishy about that, but why a donation from a landlord to a Conservative Party should be of any interest whatsoever I cannot imagine.
“It’s pretty low-grade stuff. It’s not something that I’m concerned about. It’s just a silly story from someone who has got nothing better to do with his time.”
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