COLNE Valley’s MP is considering legal action after being told to pay back nearly £2,000 in expenses.
Kali Mountford revealed yesterday that she has been ordered to pay £1,965.79 for council tax and rent claims made on her London flat.
But the Labour MP said yesterday that Parliamentary authorities have lost vital paperwork which would prove her claims were legitimate.
Ms Mountford has been told to pay the money by Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority chairman Sir Ian Kennedy.
She told the Examiner: “I intend to write to Sir Ian and ask him to reconsider his decision. If he refuses I will then have to take legal advice.”
In October, Ms Mountford was asked to repay a four-figure sum by Sir Thomas Legg, who audited all MPs’ claims from 2004-2009.
She appealed the decision to Sir Ian, who has reduced the amount she must re-pay, but still wants her to pay back nearly £2,000.
The MP said: “Sir Ian has concluded that I must pay back £1,965.79. Although this is a substantial reduction from Sir Thomas Legg’s original figure, I am still unhappy at this decision.”
Ms Mountford told the Examiner that Parliamentary authorities had lost paperwork relating to her council tax and rent claims.
She said: “I have asked repeatedly both Sir Thomas and Sir Ian to clarify the period for which they say I was overpaid council tax and rent and have not been given this information.
“This week, for the first time, I have discovered that the Department of Resources appear to have lost both the council tax and rental agreements for at least one year and possibly more. Because of this both Sir Ian and Sir Thomas are making estimates which bear no relation to the actual sums I have paid and claimed.”
In April 2006, Ms Mountford moved from a studio flat at Dolphin Square in Westminster to a one-bedroom flat on the same floor of the apartment complex. The move increased her annual rent by £5,000, as well as driving up her council tax.
But Ms Mountford said yesterday that neither of the auditors seemed to have taken account of the move.
She said: “They have both missed that I moved flats – in the same building with similar addresses – during this period. This explains the change in council tax and rent which is the cause of their concern.”
Ms Mountford’s husband and office manager Ian Leedham explained yesterday that the MP had originally been asked by Sir Thomas to repay much more than the current figure of £1,965.
He said: “It was a hell of a lot more than that. It wasn’t just council tax and rent, it was cleaning and taxi fares as well.”
Mr Leedham said that the taxi claims, made around 2005, were never paid to Ms Mountford in the first place.
He said: “She claimed for taxi journeys through London on the basis that you could claim that at the time. The House of Commons Fees Office decided that you couldn’t claim for taxi fares, which is fine.
“That money never came to her, but Legg told her to pay it back. She told him that she never got that money and he accepted that.”
Mr Leedham added that the authorities had now accepted that her claims for cleaning were legitimate.
He said: “Thomas Legg said the cleaning claim was excessive, but she made the case that it wasn’t.”
Sir Thomas will publish a report into MPs’ expenses claims tomorrow.