Following on Pearson's expenses claims today's D.T. details how he avoided paying capital gains tax of £250000 on the profit from the sale of his London house by telling the Inland Revenue it was his principal residence at the same time as telling the House of Lords authorities for the purpose of claiming expenses that his house on his Perthshire estate was his main home. Lords rules state, "Members whose main residence is within Greater London cannot claim overnight subsistence". Pearson, according to the yesterday's Telegraph has claimed £115683 for overnight subsistence since 2001. The Telegraph also state that in the same period Pearson claimed £56865 for daily subsistence i.e. food, drink, transport etc. The latter does not require receipts only attendance at the Lords on the days for which claims are submitted.
What does Lord Pearson have to say on these Jacky Smith practices? Well in July Lord P said of the MPs expenses scandal that it exposed, "a growing gulf between us, the political class, and the British people. Lord P obviously had first hand experience of what he was talking about! This comes on top of allegations in the Observer that Pearson's company, PWS, is involved in a bribes scandal in Costa Rica. I quote the Observer headline,
"The insurance business that made the fortune of the new leader of the UK Independence party (Ukip) is embroiled in an international bribery scandal that could lead to criminal charges in the UK, according to documents obtained by the Observer."
Reading this the UKIP faithful must be choking over their corn flakes. After all they voted for a Lord! Well as anyone who watched last night's C4 Dispatches programme on the links between UK Lords and Russian oligarchs will realise the title Lord is not now a stamp of probity and integrity. The truth is it never was but many decent people are conned by it. Many years ago, when he was a teenage scribbler for the FT, Nigel Lawson wrote a very perceptive piece on how to assess the competence and probity of a listed company board of directors. You start with 100 and for every Sir you deduct 10 and for every Lord 20. Don't invest when the score goes negative! Try it on any shares you own. Nigel Lawson was by a mile the smartest and best Chancellor in my life time.
No one, including me, is saying Lord P has done anything illegal but the problem is he has done, and is saying the same things as, every other sleazy LibLabCon politician named in the expenses scandal. As my granny used to say, "A man is known by the company he keeps".