Shropshire Star

Pensions minister ordered to pay back £1,367 after expenses breach

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority found Paul Maynard had used a state-of-the-art printer for campaigning purposes.

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Pensions minister Paul Maynard

Pensions minister Paul Maynard broke expenses rules by using taxpayer-funded resources to produce “overtly political” material for the Tories, a watchdog has found.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) said the Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP should repay £1,367 after he used a state-of-the-art printer for campaigning purposes.

It also found he had under-reported use of his constituency office by his local Conservative Party association.

Paul Maynard, right, appearing on stage with then-chancellor Rishi Sunak
Paul Maynard, right, appeared on stage previously with then-chancellor Rishi Sunak (Peter Byrne/PA)

But Mr Maynard was cleared of wrongdoing over his “higher than average” claim of £106,000 for printing and related costs since 2010, with the watchdog saying a “comprehensive audit” of the relevant period was not undertaken due to “resource constraints”.

The MP previously told the Sunday Times, which broke the story, that he believed he had the proper arrangements in place for using the resources but would abide by any Ipsa findings.

A report by Ipsa’s compliance officer published on Thursday said: “The MP reasonably believed he had put in place an agreement with Ipsa to allow for the occasional use of his constituency office for non-parliamentary purposes and made regular payments to Ipsa for this purpose,” the report said.

“However, the compliance officer considers the frequent use of Ipsa-funded office equipment such as the ‘Riso’ printer went beyond the bounds of this agreement, even if some of the costs of use were covered by the local Conservative Association.

“In addition, it is reasonable to assume the constituency office was used for storage and preparation of party-political material at various times which are not accurately reflected in the log of use maintained by the MP’s office.”

It added: “On the assumption, the ‘Riso’ (printer) has been used 10% of the time for non-parliamentary purposes it would appropriate for the MP to reimburse Ipsa the sum of £1,257.28.

“In recognition of the possibility of inaccurately logged usage of the constituency office for party-political activity, the MP has also agreed to an additional repayment of £110.”

Mr Maynard said he had paid back the recommended sum and welcomed the findings of the report, which he said “makes no direct criticism of me or of my office”.

“I am grateful to the compliance officer for his time in considering this matter,” the MP said.

“I welcome his report, which makes no direct criticism of me or of my office, and accept the findings.

“I have implemented his recommendations and already reimbursed Ipsa the sum recommended.

“I also agree with Ipsa that despite our best intentions, navigating the dual use of a constituency office can, at times, be inherently complicated. I have now ceased this arrangement.”

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