Labour MP and Justice Minister Shahid Malik is the latest politician to step down as a result of the current furore over Parliamentary expenses claims. The Daily Telegraph says that the Dewsbury MP's expenses are the highest claimed and include £66,827 over three years for his London second home (which equates to the highest amount it is possible to receive), £23,083 of which was paid last year - £443 a week; £2100 for a television (though he was only allowed half this amount, poor deprived creature that he is); £65 to cover a court summons for non-payment of Council Tax and £730 for a massage chair. £69,222 - not a bad little haul. What's more, his constituency home sets him back less than £100 a week. He has also regularly claimed the maximum £400 allowable each month for food.
and a couple of them. Send the bill to the tax-payers."
That's on top of the £95,617 salary he gets as a junior minister. He was not allowed to claim for a portable DVD player and an iPod.
The trouble is, it seems Mr. Malik have been spending most of his time at his London address, it should have been declared as his first home - which he ought to pay for himself, instead of paying for the well-below-commercial rent Dewsbury property.
Neither he nor the landlord - Mr. Zaman - of the Dewsbury house have been willing to say if a formal lease agreement was signed, but Mr. Zaman's wife has revealed that it appears to be lived in by a constituency worker during the week, adding "He [Mr Malik] is a good friend and neighbour.He comes here just at the weekends...usually he comes here alone.” Mr. Malik denies this, claiming that he lives there for half of every week and during Parliamentary recess.
Mr. Malik insists that he will not pay back the amount he has received, saying that he is "as straight as they come" and that his actions were "one million per cent by the book." Meanwhile, he has agreed to donate £1050 - the amount he somehow managed to claim for his television, even though claims for such items are limited to £750 - to charities in Dewsbury. "I will not be giving it to the authorities in Parliament because it is legitimately mine," he said.
Mr. Malik has in the past said that the UK is the best place a Muslim could ever live. It's even better if you're a greedy, money-grabbing MP though. "With hindsight, I think every MP in this country would have done things differently," he says - what, you mean when you thought you were going to be allowed to carry on ripping off the tax-payers? Also, why did he feel the need to step down if, as he's acted as honestly as he claims?
He also calls for what he refers to as the "bloodfest" of media investigations and reporting on the expenses row to come to and end. No way, Shahid. We want to know what you and your friends have been up to. What's more, we're really enjoying seeing you squirm. :-)