TaxAdministrationGriffiths faces fresh office rental probe

Griffiths faces fresh office rental probe

A fresh allegation involving office rental claims made by Small Businesses minister Nigel Griffiths has been reported to newly appointed standards commissioner Philip Mawer.

Scottish National Party chief whip Pete Wishart submitted a written request for an investigation into the allegation that Griffiths exaggerated the rental value of his Edinburgh constituency office when justifying to former commissioner Elizabeth Filkin the £10,000-a-year, he had claimed.

Mawer, former Church of England Synod general secretary, said he would consider the new complaint fully and declined to comment further.

Earlier the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee decided Griffiths had made ‘technically defective’ claims for office costs, but concluded he had not received public money to which he was not entitled and recommended no action be taken against him.

The new complaint is that he exaggerated the rental worth of his office after it had been given a formal valuation of £7,200 by the Lothian’s joint valuations board in 1998.

Griffiths submitted a valuation from a local chartered surveyor to Filkin, estimating the office would have raised £12,000 a year in rent on the open market in 1997. This suggested the MP had been claiming £2,000 less than it was worth – a saving to the taxpayer.

The minister has made it clear he regards the matter as closed because the office was independently valued and Filkin had already looked into it.

In response, he counter-accused the SNP of ‘despicable party politicking’.

Last year, Griffiths was cleared by Filkin of misusing taxpayers money by using his constituency office for political purposes.

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