David Blackburn

The Treasury Secretary, his secret gay lover and the coalition’s first scandal

The Treasury Secretary, his secret gay lover and the coalition’s first scandal
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Even a general election could not shorten the expenses crisis’s shadow. The Telegraph has the scoop that David Laws apparently abused the second home allowance between 2006 and 2009, claiming tens of thousands of pounds for rooms owned by his long-term partner. MPs have been banned from leasing accommodation from their partners since 2006.

Spice is added to the scandal in that Laws escaped exposure during last year’s witch hunt because he did not disclose that his landlord, James Lundie, was also his lover. Laws and Lundie have been involved since 2001; their attachment was kept secret from family and friends. Laws’s defends his actions as being designed to guard against revealing his sexuality. He also added in a statement:

‘In 2006 the Green Book rules were changed to prohibit payments to partners. At no point did I consider myself to be in breach of the rules which in 2009 defined partner as ‘one of a couple … who although not married to each-other or civil partners are living together and treat each-other as spouses’.

Although we were living together we did not treat each other as spouses. For example we do not share bank accounts and indeed have separate social lives.’

The fluid domestic arrangements chez Lundie and Laws provoke an acidic report from the Telegraph, resorting to unsubstantiated innuendo about Lundie possibly being a ‘lobbyist’, which is immaterial to Laws’ transgressions.

Laws has emerged as a political heavyweight in recent weeks.  If Michael Gove’s and IDS’s reforms are reason enough to support this government in the long-run, then Laws’s maturity on spending is reason in the short-term. Without absurdity, Laws has been touted as the man to prove that a lasting centre-right coalition can be formed. His value to Cameron is inestimable.

He’ll need his flying start: tonight’s revelations have a distance yet to run. Laws’ other expense claims will receive renewed scrutiny. And, in all likelihood, what chance is there that Lundie has not further profited whilst Laws protects his privacy at the taxpayers’ expense? The right to privacy does not extend to public subsidy.