Readers will have seen that Sir Thomas Legg, entrusted with a review of the Additional Costs Allowance paid to MPs for housing, is to write to all Members affected this week. This will include me, as the first year concerned by this review is 2004-5, and I stood down from Parliament in 2005. I quote the following from a letter I received dated 28th September and signed by someone called Ed Wood:
"The security of the review data is being treated with the utmost care as it is clearly sensitive. Consequently Sir Thomas has decided that it would not be prudent to send the provisional conclusions to private email addresses in all but exceptional cases, since there is a small risk that email communications can be intercepted. If you have provided an email address, this will be used to notify you that the conclusions have been posted. Please let me know if this will cause you any problems."
It causes me no problems at all. Imagine though, they think the conclusions might leak? Surely not!
My own representations following the letter I received have been to say that as far as I am concerned it is perfectly OK to inform me by email of whatever they want to inform me of, and that I request that the inquiry be extended to cover the years 1997-2004. During the first four of those years, as readers will recall, Mr Salter claimed something over 40K for housing costs in respect of a non-existent London property. When the BBC and other media who had been reading this blog and making their own enquiries started asking him questions he told them he was suing me, to shut them up on the subject. It worked. However, it was a lie. No legal letter has reached me. Nor, I suspect, is it likely to.
Because, er, it's true. And the House of Commons has records to show that it is.