Three British Lords suspended over expenses claims

21st October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's House of Lords handed three of its members lengthy suspensions Thursday for wrongly claiming thousands of pounds in parliamentary expenses.

Peers voted to approve sanctions against Bangladeshi-born Manzila Pola Uddin, the first Muslim woman to enter the Lords, Indian business magnate Swaraj Paul, and businessman Amir Bhatia.

Baroness Uddin, a member of the opposition Labour party, was suspended until the end of the parliamentary session in early 2012 and told to repay 125,349.10 pounds (200,000 dollars, 140,000 euros) in wrongly claimed expenses.

Lord Bhatia, an independent peer, was suspended for eight months and has already repaid more than 27,000 pounds.

And Lord Paul, another member of the Labour party, was suspended for four months and has already returned 41,982 pounds.

The sanctions, ordered by the House of Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee and approved Thursday by the whole house, are thought to be the toughest imposed on misbehaving members for more than 300 years.

Uddin and Bhatia were found to have acted "not in good faith" by designating residences as their main homes in order to benefit from generous overnight expenses allowances.

Paul meanwhile was found to have been "utterly unreasonable" and "negligent" in the way he designated his homes under the expenses system.

Questions were raised about their claims following newspaper allegations published last year.

A similar expose of elected lawmakers' expenses earlier in 2009 caused a major political scandal and prompted an overhaul of the system, while a number of lawmakers face criminal charges over their claims.

© 2010 AFP

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