Two years ago, when faced with massive public disquiet over his outrageous expenses claims, including £100,000 towards his second home, the local Tories blinked when they had the chance to de-select the arrogant and self-satisfied Bletchingley resident, Richard Ottaway, as their parliamentary candidate for Croydon South.
How many in the local Conservative party must be ruing that missed opportunity, after they opened their copy of the Mail on Sunday this morning to see the veteran expenses-claimer off sailing down the Solent while constituents that he is supposed to represent continue to endure the aftermath of the biggest crisis in Croydon since the Second World War?
Ottaway had managed to drag himself back to London in time to speak at Thursday’s emergency session of Parliament. Presumably he’ll make sure he claims expenses (Inside Croydon has noticed that he seems to have the habit of claiming for travelling from his home to his normal place of work, something of which Her Majesty’s Customs & Revenue normally takes a very dim view. Given that he qualifies for a Freedom Pass, it would also seem to be a needless burden on public finances).
Contacted by the Sunday newspaper, the absentee MP Ottaway sought to justify spending yesterday on his yacht and in a rented house at Cowes on the Isle of Wight by saying, “I spent most of Tuesday on the phone to my office, the police and the local authority. Most of the riots were not in my constituency.” So that’s alright then.
Ottaway and his wife – who used to be on the public payroll, receiving tens of thousands each year as a parliamentary assistant – were both at Croydon Minster this morning for the special service after the riots, conducted by the Bishop of Southwark.
Despite the uproar over the MPs’ expenses scandal, and the 2009 constituency de-selection meeting – at which Ottaway was supposed to have given solemn undertakings as to his future conduct – he still seems to take his constituency duties for granted, while taking full advantage of any benefits that might come his way.
We have already highlighted how Ottaway has given work experience to the teenaged daughter of one of his parliamentary assistants, the two-jobbing Croydon councillor Lynne Hale.
At the time, Ottaway denied that young Maddy Hale had ever been in his paid employ. This ran counter, however, to the younger Hale’s own claims of being paid £10 per hour.
Inside Croydon sent Ottaway a set of detailed questions to clarify his staffing arrangements at Westminster – a matter of legitimate public interest, since these would all be paid from the public purse. You can see the questions for yourself by clicking here.
To date, nearly two months on, Ottaway has failed to give us even the courtesy of an acknowledgement of our equiries. Perhaps he has been too busy splicing his mainbrace?
Or perhaps he has been practising reaching new levels of shameless hypocrisy?
As Inside Croydon reported last week after the emergency debate at the House of Commons:
The debate was remarkable in one respect, since it saw Richard Ottaway, Croydon South’s absentee MP, actually speak in the House about Croydon.
The veteran Tory MP who lives in a large house in Bletchingley nearly lost the nomination for his parliamentary seat two years ago when he was implicated in the MPs’ expenses scandal.
Yesterday, Ottaway took the opportunity for a bit of grandstanding when he said, “Does the Prime Minister agree that once the situation is stabilised we need to consider the underlying causes and, as he says, to accept that there is a small group in our society who do not know the difference between right and wrong?”
In a week when one looter has been sentenced to six months in jail for stealing three bottles of water, Ottaway’s self-righteous piece of parliamentary cant came from the same MP who had to repay the £4,050 he had claimed on half of the price of a new bed from Harrods (note, he shopped at Harrods, rather than at Croydon’s Reeves furniture store) and £1,400 for electrical goods.
How long will the local Conservative Association put up with this shameless behaviour? Take part in our online poll and let us know if Croydon South deserves better from its MP.
- Croydon 8/8: Borough’s top cop was called away before riots (insidecroydon.com)
- For Croydon MP Ottaway, it’s a case of jobs for the girls (insidecroydon.wordpress.com)
- Gavin Barwell MP, political websites, funding and our apology (insidecroydon.wordpress.com)
- People Power I: The battle for Higher Drive (insidecroydon.com)