Thursday, May 18, 2006

MPs flying free

FOUR senior Conservative MPs received more than £50,000 of free travel from an offshore company, an investigation by the Times has revealed.

Michael Ancram, the former deputy leader, Richard Spring, the party vice-chairman, and the Shadow ministers Caroline Spelman and Mark Simmonds flew across four continents from 2002 to 2004.

Mr Ancram’s flights and hospitality amounted to £33,000 in gifts from an aviation company based in the Atlantic tax haven of Bermuda.

The MP has told the Electoral Commission that the business is owned by Lord Ashcroft, the former party treasurer.

Although the law insists that donations must be declared to the commission within 30 days, the MPs have been spared having to repay the money.

The commission also decided against calling in detectives after accepting that none of the four had deliberately concealed the benefits.

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