17th Feb 2019

Fresh names in Tory MEP expenses row

A further three British Conservative MEPs are facing allegations of financial abuse, following the resignation of two fellow members from European Parliament positions last week.

John Purvis, Sir Robert Atkins and Sajjad Karim were named in the UK media over the weekend for using parliamentary expenses to pay family companies and relatives or take private trips.

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  • The European Parliament - are expenses rules too lax? (Photo: European Parliament)

Mr Purvis, a Scottish MEP who came to Brussels in 1979, has been paying financial services firm Purvis & Co €150,000 a year out of his EU purse. The company is registered at his house and pays him a wage.

Mr Atkins, a former British cabinet minister, used €3,000 of public money for a 2006 trip to the US where he attended his son's wedding, as well as meeting some politicians.

Mr Karim, a former Liberal and the first Muslim MEP, paid his wife €32,000 a year as a staff member, even though she was working as a full-time primary school teacher in the northwest of the UK.

All three are proclaiming their innocence: Mr Purvis says the contract with Purvis & Co did not break parliament rules until they changed in 2003 and that he has sought "clarification" of the new regulations ever since.

Mr Atkins called his son's wedding a "happy coincidence," as he was on official parliamentary business meeting Republican party members at the same time. Mr Karim says his wife worked for him at least three days a week.

"I consider myself completely a victim in this whole thing," Mr Purvis told The Courier, a Scottish newspaper. "I feel very let down. As far as I am aware I have done nothing wrong."

The allegations follow the resignation last week of Conservative MEPs Giles Chichester and Den Dover for channelling money to family businesses.

The pair stepped down as head of the British Conservative delegation and the Conservative delegation's chief whip - responsible for ensuring voting along party lines - respectively.

Both remain MEPs, but their party may block them from running for re-election in 2009, UK daily the Independent reports.

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