Revealed: Tory minister and MPs claimed driving fines on expenses

A Tory minister who served under Suella Braverman at the Home Office is among high-profile MPs to have wrongly claimed hundreds of pounds in driving fines on expenses, The Independent can reveal.

Amanda Solloway, who is now a minister in the energy department, claimed back an £80 fixed penalty notice issued to her while she was driving in London in July 2020, listing it under “MP travel expenses”.

Tory MP and select committee chair Simon Hoare, and former Tory vice-chair Bim Afolami, also got taxpayers to foot the bill for their penalties.

The revelation – branded “scandalous” by a former watchdog chair – means Rishi Sunak risks being dragged into yet another sleaze row just days after he rejected calls to launch an investigation into his home secretary’s handling of her own speeding fine.

The prime minister said a probe into Ms Braverman’s actions was “not necessary” after it was claimed that she had asked civil servants to arrange for her to take a private speed-awareness course.

Labour accused the MPs of breaking the rules and making “the taxpayer pick up the bill”, and urged Mr Sunak to clamp down on rulebreakers in his party.

An investigation by The Independent into the expenses found that the parliamentary standards watchdog had approved more than £1,000 in penalty charges between 2019 and 2022, including a further fine expensed by SNP MP Dave Doogan.

The penalties claimed for were issued by Transport for London, which hands out fines to drivers who violate traffic laws, such as parking on double red lines, driving in bus lanes, and wrongly using disabled bays.

The expenses were approved and paid by the parliamentary expenses authority IPSA (the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority) – but after being approached by The Independent, it admitted it had been wrong to do so.

IPSA said it would be writing to the MPs to ask for the money to be repaid, and that it would also “reiterate” the expenses rules to them.

The Independent approached the MPs’ offices to ask what traffic offences the penalty charges were issued for, but those that responded were unable to say.

Ms Solloway and Mr Afolami claimed the expenses were submitted in error, and both confirmed they had repaid the charges after The Independent approached them this week. The offices of the other MPs are yet to respond.

Labour’s shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire condemned the MPs’ claims, saying: “While Rishi Sunak’s MPs break the rules and try and make the taxpayer pick up the bill, working people are left struggling to cope with the soaring Tory cost of living crisis.

“Tory MPs flouting the rules damages public confidence in the system. Rishi Sunak must clamp down on the rulebreakers in his party and get on with delivering for the British people.”

Sir Alastair Graham, former chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, told The Independent that MPs should not be seen by the public as having special privileges.

“It’s scandalous. If the home secretary can pay her fine for speeding, then everybody else should pay their fixed penalty notices,” he said. “MPs are ordinary citizens like the rest of us, and if they’ve breached the regulations for driving then they have to pay the fixed penalty notice like the rest of us.

“It gives a very bad impression if they’re paid out of public funds, because it looks like they’re getting special privileges, which is most inappropriate.”

Sir Alastair said that “on the whole” IPSA had done a “decent job” running the MPs’ expenses system since the 2009 expenses scandal, but added that the revelations showed there were “clearly weaknesses in their system that they’re not carefully checking”.

“It’s very clear in all the codes and everything that you have to obey the law, therefore your driving has to be up to a standard that avoids having any further expense out of public funds,” he said.

Bim Afolami said his claim was submitted in error and he has repaid the charge after The Independent contacted him

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