A bitter row has ensued up in the North East after Redcar MP Ian Swales broke his pre-election pledge to publish expenses on his personal website. But perhaps his reluctance to put his claims somewhere his constituents might easily scrutinise them relates to them footing the bill for Liberal Democrat propaganda.

Swales is now under investigation by the parliamentary standards watchdog over a £250 campaign website charged to the taxpayer. Expenses rules prohibit the use of public funds for party political purposes — even the use of small party logos is banned.  But Swales’ site goes much further, streaming Cowley Street press releases and collecting data on visitors to be “stored and processed exclusively for the purposes of the Liberal Democrats”.

In correspondence seen by Scrapbook, IPSA officials have confirmed the authority has commenced a “substantive investigation” after initial inquiries showed that Swales had a case to answer:

“I am satisfied that there is reason to believe that Mr Swales may have been paid an amount under the scheme that should not have been allowed.”

Ironically enough, Swales has been shortlisted for The House magazine’s parliamentary awards as constituency MP of the year.

One assumes laundering taxpayer monies into party coffers did not feature prominently on his nomination form.

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