UPDATE: Tory HQ have now denied that Halfon and Paterson stayed together at the East India Club
A Tory minister whose infidelity was the subject of an alleged ‘blackmail’ plot by an election aide to David Cameron may come under pressure to explain whether secret trysts were facilitated by parliamentary expenses.
Minister without portfolio and Tory deputy chairman Robert Halfon has admitted cheating on his long term partner with the Tories’ youth wing chair Alexandra Paterson. The pair were suspected by Tory activists to be staying together at a private club in central London:
“Last night, it emerged that Miss Paterson had been warned that a parliamentary researcher ally of [‘Tatler Tory’ Mark Clarke] was planning to get pictures of the couple leaving the East India Club, where Mr Halfon stays three nights a week while he is in London.
In addition to the usual arrangements offered MPs when the Commons is sitting late at night, Essex MP Halfon is (quite properly) able to claim additional assistance with accommodation owing to a disability which restricts his walking.
During the 2010 general election campaign, Halfon demanded that his opponent’s expenses should be “published online and updated whenever a new claim is submitted”. Having won the seat from Labour’s Bill Rammell, Halfon then proceeded to burnished his record on transparency while in office:
“I have done everything I can to be as open and transparent as possible regarding my expenses … I regularly publish updated receipts for everything I claim on my website so that absolutely anyone can keep track of my spending.
Indeed, details of spending on his IPSA Barclaycard were published as PDFs on his website:
But why have no such itemised bills been published in the ‘receipts’ section of his website since September 2014 — a period in which his mistress may have been staying with him in apparently taxpayer-funded accommodation?
At the height of the expenses scandal Halfon demanded of his election rival:
“I am not suggesting Mr Rammell has got anything to hide but I think the electorate would appreciate knowing where their money has been spent”
In that spirit, perhaps he can clarify whether the taxpayer has borne additional costs as a consequence of his philandering?