Last Word: Stevenage MP Barbara Follett has no time for constituents
MPS are wholly answerable to their constituents - but one such public servant apparently does not think so, writes Louise McEvoy. When the Legg report was published last week, I called to speak with MP for Stevenage Barbara Follett over the fact she had b
MPS are wholly answerable to their constituents - but one such public servant apparently does not think so, writes Louise McEvoy.
When the Legg report was published last week, I called to speak with MP for Stevenage Barbara Follett over the fact she had been asked to pay back �42,458.21 claimed in expenses - the highest amount of any politician.
I was offered a statement by a press officer but I emphasised more than once that I wished to speak with Mrs Follett about the issue. I was told she would call.
Six days later, The Comet went to press without having had the opportunity to speak with Mrs Follett. Instead a blanket statement was issued to the media, and we had to make do with that.
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According to one of her press officers, Mrs Follett had received my request for an interview - along with a number of other interview requests from different media outlets - but had decided to only give an interview to the BBC.
I have asked before to speak with the MP - when the expenses scandal first broke, in fact - and have instead been issued with a statement.
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The Comet, in its capacity as her constituents' local newspaper, should have been a priority for Mrs Follett as far as interviews over the expenses scandal go.
The Comet should have had the opportunity to hold the MP to account on behalf of its readers, and her voters.
Perhaps Mrs Follett's decision to stand down at the general election has triggered a disinterest in the opinions of her constituents, but an exercise in damage limitation could lessen the uphill struggle she has left Labour's parliamentary hopeful for Stevenage, Sharon Taylor.