Stevenage MP at centre of expenses row
MP for Stevenage, Barbara Follett, is under fire after details of her expenses claims were made public at the weekend. Mrs Follett has claimed more than �25,000 for security patrols around her second home in Soho after she was mugged and followed by a sta
MP for Stevenage, Barbara Follett, is under fire after details of her expenses claims were made public at the weekend.
Mrs Follett has claimed more than �25,000 for security patrols around her second home in Soho after she was mugged and followed by a stalker.
Patrols at the property between 2004 and 2008 cost �25,411.64. She has also charged taxpayers for the upkeep of CCTV monitors and a burglar alarm system operated by BT.
When asked a year ago to justify the expense by Parliament's fees office, Mrs Follett said she fears for her personal safety.
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Her main home is a former rectory in Knebworth. She and her husband, bestselling novelist Ken Follett, who is said to be worth �13 million, also own a flat in South London, a house in Cape Town and a holiday home in Antigua.
An angry constituent, Carl Pendlebury, said: "She lives near Stevenage, which is a half hour commute from London. Why has she got a second home in London, let alone taken out �25,000 for security on it?
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"It is all the more infuriating when you walk around Stevenage's decaying town centre and imagine what our money, currently furnishing the MP's accommodation, could do for this town."
Mrs Follett claimed a �937 annual insurance premium for art on display at her 18th century London town house.
The �384 bill to clean the eight chimneys in the four-storey house was also submitted as part of the Stevenage MP's expenses.
She claimed �528.75 for a Chinese needlepoint rug to be repaired and cleaned, but was only given �300 after it was deemed excessive.
Constituent David Stuckey, of Ripon Road in Stevenage, said: "This woman is soaking in wealth but chooses to rob the public purse for all it's worth, just like the others."
But Mrs Follett has defended her claims, telling a national newspaper: "As all of my claims, bar one, have been accepted and cleared by the House of Commons fees office, I have no further comment to make on them.
"The item not accepted by the fees office was claimed in error and is, to the best of my knowledge, one of only two occasions in the past 12 years when my expenses claims have been queried by them.