Minister in apology over rent
CONSERVATIVE Party chairman Baroness Warsi has admitted failing to declare thousands of pounds in rental income in the register of interests for members of the House of Lords.
The Cabinet Office minister said the omission was due to an “oversight”, adding that she had reported the letting of her Wembley flat in the separate Register of Ministers’ Interests.
The arrangement had also been declared to the Cabinet Office and HM Revenue and Customs, she insisted.
The Tory peer bought the property in 2007 but moved closer to Parliament when she became a minister in 2010, after which she began letting the Wembley flat.
“Due to an oversight, for which I take full responsibility, the flat was not included on the Register of Lords’ Interests when its value and the rent received came to exceed the thresholds for disclosure,” she said.
“When the discrepancy became apparent this week, I immediately informed the Registrar of Lords’ Interests of its omission.”
Peers are required to declare sources of income of more than £500, although the annual rent on a London flat is likely to be many times greater than that.
In a statement last night, Warsi said that she contracted to buy the flat in September 2007, but it was not due to be ready until the following year.
In the interim she stayed predominantly at two hotels but also, for “occasional nights”, at an Acton property occupied by Tory adviser Naweed Khan.
She added: “For the nights that I stayed as a guest of Naweed Khan, I made an appropriate financial payment equivalent to what I was paying at the time in hotel costs.
“In March 2008, I moved into the flat in Wembley. As I was living in the property, it was therefore not registrable on the Register of Lords’ Interests. Upon becoming a minister, however, my ownership of this property was fully disclosed to the Cabinet Office.
“In June 2010, upon security advice, I moved to another address closer to the House of Lords and some months later began, with the prior approval of the Cabinet Office and the Leader of the House of Lords, to let out the Wembley property.”
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