Former Wanstead MP could overturn expenses punishment

THE FORMER Leyton and Wanstead MP who was stripped of the �65,000 grant he was due for leaving parliament has been given the chance to overturn the punishment.

A parliamentary watchdog has said that new evidence has come to light which may mean Harry Cohen could be able to obtain the money originally withheld from him earlier this year.

The Standards and Privileges Committee ruled in January that Mr Cohen had committed a “serious breach” of the rules by designating a house in Colchester as his main home for four years even though he was not living there for long periods and rented it out.

Over that time he claimed and received more than �70,000 in second home allowance for properties in Leyton and Wanstead.

To make up for the claims, the committee withheld the �65,000 he was due on stepping down from parliament at the general election.

Mr Cohen apologised to the House of Commons at the time. He said: “I have the greatest respect for Parliament and would not intentionally have wanted to do anything to tarnish its reputation. I am sorry if I have done so.”

The committee’s statement said: “The committee on standards and privileges has appointed the Rt Hon Sir Paul Kennedy to carry out an independent review of the Committee’s Seventh Report of Session 2009-10, on Mr Harry Cohen, who at the time was the Member for Leyton and Wanstead, in the light of new evidence.

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“Sir Paul’s report will be published by the committee in full.”

Harry Cohen was MP for Leyton and Wanstead from 1997, when the constituency was created, until the general election earlier this year.