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Complainant Name:
Ben Chapman MP

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Liverpool Echo

Complaint:

Ben Chapman, MP for Wirral South, complained that coverage by the Liverpool Echo and the Daily Post of issues relating to parliamentary expenses had been misleading. Mr Chapman was caught up in the row about MPs' expenses claims when it emerged that he had claimed for interest payments on a portion of his mortgage that had already been paid off. He said that articles in the Liverpool newspapers erroneously accused him of dishonesty and had failed sufficiently to take account of the fact that he had made his claims on the advice of the parliamentary Fees Office, which had subsequently made a public apology to him for advising him incorrectly. He also said that articles had failed to make clear that he had not benefitted financially since he did not receive any more money than he could have legitimately claimed for other items under the rules of the House of Commons.

Mr Chapman complained about a number of other specific points, including suggestions that he faced disciplinary action by the Labour Party and an investigation by the police. Neither suggestion was correct and a statement made by the police gave no indication that he was to be the subject of enquiry.

Resolution:

The complaints were resolved when both newspapers agreed to publish statements of clarification under the heading ‘Ben Chapman MP'. The statement published by the Liverpool Echo read as follows:

Since the middle of May there has been considerable reporting about MPs' expenses. Ben Chapman, MP for Wirral South, was found to have claimed for interest payments on a portion of his mortgage that had already been paid off. However, as previously reported, these claims were made on the advice of the House of Commons Fees Office, which has admitted its error and has apologised for it. Once it became clear to him that the claims were not legitimate under Commons' rules, Mr Chapman amended the arrangement.

We are happy to clarify that, despite the mistaken claims, Mr Chapman did not receive any more money than he could have legitimately claimed for other items under Commons rules. He has been told by the Fees Office that he could have claimed for items such as food, utility bills and council tax, which would have more than covered the amount he received in respect of the paid-off mortgage.

Mr Chapman, who is standing down at the next election, neither faces (nor has faced) disciplinary action from the Labour Party or any investigation by the police. We are happy to make this clear and we regret that an article of June 20 gave the contrary impression on the latter point.

(Original - various; clarification - p6)

Report: 80



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