Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday, 7 December 2004

Parliament standards committee to probe Blunkett 'ticketgate'

The House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges is to probe the way in which the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has used some rail tickets allocated to him. He gave the tickets to his former lover, the married Kimberely Fortier/Quinn, whereas the guidelines seemingly permit only 'spouses or partners' to benefit.

Not to worry, Home Secretary. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear (... as someone once said).

If he had been in a long-term relationship with an unmarried person, then one assumes use of the tickets by that person would be quite legitimate. I have heard it suggested that to object to such use of non-cash benefits by a married person who happens to be having a relationship with an MP is somehow to classify that person as the 'chattel' of the other married partner. I do not think this argument bears scrutiny. The only way I could see that a long-term relationship with a person married to another would allow use of such non-cash benefits as rail tickets would be if there was a legal separation between the married partners (perhaps not followed up by a divorce because of the religious beliefs of one or other of the married partners), although as I am not a lawyer I have no idea if even this would be sufficient justification.

As I wrote in comment to an earlier post, the fact that the Home Secretary has now repaid the monetary value of the tickets in question does not absolve him of a charge of misuse of public funds, although it may perhaps be noted in mitigation to reduce the severity of any punishment which is eventually decided upon.

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