Baroness Uddin suspended
BRONESS Uddin has been suspended from the House of Lords and ordered to pay back more than �125,000 after falsely claiming two homes outside of London were her main residence.
The former Tower Hamlets councillor had pocketed mileage and overnight expenses after claiming her brother’s home in Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, was her main residence for four years.
She later claimed a flat in Maidstone, Kent, was her main home for another five years.
In reality, Baroness Uddin used the homes as a bolt-hole for weekend stays, instead living in a three-bedroom house in Garnet Street, Wapping, since 1993.
After the expenses scandal investigation it emerged Baroness Uddin had wrongfully claimed �125,349.10 and yesterday was suspended until Easter 2012.
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She will be joined by Lord Bhatia and Lord Paul who were also suspended after claiming overnight expenses when in fact they lived in London.
All three peers are Asia and the suspension raised some concerns that race had been a factor. Labour peer Lord Alli reportedly asked Lord Strathclyde to look into whether “there has been inconsistency on the basis of race or otherwise”.
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Labour’s leader in the Lords, Baroness Royall said they were “penalties of a severity never seen before in either House of Parliament.”
She added: “We have a duty to this House, to the members of this House, to Parliament and to politics as a whole to right the wrongs when we find them, to take action to put our House in order.”
The Committee for Privileges and Conduct agreed with a sub-committee finding that “Lady Uddin’s understanding of the (expenses) scheme defeats its objective and her understanding of ‘main residence’ is unreasonable.”
The report added: “She was therefore wrong to claim money from the House in respect of either the Frinton or Maidstone properties.”
Baroness Uddin was the first Bangladeshi woman to become a councillor in the UK when she took her seat on tower Hamlets council in 1990 and in 1998 became the first Muslim Bangladeshi women to take a seat in the House of Lords.
The expenses scheme had been designed to allow peers who lived outside London to rent or buy somewhere in the capital for mid-week stays.
Baroness Uddin claimed to be acting on advice when she made the claims, but admitted she did not seek guidance from any House authority.
During her evidence she offered her “ sincere and abject apology if I have in any way, without any intention, by following what I thought was the right thing to do, broken the House rules.”