MEPs pursue Bashir allegations

EUROPEAN Parliament officials are planning to chase disgraced former eastern region MEP Bashir Khanbhai for more money that he allegedly wrongly claimed in expenses, another Euro MP has claimed.

EUROPEAN Parliament officials are planning to chase disgraced former eastern region MEP Bashir Khanbhai for more money that he allegedly wrongly claimed in expenses, another Euro MP has claimed.

An official inquiry was set up following Mr Khanbhai's deselection as a Tory candidate for the European Parliament elections in June, amid allegations he had wrongly claimed travel expenses and had tied them to an address in Wroxham which existed only as a postal address.

Richard Howitt, the Labour MEP for the region, said that from his own inquiries he had learned that the parliamentary authorities were trying to win acceptance of a number of conditions to bring the matter to a conclusion.

It was his "understanding," he added, that one of the conditions was "likely to be that Mr Khanbhai pays some money back."

After the storm broke in the spring, it was eventually announced that the former Tory MEP had repaid £7000 to the European Parliament. But allegations immediately started to circulate in Westminster and in Strasbourg that this was only a partial repayment, and that there was still a shortfall of £8,000.

After weeks of indecision, the Tory high command dropped Mr Khanbhai from their slate of candidates for the eastern region on May 12 – a day before the close of nominations.

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He had been the number three candidate, and would have retained his seat in the European Parliament if the controversy had not arisen.

Mr Khanbhai said he knew nothing about the plans to reclaim more expenses money from him, maintaining he did not owe a penny more.

"This is not something I want to get involved in as I don't know anything about it.

"Once I know what is going on I will be prepared to comment. It is not appropriate for me to do so until I have more information about the allegations made against me.

"I think I was very unfairly treated and still maintain that address was genuine," he said.

"I don't know where Mr Howitt has got this from."

Mr Howitt also wrote to the secretary-general of the European Parliament, Julian Priestley, expressing concern about the failure so far to resolve the matter and complaining about the lack of information available to MEPs and the public.

"If no wrong-doing has occurred, it is clearly in everyone's interest that Mr Khanbhai is publicly cleared," he said.

But he added that if wrong-doing had occurred, a judgment would have to be made as to whether it was simply the rules of the European Parliament that had been broken.

A spokesman for the European Parliament said: "Parliament is communicating with Mr Khanbhai with a view to concluding this matter, but we do not discuss details of an individual's affairs."

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