Belfast Telegraph

Paisley's Commons credit card suspended over £27k debt

By James Tapsfield and David Young

Ian Paisley jnr has had his House of Commons credit card blocked by the expenses watchdog after running up debts of more than £27,000.

The North Antrim DUP MP was among more than a dozen MPs punished by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).

Documents released by the watchdog showed Mr Paisley was £27,766 in the red when his card was stopped in November. Some of the money has been repaid, but £20,337 was still outstanding last month.

In a statement issued last night, Mr Paisley said he was unaware his Commons card had been blocked.

"This card is used exclusively for travel expenses etc," he added. "It is cleared each quarter. To my knowledge, it was not stopped last year. The information appears to give a snapshot in time position.

"Last June, when an issue arose, it was quickly resolved and all invoices reconciled with the card."

Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan was also named as owing £267.30, but Ipsa was unable to confirm if his credit card had been stopped.

Five SNP politicians, including Westminster leader Angus Robertson and deputy Stewart Hosie, were also among those subject to action. Four have since repaid sums ranging from £33 to £3,446 in full.

Ipsa issues MPs with credit cards to pay for items such as travel, accommodation and stationery. The politicians have to prove the spending was allowable within a month, or they build up debts.

The sums are recouped by suspending the cards and not paying out valid expenses claims, or in instalments from the MP's salary.

Ipsa chief Marcial Boo said his office had to ensure payments were supported by proof. "We cannot allow a position where an MP is making thousands of pounds of payments and failing to give evidence to support it," he added.

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