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Jeffrey Donaldson and the food bill he didn’t pay for five months

By Adrian Rutherford

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has said an error involving a wrongly-dated cheque was to blame after his House of Commons food and drinks bill went unpaid for five months.

Parliamentary authorities first wrote to Jeffrey Donaldson about the unpaid bill, totalling £93.55, in January — yet it was late May before the debt was finally cleared.

During that period at least one other reminder letter was sent to Mr Donaldson, informing him that his bill was uncleared.

When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph last night, Mr Donaldson said he sent a cheque after the first reminder, but it had been dated wrongly and was returned.

He said the bill was settled as soon as possible when Parliament resumed after the election.

Recently it emerged that 75 MPs — including Prime Minister David Cameron and acting Labour leader Harriet Harman — had unpaid Commons refreshment bills.

The debts, which totalled around £75,000, stretched back several months.

This newspaper has obtained a copy of that list, dated May 25, which showed Mr Donaldson’s bill.

Copies of two letters sent to him have also been released following a Freedom of Information request, however details of his purchases have been blanked out.

The first letter, dated January 22, 2010, stated there were transactions on Mr Donaldson’s account overdue by one month.

It instructed him to “take action now to pay all of your debt”.

However, on February 22 Mr Donaldson was sent a second reminder letter.

Mr Donaldson said the bill was finally settled when he returned to Parliament in May, shortly after the FoI request was made by this newspaper.

He confirmed that all outstanding payments had now been cleared.

“As far as I’m concerned there is no issue,” he said.

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