During an interview on the Stephen Nolan Show Lady Sylvia Hermon stated that when submitting expenses to the Fees Office she marked the correspondence asking if the claim was in order.
Lady Sylvia must have had doubts to the validity of the claim.
When completing VAT and income tax returns the onus is on the individual to ensure that all items claimed for are permissible. Incorrect returns can result in prosecution and dubious claims will be disallowed and interest charged on unpaid amounts. The advice from my accountant is “if in doubt, leave it out” and ask before you are taken to task.
A call to the Fees Office before sending in a claim would have clarified the position. Prevention is much better than cure. It is most interesting that this issue only came to Lady Sylvia's attention this week after she made a telephone call to the Fees Office and this telephone inquiry reveals that, for a second time, she had doubts regarding the validity of the claim.
In view of the time lag (2005/6), I suggest that there is a case for investigating the expenses of previous Northern Ireland MPs, whether unionist or nationalist.
While it is regrettable that Sylvia suffered a family bereavement I am mindful of numerous widows, parents and orphans who have borne tremendous grief and pain because of IRA terrorism.
Sylvia's party was the instigator of power sharing with Sinn Fein. Tony Blair described Sinn Fein and the IRA as being inextricably linked and the one and the same organisation.
Robert H Moore