Since being elected in 2005, Mr Malik has claimed the maximum amount allowable for a second home, amounting to £66,827 over three years. Last year, he claimed £23,083 from the taxpayer for his London town house, equivalent to £443 per week. The Telegraph can disclose that the “main home” for which Mr Malik pays out of his own pocket - a three-bedroom house in his constituency of Dewsbury, West Yorks - has been secured at a discounted rent of less than £100 per week from a local landlord who was fined for letting an “uninhabitable” house.
Mr Malik also rents a constituency office from the same businessman, Tahir Zaman.
Mr Malik’s arrangement means he pays below market rent for his main home while billing taxpayers thousands for his second home in London. His second home claims have included £2,600 for a home cinema system — which was cut in half by officials — and £65 for a court summons for not paying council tax.
Neither Mr Malik nor Mr Zaman would say last night whether they had signed a formal agreement for the lease of the constituency house, although Mr Zaman said the rent was below the market rate. The landlord’s wife said the house appeared to be occupied by a constituency worker during the week.
expenses illustrates the potential problems of an MP being able to nominate what appears to be the family home as his second home, enabling him to claim tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
The case of Mr Malik’s
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, faced similar allegations after she was shown to have claimed her family home in Redditch as her second house.
However, the Home Secretary said she had always paid rent to her sister at a commercial rate.
As a minister, she also said she spent the majority of her time in London.
Mr Malik’s arrangements relating to his constituency home will also raise questions as to whether a minister could be beholden to a businessman who offers him discounted rent. Mr Zaman lives next door to Mr Malik’s home in Dewsbury. Mr Zaman and Mr Malik also have a rental agreement relating to the constituency office in a nearby shopping parade. Mr Malik claims for the cost of renting his office from parliamentary office allowances.
Yesterday, following a week of disclosures about MPs’ expenses by The Daily Telegraph, Elliot Morley, the former minister, was suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party and Andrew Mackay lost his job as David Cameron’s aide.
Today, details of claims made by married MPs are disclosed. A former Cabinet minister is also exposed for over-claiming more than £8,000 on her mortgage.
Mr Malik bought a home in Peckham in 2001 for £85,000 — four years before he became an MP. After being elected to Parliament in 2005, he nominated the property as his “second home” and began claiming the maximum amount available in parliamentary expenses.
During the first year as an MP, he made 13 separate claims for different items of furniture or electrical appliances totalling more than £7,000. The fees office blocked several items and he eventually received £6,147. He also regularly claimed the maximum allowable £400 a month for food.
The most contentious item was a £2,600 home cinema system including a 40in flat-screen television. The fees office paid half, after initially rejecting the claim.
It blocked claims for a portable DVD player and an iPod during the same year.
The spending on the Peckham house continued during 2007-08, with 24 separate claims for furniture, decorating and electrical goods. These included a £671 fireplace, a leather daybed sofa and a £510 fitted wardrobe.
Mr Malik was also reimbursed for a £730 “massage chair”. Last night, the MP said he had a “back problem”.
The Justice Minister said he would repay the £65 he claimed for his non-payment of council tax courts summons.
In total, in three years, Mr Malik claimed £66,827 for the property - £18,173 less than the original cost of the house.
However, the spending on his “second” London home stands in stark contrast to the cut-price arrangements for his constituency property.
Mr Malik’s landlord last night told The Daily Telegraph: “He is definitely paying well under the market value rent.”
When asked if Mr Malik paid £100 a week, Mr Zaman said: “I’m renting [out] the next door [property], [it’s] half the size of his property, they pay me more rent than what he’s paying me.”
In 2005 Mr Zaman pleaded guilty to letting a house to a family of five despite a council enforcement order classing building as “uninhabitable”.
He was fined £450 and ordered to pay £200 costs.
Mr Zaman receives more than £4,000 annually from Mr Malik in office rent. The money is funded from a separate system of parliamentary expenses.
The landlord’s wife who lives in a neighbouring property said that Mr Malik only used the property at weekends and a member of his staff stayed there during the week.
“He [Mr Malik] is a good friend and neighbour,” she said. “He comes here just at the weekends... Usually he comes here alone.”
Mrs Zaman said a constituency worker she knew only as Paul occupied the house during the week.
Yesterday, when asked whether someone stayed in the property during the week, Mr Malik would only say: “I am happy to confirm that I do not rent it out or derive any income from it.” Last night, in a statement issued by Mr Malik he strongly denied wrongdoing.
He said: “Dewsbury has been my home since 2004 when I moved there a year prior to becoming the MP. Overall I spend the majority of my time in Dewsbury because, although I spent half the week in London when Parliament is in session I spend most of recess at my main home in Dewsbury.
“The vast majority of my costs [on the London house] have gone on food, insurance, council tax, gas, electricity, security and mortgage interest.
“All these costs are regarded as basic essentials in terms of the ACA [expenses system].”
He also said his rejected claims had been a misunderstanding.
He said: “With hindsight of course I would have acted differently on these items but as a new MP, with a Green Book that was full of subjective rules and a guidance team that knew the limits for items, but chose not to share them with MPs, it was inevitable that almost every MP would have items questioned at some point.”
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