'Disgraced' MP charged with solving Haringey's poverty
Charlotte Newton A LABOUR MP who allegedly made the highest expenses claims – including for a home cinema and council tax court summons – worked in Haringey to eradicate poverty. Before Shahid Malik was elected as a Labour MP for Dewsbury and made justice
A LABOUR MP who allegedly made the highest expenses claims - including for a home cinema and council tax court summons - worked in Haringey to eradicate poverty.
Before Shahid Malik was elected as a Labour MP for Dewsbury and made justice minister by the Prime Minister, he worked as the chief executive of the Haringey Regeneration Agency - now known as Urban Futures.
Haringey Council and other local authorities in north London use the agency to deliver regeneration programmes.
Mr Malik's work in the borough included trying to narrow the economic gap between the east and west of Haringey, by facilitating economic growth in deprived areas.
But on Friday, Mr Malik found himself at the centre of the expenses scandal and was forced to step down from his post as justice minister over claims that he failed to declare a subsidised rent.
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It is alleged that as an MP, Mr Malik claimed the maximum amount allowed - �66,827 over three years - on his second home, while paying a discounted rent of �100 a week on his main three-bedroom family home in Dewsbury which he paid for out of his own pocket.
He is also alleged to have made the highest expenses claims of any MP after charging for items including a �730 massage chair, more than �1,000 for a home cinema and �65 for a non-payment of a council tax court summons.
The claims have come as a blow to Haringey Labour councillors who know and have worked with Mr Malik.
Haringey Labour Cllr Gideon Bull, chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee, said: "Mr Malik was chairman before I was elected onto the council.
"But I know him personally and I am very disappointed by the latest revelations.
"We expect the highest standards from people in public life."
George Meehan, who was Leader of Haringey Council at the time, said Mr Malik was "conscientious" but could remember few details about his role as chief executive of the Haringey Regeneration Agency.
Mr Malik insists he did not breach the ministerial code and has vowed to clear his name.
It is alleged that during his first year as an MP, Mr Malik claimed for household items and electrical goods worth more than �7,000.
The fees office blocked several of these, giving him �6,147 of tax payers' money.
One claim of �2,600 was for a home cinema with a 40ins flat-screen.
The fees office gave him half the money, after initially rejecting it.
It blocked two other claims for a portable DVD player and iPod.
In 2007 to 2008, Mr Malik made a further 24 expenses claims, including �730 for a massage chair and �65 for his non-payment of a council tax court summons.
Mr Malik has said that he will repay the non-payment of council tax and that he bought the massage chair because he had a bad back.