Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary claimed thousands of pounds to renovate a flat in central London – bought with a mortgage funded at taxpayers’ expense, even though his constituency home is less than 17 miles from the House of Commons.
Mr Grayling, who represents Epsom and Ewell, lives in a large house in Ashtead, Surrey, but also claims expenses for a flat in Pimlico, near the House of Commons. Mr Grayling also owns other buy-to-let flats and now has four properties within the M25.
The disclosure is particularly embarrassing for the Conservatives as Mr Grayling is the party’s “attack dog” who has criticised a series of Labour ministers implicated in sleaze scandals.
Within weeks of first being elected in 2001, he bought a flat in a six-storey block for £127,000. In 2002, he set up an unusual arrangement with the Parliamentary Fees Office, claiming £625 a month for mortgages on two separate properties, both the main home and the new flat in Pimlico. This is usually against the rules, but Mr Grayling negotiated an agreement because he was unable to obtain a 100% mortgage on the London flat that he had bought.
This arrangement ended in May 2006.
Over the summer of 2005, Mr Grayling undertook a complete refurbishment of the flat. Shortly after the general election in May, Mr Grayling claimed £4,250 for redecorating and £1,561 for a new bathroom.
The next month, he claimed £1,341 for new kitchen units and in July, he claimed a further £1,527 for plumbing and £1,950 for work that included rewiring the flat throughout. It is thought to have risen substantially in value since then.