Michael Gove, a front-bench ally of David Cameron, spent thousands on furnishing his London home before “flipping” his Commons allowance to a new property in his Surrey constituency, and claiming £13,000 in moving costs.
Shortly after being elected MP for Surrey Heath in 2005, Mr Gove furnished a house in north Kensington, west London, for which he claimed the Additional Costs Allowance.
Over a five-month period between December 2005, and April 2006, he spent more than £7,000 on the semi-detached house, which Mr Gove, 41, and his wife Sarah Vine, a journalist, bought for £430,000 in 2002. Around a third of the money was spent at Oka, an upmarket interior design company established by Lady Annabel Astor, Mr Cameron’s mother-in-law.
Mr Gove bought a £331 Chinon armchair from there, as well as a Manchu cabinet for £493 and a pair of elephant lamps for £134,50.
He also claimed for a £750 Loire table – although the Commons’ authorities only allowed him to claim £600 – a birch Camargue chair worth £432 and a birdcage coffee table for £238.50. Other claims in the five-month period included Egyptian cotton sheets from the White Company, a £454 dishwasher, a £639 range cooker, a £702 fridge freezer and a £19.99 Kenwood toaster.
Mr Gove even claimed for a £34.99 foam cot mattress in Feb 2006 from Toys ‘R’ Us – despite children’s equipment being banned under Commons rules. He also charged the taxpayer for eight coffee spoons and cake forks, worth £5.95 each, four breakfast knives and a woven door mat worth £30. A claim for new patio furniture worth £219, including a four-seater bistro dining set, was turned down by Commons officials.