Warsi admonished for failing to declare income from renting out flat | Pakistan Today

Warsi admonished for failing to declare income from renting out flat

Britain’s first Muslim female minister, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, is in the spotlight again after she was censured by parliament’s standards watchdog for failing to declare income from renting out a flat.
A complaint against the senior Foreign Office Minister Warsi was upheld by the Lords Commissioner for Standards, Paul Kernaghan, for receiving thousands of pounds from tenants for her Wembley flat.
According to investigations, after being made a minister in May 2010, Warsi moved out of the flat on security advice but could not sell it because of a dramatic fall in house prices. Instead, Warsi, who was the Conservative Party co-chairman at the time, rented the flat out .She received £6,937 in rent during 2010-11 and less than £5,000 in 2011-12. As a minister without portolio, she told the Cabinet Office about the flat, but did not notify the House of Lords authorities where the income should have been recorded on the register of interests because it was over the £5,000-a-year threshold.
In evidence to Paul Kernaghan commission, she blamed “an oversight, for which she takes full responsibility”. In his ruling, the commissioner said: “Baroness Warsi was not engaged in any comprehensive scheme to obscure her property interests and it should be noted that her failure to register her rental income did not result in any financial loss to the taxpayer, or additional monetary gain to herself. Nevertheless, the code seeks to promote openness and accountability and the absence of monetary gain does not absolve members of the requirement properly to register relevant interests.”
The peer has apologised and the matter is now regarded as closed, said the House of Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee in its report. Baroness Warsi said: “Throughout this process, I have endeavoured to ensure that relevant authorities have been notified at all times. The fact that I owned, and was letting out the flat was known to Cabinet Office, the leader of the House, and HM Revenue and Customs. As soon as I became aware that the flat was not included on the Register of Lords’ Interests, I immediately informed the registrar. I would sincerely like to apologise for any failure to disclose my personal interests in accordance with the rules of the House.”
Kernaghan Commission cleared Baroness Warsi of a more serious allegation that she improperly claimed overnight subsistence allowance while staying in the spare room of a flat in Acton, West London, which was being rented by Tory official Naweed Khan.
Warsi referred herself to the commissioner over the allegation, which relates to a six-month period in 2007-08 after she was made a peer and was waiting to move into the Wembley property. At the time, peers were allowed to claim £165.50 a night for the cost of staying in London to attend the House of Lords.

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