UK Tory MP added a servant's wing to his house at taxpayers' expense

The latest installment in the British MP expense scandal, in which Members of Parliament have been revealed to have spent millions in "expenses" on things like having their moats cleaned, buying porn and/or tampons for their spouses, hiring private security guards, paying nonexistent mortgages, etc:

A Tory MP called Sir John Butterfill from Bournemouth West, Dorset used his expense account to add a servant's wing to his country house. At first he denied that these people were servants, calling them his "gardener and his wife," but later, he said, "the mistake I made was that, in claiming interest [from the expenses allowance] on the home, I didn't separate from that the value of the servants' ... er the staff ... wing. I claimed the whole of that and the whole of the council tax related to that."

He will repay £40,000 to cover the tax, after designating the property to the inland revenue as his main residence but designating it to the Commons authorities as his second home, allowing him to claim allowances.

As for the servants' quarters in Woking, Butterfill will be handing back £20,000.

Together, it will cost him a mere £60,000 to leave Westminster with a clean bill of health at the general election.

John Butterfill claimed £17,000 MPs' expenses for servants' ... er, staff quarters (Image:


  1. It lacks the grandeur of the moat. If you’re going to blow £60,000, your career and your own good name, you might at least do it with a little more style.

  2. The part that upset me was that he claimed his small flat in London as his main home and his millionaire mansion in the country as his second home so that it qualified for the expenses.

  3. This has been an interesting exercise in showing that when ‘free money’ is available, people will find excuses to spend it. If someone handed you 20k per year on top of your salary, on condition that you spent it all, what would you buy?

    Money was up for grabs, and they grabbed it. Are we surprised? If all we had to do to get the money was submit some receipts, how long would we resist the temptation?

    The Telegraph is playing us for suckers here (unless they themselves have been played), with careful choices of wording and selective disclosures. This is not just about circulation, and it is not in a spirit of ‘openness’.
    This is dangerously close to the kind of interference that we would have expected from the Murdoch press.
    Which party benefits the most from these revelations?

    Fire the dishonest ones, discipline the excessive ones, fix the stupid rules, move on.

    1. Um, some of us actually have ethics and don’t have any desire to steal from the public.

  4. Ethics has a different definition by country and field. How else to explain American corporate ‘ethics’ that allow for illegal behaviour overseas if it increases shareholder returns in the USA?

  5. Their expenses should have the same conditions put on them that the Inland Revenue puts on everyone else’s expenses.

  6. “Together, it will cost him a mere £60,000 to leave Westminster with a clean bill of health at the general election. ”

    NO! It won’t _cost_ him anything – he is paying back money that he shouldn’t have received!

  7. What an absolute disgrace! Why, in my day MPs were involved in ‘cash for questions’ and back-handers from the aeronautical industry…now they’re reduced to snaffling small change. End of days, I tells ya, end of days.

  8. As Private Eye put it:

    Those MP Expense Claims Rules in full:

    1. All claims made by MPs are within the rules.
    2. All rules are made by MPs.
    3. Er…
    4. That’s it.

    #3 is right though – the Telegraph is being somewhat disingenuous in how it is treating these stories (Gordon Brown makes the front page, David Cameron makes page eight), although it does seem to be happy to make fun of the more absurd claims regardless of party.

    And what about the fact that if I posted something on here about e.g. the Barclay Brothers who own the Telegraph group, there would be the risk of this blog being closed down without even a court case (a remote risk, but there are precedents.)

    Certainly there is an argument that as MPs are public servants, their expenses should be a matter of public record – and this is clearly going to be one of the results of this case. But instead of getting obsessed with a minor case (and hell, this is minor compared to, say, allegations of BAE bribery) we should be fighting for much greater openness in general, not just the trivialities of MPs lunch bills.

  9. They put in a claim, the fees office paid them the money. They did not sneak in and take the money without asking.

    Fraudulent claims should be dealt with accordingly but for the most part these are outlandish extravagance that we should not be paying for but it is not ‘stealing’. This does not make it right but if we mis-state our case we fall into their trap and are fobbed off with “within the rules”, “not illegal”, and “genuine receipt, not fraud”. We will be giving them the technicality they need.

    Immoral and unethical? Undoubtedly. Criminal? In some cases, possibly.

    But if we lose our cool we will end up with a bunch of people whose manifesto simply states “I am not your current MP” and we will be stuck with them for five years. This is not guaranteed to be as great a victory it might seem.

  10. We should understand that we need tampons for our MP in order to keep peace and wellness.
    If MP´s wifes feel uncomfortable in their “red” days those same MP would feel stressed and/or frustrated, so making bad choices in their offices and severely damaging their countries.
    So, brits should pay taxes for MP´s wifes tampons… and moats, moats too, to keep out The Black Knight.
    The Black Knight is such an asshole!

  11. #9 you’re my favourite.

    Pay back £60,000 you dishonestly nabbed in full view of the world? This guy should be prosecuted for fraud, plain and simple.

    He’s a public servant, totally accountable to us, and now that the Telegraph (or as I call it, the Daily Blackshirt) has made transparent the MPs excesses, we have temporarily full view. Lovely.

    Public SERVANT. Although many BB readers will argue govt is rotten in no matter what form, we always will have govt in some form, so accountability and transparency are highly important.

    I’m so glad the Telegraph has done this. Ulterior motive or not – who cares? All these tosspots have been caught red-handed! I’m glad I know – and that I can continually count on politicians to be filthy (’twas ever thus).

    Besides – this is fascinating, excellent journalism, with its own battles and exciting stories. Look at what they’ve done – amazing!

  12. The revelations came from someone who ahd access t othe records, via an ex-SAS guy, to the Telegraph, so the release has a very Conservative whiff to it. But, aside from a few expendable Tory MPs, the collateral damage on their side of the aisle has to be more than those guys expected.

    The scandal *does* have the effect of increasing cynicism about the two major parties right before the June 4 European Parliamentary elections. UKIP, the BNP (and, to be fair, the Greens) are making hay while the sun shines on them.

    In a similar vein, preliminary polling in the Netherlands also points to a win for lesser or fringe parties like the far-right PVV party, headed by Geert “Troll hanging from the rear-view mirror” Wilders, the Green Left, and the Party for the Animals, which seems to be top-heavy with Seventh-Day Adventists.

    And don’t get me started on Berlusconi’s large-breasted Forza Italia candidates.

    If this sort of thing keeps up, then John Shirley will have been right.

  13. Inconceivable! He should pay for his servants’ quarters the way the rest of us do – by underpaying the workers in our businesses and bilking our investors.

  14. Was I the only one who misread “wing” as “wig” the first time through? It catapulted the story to Pythonic levels of absurdity, rather than just Brazil-ian.

  15. I especially love how minor clerical or bookkeeping errors (tampons, really?) are equated with gross and obvious exploitation like this case — the same thing happened a few months ago with some Obama picks. One had $1000 in unpaid taxes (oversight) and the other millions — guess which one got to keep the job?

    Feudalism is eternal, but no longer overt.

  16. I wish I could get Private Eye over here, they must be having a field day!

    I’m amazed that Gordon Brown referred to these MPs as having ‘misbehaved’, like a bunch of naughty schoolkids that have been caught pilfering crayons. Unbelievable.

  17. Indeed, why go into Public Service at all, if you can’t amass a fortune and a few servants along the way?

  18. I am sooo sick of everyone in the UK moaning on and on about this governments bloody expenses…sure I am glad at the fact that this will be the final nail in their coffin-but I am more concerned with their previous actions regarding the illegeal Iraq occupation,the lies upon lies denying involvement in torture flights and the systematic destruction of the civil liberties our forfathers layed down their lives for us to have.
    The governments propaganda wing is doing its job too well when us little people do not kick them out for the murder of countless innocents in far off lands-but raise hell when they buy a new god damned duck house or such like.
    Heres my idea:Boot these crimminals to the hauge for war crimes trials,and then we have no need to worry about their darned expenses…I mean how much of our tax money have they spent on depleted uranium munitions,Espying and secret torture flights.THAT is what most of out tax has gone on FFS…

  19. What i mean is yeah,sure this expenses malarky is bad…but chrikey what have we let them get away with prior to this?They must think they can get away with…hmm lets see MURDER? by now.So a new house/duck island/porn films must seem like chicken feed to those fools.Did any of them claim chicken feed?Probably.
    Sorry for ranting anyways.

  20. @19/20

    At least this sorry episode is helping people to realize that the government is nothing but a bunch of thieves. But you are right, if only they also recognize that those are murderers and war criminals as well.

  21. @23 Yes this government has a considerable number of murdering thieves but the last few weeks have shown how widespread the greed has spread. The Tories voted for and supported the invasion of Iraq and have been lining their pockets with equal enthusiasm. We won’t be seeing much difference if the win the next election.

  22. I’m glad that MPs are being held to account, but not because of the expenses scandal. Rather, they should have been held to account over the way they totally disregarded public opinion in voting in favour of the Iraq war. They lost their moral authority a long time ago. Every MP who voted for the Iraq war should go. It would be interesting to correlate those who voted in favour of the invasion and those who have claimed the most. The expenses scandal merely gives an indication of the culture now prevalent in Westminister – fill your pockets, vote for a few hundred thousand people to get bombed, and fill your pockets up some more. Thatcherism at its highest pinnacle.

  23. I’d also like to see a condemnation of those businesses and individuals who profit from the UK and attempt to influence British government and public opinion, while avoiding paying tax.

    So, for example, how about an article about someone who owns a major British media outlet who lives in, say, the Channel Islands yet gives their address as the tax haven of Monaco? I can think of a couple of names that match that description

    Somehow, I doubt the Telegraph will mention them.

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