Conservative MP Karl McCartney claimed £20,000 in expenses for work done by campaign donor's firm
- EXCLUSIVE: Conservative MP Karl McCartney claimed £21,600 of parliamentary expenses for services from a firm founded by a campaign donor
- Anagallis Communications' founder gave McCartney £4,000 towards his first successful election campaign.
- Campaigners TaxPayers' Alliance told Insider: "MPs should not be paying for professional services from firms that have made political donations to their election campaigns.
Conservative Member of Parliament Karl McCartney awarded more than £20,000 of taxpayer money to a company run by a donor who helped fund his first election campaign, an investigation by Insider has found.
Examination of the MP for Lincoln's spending returns reveals that from January to June of 2020, McCartney claimed for £21,600 of "administrative services" from Anagallis Communications.
The sole director, shareholder, and CEO of Anagallis Communications, Nigel Szembel, gave McCartney £4,000 in early 2010, prior to his successful campaign to oust his Labour Party predecessor, Gillian Meron.
Invoices disclosed through a Freedom of Information request reveal Anagallis provided "administrative office and external meeting support services, high-level meeting attendance, strategy formulation and participation in London and Lincoln and daily Media Management. Administration of various requirements to support the Member of Parliament in securing successful outcomes for local issues and projects and constituency casework issues."
These services were provided at £200 a day plus VAT. In January 2020, McCartney claimed for £7,200 towards them. In February and March he claimed a further £4,800 each month. In June 2020, McCartney claimed for another £4,800.
"Handled correctly, all will share in 'new wealth'"Szembel is also lead of press relations at Augmentum, a fintech firm. Last June, while McCartney was paying for Szembel's professional services, McCartney tweeted a link to a piece from the site "Mega Yachts Fan" about technology entrepreneurs, in particular those in fintech.
"Handled correctly, all will share in 'new wealth'", he said in his tweet.
This piece included a section on three venture capital firms in the fintech world, including Augmentum. This appears to be McCartney's only public comment on fintech or mega yachts.
There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Augmentum.
-Karl McCartney (@karlmccartney) June 13, 2020
No rules exist explicitly forbidding MPs from handing contracts to run their Parliamentary offices to companies run by individuals who give them political donations and there is no suggestion of wrongdoing by McCartney or Szembel.
However, IPSA handbook on expenses states that MPs must act with "probity" and campaigners say they must do more to ensure they do not reward donors at taxpayers' expense.
James Roberts, political director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, told Insider: "MPs should not be paying for professional services from firms that have made political donations to their election campaigns."
Susan Hawley, executive director of Spotlight on Corruption, told Insider: "This looks potentially quite unsavoury. MPs should never be doling out contracts to, or using services at public expense, of those who have donated personally to their campaigns."
Steve Goodrich, head of research and investigations at Transparency International UK, said: "It is incumbent on all Members of Parliament to uphold the highest standards of probity, especially when it comes to the management of taxpayers' funds. Parliamentarians should scrupulously avoid the perception, or reality, that they are seeking to reward their donors via the public purse."
Karl McCartney and Nigel Szembel did not respond to requests for comment.
Have you come across similar spending by other Members of Parliament? Please contact the reporter of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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