Local party backs MP over ‘sympathy’ cards

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage

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AN MP is facing criticism for claiming £3.95 for a pack of ‘sympathy’ cards on expenses.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage claimed for a pack of the cards but she says they are not just condolence cards.

Ms Dinenage told The News: ‘These are not sympathy cards, they’re just plain correspondence cards that I use.

‘It was just one pack of six which I used to communicate with my constituents on the rare occasion that an official letter isn’t appropriate.’

Ms Dinenage added that her office was told to record the cards, bought from the House of Commons, as ‘sympathy cards’ by the staff at the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

It’s not the first time a Gosport MP has come under fire for expenses.

Fellow Tory Sir Peter Viggers was forced to quit as an MP after trying to claim £1,645 of taxpayers’ cash for a duck island.

He came to represent the scandal that rocked the political landscape in 

His claim was never approved but the scandal meant he didn’t stand at the 2010 general election.

That made way for Ms Dinenage’s candidacy.

She added: ‘Given the history of the expenses in my seat, I have always been incredibly mindful of making sure that I only ever claim entirely legitimate expenses.’

Councillor Peter Chegwyn is the leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group at Gosport Borough 

He said: ‘When I send someone a card I pay for it myself and so does everyone else in Gosport.

‘It’s outrageous that the MP for Gosport expects the taxpayer to foot the bill for her “sympathy cards”.’

But Peter Lockyer, the chairman of the Gosport Constituency Conservative Association, said he backs Ms Dinenage fully.

He said: ‘I know the press are keeping an eye on things.

‘I don’t think that people fully understand how it works. It looks worse than it is. Caroline has my complete backing and support for this.

‘The MPs are very honest at what they claim for.

‘I back her 100 per cent, she’s doing an excellent job for Gosport.’

IPSA was set up in the wake of the expenses 
scandal to manage MPs’ claims away from the politicians.