Over recent years we have heard many stories about Members of Parliament claiming expenses for unusual things. However the case I will be talking about here has to be one of the more unusual uses of Parliamentary funds that I have come across.
Given the recent rhetoric coming from Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP (IDS), concerning alleged fraud by claimants of Social Security Benefits, it would not be hard to assume that he would be keeping quite a squeaky clean profile himself.
However I will cast your memory back to 2002 when BBC News Night disclosed some discrepancies concerning IDS’s alleged CV contained on the Conservative parties Website.
To put this simply the BBC News Night said;
Iain Duncan Smith’s biography on the Conservative Party website, his entry in Who’s Who, and various other places, state that he went to the Universita di Perugia in Italy.
This is not true: his office now admit that he went to the Universita per Stranieri, which is also in Perugia.
The Universita per Stranieri – or University for Foreigners – was founded in 1921 and is a totally separate institution to the medieval Universita di Perugia, founded by the Pope in 1308.
Although the Universita per Stranieri is a respected language school, it did not grant degrees when he studied there in 1973, although some students attained diplomas.
Mr Duncan Smith’s office has now admitted to Newsnight that he didn’t get any qualifications in Perugia or even finish his exams.”
Also in relation to his alleged education at Dunchurch College of Management the BBC States ;
The first line of Iain Duncan Smith’s biography, on the Conservative Party website, claims he was “educated at Dunchurch College of Management”.
In fact, Dunchurch was the former staff college for GEC Marconi, for whom he worked in the 1980s.
Mr Duncan Smith’s office has now confirmed to Newsnight that he did not get any qualifications there either, but that he completed six separate courses lasting a few days each, adding up to about a month in total.
Newsnight has now spoken to 19 former tutors at Dunchurch. Most agree it is over-emphasising his experience at Dunchurch to describe it in the way he does.
John Garside, a former Dunchurch tutor, says: “I’m puzzled, flattered, but puzzled. What we did was offer short courses… it was not a continuous form of education by any means.”
At that time this could have been argued as being simple technical error in which staff entered the wrong information on the website. However if we fast forward to 2012. We find that IDS’s biography has moved location One the Conservative Party Website to that of members of Parliament. It has also been updated to reflect his current position as the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions. Yet as this snapshot shows the same falsified CV information is still been added (10 years after it was proven to be untrue).
This image was captured from the Conservative Party Website Friday 08th June 2012
However this is not the end of the story, digging a little deeper (as I like to do). I found something very interesting on the Current Secretary of State for the DWP’s biography website that is ‘funded from Parliamentary allowances’.
This websites paid for from Parliamentary Expenses contains the same falsified statements concerning IDS’s educational background/Qualifications. Although it now lists the the correct Universities/Colleges. There is absolutely no mention that he only Attended one for a few days and the other he never completed his field of study. Which is somewhat fraudulent.
This image was captured from the IDS Biography Website on 8th June 2012
Now I am no Parliamentary law specialist, but using allowances provided by the state to promote a fraudulent educational background cannot be legal. Can it?
Credit to Jim Moore (DPAC) on Facebook for the heads up on the original BBC News Night Article. Also credit to BBC News Night for the original investigation in 2002. Also credit to Johnny Void (BCFB) on facebook who noticed that information I had grabbed had changed on the Bio site during the time I was creating this article.