The Sun has revealed that former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith used the services of two day release prisoners – detained at our expense – to decorate her £450,000 home in Redditch when they were supposed to be working to benefit the local community.
You may recall that the former Labour minister has a record of abusing taxpayers’ money when it comes to expenses. The former MP for Redditch, who was removed by the electorate at the general election last year, seemed reluctant to pay for anything herself on her £450,000 family home in Redditch. While claiming on her website she lived in Redditch, she registered a bedroom in her sister’s London house as her main residence, so the Redditch house could be a second home and she could claim £116,000 in various expenses for it over six years. Taxpayers were even billed for X-rated films enjoyed by her husband.
The prisoners were taking part in a charity scheme, intended to reintroduce them to work and to give something back to the local community. She appears to have become an expert on personal gain at the expense of others, whether it is ripping off hard pressed taxpayers with dodgy expenses claims, or in this case, using a contact to gain the decorating services of convicts.
In her defence, the former Home Secretary claimed “they didn’t have anything else on”. This seems astonishing if you take a look around her former constituency where local community centres are in desperate need of repair and derelict buildings are becoming eyesores.
Also Jacqui Smith and her husband did make an undisclosed donation to the charity for which the prisoners were working. But that is beside the point.
The authorities have made it clear to the Sun that even if there wasn’t work for them, they were supposed to be returned to prison and not used as cheap labour to do up a private home, let alone one that had been the subject of dodgy claims by a now disgraced former MP.
Daniel Jennings is interning at the TPA