Lord Bhatia faces probe for Reigate flatPosted on Jul 27, 2009 in blog
Just when we thought the ‘silly season’ was about to start in earnest the Times revealed over the weekend that Lord Bhatia 77 who was made a peer by Tony Blair in 2001 but sits on the neutral crossbenches could face a possible police probe following allegations surrounding his claims for his two bedroom apartment occupied by his brother. Lord Bhatia nominated this apartment, as his ‘main home’ in October 2007 allowing him to claim £12,247 in six months. However he has continued to live in a £1.5 million home in Hampton, south-west London which is about 15 miles from the House of Lords, the distance from the flat to the House of Lords is 23 miles. Lord Bhatia has lived at his home in Hampton 20 years.
Figures are only available for six months from October 2007 but it is possible that Lord Bhatia could have claimed this again before changing his main address back to London in January. Lord Bhati’s brother, Sultan Bhati who is also the Comapny Secretary of Lord Bhati’s company (Casley Finance) moved into the Reigate flat about the same time that his marriage collapsed. In the Times article Lord Bhatia insisted that he acted within the rules and that he switched his main address back to Hampton in January (SW London) from Reigate (Surrey) as he was too ill to travel. However neighbours at the Reigate flat could not recall Lord Bhatia ever living there.
By claiming he lived outside the capital - the flat is 23 miles from Westminster - Lord Bhatia was entitled to up to £174 a day for overnight accommodation in London overnight allowance.The perk allows peers to be reimbursed for the cost of a hotel when the Lords is sitting or maintaining a second home. Concerns that Lord Bhatia was milking the allowance system were strengthened after he failed to remember the address of the Reigate flat when questioned last week.