Police investigate MP Harry Cohen's expenses

Labour MP Harry Cohen is the sixth to be investigated by police over expenses claims, after he allegedly claimed a second home allowance while renting out his house in Colchester.

By Jessica Elgot, March 11, 2010
Labour MP Harry Cohen will be question by police over his expenses

Labour MP Harry Cohen will be question by police over his expenses

Labour MP Harry Cohen is under investigation by Scotland Yard for allegedly receiving more than £70,000 in expenses for a second home in Colchester.

Mr Cohen, the MP for Leyton and Wanstead, was strongly criticised by a Commons committee for receiving money for his second home while he rented out the property he had previously claimed was his main home.

The Commons committee recommended that Mr Cohen, who is standing down as an MP at the forthcoming general election, should lose his £65,000 retirement payment.

Mr Cohen, as an MP living in outer London, could have claimed the £9,000 London supplement, instead of the second home allowance.

But instead he is said to have claimed more than £70,000 between April 2004 and August 2008, using the full second home allowance to fund a home in his north-east London constituency.

Mr Cohen and his wife Ellen began to spend more time in their second home in Wanstead after Mrs Cohen suffered a stroke in 2004, so that they could spend more time together while Mr Cohen still worked in his constituency.

No longer using their main Colchester home, the couple decided to rent it out, while Mr Cohen continued to tell Commons authorities that it was his main residence.
John Lyons, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, said this was a breach of expenses rules.

Mr Cohen, an MP for the area since 1983, is a signatory to Jews for Justice for Palestine.

Four other MPs and a Lord have been investigated police. Labour’s Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Divine will appear in court today alongside Conservative peer Lord Hanningfield charged with theft offences.

Labour MP Eric Illsley is still being investigated by police.

Last updated: 3:39pm, March 11 2010