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'The mess' David Laws finds himself in

Nick Robinson | 12:33 UK time, Saturday, 29 May 2010

David Laws is a millionaire who gave up a career in the City to become a Lib Dem MP with - or so it seemed at the time - no prospect of power. So his offer to pay back £40,000 hardly proves the absurd cliche "they're all in it for themselves, they're all the same".

His explanation for the mess he's now in seems to be that he claimed rent and expenses for living with his partner because to do otherwise would reveal to family and friends his private secret - that he was gay.

This sounds believable but will not protect him from the anger his leader sought to exploit when he condemned politicians for "living in a parallel universe".

Mr Laws clearly was, in his living arrangements, at least trying to maintain a parallel and private universe. His critics will point out that he was doing so at public expense - although he could easily have made other much more expensive arrangements - and possibly in breach of the rules.

My hunch is that he will keep his job but lose something else he valued much more - his privacy and a reputation for being a representative of a new and different politics.

PS: I'm off for a week's half-term break.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I think David Laws should do the decent thing and resign. He has lost people's confidence. Whether or not what he did was illegal is irrelevant. What he did is immoral in my view. He is living with his partner and we are contributing to their household expenses - plain and simple.

  • Comment number 2.

    Yes he broke the rules, BUT if he had lived with his partner openly he could have claimed a lot more WITHIN the rules. So by breaking the rules he has saved us money. How bizzare. I have a lot of sympathy for David Laws, and hope that he remains in his job.

    In basic terms, being an MP for Yeovil means he needed two homes. He had a job that needed him to be in two very seperate places. Thus in order to do his job properly he naturally was permitted to claim expenses for a second home. To my mind £950 a month for a home in London is a good deal. The problem is that he broke the rules. The £950 went to the "wrong person". If he had rented off a private landlord with whom he had no relationship then he would have broken no rules and probably had to have paid more.

    David Laws is hardly comparable with those MPs who claimed everything going and claimed to excess.

    It is a sad reflection on our society that a gay man still feels the need to hide his sexuality from family and friends. I hope that David's family and friend rise above this and support him.

  • Comment number 3.

    To be honest it matters not a jot if he made money or not.

    David Laws ABUSED (no other word for it) tax payers money to try and cover up his sexuality. And while he didn't make money out of it, his partner did, and he benifited in turn both from the money and the privacy.

    The very fact though that a Lib Dem MP in this day an age thinks he needs to keep his sexuality a secret is a damming verdict on the party.

    Lets put the boot on the other foot for a moment and imagine what the Lib Dems and Tories would be saying if this had been a Labour minsiter 3 months ago. They'd be screaming for blood, as would the media.

    40,000K to keep your sexuality a secret, one Labour MP lost her job for claiming a couple of quid for her husbands porno!

    The fact that Laws is loaded and the some is therefore nothing to him makes no difference either.

    The real question is has Cameron got the guts to ditch him if he doesn't go himself? And more importantly would he be replaced by another Lib Dem, or could this upset the very fragile relationship between the parties and possibly lead to the breakdown of the coalition!

    Cameron spoke of a "clean slate" as he smugly walked into number 10, that was possibly the silliest thing he's ever said, the sort of reforms he and Clegg are proposing are nothing compared to the scandal of expenses, and the only solution that would restore public trust in confidance would have been for every single MP to step down and not put themselves up for re-election. Not that those grubbing for power were ever going to do that!

  • Comment number 4.

    I also believe that he has shown a lack of judgement here which is serious considering the anger expressed by the general public over expenses.

    I could not care less that he is a homosexual. It would seem to me to be clear that he was living with a partner and it is a fact that the rules do not allow for claims on behalf of a partner. It is disingenuous to claim that 'the rules were not clear'.

    It is also disingenuous to think that his lifestyle could be kept private. I listened to Paddy Ashdown this morning claiming to be a very good friend but yet not knowing of his lifestyle. Seems to me that either he was not a good friend or he was being economic with the truth.

    Should he resign? Probably on the basis that it will damage the coalition if he doesn't and we really need this thing to work if we are to avoid the mess we are in. Better to fall on his sword than be sacked with the acrimony that might bring.

  • Comment number 5.

    Sadly, he made a conscious decision last year to remain silent whilst other MPs were referring themselves to the Parliamentary Commissioner for clarification over their own dubious expenses.

    On the face of it, it appears Sir Thomas Legg's inquiry was not aware of the full facts when it cleared David Laws last year. Sir Thomas wrote to David Laws to say that he has looked at the MP’s expenses since 2004 and has found no problems and will not be asking for any repayments from Yeovil’s MP.

    A talented man but fatally flawed when it comes to being fully transparent over his affairs, both privately and publicly.

  • Comment number 6.

    It is disappointing but he is already starting to show signs of using sympathy as a means of deflecting his critics. The "I didn't want everybody to know I was gay", "I guard my private life...", etc. so we are meant to start thinking this is also about prejudice and not what seems t really be the case in that he broke the rules and when it was all a big issue during the last government rather than sort it out then he thought he had got away with it.

    And it was only recently that he was claiming he was a "solitary being" - no partner. This it seems was also a lie and it gets worrying when a senior minister with a lot of responsibility starts lying about things to the public. Once it starts you ca never know when you are getting the truth and when something he does not want us to know is being lied about - and that has already started with his recent interview !!

  • Comment number 7.

    I don’t know which way this hare is going to run, but there are certainly questions of incomplete declaration.
    1. Let’s examine the question of Financial Loss To The Exchequer: Would Laws have made perfectly acceptable expenses claims of similar amounts if the landlord was not a friend? I think almost certainly.
    2. Would he have stayed with a good landlord through house moves? It has been known.
    3. Would a person who had not declared his sexuality wish it to remain private by NOT declaring a Partner Relationship to the expenses office? Almost certainly.
    4. Would his party leader and the Coalition leader be informed of his status? Perhaps.
    5. Is Mr Laws position as an MP and minister damaged by him having a live-in relationship with his landlord? Not necessarily, in the longer term - Lord Mandelson returned to political life following things much worse and serial illegalities.
    6. But it has to be said, the damage is done by his calculated lack of openness about his status – a calculated risk which is just the most recent of those undertaken by many, many members of parliament over the years.
    7. Is it a big deal? No
    8. Will it destroy his immediate career? Yes.
    9. Will it taint the coalition Government in the short term? Yes.
    10. Will we get over it? If we are people with an ounce of humanity (see 1. above) – Yes.

    This question of the ambiguity of relationship is something I have experienced personally, and I feel sympathy for Mr Laws. Often an agreed relationship only materializes some many years after a first friendship.

  • Comment number 8.

    David Laws needed somewhere to live in London. He was entitled to rent somewhere, or have the taxpayer pay a mortgage on a house in London. He chose to rent a room at a modest rent instead. He may have broken the rules, but the taxpayer was definitely not out of pocket as a result. This is not the case of an MP with his nose in the trough.

  • Comment number 9.

    This is tricky. I have a lot of sympathy for David and his reasons behind it; I don't think it was the same motivation as some of the others that cheated the system... but £40k isn't small.

    I hope he stays on. He's doing a good job - and for that reason, someone's decided to dig the dirt on him.

  • Comment number 10.

    I find the opening comment unbelievable. Who does this woman think she is? The re-incarnation of one Mary Whitehouse? Would it make it better for her if he paid the tax payer for the privilege of being an MP? She might be thumping a bible but it is NOT the King James' Bible of the UK - more likely the OT of the bible belt of USA. She will be shooting in self defence and calling for the public execution of criminals next!

    Right - now to the blog! It is the first time I have whleheartedly found myself in total agreement with the writer. If only he had not gone on holiday - or, dare I say, booked on BA and had to stay home! A sane voice is needed on BBC News Channel.

    Why they bother to interview those who could well know more about the area which they are 'reporting' on and to then, in the next breath, continue to call the friend of David Laws his 'partner' rather than 'alleged partner' is morally wrong. Why even waste our money interviewing the likes of Paddy Ashdown when you are going to totally ignore his pithy comments and give your spin on the story?

    Hell, maybe now zillions of people can sue for a divorce having never been married, on the grounds of having rented, long term, a couple of rooms in the home of a friend. Hell, they can even ask for maintenace of more than 15K a year.

    The masses will not think for themselves - they tend to follow the 'norm' as they perceive it and the BBC is as guilty as the telegraph of handing out the cool-ade!

    We may well be the loosers in the long term - do some really want the 'second best' man for the job? Or worse still, another election and another period of great uncertainty>

    Laws was the main man behind the negotiating of the coalition agreement and one of the most intelligent in the very intellignet government. I def did NOT vote for idiots.

    Did I not read of very high taxi cab expences by some BBC bods? Laws' rent was hardly more than that and well within the reasonable limits. Duck houses and moats are quite one thing and downright fraud another. But wanting to protect friends and family is now to be derided in the 'public interest'? As a country we certainly seem to be able to shoot ourselves very effectively these days. Maybe we should just admit defeat and go bankrupt?

    The first poster here will die happy if we become the newest 'American' state! She can sip iced tea or mint julep and pretend the weather is warmer than it is.

    What is wrong with us, if not ourselves? Oh no, it is 'them', it llooks as if the idea of 'the big society' is dying in infancy. A great great pity.

    How do the telegraph and also the BBC know that they treated each other as 'spouses'?. Is some sleazy undercover sting footage about to be aired?

    A fuming licence payer,


  • Comment number 11.

    I don't think he should resign over interpretation of an expenses rule, he's doing a good job in a difficult role. He should be entitled to claim for housing costs given that his constituency's hours away. What's the big deal if he's subletting of a 'special friend' ~ it's probably saved the taxpayer money rather than him renting his own place in central London. I know plenty of companies who will pay employees an allowance if they stay with friends, so they can contribute to costs, rather than more costly hotel accommodation when on business trips. What's the difference?

    What I do think he should do, in the spirit of the new coalition, is offer himself as the guinea pig for the right of recall proposal. If his constituents decline to recall him & endorse him then the people have spoken and he should be able to continue as minister.

    PS I'm not a Lib-Dem supporter/voter.

  • Comment number 12.

    This is absolutely digusting.

    Yet again we’ve been let down.

    David Laws should stand down, or, be removed.

  • Comment number 13.

    "...he could easily have made other much more expensive arrangements - and possibly in breach of the rules."
    Nick, you need to get a grip mate. You seem to be suggesting that we should be grateful he didn't breach the rules.

    Now, on to the issue as a whole, I understand that this must be a very humiliating experience for David Laws. He is, as Lord Ashdown pointed out, an intensely private man. But if his first thought is for his personal integrity - as Lord Ashdown claims - then he must do the decent thing and resign. A millionaire claiming £40,000 in expenses from the taxpayer is wrong no matter which way you look at it. How about a bit of humility for once?

  • Comment number 14.

    What is going on? Not only is Laws' unelected position illigitimate in the first place by propping up what is reality a 'Tory' government, but now we find that he couldn't even be true to his own sexuality: and this from a so-called party of social tolerance sexual equality? What hypocrisy! The only bed he's in we should be interested in, is the bed he's in with the Tories.

    And in the meantime syphoning money out of the system? How we can we trust this man to be who he says he is? The wheels are coming off this coalition already.

  • Comment number 15.

    One of a list of songs banned from the coalition green room today - " IF YOU'RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT CLAP YOUR HANDS !"

  • Comment number 16.

    Could there possibly be a connection between this latest development and the Question Time fiasco?

  • Comment number 17.

    Sadly, Common sense is not all that common, especially among the super-intelligent. I, for one, think he should be given a chance to prove his worth, which I suspect is very great.

    Nobody more likely to behave properly in the future than a chastened man.

  • Comment number 18.

    David Laws should resign. He wasn't honest with his family and friends, how can we ever be sure he will be honest with us, the electorate. I sympathise with him but what he did was dishonest. Using taxpayers money to hide his sexuality is not right. It just makes you wonder what else is he hiding? Even if he isn't hiding anything the doubt will be there. It's 'old politics' not 'new politics'. Is there a 'new politics', really is there?

  • Comment number 19.

    One has to ask why the details never came out before, looks very much like a Telegraph 'sting' to me, probably with the intention of attempting to scupper the coalition - the right should be careful of what they wish or try and engineer, forcing the collapse of the collision might just result in another election and old style Labour victory...

    Whilst a technical breach of the rules there is no suggestion of financial gain - of course had Laws really wanted to play the system he could have rented the property next door, claim far more totally legitimately and - short of the press camping out - no one would have been any the wiser!

  • Comment number 20.

    Sleaze, sleaze, sleaze, but what does Anyone expect of the people who epitomise the last Parliament. Time for David Cameron to come clean on who was Really culpable for the degrading Exhibition of Me Me Me in the disgraceful flaunting of Power without substance last time round. This is set to haunt him eternally if he does not deliver the appropriate purge of a Government which no one voted for and which pleases no one. Clean your moat, David - but not at Our Expense!

  • Comment number 21.

    I believe that suggesting he incured the expenses to protect his sexuality is a false story to gain a sympathetic interpretation to his situation. He knew very well that he was exploiting his position to provide the life style he wanted and I believe he should loose his job as I would if my employer knew I had abused my position in this way.

  • Comment number 22.

    I do feel a certain sympathy with David Laws wanting to keep his private life secret as the homophobic world is still out there.

    However that he continued with a dubious financial arrangement after all the expenses furore questions his common sense more than his integrity.

    And if as Nick says David Laws is a millionaire, why on earth did he need to make such a claim at all, especially knowing that it was fraught with danger if/when it was revealed. The inescapable conclusion is greed.

    Perhaps he should resign.

  • Comment number 23.

    David Laws should resign and resign quickly. Even if, and its a big if, he can demonstrate that his claims were technically within the expenses rules they were not within the spirit of the rules.

    If he doesn't resign David Cameron should remove him from the Cabinet. The coalition must demonstrate that it expects the highest standards from its MP's even if it is inconvenient to the balance and make up of the Cabinet.

    If the Parliamentary watchdog eventually clears David Laws of any wrong doing he should once again be available for consideration as a member of the Cabinet. In the meantime however he must go.

  • Comment number 24.

    I'm not certain he did anything wrong. The rule is about your partner and if he's just having sex with this guy that doesn't make them partners, they don't share bank acct's or social lives, in the common law they aren't partners.
    If he was married and renting from his mistress he really wouldn't have been breaking the rules. There are parallels with a friend of mine who was investigated as a housing benefit fraudster because she was considerd to be dependant on the person she lived with from no evidence other than the likelyhood that they had sex at some time (it took a year but she won the appeal).
    Laws can just throw 40,000 quid at the issue and make it go away, I doubt that many of the people he represents can aford to cough up two years rent even if two years rent is closer to a quater of that figure.

  • Comment number 25.

    5 great ways to destroy a political carreer.

    1) Belong to a sexual minority, and
    2) Attempt to hide your sexual preference
    3) Fiddle expences, especially when you already are loaded
    4) Ignore the fact that all other MP's had come clean on expences
    5) Accept a senior Government position

    If David Laws gets away with this stunt, the lesson learned will be this. Cheat as much as you can, and just use 'personal circumstances' as an excuse if getting caught.

    Nothing wrong with being gay. Nothing wrong with mistakenly claiming expenses borderlining abuse. Nothing wrong with accepting one of the most powerful jobs in the new government.

    Hiding the truth however is completely wrong. Hopefully he will see this himself and step down.

  • Comment number 26.

    Ref David Law's Basically 40,000 from public purse why as we've out this so far why not use this to a young chap who needs life theatening op in America costing £40.000 then that make a wrong, Right in saving a young person


  • Comment number 27.

    He'll have to go as it goes against the reforms we have been promised. Its a shame but he'll have to made an example of.

  • Comment number 28.

    It sticks in the craw that both Laws and Osborne have been busy berating all and sundry for financial impropriety when, having both had to repay large sums for 'erroneous' expenses, they should be among the last to critize!

  • Comment number 29.

    A shaky time for the coalition. First, number 10 tries to influence the composition of the panel for Question Time, then this glaring error of judgment by David Laws, a man no longer qualified to hold his position. I agree with Nick, though, (sound familiar?) and Laws probably will keep his post.

  • Comment number 30.

    Sacking him would be a very difficult decision for Cameron and Clegg because the matter is not related to his performance as minister and also it relates to the time prior to his appointment.
    I do feel, though, that the backlash of this issue will haunt and harm him (and the government)for quite some time to come (as it happened with Jacqui Smith) and therefore even if with regret he should resign.
    Pity but he has shown a terrible lack of judgement and has contributed to people's dissatisfation with politics. Shame because with his wealth he could have paid out of his own pocket for his privacy with better results. This story should raise another issue: politicians should decline taking jobs of responsability if they know that they have skeletons in the cupboard. Sorry Dave, you must go and perhaps you will soon join Prescott and the other discredited lot rewarded in the House of Lords. What a joke!

  • Comment number 31.

    This is ridiculous some are calling it homophobia or even "second -home - o - phobia" but that is neither here nor there. He is a cheat and should go. £40,000 is 2 years wages to the average man and he just "claimed" it? from the taxpayer? by "mistake"?

    New Politics smells like the Old Politics to me.

    He must go now or be sacked.

  • Comment number 32.

    Forgot to say in my 22 above that ordinary folk claiming Housing Benefit would have their claim disallowed on the oft quoted grounds of "contrived tenancy" which is used whenever there is a connection twixt the landlord and the tenant.

    I dont see why it should be any different for MPs. Well it isnt if they obey the rules.

    Like many posters above I have considerable sympathy with David Laws reasons but am doubtful that they justify his claiming wrongly from my and your pocket.

    Love to be a fly on the wall in number 10.

  • Comment number 33.

    Not much has changed then, just names and faces, same old fleece the taxpayer.

    What David Laws does with his life and money is his affair, however what he does with taxpayers money the taxpayers have a right to know about.

    Nick you wrote.
    David Laws is a millionaire who gave up a career in the City to become a Lib Dem MP with - or so it seemed at the time - no prospect of power. So his offer to pay back £40,000 hardly proves the absurd cliche "they're all in it for themselves, they're all the same".

    Forty thousand pounds may not seem that much to you Nick but it is two years pay in my public sector job, if I misappropriate a few pounds I would be sacked, not given the chance to pay back the money. If he wished to keep this subject private then he should have paid for his partners home with his own money and it should and probably would have remained his private business

    Why if he wished no one to know about his private life (which we all have a right to) did he claim taxpayers money where taxpayers have the right to know about such expenses?
    Why did he not come forward earlier in the expenses debacle and clear things, it is only when he has been caught that he has offered to pay back the money.

    If some one after being found out having carried out a misdemeanour simply offers to repay the costs back can then carry on as nothing had happened. Why not let most of the individuals in prison have this option, our prison population could be slashed, prisons closed and taxpayers money saved! in this time of austerity it would be win win for the government. where then the deterrance or equal treatment for all citizens?
    If it does not show that he is in it for himself, what then does it show, perhaps he is foolish? Hardly the type of person to run the treasury then.

  • Comment number 34.

    No.10 Miranda W stated: 'I find the opening comment unbelievable. Who does this woman think she is? The re-incarnation of one Mary Whitehouse? Would it make it better for her if he paid the tax payer for the privilege of being an MP? She might be thumping a bible but it is NOT the King James' Bible of the UK - more likely the OT of the bible belt of USA. She will be shooting in self defence and calling for the public execution of criminals next!...

    The first poster here will die happy if we become the newest 'American' state! She can sip iced tea or mint julep and pretend the weather is warmer than it is.'

    Miranda, calm down or you may end up in hospital with the level of venom you are thrusting at me. Your comments are rude, pusillanimous, and completely miss the point. David Laws had the opportunity last year to go to the Standards Committee and come clean - I do not mean about his being gay which should be an issue for no-one in their right mind, but for potentially having broken the rules. Just as an aside, I am not at all religious and drink neither iced tea nor mint julep! I just feel that this is a new government which needs to practice what it preaches - if it can't do this within a couple of weeks of forming the government then where will we be in five years?

  • Comment number 35.

    Another MP...another expenses scandal.

    If I had done anything vaguely similar with my employers money I doubt if I would have a job or not.

  • Comment number 36.

    The question people should be asking is what is the Telegraph's real motivation in revealing this information now?

  • Comment number 37.

    I realise that my initial comment could be misinterpreted. I in now way have a problem with people's sexuality but the rules may have been broken by his paying his partner to rent a room. This is the case whether an MP is gay or straight.

  • Comment number 38.

    The previous Prime Minister had to repay monies as improperly claimed and he did not see it as a resignation and/or related issue - so why should David Laws or anyone else around him?

    Unless the penalties for improper claims are consistent - David Laws can quite rightly say to those around him - many people have paid back money and have kept their jobs.

    This is a non-story at a time of great national crisis.

    The Parliamentary Expenses scandal rumbles on only because the penalties for alleged infringements are still not clear.

  • Comment number 39.

    I cant believe he's still there. shows cameron and Clegg as clueless and spineless. there leaving him open to humilation and ridicule. who will ever take him seriously? what credibilty will he have with the civil servants that work for him?
    he didnt tell his constituents about this before the election, he sought bre-election knowing this. he should be the first mp sacked by his constituents.
    the bigger question did nick clegg know about this? if he did he needs to go.
    if he didn't what kind of mickey mouse leader is he? did the lib dems not check all their MP's expense claims as they said they did?

    sheds some light on why Vince cable felt it necessary to stand down as party deputy. he probably couldn't stomach the idea of this pathetic charade being played out.
    lame duck government and two lame duck leaders!
    where's Cameron's clean slate?

  • Comment number 40.

    I think David Laws should stand aside whilst the investigation takes place. He surely is in an entenable possition, when he would be expected to go to civil servants, suggesting how they can reduce the amount of tax-payers money they spend?

  • Comment number 41.

    Nick is bending over backwards to be sympathetic. Many of those mixed up in the expenses scandal claimed they acted within the letter of the rules and did not think they had done anything wrong. (For example Jacqui Smith was only renting rooms in her sister's house.) The public did not believe them and neither will they believe Laws.

    If he had wanted to be beyond criticism, as a very wealthy man, he could have rented or bought a property himself and claimed the allowed expenses on it. Instead, if the Telegraph is to be believed, he loaned his friend money to buy a house and then claimed he was renting rooms in it. Then they moved to other properties and did the same.

    The Lib-Dem party were the ones claiming the moral high ground on expenses and this is looking very hypocritical.

  • Comment number 42.

    Other MPs claimed vastly more public money for their living arrangements, and profited personally from it.

    David Cameron, to name one prominent example, claimed £20,000 a year of public money to pay the mortgage of a house he lived in with his wife. Do the BBC or the Telegraph provide this context in their headline stories?

    If David Laws has to resign for claiming £11,400 a year in rent, why shouldn't David Cameron (and other MPs in similar situations) also resign for claiming £20,000 a year in mortgage payments?

    The other MPs haven't paid the money they claimed back, benefited personally their claims, and still have very expensive properties (paid for by the taxpayer). If David Laws has to resign, why shouldn't the rest go as well? What exactly is the resigning issue here?

  • Comment number 43.

    So the left-ish Media has dirt on every main-stream politician.

    BBC/Telegraph/Mirror getting their own back for the QT/Pace conference snub.

    The BBC are far more corrupt than any politician. Why don't the Media publish all the dirt they have on these wasterels? Could it be that they want to run the show through their left-wing propaganda machine?

    No, 'lets just publish when it suits us' is their motto.

    I loath the BBC.

  • Comment number 44.


    The sanctimonious Lib Dems promised to come in with a new broom and sweep away all that sleaze associated with the last lot of MP's (from all parties). Its clear that that is now dead in the water and the only decent thing he can do now is to walk away. Otherwise what we have here is a 'dishonest' guy: to himself, his family and friends, and in public office to the voters.

    He is clearly a bright guy and after last summer, he cannot have been unclear in any way about the 'spirit' or the 'letter' of the expenses rules. He may not have wanted to reveal his sexuality but this is a side issue to be honest: he should not have claimed in the first place (who would have noticed if he didn't?), no one forced him to claim and since he took 'responsibility' for making his claim, in all 'fairness' he has deceived the electorate and he should now exercise his 'freedom' and go!!

  • Comment number 45.

    I have always considered that marriage (and its the other euphemisms such as partner or spouse) was best defined as a public delaration of a private intention. What seems clear in the case of David Laws is that he has clearly avoided making any such declaration, and should not judged as if he had. The Daily Teleegraph, and most of the bleeting press and public, have for far too long gone over the top, and have lost sight of what should be reasonable expenses for doing a job (being an MP). The only question that Mr Laws should have to answer is, was the "up to £950 per month" that he paid for accommodation in London reasonable or not? The rest is an evasion of his privacy and the press should be censored for it.

  • Comment number 46.

    Does anyone go into politics because they wish to serve the public?

    The flimsy excuse of wishing to conceal his sexual preferences just plain does not hold water. Would anyone have noticed if he had NOT been paying rent to his boyfriend? Even if he'd told people he was renting from a friend or private landlord, it is unlikely anyone would have asked to see his rent book. It's only because he had his hand in the public pot that anyone's noticed...

    If he's that stupid, he certainly ought to go. Not because he's gay (his business, his choice to adopt the lifestyle if he so wishes), but because of sheer stupidity, greed and a demonstration that he's prepared to lie his socks off. Not what we want in those we employ to run the country on our behalf.

  • Comment number 47.

    David Laws should resign, not just from the government, but as an MP.

  • Comment number 48.

    So Nick, you think it is excusable to steal money from the public in order to lie to your family?

    If he is prepared to do that, why should the public trust him?

    The man who wants to tell us all what we can and can not afford has stolen 40k to give to his boyfriend, end of. It is a shame, but we have the perfect storm of public hate figures, the fat cat banker, who became an MP and cheated on his expenses...... WOW what a start..

  • Comment number 49.

    How would this be viewed if David Laws was in a hetrosexual relationship and kept it a secret? Very differently I presume, I'm sure evryone would be wanting his head on a plate. Just because it was a homosexual relationship makes no difference. People have campaigned for equal rights for homosexuals for decades and this should be treated no differently just because of his sexuality. Other members of Parliament have 'come out' before and nobody has batted an eyelid. It's a bit like claiming expenses for accomodation on a business trip when you're actually staying with the wife or family. I'd get the sack for that, and I'm afraid David you have to go as well.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    If David Laws is as you say a millionaire, then why does he need £40,000 of taxpayers money? This is the man who will be slashing our public services, taking from the weakest and most vulnerable in society, yet, even though he is a millionaire he can claim tens of thousands of pounds on top of his already very nice salary. Will he quit? No, he knows what side his bread is buttered, why should he. Will he be sacked? No, now the next election these people will have to face is 5 years down the road all the 'new politics' spin can be dumped and there is nothing we can do about it...The door to No 10 is locked and bolted for the next half a decade and its back to business as usual...SUCKERS!

  • Comment number 52.

    Rather tragic really that a LibDem politician felt the need to hide his natural sexuality in such a complex financial way - paid by the taxpayer?

    While Mr Laws pays back - can he add interest to his repayment too?

    It is still a sad reflection of politics, media and society et al, that any individual is forced to live a double life - but many feel they have to?

    However, this is an age of 'new politics' and did Mr Laws deliberately 'hide' his sexuality due to:

    1) fear of not gaining, or losing his political seat?
    2) fear of prejudice?
    3) or played a 'dishonest' game that under-estimated his electors and assumed a prejudice from them? Prejudice is a two way street in every way.

    Whichever way you look at this scenario - it's uncomfortable - personally, financially and more important - ethically?

    The sooner all elected representatives, who use public funds, to/or hide any aspect of their life should be as open too?

  • Comment number 53.

    David Laws is being disingenuous about the nature of his relationship.

    I have been married for over 10 years yet my wife and I continue to have "separate bank accounts" and "separate" social lives (i.e. I sometimes meet up with my friends, my wife with hers).

    He clearly abused the spirit (and possibly the letter) of the rules and should resign.

    He has also sunk in my estimation by trying to play the gay sympathy card.

  • Comment number 54.

    No ifs, no buts, he should resign.

  • Comment number 55.

    If he wished to have a relationship but did not wish the other party to be perceived as a partner then the best way to do that was to keep their finances entirely seperate and ensure that the other party could in no way be perceived as receiving public money. He could have paid rent but not claimed for it and had any questions been asked simply said he personally did not think it appropriate to claim rent or that the person was a friend as well as his landlord and he did not wish under such circumstances to claim rent as an expense in case it was misinterpreted and everyone would have thought waht an honest chap he was.

  • Comment number 56.

    David Laws is an extremely wealthy man, who made substantial sums working in The City.

    When the rules changed in 2007 about 'renting accommodation from family and spouses' why didn't he simply cease claiming, I doubt anyone would have noticed, its not like he needed the money.

    I don't blame him for keeping his sexuality quiet, Britain is now an unpleasant place to live for anyone who is different.

  • Comment number 57.

    I am a senior citizen and if I claim for anything at all it is means tested. Here we have a millionaire who claims £40,000 which is not means tested that is what is known as a fair and just society. but David Laws said he was sorry - Yes sorry he was caught, just like the rest of the thieves we have in parliament.So Mr Cameron you attacked Gordon Brown at every turn about allowing the abuse of tax payers money. So surely you can't set a precedent no one is irreplacable so do the decent thing and sack him and any others who are caught. If it was anyone in the general public who did this they would be arrested.

  • Comment number 58.

    The country is in dire economic straits. It is imperative that the deficit reduction plan, including unprecedented spending cuts, succeeds. Laws, as the man in charge of cuts, should have been central to this process. But Laws is irredeemably tainted: the ‘privacy’ excuse is lame. Few people will care about his sexuality. What fuels public distaste is the man’s character flaw: he took a morally ambiguous approach in claiming expenses. Whether he is technically on the right side of the line or not is irrelevant.

    The public will find it hard to stomach the spending cuts; the least that should be expected is that the pain be administered by a person of undoubted integrity. Does Laws realise how his decision to ‘refer himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner’ will be perceived by the public? Most voters will be enraged by the arrogance and hypocrisy. Are there really politicians who still do not understand the level of public revulsion over expenses?

    These are crucial times for a new government with a tough job to do. Cameron should set the right tone for his government and sack Laws immediately.

  • Comment number 59.

    If David Laws was any other Minister than Chief Secretary I think he would be OK but would be out at the next reshuffle. Given his position and the stance he took this week, concerning reckless spending by Labour Ministers reopening what they spent this year etc and taking the moral high ground he is in a difficult position.
    I also think by using this -private life need to keep it a secret etc excuse he is digging the hole he is in deeper. I have sympathy as a fellow human for this but as a taxpayer I do not think it is something I should pay for.
    £40K is the equivalent to about three years take home pay of the average wage in the UK on top of his £60K+ MP's wage.
    I can not see someone who has defrauded the tax payer by not declaring a live in partner for benefit purposes being allowed to just say sorry.
    I think the PM must ask for his resignation otherwise the Government will lose the moral high ground for asking other people to take the pain of the public sector cuts. Even Mandelson resigned over keeping finances hidden from Tony Blair! Sad as it is for David personally he should do the right thing and go

  • Comment number 60.

    I'm having a Parris/Mandelson moment here- did anyone seriously believe that David Laws was NOT gay? I thought it was one of those things everyone knew about, and weren't bothered by it.
    Makes his doomed attempt to keep a secret more poignant.
    To come out as gay, and an expenses fiddler, all in one day, is quite remarkable

  • Comment number 61.

    David Laws apparently broke the rules.

    This must have been known to the Daily Telegraph ever since they purchased the expenses details of every MP. The question arises why tell the story now?

    Who persuaded to Telegraph to tell the story? I strongly suspect it was a cabal of civil servants who don't want their costs slashed.

    It appears to me that this story, at this time, is designed to undermine cost cutting in the public sector and the increase in Capital Gains Tax.

    To persuade me otherwise I will require to see civil servants lobbying for an across the board pay cut of 20% rather than redundancies.

  • Comment number 62.

    Sadly, whilst I think David Laws is a good guy, he really has no option but to resign because if he does not, he make the Treasury look bad. Look at Peter Mandelson, he came back because he showed remorse, left and did not cause problems.

    David, do the decent thing step down, and quickly. Give the coalitian a chance, and lets show politic has cleaned up it act.

  • Comment number 63.

    If someone stands as a political representative, and happens to be gay, and chooses to hide that normal fact about themselves - how can they fully represent all their constituents? We all need to grow up - including the media?

    However, in Mr Laws' case, he has chosen, over a considerable number of years; a complex financial path via the taxpayer? That is the main problem here? As an ex-banker he would have had access to the best financial lawyers to navigate his private and financial life without exploiting MP allowances?

    Unfortunately, Mr Laws chose to use taxpayer funds - that is the crime?

  • Comment number 64.

    I'm afraid David Laws's excuses simply don't add up to anything like an adequate defence of his actions. If he didn't want to acknowledge his sexuality, why make any claims at all? The guy's a millionaire and, one assumes, has friends who could put him up. Failing to claim rent expenses would not have raised any eyebrows.
    And as for his rather pathetic claim that he had "misunderstood" the rules regarding partners, citing separate bank accounts and social lives, does that mean that I and my wife have not, in fact, been married for the last 17 years?

    I take the point that it's difficult to ascribe venality to David Laws, but this has been an error of judgement of a scale that should cost him his job in government.

  • Comment number 65.

    This man takes duplicity and greed to new levels. He should resign immediately, failing which he should be thrown out by his party.

  • Comment number 66.

    I heard this news this morning and felt so sad for David Laws. This man should have a brilliant career ahead of him. His ability has been acknowledged by many MPs. Unfortunately he chose to keep silent about his private life, hold his counsel and now he will pay for it. I do think the media and definitely the BBC have been searching over the last couple of weeks for a way of bringing shame on this new government. They do not seem to be reading the mood of the country and the support this new government has been given.

    I do wonder why this did not come up when the expenses scandal was investigated and something does smell very fishy here. Could it be that David Laws did seek advice and was told that he had spent far less than if he had taken a different decision so he was well within the law!!!! Only the current resentment of the BBC for this government could make such a big issue out of this.

    Rather than scream for his head I would rather wait and see what the outcome of the investigation would be. One of the saddest things I have noticed recently is the real venum thrown by the media and the BBC at our new government. We all know that the BBC is and always has been pro labour but surely after the disgrace of the last 13 years they can for once stop and listen to the public and try to be more supportive of the government.

    I was rather hoping with the general demeanour of this present government (calm and effective debating skills) we would lose the old Labourite mannerisms of shouting people down, never apologising,holding party politicals at the drop of a hat and getting away with it, was gone. HA HA!! But I see that what we really need is the removal of some die hard BBC and media journalists. Making way for younger blood who would have a different and more modern perspective on the political scene.

  • Comment number 67.


    Cameron needs to speak with Clegg and quickly resolve this matter. There is only one possible outcome if this new Governemnt is to retain its credibility. Laws has tarnished himself, his partner and all around him. A joint press conference announcing that Laws is sacked has to follow.

  • Comment number 68.

    We should let the proper processes take their course with this matter and not jump to conclusions. We only know what we have been told - it is for others in posession of all the facts to make a decision.

  • Comment number 69.

    Laws has obviously got to go and this will be an interesting first test of Cameron's mettle and strength of character.

    How can a very rich man who cheats the taxpayer out of £40,000 have any credibility as the mouth piece for savage cuts that will hit every decent, law abiding, non expenses fiddling member of the public?

    New LibCon love marriage, same tawdry politicians at work.

  • Comment number 70.

    @richard (2): "If he had rented off a private landlord with whom he had no relationship then he would have broken no rules and probably had to have paid more."

    That is the point though, he didn't move in with his boyfriend, he sub-let from someone with whom he later started a relationship after several years of living there.

  • Comment number 71.

    quoted from message 36
    "The question people should be asking is what is the Telegraph's real motivation in revealing this information now?"

    That is the one and only relevant question here.

  • Comment number 72.

    Anyone making similar dubious claims for benefits, would allready be charged and been given a court hearing by now. Not only would they be made to pay the money back, they'd be fined + for a sum of money of £40k + be thrown in jail for god knows how long, and those of you defending Laws, would have been shouting "Quite right too!"

  • Comment number 73.

    Failure to strike off David Laws for breaking the rules at the taxpayers' expense will undermine the credibility of this government and spell the beginning of the end for this coalition and the SO-CALLED NEW ERA OF POLITICS...Which would just be seen as more of the SAME CORRUPT POLITICS AND POLITICIANS!
    The rent paid would have been used to fund the mortgage repayment and therefore the property investment in his partner's name, at the taxpayer's expense...This is both DECEITFUL AND EVASIVE!

  • Comment number 74.

    Having re-read the comments before my original posting I am even more convinced that the Telegraph and the BBC are determined to undermine this government. If Blair or Brown did not resign over something as serious as Iraq and certain labour MPs have still not paid back their expenses when they have definitely been seen as criminal, why is there so much fuss over David Laws!!!

    I am even more convinced that the BBC needs to lose its 'holier than thou' attitude and try to move into a more modern arena of reporting. I for one am sick and tired of the old dig up the dirt and create a public frenzy type of reporting. i.e. Piers Morgan and Alistair Campbell has beens.

  • Comment number 75.

    How long has the Daily Telegraph sat on this story...??
    18 months,..?. In the pub interest ?, mon gross derriere..!.

  • Comment number 76.

    if he's loaded, why bother claiming in the 1st place, if your that worried about keeping things quiet? if he'd done that noone would ever of known!

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    It's not been the best of weeks for Mr Laws, has it?

    Humiliated by "The Messiah" Alastair Campbell over Question Time on Thursday and now this.

    If bad news comes in threes, I suggest that Mr Laws disappears for a few days immediately.

  • Comment number 79.

    He has to go.
    If you have told the benefits people you are single and claimed accordingly, but then they find out you are sleeping with someone who 'happens to live in the same house', you will lose your benefits or at least have them 'reviewed'...

  • Comment number 80.

    Lots of indignant people

    I completely understand his reasoning, and what happens to him will be determined by the Parliamentary standards response

    He should neither resign, nor be made to go in my view

    About time the media just shut up for 5 minutes

  • Comment number 81.

    John_from_Hendon you make an interesting "why now point"

    There are I think 2 reasons

    Until 3 weeks ago nobody really cared about David Laws, either what he did, had done, wanted to do or thought. For this reason while the Telegraph had the "dirty" on him they couldn't be bothered as no-one cared. There are over 600 MP's and they didn't just hold back on him, many more lib-dems must be crossing their fingers hoping that their new found power doesn't have others reading over their expenses again!

    Or their is the Civil service argument, which I think is plausable though less likely. Ironically most civil servants vote Tory and most were aware of the scale of the problem, but voted them anyway. The lib dem cuts are the same or not as bad as the tory ones so you'd think they'd know it was comming. Of course like with my company most of them gambled, they gambled that they would not be the ones getting chopped! Those who gambled and lost may very well now be leaking all their interesting secrets in the hope of a "redundancy" payment from the press as well as the tax-payer.

    On a diffent note I've always disliked civil servants, not only are they supposed to be policially neutral but almost always are tory supporters, they leak bad bits of policy but not the good, they leak far more when labour are in than the tories, despite the fact that labour is generally better for their job prospects, many of them give such wishy-washy advice you wonder why they bother, they are always the last to object but the first to say "I told you so", witness how many now say they thought Iraq was wrong, however despite watching the news every day I can't remember one who had the principles to say it in the 6 months before! They are the ultimate windsocks and they milk the country for more than they are worth and far more than they give.

    That is whitehall civil servants anyway, there are some other usefull ones i'm sure but not in my local council either!

  • Comment number 82.

    two points
    firstly how sad he felt he needed to keep his relationship a secret. frankly who cares and those that do shouldn't.

    secondly he did not need to claim any money, he could just say he was not making a claim. yes people might ask questions, but surely after 9 years together people have.

    he has been outed so that but is sorted, I think if cameron doesnt at least suspend him ( or something) then this will be an albatross

  • Comment number 83.

    Re post 9
    'doing a good job'-what nonsense the liberal democrats argued extensively against cutting in the present economic climate for 12 months- then lo and behold for the sake of power backtracked and cited some drivel about the Greek situation changing their minds-absolute piffel and they know their desperate attempt to grab some power they have hooked up with the 'nasty' party, forgetting to check what was in their closet, does it really matter in this day and age that he was gay i think not

  • Comment number 84.

    Laws has wrongly cheated us out of £40,000 expenses; this may not be much for him, but two families could live on that for a year.
    The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life has said Laws must stand down. Cameron was hard on his own MPs and, if Laws does not reisgn, then cameron must sack him - before the weekend is over.
    Nick Clegg has told us that Liberal democrat MPs did not cheat on expenses yet here we have more expenses revelations, maybe the first Lib-Dem of many more.
    Why are Cameron and Clegg so quiet on the Laws problem, why haven't they both acted; are they frightened to be caught out so quickly?

  • Comment number 85.

    Whatever the motivation for bringing this story to the Daily Telegraph it really doesn't matter, and no amount of 'spin' can correct this. David Laws broke the rules, plain and simple.

    For the sake of our new Government, and to address their nation's horribly tainted perception of politicians moral standards, he should go.

    If Laws doesn't have the stomach to offer to go, then Cameron should lead his coalition and send a clear message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

    What a terrible shame.

  • Comment number 86.

    £40,000 is a huge amount of money - but the principle is that he knowingly exploited the system by claiming rent that was not needed. He is also claiming this man was not actually his partner when they had in fact been together for 9 years.

    'Renting a room' from a partner is not allowed, for obvious reasons. Yes he could have rented a more expensive room elsewhere, but so what? Exploiting the system less than he could have done doesn't justify doing so.

    Apparently trying to 'protect' the man and his own sexuality is no justification either. Where do we draw the line if abuse and exploitation of taxpayers money can be done in this way by the very MPs who represent us and claim to be of intregrity? What else would this give the green light to? It would appear our MPs could easily be open to blackmail or threats if they are as weak as Laws.

    Even now he tries to distance himself for the man - what does that say about his 'integrity' and morals?

    Clearly Laws must step-aside at least during the inquiry. Otherwise Cameron needs to show some back-bone and suspend him from the Treasury. And if neither do anything then Clegg could, as Lib-Dem party leader, ask Laws to resign.

    If nothing happens and Laws is allowed to continue in his post, then a mockery has been made of the 'new politics' this coalition claims to represent.

  • Comment number 87.

    I do not want David Laws to resign. He is too good to resign. The amount of people that can serve in the Government and appear in the House of Commons is very limited, so if Governministers resign at the slightest thing, it won't be long before where left with mediocre ministers who can't do the job that well.

    In any case, Laws was entitled to have a second home and its a bit of a anomoly isn't it that if he had the second home in his own name and had a mortgage on it, that would have been ok, but to live with someone else and pay them the rent or mortgage is not allowed?

    As long as he pays the money back and he has already aplogised, that should be the end of it. The country is an economic mess, we need Laws to help sort it out and I didn't even vote for either the Lib Dems or the Tories at the last election.

  • Comment number 88.

    This attack on Chief Treasury Secretary David Laws is nothing more than a thinly disguised attempt by the Telegraph to destabilise what most people in this country now want, a stable Government. It also has rather nasty undertones of discrimination on orientation grounds.

    The Telegraph sets its self up as the leader of the Fourth Estate. Then I say, let the light of openness shine on them and their bloated expenses culture. “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone”.

    Did Mr Laws make an error? Possibly, though I have to say most “partners” would share bank accounts etc etc.

    Resignation should be furthest from anyone’s mind. See off the Telegraph and its rather pernicious insidious journalism.

  • Comment number 89.

    David Laws' tragedy is the error of judgement that led him to exploit parliamentary expenses rather than 'reveal' his sexuality.

    We live in the 21st century in a society which has embraced Civil Partnerships. We don't care that he is gay - we do care that he has stolen from us.

  • Comment number 90.

    @59 "I can not see someone who has defrauded the tax payer by not declaring a live in partner for benefit purposes being allowed to just say sorry."

    You've hit the nail on the head - this is exactly the same as a person on benefits committing fraud not declaring a live-in partner.

    The same rules should be applied - the Benefits Cheat posters we see on the high street tell us what happens to fraudsters. Apply the law to Laws.

  • Comment number 91.

    David Laws committed fraud. He misrepresented his living arrangements and status with the intention of making financial gain. It is irrelevant this was possibly not his primary purpose, which may well have been to protect his privacy. But when he signed that expense application he did so knowing he was making misrepresentations and would obtain £950 per month in rent he was not entitled to. That is fraud. Keep his job? If David Laws keeps his job that is the biggest disgrace ever. I refuse to be lectured on cutting waste by a man who has defrauded me as a taxpayer!!!

  • Comment number 92.

    Lib Dem physician heal thyself. Resign or sack him immediately.

  • Comment number 93.

    I have read alot of the comments on this page and it appears that we all have many suggestions for what David Laws should or shouldn't do. It is however, all too easy to cast judgement on a story that in its own right has been put together by the words of another who probably has their own agenda or opinions that can steer the direction of thought.

    Only David Laws knows his motivation for doing what he did. Anything more is speculation and assumption.

    If he thought it was to protect himself, then we should look at our society and question why would someone still need to hide away their sexuality - maybe we haven't come as far as we think! Or if it was for pure greed then he should set an example as a member of our elected Government and speak to the PM and be held accountable for any wrong doing.

    We are not his judge and jury, let those with this responsibility make the decision.

  • Comment number 94.

    poor david lawes,he has to go (which is a shame really cause he looked like he was/is a good mp),the simple problem is he used public money to cover up a personal secret- its got nothing to do with the money and everything to do with integrity.its even sadder because he covered up he was gay, who really cares if he was gay- really not important in the 21st century- but he delibratly used public money, in a manner to cover up a personal issue(which he never needed to), that clearly broke rules

  • Comment number 95.

    Shame that in this day and age a gay MP should still feel the need to hide. It's not as if he is the first in government - I can rattle off a list of about seven or eight gay ministers off the top of my head. What strikes me most is David Laws' lack of courage to come out, a trait I do expect in my elected members (although I am frequently disappointed there!).

    And really, how long did he expect to keep all that under wraps? Naive is an understatement!

    I don't think this is in the same category as some of the other outlandish expenses claims. However, I don't understand - why claim at all? If nothing is claimed then in terms of his private life, nothing need be explained, surely? He could just have said that he's wealthy and feels he should pay his own way. Or am I missing something here?

    At the end of the day, I think that as an ex City worker, we could certainly do with his experience in this current financial crisis. He should get a verbal slapping from the press, but then we should give him some time and space to disentangle the myriad of crazy knots that he has tied himself in.

  • Comment number 96.

    Here we go again, barely a month into a new parliament and it's the same old lies and deciept. To protect what little respect our MPs have gained he must resign or be sacked. If he does not do so then nothing has changed we will continue to be governed by self-deluding liars and cheats.

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.

    Laws' defence is his desire to keep his sexuality private, thus not claiming for London accom. would arouse suspicion.
    However, it is known he is a millionaire from his previous career in the City.
    Therefore, would it not have been better not to have claimed ? People would have thought he had no need because of i) his wealth and ii) his desire to be seen as a squeaky clean Lib-Dem.

    I'm sorry, his defence does not hold together. As for his remarks about what does or does not constitute a partner...ridiculous.

    What annoys me the most is his use of his sexuality as an excuse for all of this.

    If Cameron and (especially) Clegg drag their feet it will be difficult not to brand them hypocrites.

  • Comment number 99.

    For David Laws, who was Vice President at JP Morgan to decide on moving to a career in public life seems like an odd choice for someone who is so private and hiding their lifestyle from friends and family.

    obviously not in politics for the money though. will be making a fraction of what he was at JP.

  • Comment number 100.

    It does not matter that he was gay just the deception that he felt was needed to cover it up with taxpayers money - this was supposed to be a fresh start with total transparency but once again the media has uncovered a type of fraud - how many more will come out of the woodwork. He should either resign or be sacked as a minister and MP- let us have recall early on in the parliament.


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