Tory MP hid £ 10,000 spending given to donor’s company
- EXCLUSIVE: Tory MP Karl McCartney has not publicly stated that a Â£ 10,000 refund claim has been handed over to a donor’s company.
- The Insider can reveal that the company McCartney described as âAâ in his expense reports is in fact Anagallis Communications.
- Anagallis is led by Nigel Szembel, who helped fund his first campaign to become an MP.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
A Tory MP has claimed nearly Â£ 10,000 in parliamentary expenses for work given to one of his campaign donors while failing to publicly declare who was receiving the money, an Insider investigation has found.
In May, Insider revealed Karl McCartney claimed Â£ 21,600 in taxpayer money for ‘administrative services’ from Anagallis Communications between January and June 2020.
Anagallis Communications is operated by Nigel Szembel, who gave McCartney Â£ 4,000 for his first campaign to become a Member of Parliament.
However, Insider can reveal that McCartney claimed an additional Â£ 9,600 in spending with Anagallis Communications, without publicly stating that the company would receive the money.
Expense statements released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) show McCartney made requests to âprovide professional and administrative servicesâ to a business listed simply on the register as âAâ in October and November 2020 .
McCartney did not provide any additional details for the public registry as to who or what “A” is. The previous claims had provided the name of the company.
However, two invoices disclosed to Insider following an access to information request reveal that “A” is in fact Anagallis Communications.
The total of Â£ 31,200 spent on staffing services by McCartney with Anagallis represents almost a third of McCartney’s total amount claimed as expenditure for the services purchased – Â£ 101,290 – in 2020 according to the files of the IPSA.
Insider asked McCartney why the company name had not been publicly stated but received no response.
In addition to operating Anagallis Communications, Szembel is responsible for press relations at Augmentum, a financial technology company. Last June, while McCartney paid for Szembel’s services, McCartney tweeted a story of “Mega Yachts Fan” on tech entrepreneurs, especially fintech ones.
âManaged properly, all will share a ‘new wealth’,â he said in his tweet.
âKarl McCartney (@karlmccartney) June 13, 2020
This article included a section on three venture capitalists in the FinTech world, including Augmentum. This appears to be the only public comment reported by McCartney on fintech or mega yachts.
Under parliamentary rules, MPs must adhere to the Code of Conduct for MPs, including the Seven Principles of Public Life “, including” accountability and “openness”.
Opposition politicians wondered why McCartney hadn’t fully reported his expenses.
MP Anneliese Dodds, Chairman of the Labor Party, told Insider: âKarl McCartney has said thatâ all will share new wealth âifâ managed properly. âBut when it comes to his spending, it seems he shares the wealth with a former donor who helped him become an MP.
“The public will decide whether this counts as proper management of their expenses, but Mr. McCartney should be transparent and upfront about who he pays to run his office according to IPSA rules.”
IPSA rules do not require MPs to declare pre-existing ties to companies to which they assign work, with the exception of restrictions imposed on close family members and partners of MPs.
Tom Brake, former Liberal Democrat MP and director of Unlock Democracy, told Insider: âMPs, due to the nature of their work and their profiles, need to be extremely careful with public money. They have to go the extra mile.
“In the public mind, taking money from a donor and awarding the same donor a contract, paid for by the taxpayer, even when there is no violation of the rules, fails the liability test.”
There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Augmentum.
McCartney and moonlighting
McCartney’s lack of transparency in his parliamentary records is not limited to expense claims for the work done by his donor.
Further investigation of McCartney’s entries on the Membership Interests Register reveals consistent statements of ties to a company he calls “ML Systems Ltd.”
Upon his election in 2010, McCartney revealed he was a director of ML Systems Ltd, an IT management and consulting firm, and a former employee of the company.
Following his election in 2019, McCartney said he was an unpaid director of ML Systems Ltd and held a small stake in the company below the registration threshold that generates a dividend. He added to his listing a payment of Â£ 3,700 from a company he had provided advice to before the election, with his fees going to ML Systems Ltd.
The company registered as ML Systems Limited with Companies House was dissolved in 2015. It was previously, since its incorporation in 2009 to 2013, known as Rugs R Us Limited. McCartney is not listed as a former director of ML Systems Limited.
However, Insider has established that the mentioned ML Systems Ltd is a company owned primarily by McCartney’s brother called MoonLighting Systems Ltd. McCartney is registered as secretary of the company, incorporated in 1998. The most recent list of shareholders shows that McCartney has a 3% stake in Moonlighting Systems Ltd.
McCartney did not respond to a request for comment.
Have you encountered similar expenses by other MPs? Contact the reporter for this story with advice at [email protected]