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UK industrialist, Lord Swraj Paul

British parliament suspends Swraj Paul, two other MPs  

London, Oct 21- Indian-born business tycoon and member of Britain's House of Lords Swraj Paul was Thursday suspended from the house along with two other legislators for wrongly claiming reimbursement for their stay in London, a media report said.

According to BBC, three peers have been suspended from the House of Lords and told to repay expenses after wrongly claiming tens of thousands of pounds. Lord Paul has been suspended for four months and cross-bencher Lord Amirali Alibhai Bhatia for eight months. Both have already repaid substantial sums. Baroness Manzila Pola Uddin has been suspended until Easter 2012 and told to repay 125,349 pounds.

The legislators approved the measures recommended by the House of Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee, which looked into their claims following allegations that they had been deliberately designating little-used properties outside London as their "main homes". The three members were accused of claiming overnight allowances worth 174 pound a night, to stay near Westminster when Parliament was sitting as well as travel expenses.

Baroness Uddin has already been suspended from the Labour Party and Lord Paul has resigned his Labour Party membership. Lord Paul has already paid 41,982 pounds and Lord Bhatia has paid back 27,446 pounds, the BBC said.

The committee's report, published earlier this week, said that all three of those investigated "had long-established London residences, in which they spent the bulk of their time, before acquiring a 'main residence' outside London, in which they spent a much smaller portion of their time". The Labour peer and donor Lord Paul "freely admitted" he never spent a night at the one-bedroom flat in Oxfordshire he designated as his "main residence" between late 2005 and end of July 2006, the report said.

But the report responding to his claims said: "Lord Paul explained his interpretation of the term 'main residence' by reference to his cultural background. "He insisted that 'anyone coming out of India would not understand what main residence means'. He accepted that he had 'not once' looked at the guidance on the back of the claim forms."

The committee said they could not claim, on the balance of probabilities, that he acted dishonestly or in bad faith but added: "However, his actions were utterly unreasonable and demonstrated gross irresponsibility and negligence."

As he had already repaid the money he should be suspended for four months, the report said.

Responding to the report, Lord Paul said: "I am disappointed that I seem to have been treated more harshly than others." He said the rules were unclear but he would accept the committee's decision. Leader of the Lords Lord Strathclyde said he was "shocked and dismayed" by the report and said the measures would be "some of the toughest handed down in modern times, but in my judgement they are fully justified".


Lord Swaraj Paul, Lord Amir Bhatia, MPs face suspension from Lords  

Two Indian-origin MPs face suspension from Lords  

London, Oct, 17, 2010Three British lawmakers, including two Indian-origin MPs, probed over the expenses they claimed face suspension from the House of Lords, a media report said Sunday.

The trio -- Lord Swaraj Paul, Lord Amir Bhatia and Bangladeshi-born Baroness Uddin -- are expected to be officially recommended for censure in a statement by the House of Lords authorities, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

Paul, a major Labour party donor, has been recommended for a suspension of between four and six months and has agreed to pay back 40,000 pounds.

Bhatia, who sits as a cross-bencher but has also donated money to Labour, faces a ban of between six and 12 months and is to voluntarily repay 27,000 pounds.

Uddin, a Labour peer and the first Muslim woman to be appointed to the upper house, is set to be suspended from the Lords for between a year and 18 months, and has agreed to pay back 125,000 pounds in wrongly claimed expenses.

All three were investigated by the sub-committee on Lords' interests, a powerful body in the upper house chaired by Baroness Manningham-Buller. Paul and Uddin were referred to the committee after criminal investigations into their cases were dropped.

The investigation followed a series of complaints and questions over alleged abuses of the expenses system in the House of Lords, the report said.

Paul, an Indian-born steel tycoon who has donated more than 400,000 pounds to Labour and is close to Gordon Brown, is understood to have already repaid about 38,000 pounds.

He admitted that he never spent a single night at an Oxfordshire flat that he registered as his main home while claiming money in overnight expenses for a London property.

Bhatia, another millionaire, has a 1.5 million pounds home in southwest London but in 2007 he "flipped" the designation of his main home to a two-bedroom flat in Surrey county, which used to be lived in by his brother, the paper said.

A House spokesman said Saturday night he could not comment on the latest revelations about the trio.

Last year, two Labour peers -- Lord Taylor of Blackburn and Lord Truscott -- were suspended from the House of Lords for six months for misconduct, the first such action since the 17th century. They were found by a Lords committee to be willing to change laws in exchange for cash....IANS /