Guido compares the very similar cases of Tory MP Michael Trend and NuLabour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.
However the Michael Trend precedent is even more worrying for Jacqui. In 2003 the Tory MP was found guilty of abusing the allowances system and ordered to repay £90,277, he was also suspended from parliament and stood down in disgrace at the following election. His crime was to claim the same allowance as Jacqui has when he was staying with a friend in London. Trend claimed he "believed that I could properly continue to designate London as 'home' for the purposes of ACA, even though, in domestic terms, Windsor had become my "main residence"." This is apparently Jacqui's position. It was not accepted. There was no doubt in the Standard's Committee's minds that there was no "real scope for doubt that the words "main residence" were intended to have other than their natural meaning."
The Committee ruled that "Mr Trend should have recognised that, by claiming Additional Costs Allowance in relation to his Windsor home, the taxpayer was meeting some of the core running costs of what was in reality his main residence. He should have realised that this was wrong. Accordingly, we agree with the Commissioner that Mr Trend was negligent and has breached the Code of Conduct by making improper use of the Additional Costs Allowance and by failing strictly to observe the administrative rules relating to the Allowance."
Or, as your humble Devil would be wont to put it, "Michael Trend did knowingly and, with malice afore-thought, defraud the taxpayer of over £90,000." Simply replace the words 'Michael Trend' with 'Jacqui Smith' and I think that we have a fairly accurate picture of what has gone on here. Well, Guido certainly thinks so.
It is hard to see how, in these parallel circumstances, Jacqui Smith should not suffer the same fate. Ordered to repay the fiddled £116,000 and suspended from parliament. In which case she will have to resign as Home Secretary.
And if that happens, your humble Devil will take the day off and spend the entire day in the pub, drinking in celebratory glee.
I am not holding my breath, unfortunately: these people have absolutely no shame and a desperate tenacity when holding onto well-paid sinecures. And, alas, the chance of her being prosecuted for fraud in public office is extraordinarily remote.
Mind you, you would have thought that she'd have kept her ill-informed trap shut today though, eh? Alas, as the poor little Greek boy notes, she has not.