Bhatia is a 77-year-old Labour party donor who sits as a crossbencher. He is a successful businessman who has been prominent in several charities. After being made a peer by Tony Blair in 2001, he went on to lead the Edutrust Academies Charitable Trust which was formed to open and run city academies. He quit the board of the trust after a government inquiry found evidence of financial and governance mismanagement at the charity.
Doesn't sound promising. So, what is he alleged to have done?
Lord Bhatia, a businessman and philanthropist, has lived with his wife in a £1.5m home in southwest London for 20 years. Almost two years ago he decided to “flip” the designation of his primary residence to a two-bedroom flat in Reigate, Surrey, which has been his brother’s home for three years. The town is a mile beyond the M25 motorway, a boundary used by peers to define whether they live outside London for expenses purposes.
By saying the Reigate flat was his main home, Bhatia was able to claim lucrative “overnight” allowances from the Lords. Peers whose main home is outside the capital are able to collect £174 a night as reimbursement for the cost of a hotel or maintaining a second home while attending parliament.
He must be struggling to go to all that trouble. But I'm sure he acted with the utmost probity, after all, he is a Labour supporter, and we all know their shit doesn't even stink.
Bhatia could not remember the address of the flat when repeatedly asked last week. He had to look it up and even then misspelt the name of the block. A neighbour could not recall him living there, but Bhatia insisted he had spent many weekends at the flat and said he intended to move there with his wife when he sells his family home.
Oh, look. Another flying pig.