A Tory Council leader accused by the Lib Dems of claiming £91,000 in expenses has won an apology. St Michael’s Hospice in Hastings has received £1,500 being the “costs” paid to East Sussex County Council Leader, Peter Jones as part of an apology from Lewes Liberal Democrats for false and misleading comments put out on their website during this year’s county election. Cllr. Jones chose to pay his own legal costs and pass on the £1,500 settlement to the Hospice.
The apology which has been posted on the Lewes Lib Dem website reads as follows;
“On May 29th we published a press release on our website entitled “Tory leader in £91,000 claim shame”. The press release stated that Councillor Jones (Conservative) claimed £91,000 from the public purse in one year between 2006 and 2007. We would like to clarify that Councillor Jones in fact claimed £5,291 in actual expenses during the year and the £91,000 was made up from salary payments and allowances from four different public positions he held with East Sussex County Council, the South East England Development Agency, the Audit Commission and the Police Authority. We are happy to clarify the position and apologise to Councillor Jones for not making the position clearer and for the distress and embarrassment caused."
Cllr Jones commented:
“Following a complaint from my solicitors, Carter Ruck, the Lewes Lib Dems agreed to issue the apology and pay £1500 for my costs. This settles what for me was a sad experience. Political campaigns based almost entirely on personal attacks demean our democracy and deny voters the chance to hear alternative points of view.”
Julian Avery, Chairman of St. Michaels said:
“We are extremely grateful to Cllr. Jones that he has chosen to make this money available to us.”