Being a friend of Nadine Dorries pays well.
Mrs Dorries, a conservative MP, is currently under investigation by the Commons sleaze watchdog regarding her expenses.
New figures released by the Parliamentary authorities yesterday showed Mrs Dorries claimed £17,825 to pay her close friend's marketing company between July and December last year. The MP for Mid-Bedfordshire also paid £34,000 to her friend between September 2008 and June last year - making a total of more than £51,000 in 15 months.
Her friend, Lynn Elson, runs her company Marketing Management (Midlands) Ltd from her home in a small village in the Cotswolds. Accounts filed in August show it had assets worth £4.427. The house is yards away from a tiny lodge-keeper's cottage that Mrs Dorries tells the Parliamentary authorities is her 'main home' for expenses purposes.
Most MPs have a constituency house and a flat in London. Mrs Dorries's designated 'main home', however, is 90 miles from Parliament and 55 miles from her constituency. MPs are supposed to designate as their second home the property where they stay least often. Neighbours have previously alleged that Mrs Dorries spent most of her time at her constituency house.
I'm not saying her financial claims are iffy, only suggesting there's a definite whiff of the unusual about it all.