David Cameron, Nick Clegg and even Ed Balls are all agreed: David Laws is a wonderful man, a fine public servant and as honest as the day is long. He made an entirely understandable mistake over the incredibly complicated and unclear Commons rules about accomodation expenses (the ACA, or “Additional Costs Allowance”).
That being so, then why exactly did he have to resign?
Here, by the way, is a clause from those fiendishly hard-to-understand rules:
ACA must not be used to meet the costs of a mortgage or for leasing accommodation from:
- a close business associate or any organisation or company in which you – or a partner or family member – have an interest; or
- a partner or family member.
It has also been suggested that the Daily Telegraph‘s motivation in breaking this story was, at least in part, homophobic.
The admirably sensible Chief executive of the gay rights group Stonewall, Ben Summerskill, has given that line of argument short shrift: “…public concerns about Laws’s expenses claims are almost certainly not on this occasion motivated by irrational homophobia. They might well be motivated by a more justifiable ‘second home-ophobia’ instead.”