BY DAVID V BARRETT
CAFOD DIRECTOR Chris Bain has denied any impropriety after he was apparently embroiled in the revelations about MPs’ expenses.
According to the Daily Telegraph Mr Bain lives rentfree in the London home of Northern Ireland Minister Paul Goggins, though he “contributed to the costs between 1998 and 2003”. For the last three years this has been Mr Goggins’s designated second home, for which he claimed almost £45,000 in expenses.
Mr Bain said this account misrepresents the reality of the situation, according to . “I’ve been a close friend of Paul Goggins, his wife, Win, and their family for 30 years. Win and I were both active at our university Catholic society,” he said. “In late 1997 when we were both looking for London homes we agreed to jointly buy a modest terraced house on a council estate in January 1998. Paul bought out half my share of the house in 2003 and I currently own a quarter share for which I do not need a mortgage. Paul’s mortgage only covers a third of the value of the property. Therefore as part owner of the property I would not expect to pay rent. I bought my own home outside London in 2006 and estimate I am around three to four nights a week in London given the travelling involved in my job.” In 2006 the parliamentary rules changed and Mr Goggins’s London home became his second home, for which he could claim expenses, including council tax and utility bills. Mr Bain said: “I have not paid Paul directly for my share of these but in lieu, I have covered all other costs including my personal living costs, food and other expenses, and been responsible for maintaining and cleaning the house and garden, covering costs for decorating and minor repairs, and have provided replacements for items such as TVs, rugs, furniture, vacuum cleaners and so on.
“This arrangement fell well within Paul’s legitimate allowances. However, in light of current events we understand the informal financial arrangement agreed between us based on our friendship should be reviewed. Paul and I will reassess our respective shares of the costs of running the house and repay any short fall incurred against my time spent there.” He said: “Paul and his family have been great friends for a long time now and it was this friendship which led to us sharing a modest London house. Our informal arrangements were made with the best of intentions and we are reviewing them and will make all appropriate changes.” Bishop John Rawsthorne of Hallam, chairman of Cafod, said: “I am more than happy with Chris Bain’s response to the concerns expressed. What the Trustees need right now is for Chris to continue his important work.”