- Steve Bassam resigned as Labour’s Chief Whip in the House of Lords last week
- Lord Bassam quit over a row concerning travel and accommodation expenses
- Now it has emerged he paid his wife ‘much’ of a £44,000 secretarial allowance
- His wife Jill Whittacker is a corporate lawyer with Brighton and Hove Council
The top aide to Jeremy Corbyn who quit last week over a Lords expenses scandal faced further questions last night over thousands of pounds in secretarial allowances which he paid his wife – even though she has a separate job as a lawyer.
Steve Bassam resigned as Labour’s Chief Whip in the Lords after the MoS revealed he claimed travel expenses to commute from Brighton while getting £260,000 over the past seven years for London overnight stays he was rarely making.
Lord Bassam – known as Lord Swampy because of his background as a squatters’ rights leader – was forced to announce his resignation.
Steve Bassam – known as Lord Swampy – faces a second expenses probe after he paid his wife Jill Whittaker, right, from a £44,000 secretarial allowance he has claimed since 2010
He had already promised to pay back about £41,000 travel expenses but denied that he had broken rules relating to the second-home allowances.
Now this newspaper has established that since 2010 he has claimed around £44,000 of taxpayers’ money from a little-known Lords secretarial allowance.
Lord Bassam confirmed he used ‘much’ of the allowance to pay his wife, Jill Whittaker.
Ms Whittaker, who lives with her husband in a £1 million home in Brighton, is a corporate lawyer with Brighton and Hove City Council.
The Lords’ Ministerial and Office Holder Secretarial Expenses budget funds secretarial support for senior frontbench peers.
Last week The Mail on Sunday exposed the original scandal which led to Bassam’s resignation
Lord Bassam said the money had paid for ‘support on a range of parliamentary duties, including case work administration, charitable work and related diary management’.
He added: ‘Until October of this year, much of that support was provided by my wife.’
Asked to explain exactly how much she had received and how he justified it when she has a job with the council, he declined to answer.
There is no suggestion that Lord Bassam has broken Lords rules by paying his wife to assist him.
A Lords official said peers must submit a monthly bill which they and the person doing the work have to sign.