The Sunday Telegraph

Rayner’s former aide contradict­s house claims

Former employee gives statement to police as political pressure builds on Labour deputy leader


A FORMER employee of Angela Rayner has provided a statement to police contradict­ing her claims about where her primary residence was.

Matt Finnegan said he was in “no doubt” that a residence Ms Rayner shared with her husband was her “family home”.

The claims come at a time when the Labour deputy leader is under investigat­ion by Greater Manchester Police and will lead to further questions about whether she underpaid tax on the sale of her home.

Ms Rayner has faced scrutiny about whether she should have paid capital gains on the 2015 sale of her council house on Vicarage Road, Stockport, owing to confusion about whether it was her principal residence or whether she was living with her then-husband at a separate address on Lowndes Lane.

Wrongly declaring her permanent address on the electoral roll would also have been a criminal offence, and Greater Manchester Police announced on Friday they were “investigat­ing whether any offences have been committed”.

The Sunday Times reported that Mr Finnegan, a former adviser to Ms Rayner, has provided a statement to police saying he visited her at a property in Lowndes Lane in the summer of 2014, around the time she became a parliament­ary candidate.

Mr Finnegan – who left Ms Rayner’s employment several years ago with a payout and non-disclosure agreement after accusing her of disability and unfair dismissal – said in his letter: “There was no doubt in my mind that this was Ms Rayner’s family home, where she lived with her then husband, Mark. I remember it quite vividly because Ms Rayner was not at home at first and I had to wait for some time in my car before she eventually arrived. It was also memorable in that it was the first and only time I visited her home during the course of my voluntary work for her.”

When the police investigat­ion was announced on Friday, Ms Rayner said she would quit if found to have “committed a criminal offence”.

She added: “I’ve repeatedly said I would welcome the chance to sit down with the appropriat­e authoritie­s, including the police and HMRC, to set out the facts and draw a line under this matter. I am completely confident I’ve followed the rules at all times.”

She added: “I will say as I did before if I committed a criminal offence, I would of course do the right thing and step down.”

However, Scott Wortley, a law lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, has said that Ms Rayner cannot be prosecuted because there is an “absolute rule” under the Representa­tion of the People Act 1983 that “any offence” under the Act has to be prosecuted within a year.

“It is possible to get an extension for one more year, but that extension has to be applied for within the first year. There’s no way it can be prosecuted because it’s an absolute timebar.”

Mr Wortley added: “The only way you could determine whether someone has committed a criminal offence, is if they’re found guilty of committing a criminal offence [in court].”

The informatio­n has led some Conservati­ve MPs to claim that Ms Rayner carefully worded her statement to set an impossibly high bar for her resignatio­n.

A Labour spokesman said: “Angela has always made clear she also spent time at her husband’s property when they had children and got married as he did at hers. The house she owned remained her main home. Angela looks forward to sitting down with the appropriat­e authoritie­s, including the police and HMRC, to set out the facts and draw a line under this matter.”

‘There’s no doubt in my mind that this was her home where she lived with her then husband’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom