MP dropped from energy bill debate

By Rob Cox Friday 06 December 2013 Updated: 06/12 11:24

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ALCESTER and Studley's MP has been dropped from heading a meeting about unfair energy bills following the controversy over his expenses.

Nadhim Zahawi was due to chair a Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) debate about the effects of pre-payment meters on vulnerable households - but the charity decided the recent negative publicity could distract from the meeting.

Mr Zahawi hit the headlines earlier this month when he topped a list of MPs who claimed their constituency home energy bills as part of their parliamentary expenses.

Having initially defended his claim of £5,822 to pay for heating oil and electricity, it later emerged part of the money was to supply electricity to a horse riding school stable and a yard manager's mobile home on his 31 acre Tysoe estate.

The multi-millionaire Tory MP said it had been a 'mistake' and blamed a billing mix-up and agreed to pay back £4,875.87 - the full amount of his electricity claim for the past two years.

Sue Green, Manager of Stratford CAB, said: "Stratford CAB has been working on a report into the unfair effects of prepayment meters on vulnerable households. To raise awareness of this report, we started planning a meeting in Parliament with MPs. Nadhim Zahawi MP was approached to chair this meeting.

"However, because of the national media reports about his expense claims that emerged in early November, we decided that there was a potential risk that focus could be diverted from the report."

Mr Zahawi said he thought the charity had made the right decision.

He added: "I work closely with the CAB and have supported this very important campaign about pre-payment meters from the beginning.

"This meeting is an important next step that shouldn’t be overshadowed by the recent media coverage of my expenses claims."

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