Unsurprisingly, the Salford MP has scooped this MARY, to follow her haul of seven awards last year, including `Hypocrite of the Year' and the `I'm Gonna Sue Yer Ass' Award (see here).
Hazel wins this year's MARY for not being prosecuted by police over her strange expenses claims, particularly on the laundry front. Hazel's dirty linen was washed in public during the months leading up to the General Election, following a letter to New Scotland Yard by Steven North of the Hazel Must Go! campaign asking for a "full criminal investigation" (see here).
The case involved Hazel's claim for laundry two years earlier, which had been rejected by Parliament's Department of Resources as she couldn't provide receipts. The claim was only for £360 but North wrote "in attempting to claim without receipts I believe she deliberately made a false representation and intended to gain from it".
After the claim was rejected on the grounds of no receipts, Hazel didn't claim anything at all for laundry for five months When asked to provide receipts, Hazel's laundry bill suddenly dropped from £120 a month to £80 per month.
"I feel her actions may constitute fraud, as defined under the Fraud Act 2006 and as such may also come under the Theft Act 1968" wrote North, who added "It therefore suggests that Ms. Blears may have knowingly made false claims for some time. I believe the picture here is one of prima facie evidence of fraud. Can Ms. Blears verify her unreceipted expense claims? Can any cleaning service provider substantiate her claims?"
New Scotland Yard, in line with claims about other MPs, didn't proceed with any action. Yet there's never been any satisfactory explanation. Neither has anyone fully explained what happened with the strange £13,332 capital gains payment to the taxman – did she dodge it originally? Did the taxman accept it? Was it ever cashed? No-one knows. Meanwhile, Hazel claimed £51,523 on mortgage payments (and a bit on hotels) between 2004-8.
And then there's the pies. During the expenses years 2004 to 2008 Hazel managed to claim £9620 on food, including over £1000 when Parliament wasn't even sitting – during summer, Easter and Christmas.
The only explanation Hazel has ever given for all this was behind the closed doors of a Labour Party re-selection meeting when she said "When I first went into Parliament I was told by existing MPs `These are the expenses, basically divide it by twelve and that's what you claim every month'…That's what was the established culture. And that was wrong…It did develop into that culture of entitlement rather than what was needed in order to do your job..."
She added: "It enabled you to claim things that are utterly bizarre and that no reasonable rational person would have agreed to pay for…"
In April 2010 Hazel told a Salford Question Time audience "The one thing I agree with is that the system was wrong" adding "There's an awful lot that's been reported in the papers that is simply not true".
Yet these expenses stories were all based directly from her own claims. Hmmm…
Runner up to Hazel in the Award was fellow Salford MP Barbara Keeley who bought a second home in late 2006 for £469,800 and claimed £13,000 in one go towards the stamp duty. Thereafter, taxpayers forked out over £1500 a month in mortgage interest payments. Which seemed a bit strange because the property, from what we could gather, was bought in the joint name of Barbara Keeley and Colin Keeley Huggett, presumably her husband.
While taxpayers were busy paying `just the interest' on the mortgage of over £1500 a month, the other bit paying off the capital was only around £134 a month, presumably and generously being paid by Colin. Meanwhile, taxpayers also picked up the bill for all the service charges of over £280 a month, plus the ground rent on the property. Again, no proper explanation has ever been received.
We stand to be corrected on all this info if it's false – but in the meantime, THE DAVID CHAYTOR `THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GO I' AWARD goes to…
Unfortunately David Chaytor couldn't be here personally to present this Award – we understand he's being detained at Her Majesty's pleasure.
You can see the full details on all the Hazel Blears stories by clicking here and following the links. And by clicking here for Barbara Keeley.
Previous Salford Star Mary Burns Awards 2010
* Texter of the Year Award: click here
* The Bubble's Burst Award: click here
* The Let's Wipe Out Salfordians Award: click here
* The Salford Royal Hospital Smooth Operator Award: click here (and follow links at the end of the article for more Awards)