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Special to the tribune
UK minister threatened to destroy her host’s booze bottles
Shyam Bhatia in London

Sayeeda WarsiBaroness Sayeeda Warsi allegedly threatened to destroy alcohol bottles in the home of the doctor who claims he allowed her to stay rent-free at his London home.

Egyptian Dr Wafik Moustafa has been quoted as saying he felt “stabbed in the back” by the Pakistani origin British Cabinet Minister who has been criticised for claiming overnight subsistence expenses while allegedly staying rent-free at Moustafa’s house.

“I put a roof over her head, fed her and took her out for meals, and she has stabbed me in the back,” Moustafa has been quoted as saying.

He added that Lady Warsi, who is co-chair of the ruling Conservative Party, ‘disapproved’ of him having bottles of spirit in his house and said she would smash them, although that was a threat that was never carried out.

Dr Moustafa explained she did not approve of him drinking or eating non-halal meat in his own house. “She said I was a good person but if I didn’t drink alcohol, I would be a better person. But she would sit with other people who drank alcohol and wouldn’t say a word. I’m a Muslim but I’m an Egyptian Muslim, we are not as strict,” he said.

The Minister has now been reported to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner over her 2008 expenses claims when she and a party aide, Naweed Khan, stayed at Moustafa’s home.

Warsi insists that she did make “appropriate payments”, but these were made to Khan who was a friend of Moustafa’s and also enjoyed the doctor’s hospitality.

Moustafa has since responded, saying, “They were both my guests. He (Khan) didn’t have any authority to receive money as it was not his house. He didn’t even pay for himself. She never paid me any money and I never asked for any. I let her stay here because I’m a hospitable person. She never contributed to the bills. It’s part of my nature to give. I give more than I take.”

Warsi has also come under criticism for failing to declare rental income on a property she bought in 2007. She has admitted what she describes as an “oversight”, explaining that this rental income was reported in another register covering the Minister’s interests.

Ducking questions over whether she would be prepared to resign, Yorkshire-born Warsi commented, “I take these questions very seriously - It’s why I said at the outset I would fully cooperate with any investigation. I believe that being a member of the House of Lords is a privilege. It’s why I have always ensured that my conduct, including in relation to expenses and allowances, is both in accordance with the law and the spirit of the rules.”

The British media has gone to town over the allegations about Warsi’s expenses. One newspaper, the Daily Mail, has also been asking questions

about a November 2010 trip she made to Saudi Arabia when she was a British Cabinet Minister and her travel expenses were allegedly paid for by the Saudi government.

Warsi has denied doing anything wrong, saying her trip had been conducted ‘entirely openly’. But Labour Opposition MP Kevan Jones commented, “Lady Warsi still has serious questions to answer. It is highly unusual for a Minister to go on an overseas trip paid for by a foreign government.”

Another British newspaper, the Sunday Times, has joined in the fray by claiming that when Warsi did stay in a London hotel between October 2007 and November 2008, she paid only £75 a night, while claiming the £165.60 overnight subsistence to which she was entitled.

“Warsi, 41, did not break any rules by using a cheap hotel,” The Sunday Times reported. “However, claiming the maximum allowance - and pocketing the difference - is likely to provoke allegations of seeking to profit from expenses rather than cover the costs.”





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