The parliamentary committee that will consider whether any MPs should pay back some of their dodgy expenses is led by a former journalist who knows all about clever use of ‘exes’.
Don Touhig, MP for Islwyn and chair of the Members’ Allowances Committee, was previously group editor of the Bailey Brothers-owned Free Press of Monmouthshire series of newspapers.
In the mid 1980s, the company decided to launch a free weekly paper in the Forest of Dean â€¦ but without hiring any new reporters.
Instead, Pontypool-based Touhig telephoned his reporter on the Chepstow & Caldicot Free Press and told him that, in addition to covering those two Welsh towns, he would also have to report on events over the border in Gloucestershire.
Fortunately that reporter is now a very close friend of Axegrinder.
He explained this week: ‘I was on a pretty terrible salary and was permanently broke so I excitedly told Don, ‘That’s great! How much more will I be paid?’
‘Even though Don was a solid Labour man – but no fan of the NUJ – and sat on the county council, I wasn’t too surprised when he told me my salary would remain the same.
‘When I complained that this was grossly unfair, he came up with a proposal. To reward me for doing the extra work I would be allowed to claim one extra meal allowance per week on my expenses, which from memory I think was worth about £5.
‘So Don got all the copy for his new paper for about a fiver â€¦ and it was all paid on expenses.”