‘He’s a crafty b******’, says elderly council tenant who lived in flat Shahid Malik snapped up for ‘next to nothing’
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Shahid Malik has been cleared of wrongdoing over the rent he pays for his second home…but other issues are cropping up thick and fast
Scandal-hit Minister Shahid Malik was branded a ‘crafty b*****’ after new allegations concerning his use of Commons expenses were disclosed last night.
He was reappointed to the Government last week, as Communities Minister, after an inquiry cleared him of any wrong-doing over the discounted rent he pays on his constituency home.
But Gordon Brown’s judgment in restoring the former Justice Minister so swiftly is set to be questioned after a Mail on Sunday investigation uncovered allegations that Mr Malik:
- Allowed three of his brothers to use his taxpayer-funded second home in London as student digs.
- Tried to buy his flat at a knockdown price from the elderly council tenant who lived there.
- Is refusing to release papers to allow a heavily pregnant neighbour to move to her new home
Also, Mr Malik paid his father Rafique Â£7,000-a-year from his Commons expenses to work as an assistant in his constituency in Dewsbury, Yorkshire.
Mr Malik came under further pressure as some constituents launched a petition to try to have him deselected.
Since becoming an MP in 2005, Mr Malik has claimed the maximum Â£66,827 expenses on his flat in Peckham, South London. It includes Â£2,600 for a home cinema system, Â£65 for a court summons for not paying council tax, Â£730 on a massage chair, Â£671 for a fireplace and Â£510 for a fitted wardrobe.
The two-bedroom flat â€“ the bottom two floors of a four-storey building â€“ was bought by Mr Malik from Southwark Council for Â£85,000 in 2001. His elder brother Zahid was living in the privately owned flat on the top two floors. He sold it for Â£234,000 in 2003.
The previous occupant of Shahid Malik’s flat said Zahid tried to persuade her to exercise her right to buy the flatÂ at a reduced rate from the council and then sell it to the Maliks.
Ivy Luchford, 71, who moved to Welling, Kent, said: ‘As I had lived in the flat for a long time, and my mother had lived there before me, I could have bought it for Â£9,000 and sold it on. It was a nice flat with a lovely garden, but I didn’t want to do that. I just left without telling them.’
When told that Mr Malik had bought her old flat from the council for Â£85,000, an astonished Ms Luchford said: ‘What a crafty b*****. He got that flat for next to nothing. How did he persuade the council to sell him it for that?’
The flat Shahid Malik bought for a very cheap sum
One of Mr Malik’s neighbours, who did not want to be identified, said that when Ms Luchford moved out, Zahid Malik lobbied Southwark Council to buy it. Land Registry records confirm that soon afterwards, Shahid Malik bought the flat, including the freehold covering the whole building.
‘I was very angry,’ said the neighbour.Â
‘There was a long list of locals desperate for affordable accommodation, but the council was happy to sell it to the Maliks. It needed a bit of damp treatment and they were persuaded it would be easier to off-load it to the Maliks rather than carry out the repairs.’
When Mr Malik, 41, bought the flat, now said to be worth up to Â£300,000, he had just been elected to Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee.Â
A Southwark Council spokeswoman refused to comment directly on theÂ
sale of the flat. ‘Councils can dispose of any surplus or void properties,’ she said.Â
‘When sales take place a valuation is compiled and there are strict rulesÂ
in place which ensure nobody is offered a “bargain”.’
Mr Malik is now in a dispute with his upstairs neighbour who bought the flat from his brother.Â
The Mail on Sunday understands that Harriet Lee, who is heavily pregnant, has received an offer for the property and is desperate to move before she gives birth. But she is said to be frustrated at being unable to complete on the deal because Mr Malik has failed to sign the relevant freehold papers. Ms Lee refused to comment.Â
The Mail on Sunday has been told that three of Mr Malik’s brothers â€“ Jahanzaib, Shehryar and Zeeshan â€“ have used the flat as accommodation while studying in London. His sister Sobia is also believed to have stayed at the flat.
There is no suggestion of wrong-doing by Mr Malik’s siblings. Commons rules state that MPs’ second home expenses must not ‘give rise to an accusation that you or someone close to you is obtaining a benefit’.
Mr Malik is the only MP who has employed his father in his office. Rafique Malik was paid about Â£7,000 a year as a two-day-a-week case worker in 2005. A former Mayor of Burnley, he is thought to have worked for his son as recently as last November.
Malik gave a press conference at his Dewsbury home after he was cleared of wrongdoing
Mr Malik stepped down from the Government after it was revealed that his main home â€“ a three-bedroom house in Dewsbury, which he pays for out of his own pocket â€“ cost him less than Â£100 a week to rent.
The deal raised questions about whether the Minister had broken rules on accepting gifts.Â
After he was cleared by Sir Philip Mawer, Mr Brown’s independent adviser on ministerial conduct, Mr Malik was reappointed last week â€“ only for revelations to emerge detailing how the taxpayer had simultaneously paid towards his second home in London and the costs of office space in his constituency house.
Last night Mr Malik said: ‘I believe my Peckham flat had been boarded up well in excess of a year at the point of purchase. It was prone to squatters and was completely uninhabitable and dilapidated prior to purchase. The amount I paid reflected the condition of the house and the prevailing market rate at the time.
‘Like any other family, my family have naturally frequented my flat on a casual and occasional basis.’