Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi 'claimed £165.50 a night in House of Lords expenses despite staying in a £75 a night Premier Inn'
Peer says her expenses claims are 'in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the rules'
Questions are also asked about trips to the Middle East funded by the Saudi Arabian government
By CHRIS RICHARDS
PUBLISHED: 11:56 GMT, 3 June 2012 | UPDATED: 13:12 GMT, 3 June 2012
Under-fire Tory party co-chairman Baroness Warsi could have profited from parliamentary expenses by billing the taxpayer up to £165 a night for accommodation despite staying at a Premier Inn for less than half the price.
The cabinet minister claimed £12,247 in overnight subsistence costs related to her House of Lords attendance between October 2007 and March 2008, which equates to her receiving the maximum £165.50 on 74 occasions.
But sources told The Sunday Times that during this period she stayed on a number of occasions at the Premier Inn in Wembley, London, paying about £75 a night.
Warsi, 41, did not break parliamentary rules by using a cheap hotel, but by claiming the maximum allowance - and pocketing the difference - she leaves herself open to accusations of profiting from expenses rather then using them to cover costs.
Fellow peer Lord Hanningfield, jailed for falsely claiming overnight House of Lords expenses, said: 'I don't want to say anything against Baroness Warsi but, as I said at my trial, 85 per cent of peers were claiming the full allowances.'
The news comes a week after allegations that Warsi had claimed up to £2,000 in House of Lords expenses while staying rent-free at the Acton home of GP and Tory party member Wafik Moustafa.
Warsi has admitted she spent occasional nights at the property after she entered the Lords in October 2007 and before she moved into a two-bedroom flat she bought in Wembley.
She has said she stayed there on about 12 occasions as a guest of Tory official Naweed Khan, who later became her special adviser.
The peer denies these allegations and has referred herself to Paul Kernaghan, the Lords Commissioner for Standards, who is expected to carry out an investigation.
Warsi has also been criticised for failing to declare to Parliament that she had been receiving thousands of pounds in rent since moving out of her Wembley flat.
She additionally faces the prospect of a police probe, after the Met received a complaint from a member of the public.
Warsi said: 'I believe the membership of the House of Lords is a privilege, which is why I have at all times sought to ensure that my conduct, including claims for overnight accommodation and subsistence, is in accordance with both the letter of the law and the spirit of the rules.
'That is why I have referred the allegations relating to my claims for overnight allowances to the Commissioner for Standards in the House of Lords, thereby enabling the Commissioner to carry out an investigation that would otherwise be time-barred.'
Separately, the Mail On Sunday today revealed that Warsi made two trips to the Middle East that were funded by the Saudi Arabian government.
Both trips were to Saudi Arabia and Warsi was joined on one of them by her husband.
She has declared both trips in the House of Lords register but no costs have been disclosed.
Warsi added that her husband had 'met his own costs'.
So far, the prime minister has backed Warsi despite calls for her to resign.
Read more: Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi 'claimed £165.50 a night in House of Lords expenses despite staying in a £75 a night Premier Inn' | Mail Online