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Shamed deputy used council card for personal bills

PUBLISHED: 13:56 25 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:52 25 August 2010

A SHAMED deputy mayor had used a council s credit card for personal expenses up to TWO DAYS before he took up his role in City Hall.

A SHAMED deputy mayor had used a council's credit card for personal expenses up to TWO DAYS before he took up his role in City Hall.

Former aide to London Mayor Boris Johnson, Ian Clement resigned on Monday following revelations that he used a City Hall credit for personal lunches and dinners with 'lover' 23-year-old Claire Dowson.

But the former leader of Bexley council also used taxpayers money to stay at the Park Plaza County Hall Hotel for £513.67 and eat at a nearby restaurant on May 4, just days before he was selected as deputy mayor for government and external relations.

Statements released by Bexley council show that he spent £1,220.27 on personal travel and food expenses, including a £364.31 hotel bill at the Excelsior Hotel Ernst in Germany.

A spokesman for Bexley council said that his personal expenses have been paid in full but terms of use for the card read: "This card should only be used for transactions appertaining to Bexley Council. Personal expenditure is not permitted."

The Times asked Bexley council if Mr Clement faced censure for 'abusing' the card for five months between December 2007 and May 2008 but it refused to comment.

A spokesman for Bexley council said: "Former councillor Clement used the council purchasing card from July 2007 to May 2008. All the items purchased using the card were either for authorised council expenditure or were personal items which former Cllr Clement settled when each statement was received.

"No other Bexley councillors have requested, or been issued with, a council purchasing card."

Receipts for legitimate expenses include a hotel bill for an LGA conference in July 2007 of £342.

He had lunch with the chief executive at SE1 restaurant Le Pont de la Tour, £86, in November, then in February 2008 with the chief executive "designate" in February 2008, £109.

He dined at the same restaurant with the Metropolitan police Authority, spending £83 and £92 on Sutton Council. Lunch at Chez Gerard with the Community Safety Partnership cost £159.

Mr Clement, who lives in Dartford with his partner and child, was forced to resign from his £127,000 job on Monday after he was found to use his Greater London Authority card to pay for lavish meals and travel expenses totalling £2,300.

At least three claims, made in October and November last year, were proved to be false after the "guests" said they were not present.

It is understood that he was entertaining Miss Dowson on two occasions.

On the third he claimed £51.70 at West End restaurant the New Mayflower for "dinner with Merrick Cockell" - the chair of the umbrella body London Council, Kensington and Chelsea council leader.

Mr Cockell contacted City Hall to say he had never been to the restaurant.

Bexley councillor and Greater London Authority member Gareth Bacon was also treated to a curry with Mr Clement at the Baltizer Restaurant in Bexley High Street but he was "unaware" he had used his corporate card. After seeking legal advice Mr Bacon registered the meal with Bexley council as hospitality.

Mr Clement then travelled to the Park Plaza County Hall hotel and racked up a bill for £513.67 The tabs were paid by Mr Clement seven weeks later.

A month earlier he had been at the Park Plaza, this time on City Hall business and the taxpayer picked up the tab for £154.

Information about Mr Clement's spending on his Bexley credit card are on the council website at www.bexley.gov.uk/about/cardpurchase.

martin.sawden@archant.co.uk

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