A relative of a former Conservative peer accused of making false expenses claims has said he was “shocked” and “quite angry” when told that the politician had used his address as a main place of residence on his claim forms.
Robert Taylor, half nephew of Lord Taylor of Warwick, told a jury at Southwark Crown Court: “I was shocked, I was quite angry, actually, because I had always wondered why he had been quite so friendly, because we didn’t on the face of it have a lot in common.
“At the point where we were being doorstepped by the media, I suddenly realised that maybe his wasn’t actually a real friendship at all.”
The court has heard that the peer submitted forms saying his main residence was in Oxford, where his half nephew lived, when Lord Taylor actually lived in Ealing, west London. He claimed for travelling expenses between the two cities and for night subsistence to cover being in London, the jury has heard.
The prosecution says the peer has agreed that he never stayed at the address in Oxford and had no legal or financial interest in it.
Lord Taylor, 58, is on trial facing six counts of false accounting, relating to claims he made as a member of the House of Lords under the members’ reimbursement allowance scheme, on various dates between March 2006 and October 2007. He denies the charges.
Mr Taylor, a professional photographer, said he has lived for eight years at the house in Oxford which is owned by his partner Dr Tristram Wyatt. He said contact with Lord Taylor had been “sporadic” over the years.
Dr Wyatt, asked his reaction when he heard that Lord Taylor had used the house as his main place of residence, said: “Great surprise.” Asked why, he said: “Because he didn’t live there.” He also said he would have said ‘no’ if asked by Lord Taylor whether he could do so.
Mohammed Khamisa QC, defending, has said that others who spoke to Lord Taylor told him his claims were “acceptable” because members did not receive a salary.
He has told the jury: “You will hear that others with whom he worked, other peers he spoke to, had all told him that what he was doing was acceptable.”