Christopher Fraser to stand down as Tory MP for Norfolk after claiming 140 cherry trees on the taxpayer

To be honest I’ve found this week’s news a bit dull – it’s wrong not to include one of the MP standing down stories, especially one who claims for 75 red cedars on the taxpayer. Can’t see the wood for the trees I guess. Thanks to the Telegraph for running this one. When are they going to get to the real story behind corruptibility amongst MPs? I’m looking out for it I can tell you. Might even start writing it myself if the newspapers keep on getting diverted by the relatively small fry expenses stuff.

The South West Norfolk MP, said he would not contest the next election because of his wife’s continuing ill-health and said his decision was not to do with the controversy over the way he designated his “second home” allowing him to claim money for his £350,000 property in East Anglia.

Mr Fraser also lives on a farm worth £1.2 million in Dorset, where he was an MP between 1997 and 2001, before being voted out and re-elected to the Norfolk seat four years later.

He designates the farmhouse in Dorset as his “main home”, while letting out a smaller farmhouse on the same estate and the surrounding land. He also rents out another property in London.

Mr Fraser used the money claimed on his Norfolk home to buy 140 cherry laurels and 75 red cedars. The MP made the claim for trees worth £933 and fencing worth £875 in February, 2007.

It was initially challenged by the Commons fees office. An official who approved the claim said: “This is a property without any natural boundaries. Mr Fraser felt that in order to provide security and privacy, fences and hedges were required.”

In a statement today the MP said: “I have never sought re-selection for South West Norfolk because I have for some time been seriously considering whether to go forward after the next General Election. My wife’s ongoing health problems and the major operation that she had last year have made it difficult to juggle my family life with my duties as an MP.

“It has been a privilege to serve South West Norfolk, and I have enjoyed the work enormously. I hope that I have in some small way been able to make a difference for the people who have come to me for help.

“With great sadness, I have decided not to seek re-selection for the next election.

“I pledge absolute support to David Cameron and the Conservative Party, and will work between now and the general election for the Conservative government that the country urgently needs.”

Between being elected in May, 2005, and October, 2006, he rented another farmhouse in the constituency for £1,200 a month, the cost of which he claimed back on expenses.

He also claimed £240 for a lawnmower and £70 for the emptying of his “sceptic (sic) tank”. He said: “I purchased the cheapest lawnmower that I could find, and cut the grass myself to save costs.”

Mr Fraser then bought his current “second home”, and made an emergency claim. Officials noted that he “needs money urgently”.

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