|ROGER LYONS, the trade
union leader, fiddled his expenses by claiming for food and drink
during meetings in Downing Street with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown,
a tribunal was told yesterday.
The General Secretary of the Manufacturing, Science and Finance
Union allegedly made unreceipted claims for "sustenance" despite
receiving hospitality from the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of
The allegation against him was made by Marcia Solomon, a former
employee, at an employment tribunal in London where she is seeking
compensation and damages for unfair dismissal. She claims that Mr
Lyons and Nelson Mendes, the union's finance head, between them
defrauded the MSF of up to £130,000 while "living the high life off
union funds" during her three-year employment.
Ms Solomon, a former secretarial assistant to Mr Mendes, said of
Mr Lyons: "He seemed to be claiming back unreceipted expenditure for
food and drink in respect of almost every single meeting he ever
attended, including meetings with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The
same was true with the various media interviews Roger was
"One reason I found this all so bizarre was that I would expect
tea and coffee to be provided at such meetings. I certainly would
not expect that an individual invited to meet the Prime Minister
would be expected to pay for hospitality at that meeting."
The sustenance figure claimed is said to be £4 after meeting Tony
Blair and £19.65 after meeting Gordon Brown, sums that Mr Lyons is
expected to maintain were to buy drinks at a pub in Whitehall
Ms Solomon, 32, was dismissed from her £19,500 job last December
after outlining allegations against the two men to John Chowcat, who
was then the union's assistant general secretary. Mr Chowcat has
since left the union on severance terms said to amount to about
Ms Solomon, who now works for the GMB union, which is supporting
her in her claim, alleged that Mr Lyons misused union credit cards,
obtained interest-free loans and misused expense accounts.
Sarah Moor, counsel for the MSF, told the tribunal that Mr Lyons,
who had previously opted not to give evidence, would now do so and
open his bank accounts to scrutiny.
The union contests the allegations and accuses Ms Solomon of
being motivated by malice. The hearing continues today.
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