Tory sleaze chief admits affair but says house ban love nest claims are 'as fictional as Harry Potter'

Under-fire Tory MP David Curry today played down criticism over his £28,000 expenses claim for a second home. and dismissed some of the allegations against him as 'fictitious as Harry Potter'.

Mr Curry admitted having an affair but denied his wife had banned him from the Yorkshire cottage at the centre of the scandal where he allegedly had secret meetings with his lover.

Instead, he claimed he had been spending more time with Anne, his wife of 38 years, to help mend their marriage, and said he had also been unable to use the property at times because of major repairs.

Mrs Curry, a sculptor whose bust of John Major sits in the House of Commons, refused to discuss the allegations against her husband, commenting: 'It's his problem. I have nothing to say.'

Tory MP David Curry

Hitting back: Tory MP David Curry at his home in Arkesden, Essex, today

Mr Curry, the MP for Skipton and Ripon, has stepped down as chairman of the Parliamentary standards and privileges committee while a formal inquiry is conducted into his expenses claims but insisted they were 'modest and absolutely straight'.

Speaking outside his large detached farmhouse near Saffron Walden in Essex yesterday, he said: 'My wife hasn't banned me from doing anything. I had an affair, there's no point in denying it.

'We pulled together our marriage. If you are repairing your relationship with someone, you want to spend as much time together as possible. I try to get home as much as possible.'

Mr Curry, who has owned the semi-detached cottage near Masham, North Yorkshire, since 1987, denied he was 'mothballing' it until he retired as an MP at the next election.

Mr Curry's wife of 38 years Anne

Mr Curry's wife of 38 years Anne. He says they are working on their marriage

He said: 'I've stayed there hundreds if not thousands of times. It's not as if I bought it on a speculative whim.

'I use the house constantly. I have a large constituency - 700 square miles, one of the biggest - and if I have to travel from Ripon to Skipton I go over the Pennine chain.

Cherry Edwards

Lover: Cherry Edwards allegedly met Mr Curry at the cottage in Yorkshire

'If I find myself in Skipton late I will stay there rather than travel back. Every time I go up I use the cottage.

'I check it's all right, I have a meal there, I do some work there, I stay there between engagements. 'It's been a second house for tax purposes and I will pay capital gains tax on it.'

Mr Curry added that he had incurred the expenses due to a problem with damp-proof course at his cottage.

He said it was repaired under warranty but the taxpayer had picked up the bill for a firm of consultants to oversee the work and redecorate the damaged rooms.

He said: 'There's no great dispute about that. The expenses, they are completely above-board.

'It's absolutely straight, it's a very modest level, and I'll probably end up as an MP with one of the cheapest expenses claims.


Defence: Mr Curry says some of the claims are 'as fictitious as Harry Potter'


On the move: The MP has quit as chairman of the Parliamentary Standards and Privileges Committee while a formal inquiry is undertaken

'I had a major problem in the cottage when a damp-proof course failed. The whole house was uninhabitable for seven months while they stripped the plaster back.

'All the furniture had to be moved upstairs and the redecoration wasn't covered by the warranty.

'I hired a firm of consultants to manage the process of putting the damp-proof course back in place because it's quite technical and I work 233 miles away by road. All work was cleared in advance by the fees office.'

Mr Curry, who said he was planning to spend the evening at the cottage last night, added he would hapily hand over any information requested by the parliamentary commissioner about his expenses claims.

'I announced in January I would not be standing at the next election before any of this blew up,' he said. 'All my expenses are modest. I'm not expecting to end up in the Tower of London.'

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