I'm about to hit the hay as I have to get up early in the morning to do my LBC show. Guess what the phone in is likely to be about. Yup, David Laws.
The Telegraph has revealed tonight that he has claimed £40,000 in expenses over eight years to rent a room from someone who turns out to be his lover.
The first thing to say is that there appears to have been no financial gain. Renting at £950 per month is not extortionate by any means in central London. And if he had moved out into his own place it would no ddoubt have been far more.
I suspect part of, if not all, the reason Laws didn't fess up to this arrangement before was because he did not want to 'out' his relationship. Many of us have suspected for some time that David is gay, but if he didn't want to come out, that was his business. He and his partner didn't even tell their friends. I know exactly why he did this. I did it myself for a very long time.
The Telegraph hasn't outed him, but he has courageously decided to be completely open about the circumstances of his relationship and rental arrangements.
Sir Alastair Graham has been first out of the traps calling for his head. I used to have respect for his views, but no longer. He hangs around Westminster like a bad smell.
I hope David Laws survives this, partly because I do not believe he has a dishonest bone in his body, but also because the Coalition needs him. He has been hugely impressive over the last few weeks. But of course there will be questions about his future. It will be a test for him as to whether he can survive the pressure, but I truly hope he does.
If you want to air your views on LBC tomorrow morning between 7 and 10 you can call me on 0745 6060973 or email email@example.com.
UPDATE: This is David Laws' statement in full...
I’ve been involved in a relationship with James Lundie since around 2001 - about two years after first moving in with him. Our relationship has been unknown to both family and friends throughout that time.
I claimed back the costs of sharing a home in Kennington with James from 2001 to June 2007.
In June 2007 James bought a new home in London and I continued to claim back my share of the costs.
I extended the mortgage on my Somerset property - for which I do not claim any allowances or expenses - to help James purchase the new property.
In 2006 the Green Book rules were changed to prohibit payments to partners.
At no point did I consider myself to be in breach of the rules which in 2009 defined partner as ‘one of a couple … who although not married to each-other or civil partners are living together and treat each-other as spouses.’
Although we were living together we did not treat each other as spouses - for example we do not share bank accounts and indeed have separate social lives.
However, I now accept that this was open to interpretation and will immediately pay back the costs of the rent and other housing costs I claimed from the time the rules changed until August 2009.
James and I are intensely private people. We made the decision to keep our relationship private and believed that was our right. Clearly that cannot now remain the case.
My motivation throughout has not been to maximise profit but to simply protect our privacy and my wish not to reveal my sexuality.
However, I regret this situation deeply, accept that I should not have claimed my expenses in this way and apologise fully.
I have also referred myself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.