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Former MCCB chief probes MPs expenses

Robyn Hall

July 26, 2011

Luke March, former chief executive of the Mortgage Code Compliance Board, and current compliance officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, is making national headlines after he said he would not name and shame MPs under investigations as it was “unfair”.

IPSA originally indicated that politicians would be identified when a formal probe was launched with the intention of increased transparency within the regime.

March has now insisted that details would not be disclosed until his inquiries conclude.

If an MP under investigation is eventually cleared, there will be no official confirmation that they ever faced an allegation.

MCCB

March was previously the chief executive of the MCCB where it performed a dual function. It maintained a register of mortgage lenders and intermediaries who fulfilled the registration requirements and monitored the compliance of both lenders and intermediaries with the Mortgage Code.

The Mortgage Code was developed by the Council of Mortgage Lenders as a voluntary Code setting out standards of mortgage lending practice. Subscribing lenders to the Code undertook not to accept mortgage introductions from intermediaries who were not also registered as subscribers.

Ray Boulger, senior technical director at John Charcol, had fond memories of the MCCB and said March was “absolutely right” in taking his current stance.

“If you recognise the principle in the UK that you’re innocent till proven guilty, then it should also be understood that when you accuse someone there is an assumption of guilt by a lot of people,” he said.

“For something that is high profile like the MPs expenses, the mere fact that somebody was accused means that a lot of people would automatically assume they were guilty. Under English law, what’s the difference between not being accused and being accused and found innocent? Nothing.

“Luke is absolutely right to not disclose the names of people who are accused but found innocent, but obviously those who are found guilty may need to be publicised.

COST TO THE INDUSTRY

”Recalling his time spent involved with the MCCB Boulger added: “In the relatively short time the MCCB was in existence, it achieved a great deal – and all on a budget of £5m per year, which is staggering when you consider what the FSA spends.

“It introduced exams, it introduced individual registration for advisers which most of us in the industry expected the FSA to continue with which they didn’t, which I thought they should’ve done.

“In its short life the MCCB under Luke made significant changes in the way mortgages operated and at significantly lower cost than the current regime.”


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