UPDATED: Watch the moment Barnstaple woman Fiona Laing handed Sir Nick Harvey, MP for North Devon, £7.20 to ‘cover his expenses’.
A VIDEO showing an ex-Royal Navy engineer presenting North Devon MP Sir Nick Harvey with an envelope of ‘expenses’ on Remembrance Sunday has gone viral.
Fiona Laing, from Barnstaple, strode up to Mr Harvey on Sunday following the town’s Remembrance Day parade and handed him the envelop containing £7.20.
The gesture, sealed in a Royal British Legion card, came after it was announced last May Mr Harvey claimed £7.20 to attend Remembrance services in his constituency.
Ms Laing said she felt it was ‘an insult to those who had died’ for Mr Harvey to claim for the petrol, and that he should have ‘attended out of moral duty, not financial’.
She waited until the end of the parade to approach the MP, before telling him she found it ‘distasteful’ that he put in a claim to cover the petrol costs.
Since posting the video on her Facebook page yesterday, it has been shared more than 400 times.
Ms Laing told the Gazette: “I never expected it would go viral like this, and I’ve had so many messages of support since doing it.
“I know the expenses claim was in November 2011, but this is the first time I have had a chance to confront him about it and I felt it should be done.”
Mr Harvey, who can be seen in the video pocketing the envelope, said he wished to return it to Ms Laing for her to donate to a charity.
When asked for a comment by the Gazette, Mr Harvey said: “Two years ago my monthly travel claim for November inadvertently included the mileage cost for attending the Act of Remembrance.
“Had I spotted that individual item I would not have claimed for it, even though it was permissible within the rules. Unfortunately I did not notice it: we are all capable of human error and regrettably this was one on my part.
“When the matter was subsequently drawn to my attention I apologised immediately and paid the sum in question (and rather more) to a veterans’ charity collection.
“I certainly had not intended the slightest disrespect to our service personnel and veterans.
“The matter was extensively aired in the media some eighteen months ago. As far as I am concerned, once I realised what had happened I acknowledged my mistake, apologised and made reparation.
“If Ms Laing supplies me with a postal address I would like to return the £7 to her to donate to a veterans’ charity as she sees fit.”