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Under-fire Wells MP Tessa Munt facing fresh questions

By This is Bath  |  Posted: August 02, 2010

Tessa Munt

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A West MP under investigation for allegedly wrongly accepting a single person's council tax discount is facing fresh questions about her conduct after the wife of a local GP claimed the politician had a secret affair with her husband.

Liberal Democrat Tessa Munt, MP for Wells, is under investigation by Sedgemoor District Council after she claimed a single resident's discount, worth 25 per cent, at a time when Dr John Laband and BBC DJ Andy Kershaw were both registered as living at her house in Somerset.

When the row was first revealed last month, Mrs Munt denied any impropriety regarding the council tax discount and claimed that "neither of these two people were living with me".

She said Mr Kershaw merely visited her home in 2008, and left his dog with her for eight weeks.

She said she had rescued Dr Laband from sleeping on his garage floor while his wife filed for divorce, and merely offered him a place to stay briefly.

But the Mail on Sunday reported yesterday that according to a council source the GP's wife Claire has issued a statement to council investigators in which she says Dr Laband was paying rent to Mrs Munt.

He went to stay at Mrs Munt's house in 2008.

"She told us that Tessa Munt had been having an affair with her husband at the time," the source said.

"She said that it was 'the beginning and end' of why the marriage had failed, and that Mrs Munt had charged him £200 a month to rent a room in her house. So as well as wrongly claiming a single person's discount on her council tax, she said that Mrs Munt was actually receiving income from the man who was her lover and lodger."

Dr Laband, who is a local Lib-Dem councillor, left Mrs Munt's house after ten months and moved to a boat moored at a marina near Bristol.

Mrs Munt is on holiday.

In a statement a Liberal Democrat Party spokesman said: "Tessa has already made clear that Dr Laband did stay with her for a period of time in 2008.

"She offered him a place to stay as he needed temporary accommodation during his divorce. It is of public record that he was registered at her address at this time, and Tessa telephoned the council to notify them of this arrangement.

"During his stay Dr Laband did pay a contribution to Tessa for food and housekeeping.

"Tessa has co-operated fully with the council and will happily continue to co-operate to aid any attempt to clear this matter.

"Tessa understands that Sedgemoor council contacted police, who have said there is no case to answer."

Dr Laband has been advised by Lib-Dem lawyers not to comment on the case. Mrs Laband declined to comment.

Last night David Heathcoat-Amory, the former Conservative MP who narrowly lost to Mrs Munt at the election after she had made political capital out of his expenses – said that Mrs Munt should stand down if the allegations proved accurate.

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    John,, Somerset  |  August 03 2010, 10:36PM

    It seems this is a massive case of where there is smoke, there is fire, and what a raging inferno. The strange case of the the Liberal-Democrat MP, the DJ, his Dog,the Doctor, the Diddling of the council tax and the Distrust that she has cast upon her brief Disaster of a political career. Do the honourable thing Ms Tessa Munt and Decide to be Decent and Descend into obscurity,stand down and lets somebody, honest ,do the job. A very Disgruntled Democrat

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    Sarah, Shepton Mallet  |  August 03 2010, 12:06PM

    She was elected in May, she has apprently never held a surgery or made herself available to her constituents (see recent letters page: "Can anyone tell me when her first surgery will be?"), she is up to her neck in a nationally-reported scandal to which she cannot provide satisfactory answers, and now the woman is "on holiday". Is this really what her supporters voted for? ZERO OUT OF TEN FOR EFFORT. BYE BYE, TESSA.

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    Simon, Wells  |  August 02 2010, 9:32PM

    On the BBC website, Ms Munt said this: "Neither of these two people were living with me.". Now it appears that not only did one of the men live with her, but he lived there for 10 months, paid rent "for food and housekeeping" (which would be an odd thing to do if you didn't live there), and registered to vote there. The other man apparently lived there "for a time" according to one interview, or "just his dog" according to others. How on earth could she possibly claim single person benefit? This is a benefit for those who really are in genuine need! Ms Munt ran her election campaign saying she would be open and honest about all benefits and expenses, and that we should have "the right to sack corrupt or rule-breaking MPs" Enough said. She has been exposed.as both rule-breaking and a hypocrite and has treated the voters of Wells with insulting contempt. Give her a bottle of whiskey and a revolver and let us now choose a new, clean and honest MP. Will she stand up to her own words at the election? Of course not. Her words are clearly not to be trusted!