London: Hitting back at those behind his brief suspension from the House of Lords in 2010, prominent Indian-origin industrialist Swraj Paul has insisted that he did not do anything wrong, and believes that racism may have something to do with the unfair treatment he received.
Paul was one of the Lords caught up in the expenses scandal that rocked British politics in 2010. Most of the people involved were MPs from the House of Commons, while Paul was one of three Asian members of the House of Lords to be investigated for allegedly claiming expenses against rules.
The other two were Lord Bhatia and Baroness Uddin. Paul was suspended from the House of Lords for four months and resigned from the Labour party.
Speaking to The Guardian, Paul, Chairman of UK-based Caparo Group said: "Let me tell you one thing. In the financial year 2010 alone, I have given 1 million pounds to charity. Does anybody think that for bloody 41,000 pounds I'd loot the country?"
Paul said that he would have no problem if he felt sanctions had been applied consistently, but he is convinced that was far from the case. He points out that the Lords subcommittee chose to look at only four of 20 cases brought to its attention.
He said: "The three people they didn't clear were Asian," and indirectly suggested that racialism may have something to do with this. Paul believes that other peers were jealous when he became a deputy speaker in the Lords, and even more so when he became a privy counsellor.
Paul said: "I have a very high profile in India, and not one person believes it wasn't racialism. They have written to me and said, Lord Paul, you have been saying we have got over racialism in this country. Well, if this isn't racialism, what is?"
Denying that he was embarrassed by the episode, Paul
said: "I couldn't care less. I feel so strongly that wrong has been done, that I have done nothing to be ashamed of. If they had accepted the money and that had been the end of it, I would have been more embarrassed because, yes, I might have made a mistake. But after the treatment? I feel that they decided to take an action, and that was it."
Paul, 81, who returned to the Lords earlier this year, says he has never known such viciousness in politics. Asked if he wanted to leave the House of Lords, he said: "You can't leave the Lords. You can't resign."
Did he think he would never go back there again? "Yes, but then I thought, I need to get my view across." To leave, he says, would have been a defeat. "And I will not accept defeat?, he told the newspaper.
First Published: Sunday, May 20, 2012, 12:07