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Coronavirus: Lord Fox promises to repay taxpayers' money after furloughing himself

Lord Christopher Fox

A Lib Dem peer has admitted making an "error of judgment" after furloughing himself while continuing to claim a three-figure daily allowance for working in parliament.

Lord Christopher Fox decided to furlough himself during the coronavirus crisis as the owner and sole employee of Vulpes Advisory, a communications and consultancy company.

But he continued to pick-up the daily £162 allowance given to peers for carrying out work virtually in the House of Lords.

Lord Fox has now confirmed he will repay the money he received during his time on furlough.

The 62-year-old said: "I recognise my error in judgment and I apologise.

"I have already begun to repay the money I received as part of the furlough scheme and intend to repay the full amount as soon as possible."

The furlough scheme, announced in March, allows businesses badly stung by the COVID-19 lockdown to have the government pay their staff's wages.

Payments from the Treasury cover a rate of 80% of staff's salary and are capped at £2,500 a month.

The provision has since been extended, with caveats in place, until October.

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Before the pandemic, peers were able to claim £323 per day for clocking in at the Upper Chamber.

It was agreed that it should be reduced to £162 while they carry out their work mainly via online means, with many now using video conferencing platform Zoom.

Lord Fox had come under fire from senior Tories for taking the payment while furloughing himself.

Former minister Robert Halfon MP accused him of wanting to "milk the taxpayer at both ends", while some of his constituents are currently "struggling to keep a roof over their heads".

He added: "The chancellor needs to nip this in the bud and make sure this is not allowed."

Ex-universities minister Chris Skidmore also commented, tweeting: "Time to furlough his peerage."