JL: Can I now apply the rules to your situation? The rules require you to have more than one home before you can claim for a second home. Why do you think you had two homes when you could not live in Brentford for the best part of 11 months, from December 2008 to October 2009?
Alan Keen: I was aware that I needed to have two homes in order to claim the ACA. I have known this throughout my time as a London MP.
JL: Why did you consider that given the difficulties of access, which continued for most of 2009, your Brentford property was still your home for the purposes of your allowances?
Ann Keen: In our mind it was still our main home.
JL: Is not the implication of the Green Book that a home must be somewhere where you can and do stay overnight?
Ann Keen: We used the house for other purposes before it was boarded up. But after that we could not stay there.
JL: Can I ask you why you still considered that Brentford was your main home? The principal rule up to April 2009 was that your main home was where you normally spend more nights than anywhere else. From July 2008 that normal expectation was not met, and it was not met until October this year.
Ann Keen: We did not think of that.
JL: Wouldn't some people think that the property had been a main home, would again become a main home, but could not be called a main home while it was a building site?
Ann Keen: It was my home. I paid council tax, had post delivered there, paid the TV licence, I was in and out until I couldn't do that any longer. Everyone knows that is my home and I did everything in my power to be back in it. It wasn't a building site: it was described in the paper as derelict, but derelict houses don't have post delivered, people going in and out, attending to what they could in the garden.
JL: I note that you did not intend to benefit, but did it happen in fact? Without that support you might have had to stay in a hotel on two or perhaps three nights a week.
Ann Keen: Well, yes, when you put it that way, it did happen. But it was never put to me and so I never considered it. But I can't say no.
I can just picture the wilier and more devious member for Brentford & Isleworth holding her head in disbelief as the witless Alan delivered his (presumably) unintentionally candid response to Lyon's question to him. When I first read it I was reminded with some amusement of John Hurt's powerful portrayal of the unfortunate Timothy Evans in the classic film 10 Rillington Place:
QC: Can you think of any reason why Mr. Christie might have wanted to murder your wife?
Evans: Well, he was home all day.
I'm going to miss the Keens when they're gone.