Public funds for party political work
In August 2008, the News of the World claimed that Caroline Spelman was using public money to employ Cawte as her aide - while he was undertaking party political work for the Conservative party - in contravention of parliamentary rules. While Shadow Local Government Secretary, Spelman used her parliamentary staffing allowances to pay chief of staff Cawte his £47,500 annual salary for up to two years. Spelman's spokesperson defended her, saying:
- It is entirely wrong to suggest Simon Cawte was not paid in accordance with the rules. Simon Cawte was employed to support Caroline Spelman in her role as part of the Official Opposition in Parliament... He discharged duties such as speech writing and answering correspondence relating to Caroline Spelman's role as the Shadow Local Government Secretary. This is entirely permissable within the rules.
However, he wrote openly pro-Conservative political letters. In October 2006, he wrote to campaigners for an English Parliament saying: "The only way to guarantee the abolition of regional assemblies is to ensure that the Conservatives form the next government as they are the only main party committed to their abolition". Additionally, Cawte was involved in the party's council election campaigns. When Cawte moved with Spelman as she took up the appointment of Party Chairman in 2007, the party began to pick up his salary.