Over the recent months, the expenses scandal has meant politicians streaking ahead in the race to become the most despised profession.
But for some, the public reaction to moats, duck houses and nudie films has yet to sink in.
So when new foreign office minister Chris Bryant got in touch with Birmingham University academic Andrew Nickson, he wasn’t quite prepared for what he got back.
Here’s the email and scabrous reply from the International Development Department member.
Subject: Invitation to reception for new FCO Minister, 7 July 2009
I am writing to introduce myself as the new Minister for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
I am delighted to have been appointed to this position. I have a strong interest in the region, having spent a year of my life living there.
I attach great importance to deepening the relationship between the UK and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
In a more globalised world, such ties will become ever more important - as barriers to trade, cultural engagement and scientific co-operation become easier to overcome. I also believe that the UK, together with our EU partners, must work closely with the region to tackle some of the most serious global problems facing us today - such as climate change, economic development, and reform of international institutions.
Chris Bryant M.P.
Minister for Latin America. Foreign & Commonwealth Office, London
And the response:
Why would I want to accept the invitation to meet you?
In all, you split more than £92,000 of expenses between three properties in Wales and London in the past five years.
In 2004, you submitted a claim of £58,000 - three times the maximum allowance for the year - to overhaul your second home in Porth, Wales. You wanted the money for renovations after buying the property for £97,500. In April 2005, you flipped your designation to your flat in west London, which you bought for £400,000 in April 2002. You claimed £630 a month for mortgage interest, along with other bills.
After claiming more than £3,600 over three months, you sold the flat in July 2005 for £477,000. You then used your profits to buy a more expensive flat in west London, which was valued at £670,000. You immediately flipped your second home designation there. You even claimed nearly £6,400 in stamp duty, legal fees and mortgage fees (!).You then began claiming mortgage interest of £1,000 a month. You also claimed £6,000 a year for service charge and ground rent. In response to the press revelations of your abuse of expenses, you said “I moved flat in London to be closer to Parliament”(!). It is a disgrace that you have been appointed to represent my country in Latin America.
Voy a informar a todos mis contactos de prensa en la región para que sepan.
Reader in Latin American Studies, University of Birmingham
The Spanish comment at the end is apparently a promise to pass on Mr Bryant’s indiscretions to all Mr Nickson’s colleagues in South America. Ouch.
* The comments were unearthed by newsreader Jon Snow on his blog at http://blogs.channel4.com/snowblog