Spelman affair reaches breaking point

Ms Spelman's political future looks bleak
Ms Spelman's political future looks bleak

The affair over payments to Carline Spelman's nanny from the public purse reached what looked like the point of no return last night as her former secretary, Sally Hammond, was revealed to have complained about the matter at the time.

The new revelation, reported on last night's Newsnight, had immediate repercussions. Tory MPs have already called on the chairman of the backbench 1922 committee to sack her.

Ms Hammond, who became part-time secretary to Tory chairman Ms Spelman in 1999, said she was shocked to discover how much Ms Spelman was paying the nanny, Tina Maynes.

She only became aware of the situation, she says, when she struggled to understand why so little money was available for the office. She then contacted shadow Cabinet figure Peter Ainsworth, who brought the matter to a halt when he discussed the situation with James Arbuthnot, the chief whip.

The steady drip-feed of damaging allegation about Ms Spelman have gathered pace in recent weeks with the nanny's step-father, among others, casting doubts over her account.

Ms Spelman says she turned her home into a constituency office, and that Ms Haynes split her role as secretary and nanny. But statements from Ms Haynes herself have been contradictory.


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.