Spelman stays despite nannygate investigation

By Laura Miller

Caroline Spelman will not be dropped from the shadow cabinet in the latest Tory reshuffle, despite being under investigation for her use of the parliamentary expense account.

Ms Spelman, MP for Meridan, will instead swap roles with Eric Pickles to become communities and local government secretary.

The former Tory party chairman is currently being investigated by the committee on standards and privileges after she admitted in 2008 that she used her MPs allowance to pay her children’s nanny, following initial claims that she had employed the woman primarily as a “secretary”.

But Tina Hayes, the nanny at the centre of the inquiry, said she only “posted the odd letter and took the odd phone call”, prompting the inquiry.

Under parliamentary rules, MPs are not allowed to claim expenses for activities not directly related to their jobs.

John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, demanded at the time that the then-Tory chairman repay the money she claimed to pay Miss Haines.

“It is taxpayers’ money. There are plenty of hard-working families around the country who would love to have a nanny paid for by tax payers but they are not, and neither should Caroline Spelman.”

Cameron’s decision not to drop Ms Spelman comes just days after journalists and campaigners effectively lost their battle to force MPs to release details of their expenses under Freedom of Information legislation.

English and Welsh MPs will become the only public officials not required to disclose how much taxpayer money they claim as expenses, if, as expected, the motion to keep them secret included in the coroners and justice bill is passed.

Ms Spelman played a significant role in prompting the resignation of Conservative MEP leader in Brussels, Giles Chichester, last year after allegations he had broken European parliament rules on expenses.