New Legg letters to raise the stakes

By staff

MPs could be forced to repay mortgage interest claims worth tens of thousands of pounds in the next stage of expenses auditor Sir Thomas Legg’s scrutiny.

Yesterday the deadline for MPs to respond to Sir Thomas’ initial expenses letters passed, moving MPs’ attempts to avoid having to repay previous claims into a new phase.

Those who were unable to produce mortgage interest statements which showed how they had claimed for the cost of their second homes in this period face a fresh wave of letters demanding repayment.

“If on reasonable notice an MP is unwilling to or unable to produce such statements, the payments concerned should in default be determined to be invalid and the MPs will be recommended to repay the whole of the allowance granted for the mortgage,” Sir Thomas wrote.

MPs from all parties are frustrated by the imposition of retrospective rules on their expenses claims. One senior member of the shadow Cabinet told the expenses scandal had become “farcial” and a “witchhunt of McCarthyist proportions”.